Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Cheyenne Frontier Days - Photos -

Cheyenne Frontier Days - Photos -

These are some pics from the Cheyenne Frontier days. As you'll see, most of the time the cowboy lost. I have a warm spot for the Daddy of them all, Frontier Days. My manuscript, Last Chance with a Million Dollar Cowboy, is about a saddle bronc rider coming back to his hometown event, Cheyenne Frontier Days, where he runs into his former love. Only she's not just an old flame...

Enjoy these pics. Sports Illustrated knows how to shoot a picture.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Homework for Family or How I Spent Mother's Day

Mother's are familiar with this drill. Child comes home with complicated project requiring Mom to pitch in--but over Mother's Day Weekend? Needless to say, nameless high school Public Speaking teacher received her share of "curses" this weekend as I spent my Mother's day either without my only child's company or in front of the computer trying to find the right computer program to meet the teacher's very specific demands.

On Friday, my daughter's class was told that they had to have an "instructional" speech ready to for Tuesday. This speech had to be about 7 minutes and on an activity the class wouldn't necessarily know how to do. This speech had to be taped and either downloaded to a DVD (not a CD) or on a device that could be hooked up to the TV (e.g. a camcorder).

Well here's the deal--our camcorder died in 2006 and given the advancement of digital cameras and their ability to provide video, we never replaced it. And burning DVD's? Well, we really didn't have the software.

I know, Windows Movie Maker can now burn DVDs--I found that out after a call to a teenager two years older than mine. However, my Kodak Camera takes .mov video (Apple's Quicktime program) and Windows Movie Maker only accepts .avi. That was the first issue.

The second issue was my daughter's choice of subject: How to make a cannoli. For those who might not recognize the name, a cannoli is an Italian pastry stuffed with a sweet cream/cheese concoction. Problem: she's never made them before and neither have I. And, as we found out, cannolis are NOT easy to make. The stuffing may be a breeze but the pastry--NOT.

But being a teenager, neither problem dissuaded my daughter.

Saturday I had a college alumni event to go to--one I'd been looking forward to. Thankfully, my husband agreed to step in and take her for the ingredients. $60 in supplies after three hours of shopping later (warning: you need special rods to form the pastry which you can only find at a specialty kitchen store. Imagine my husband trying to figure out where to go for that little tool!)

The filming began and took the rest of the day. At six o'clock I returned home to a kitchen mess, an exhausted husband and child, and a batch of delicious looking cannolis. I viewed the thirteen videos that captured six hours of cooking (yes, six hours as there's a lot of steps and waiting for things to cook and cool down in making this delicacy) and as an admittedly biased parent I must say she did a great job. It was like watching a Food Network episode from the way she organized the kitchen and ingredients to the demonstrations.
But now my work began. How to get these .mov videos into .avi format. In my family, I am the most computer savvy--which shows you just how bad off we are here. I apparently needed a special codec (whatever that is) for Windows Movie Maker to accept the videos if I couldn't convert them to .avi. I'll spare you the trials and tribulations that had me searching the Windows web site (they no longer support codec paks for this transfer), the web (based on the postings, this is a common problem with few solutions offered), web downloads (most are just "fronts" for other products and/or their downloads don't work or look fishy).

After spending most of Saturday night and Sunday, after we got back from brunch, (having forgone our traditional trip to a special outdoor garden so she/we could work on this) I finally I thought I found an answer--someone posted that upgrading to Quicktime Pro would allow you to convert the files. So I paid the $29.95 ($32.05 with tax) and upgraded.

But, the "save as" button didn't allow me to change the file type. Now nearing 4 p.m. on Sunday, my daughter was ready to give up and take a 20 point demerit on her presentation deciding to just burn it on a CD and be done with it. I persisted looking on the web despite her pleas to stop. There on Youtube I found a video that explained in simple terms what I had to do to convert .mov to .avi using Quicktime Pro. (I could have kissed the guy!) You have to hit the export button and then you can convert it. Who knew? Within a short period of time, she was in front of Windows Movie Maker splicing her videos together. She burned the DVD and tested it on our DVD player and it worked! By six o'clock Sunday we were both dancing around the room and high-fiving.

Not exactly what I had planned for Mother's Day but it was definitely spent doing a motherly activity. :) Now let's hope we get an A. :)

Thursday, April 29, 2010

What I'm Reading Now....

Of course, I read a lot of the genre I write in--western romance, both contemporary and historical. I just finished reading a new mail-order bride anthology by Jillian Hart, Carolyn Davidson and Kate Bridges titled Mail Order Marriages. I just LOVE marriage of convenience stories and these three ladies have provided unique characters in unique situations for their stories.

I've already dived into Brenda Jackson's Hot Westmoreland Nights, a Silhouette Desire book and part of Brenda's Westmoreland series, having read Westmoreland's Way previously. The hero, Ramsey Westmoreland is just the type I like--tough, hard and so sure he's right that he inevitably jumps to the wrong conclusion to the heroine's delight!:) This is one I just might not be able to put down tonight!

And then I'm hoping to get to Madeline Hunter's new series books, Provocative in Pearls and Ravishing in Red (don't you love the titles?). These are Regencies (a genre I also like but, admittedly, not as much as the westerns) and Madeline writes riveting sexual tension. I recently took a workshop with Madeline and she gave great insight into character building--something she does so well.

Anyone read Steampunk? I'd like to read a Steampunk novel, which I understand is the Victorian era gone Jules Verne--akin to the old Wild, Wild West TV show if anyone remembers that. I'd appreciate any reading suggestions for this genre as it's all new to me.

Well, back to Hot Westmoreland Nights now to see just how far Ramsey can insert his foot in his mouth!:)

Monday, April 5, 2010

IPAD and My Technological Fear

I admit it. I'm not the most technologically savvy person around. But since seriously pursuing a writing career, I've come a long way if I do say so myself. Because I have had to. There's no IT division at my address. In fact, I'm now the most technologically savvy of the three of us--and this includes my teenaged daughter. Yup, we're in trouble in our household.

For hardware issues, I do have "a guy" who makes house calls to configure and repair my computers--all the while shaking his head at my (dumb) questions. Tom's a quiet guy and at first, he was taken by surprise (his words) at how much I talked--and asked questions. But--eventually, as I asked him to put on security suites, put up firewalls, network my computers and advise about an external hard drive, he's become comfortable with my (dumb) questions and he recently told me he admired my curiosity. And I'm sure he likes the work I've given him.

For my website I also turned to an expert, the fabulous Rae Monet after first starting on my own with a Bravenet account and a few istockphoto pictures to dress it up. No way could I make a site look as good as Rae does--money well spent in my book.

So my technological fear isn't about the computer or my web site. My fear runs deeper and the iPad is just one symptom. My fear is that I'm going to be left behind as technology goes through iteration after iteration. I mean how do you keep up?

I've had to learn some basic html to navigate MySpace, this blog, posting to Yahoo groups (if I want to include a cover of my book, for instance). I've had to figure out the ins and outs of facebook which they've made much easier than MySpace (no html required) but then there are all those apps to deal with. After facebook, came Twitter and figuring out how to link them all.

I've learned about Photobucket and posting photos to the web, and that includes formatting.
I've learned how to make a movie using windows movie maker for my book trailer. I still have questions regarding using Nero for these things, but when I get time.....

I've an e-reader so I can download books.

I've figured out how to link my twitter account and e-mail with my cell phone.

I've learned a lot of things--and I'm falling behind. I don't have a smartphone yet so "apps" are a mystery to me. And now here comes the iPad--a super iTouch--with thousands of apps--how will I make sense of them all?

And streaming video from your computer to TV--I'd like to do that--but how?

And what does it mean that the iPad doesn't use "Flash" so video viewing won't be as good.

I'm falling behind--and there's so much I'd like to know. For someone who still remembers walkman radios and land line phones, it feels like the universe of new gadgets is moving way too fast. Do you agree? Or do you want to share your secret for keeping up.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Feedback When You Need It

Having recently sent out my next manuscript for editorial review, I was happy to get positive feedback over these past few weeks on my published story Re-ride at the Rodeo, available as an e-book novella and included in the print anthology Return to Wayback.

First, 5 blue ribbons from C. Dionne at Romance Junkies! Reviewing all three stories in the anthology favorably, she wrote:

In RETURN TO WAYBACK the authors tackle some pretty heavy issues and they do it with such style and foresight that the reader begins to feel like they’ve connected with long lost friends.

This is a wonderful anthology which I’m sure fans of stories involving small towns and rodeos will fully appreciate

And the reviewer specifically described Re-ride at the Rodeo as: Humorous and lovingly emotional…

Thanks Romance Junkies!

Then Linda Broday, western romance author of novels Redemption and Knight of the Texas Plains and contributor to the popular anthologies Give Me a Cowboy and Give Me a Texan wrote this about Re-ride at the Rodeo:

I just finished reading RE-RIDE AT THE RODEO and loved it…. your writing voice just blew me away… Great characters too! Wow, Clay Tanner was sexy as all get-out! You drew me onto the page and kept me there. I hated for the story to end—L. Broday

Thanks Linda!
I hope if you haven't had a chance, you'll pick up a copy and enjoy a little romance, western style:)!

Sunday, February 14, 2010

My Special Valentine

Valentine's Day is a very special day in our home and in my heart because it is also my daughter's birthday. Fifteen years ago, after six frustrating years trying to get pregnant, I delivered a healthy baby girl into my husband's arms--well actually into the doctor's arms but he held her right after. She is, hands down, the best present her father and I ever received. As I always tell her, having her was like winning life's lottery. We couldn't be more blessed. So Happy Birthday, Katie!