Thursday, March 31, 2011


You're breakin' my heart!
You're shakin' my confidence daily!

Oh, Blogger,
I'm down on my knees;
I'm beggin' you, please


(Apologies to Simon amd Garfunkel and their "Cecelia")

Still not loading.

I've switched to Google Chrome per one suggestion and checked to see that I still have plenty of storage space and still this...nada.

Frustrating . . . 

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

At a Loss

Yikes! Blogger is not loading my pictures!

 Is it just me (sniffing armpits) or is it a more general disruption in The Force?

Ah, well, you can always check out some older posts (below) or some of the many blogs in my sidebar. Or perhaps you have other things to do...
In any event, I'll be back tomorrow --  with pictures, I hope. Just now, words fail me.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

One Was A Soldier

 I've just read an amazing book.  Julia Spencer-Fleming's One Was a Soldier is one of the most enthralling novels I've read in quite some time. And as most of you know, I perused about five hundred mysteries last year.

Spencer-Fleming's award-winning series, set in a small town in New York state tells the story of the tangled relationship between  Clare Fergusson, an Episcopal priest, and Russ Van Alstyne, the town's police chief.  One Was a Soldier, though the seventh in the series, could be a standalone, so seamlessly does Spencer-Fleming weave in the back story. 

I was particularly interested in this book because it deals with the long awaited marriage of the two main characters -- the same premise  as in my forthcoming Under the Skin.  It seems as though everything is set for happily ever after and then . . . complications ensue.

Yes, there's a mystery -- a well-plotted conundrum with a satisfying resolution -- but this book is so much more than a simple whodunnit. It's an finely rendered examination of the heart-breaking and timely topic of America's wounded warriors -- the men and women who have been and are still returning from active service, broken in body, mind, and spirit but afraid to ask for help.

And it's the deeply moving and quite passionate story of the love between Russ and Clare -- two flawed but ultimately honorable human beings.  And that's what kept me reading -- stopping only for dinner and abandoning all other intentions till I got to the end. 

Can you tell I love this book? Such real and likable characters, such wonderful, sensitive, intelligent writing! Highly, highly recommended.  

(See below on ordering a free ebook with an excerpt containing a surprisingly hot scene between a priest and a police chief in a rapidly moving vehicle.)

(You don't own an ebook reader? You can go to Amazon and download a free Kindle for your computer.)

One Was a Soldier is so good that I would suggest starting with it rather than going back and reading the series from the beginning. I suspect however, after reading it, you'll want more and be eager to know how it all began ...

The book's not on sale till April 12, though it's available for preorder now.  I asked Julia for an advance copy - and she has offered to send advance copies to 2  winners of  a drawing here on my blog. 

So if you'd like to be entered, just say so when you comment -- or send me an email (vicki_laneATmtnareaDOTnet).  I'll wait a few days before drawing two names. Check back on  April 3.  If you're a winner, I'll need your snail mail address.

And the winners are....Mamabug and Shirley! (Sounds like a sitcom.)  I'll be in touch!

If you're not a winner of this little drawing, there are some consolations below.

There is a 2.99 e -book of In The Bleak Midwinter (book 1 in the series) available.

There is a FREE e-book of excerpts, extra content and letters from the war zone, available at Amazon, B&N and Sony.  (This is where the hot scene in the truck is!)

And there's more about the books and the author at

Really, I think that a lot of you will thank me for this introduction, if you didn't already know this series.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Spring Blog Cleaning

Time to put, if not my house, at least my blog in order. The critters don't track in so there's no need to sweep but the lists of blogs over in the side bar needed some updating and reorganizing.

I've begun by putting the international blogs into one group. This is a cheap way to travel and I've added a few, including Marilyn (My Magpie Collection) and Joan (Sempiterna Me) in New Zealand, where the leaves are beginning to turn ...
And a special welcome to Desiree (Driftwood Ramblings), whose birthday it is, in South Africa!
Closer to home, I've added a collection of links called My Neck of the Woods --over there at the top. You can find out more about the place my fictional Marshall County is based on...
And even about the real life realtor who inspired Elizabeth's friend Sallie Kate!

Oh, I've fiddled and tidied-- the writing, publishing blogs are in one place, the food-related in another, the country/Appalachian in yet another. . .

I think it's time to emulate Miss Suzie and relax.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Silly Cat Games

Eddie seeks her here...
He seeks her there...
But he can't find Miss Susie Hutchins...
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Friday, March 25, 2011

Do You Procrastinate?

A new day dawned and at last it was time to finish the job I began I-don't-know-how-many months ago. I painted one cupboard interior back then but there were two left undone.
Really, the paint is redder than these pictures show. Really.
Outdoors is all new and fresh looking and, inside, it's time to put away the blues and yellows that followed Christmas....
And move into Spring pastels.
Bring out the Easter knick-knacks and change the pillow covers to the green ones...
Toss the blue kitchen rugs in the washer and put down green ones ... All just in time for predicted freezing temperatures on Thursdaynight.

But it felt good to have finished those other cupboards.  Who knows, maybe I'll actually get around to painting the bedroom ... I only bought the paint two years ago... 

Do you have any long-neglected projects that you're thinking about doing this spring?

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Thursday, March 24, 2011

An Age Old Question...

Reginald Roger DuCockis - the Buff Orpington rooster
Notice the characteristic beard and earmuffs on this Ameruacana hen...
A handsome fella...
Until the garden is planted, we're letting the chickens enjoy roaming. They return to the hen house at night.
Two Gold Laced Wyandottes
The two Wyandottes seem to range the farthest...
The cattle are enjoying the new green grass...
The white Ameruacana ponders . . .
Why does a chicken cross the road?
To be with her friends and to do a little exploring is evidently the answer.
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Wednesday, March 23, 2011

The Blue Sword

The back cover of Robin McKinley's The Blue Sword compares this wonderful YA (young adult) fantasy to Islandia,The Sheikh, Gunga Din, and The Lord of the Rings. I have to agree but I'd add, as well, the Narnia books and Dune.
Also from the back cover: "This is the story of Corlath, golden-eyed king of the Free Hillfolk, son of the sons of the Lady Aerin.

And this is the story of Harry Crewe, the Outlander orphan girl who became Harimad-sol, King's Rider, and bearer of the Blue Sword Gonturin, the sword Lady Aerin carried, the sword only a woman may wield for it will turn in the hand of a man.

And this is a story of the kelar of the Hillfolk, the magic in the blood, and how it may wake, even in Outlander veins... "

May I just add that there are also horses of amazing beauty, tall horses over sixteen hands with long clean legs and tails that nearly reach the ground? Horses ridden without bridle or stirrups, such is their bond with their rider.

Oh, my! I loved this book but how I wish I'd read it when I was about eleven or twelve and horse-crazy. (Not that the book was available then -- it was published in 1983 and was a Newbery Honor Book that year.) 

I 'm making a note to give The Blue Sword to my great nieces. So nice to have the Hero be a girl. And I'm going to get hold of the prequel (The Hero and the Crown) and the rest of McKinley's fourteen books...  
Many thanks to Vicki Van Valkenburgh for suggesting that I might enjoy this lovely book--I did, I did!
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Tuesday, March 22, 2011

FAQ - Why Do You Write? (And a spring slideshow)

Q: Why do you write?

(Well, this isn't actually frequently asked but an audience member asked it of the panel I was on last Thursday.  The two other writers - a retired professor of creative writing and a young man not long out of a MFA program -- both answered that they wrote because they had to -- that it was a consuming passion. Boy, did I feel like a Philistine -- albeit an honest Philistine - when I answered.)

A:  I write for the money.  The money I receive for my books isn't great -- it wouldn't support a family -- but it's useful and it allows me to justify the hours and hours I spend working on my novels. Would I spend a year, churning out 400 plus pages if I didn't get paid for it? 

No, I don't think so. I'd scratch that creative itch with photography or quilting or painting or gardening. And blogging, of course.  Oh, I'd eventually try my hand at poetry or a play or some shorter fiction -- but as I spent the first fifty-something years of my life not writing anything more than the occasional letter, I can't say that I HAVE to write.

Obviously, I don't have the passion -- just perseverance.


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Monday, March 21, 2011

Vernacular Virginia Church

This beautiful little church building caught my eye during my travels and I pulled off the highway to have a look at it.
The Cove Presbyterian Church of Coveville, Virginia has been holding services on this site since 1769. The original sanctuary was a log building which was replaced in 1809 by a brick structure...
...which was destroyed by a tornado in 1880 and rebuilt the same year. 
The church has a nice website which includes a history of the early days.
Such a beautiful little building!
I'm safely home now and shall get back to blog visiting and marking Spring's arrival in my own neck of the woods.
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