Saturday, June 30, 2007

Ireland Day 4 & A Reminder

Day 4 started out as another warm and sunny day with not a cloud in the sky. Our first stop on the tour was St. Patrick's Cathedral. It was beautiful, especially the stained glass windows.

So much detail in each one and there were hundreds. The floor had Celtic designs right in the stone and they just amazed me. Again, so much detail for the entire floor of the cathedral.

The next stop was Trinity College to see the Book of Kells.

I admit I didn't know much about them when I signed up for the tour and I didn't think I'd care either way if I saw them or not, but after learning more about the books and seeing actual pages written so many hundreds of years ago, I was floored. They had a video set up to show you just how they made the books themselves and then another video to show the writing of the books. There were intricate details that blew me away. Oh, what patience it must have taken to put those books together!
The video show the men using a needle to actually sew the spine of the book together. Some of them made tiny dots of color in the paper an equal distance apart to make the letters and fancy designs. I can't even TRACE a straight line!!!

The rest of the day was ours to spend in Dublin as we liked. My friends and I walked around, shopped, ate and shopped some more. I took pictures of the Ha'penny Bridge, which crosses the River Liffey. This one is a picture of the river from the Ha'penny Bridge:

And this is the Ha'penny Bridge from just down the walkway:

It's official name is the Wellington Bridge, but everyone calls it the Ha'penny Bridge because people crossing this footbridge used to have to pay a ha'penny (or half penny) toll to cross it!

I found 2 T-shirts to buy, but I only got one this time. It was green with Ireland written across it in Celtic designed letters. I was kicking myself for the rest of the week for not getting the other one, but I found it in the airport when I left. It said Where's My Pint? in Gaelic. Look for it in Dallas! Most likely you'll see it and me in the bar!

I closed the hotel bar, but I was actually sitting there with my Guinness reading. I'd brought 2 books with me and I was so close to finishing this one. It wasn't as good as I expected, but I was already invested in over 100 pages before I realized that so I finished it.

So ended Day 4.

REMINDER-I guest blogged on Wednesday (June 27) on Mary Alice Pritchard's blog about my time writing in my happy place, the Highlands of Scotland. If you haven't checked it out, do it today and then leave me a comment. Then you'll be entered in the drawing for a Scottish surprise and some books. Odds are good right now. I've only got 3 or 4 names.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Guest Blogging

Today I'm guest blogging for Mary Alice Pritchard. Come on over and read about my experience writing in the Highlands of Scotland for 2 days last week! Plus, I'm having a drawing.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Days 1, 2 and 3

Day 1 was my travel day from Austin to Dublin. Since I like you guys, I won’t bore you with the heartache of that story. Just to sum it up-There was a lot of hurry up and wait. 23 hours after I left my house, I walked into the lobby of my hotel in Dublin.

Day 2- when I landed in Dublin, the weather was warm and sunny, so warm I panicked because of course I’d brought a bunch of long-sleeved shirts and a sweater. I was wearing the only short-sleeved shirt I had. But the sunshine was just glorious after so many hours on planes and in airports. As I stood waiting for the taxi to my hotel, I lifted my face to the sun and let out a sigh. I was here, I was safe and now my vacation could truly begin!

Of course, it was 4 in the afternoon and I was tired, so I went to dinner with my friends who had arrived before me. We walked around the streets by the hotel to find a restaurant. We found one that looked interesting, or maybe it was the name-Druids. Young locals hung outside drinking, smoking and laughing. Young, I say. They were probably college age. My friends and I went into the restaurant, but they had just opened and didn’t seem to care whether we stayed or not. They gave us 2 menus (there were 3 of us), told us to pick a seat while waving us off and the food was overpriced. So we left. On the walk back, we stopped in a store for some candy-gotta love that candy! My favorites are Mars bars (or glorified Milky Ways as I’m told) and Smarties (glorified M & Ms). I don’t care what other people think. If you haven’t tried the chocolate from England, Ireland and Scotland you can’t possibly understand the ecstasy of good chocolate! We ended up eating in the hotel, which was when I had my first Guinness in Ireland. And my 2nd. After, 2 of us went to the bar for a few more pints and to get caught up. After all my traveling, I made an early night of it.

Day 3- Today all the other people on the scheduled tour started to arrive. It was still warm, but I wasn’t too hot with my long-sleeves. In the afternoon, the tour went to the Guinness factory for beers in the bar that overlooks the city. Wow! What a beautiful view and the sky was so clear! I didn’t pay much attention to all the history of Guinness. Quite honestly, I just wanted my free pint and a chance to shop in the store. I was disappointed with the T-shirt collection and didn’t want to buy something just for the sake of having a T-shirt to wear in the abnormally hot weather. So I settled for a shot glass with the Guinness label.

After the Guinness factory, we went to the Old Jameson’s whiskey Distillery. We had a welcome drink of the good stuff as the official start of the tour. Then we watched a video about the history of the distillery. After, we had dinner and entertainment! The food was excellent and the entertainment was even better! We had 3 guys playing instruments and playing Irish drinking songs. We had a competition between the 2 sides of the room. Sadly, even though I and my lovely voice joined in, my side did not win the competition. We also had Irish step dancers there. They were phenomenal. Our table was right by the stage. The dancers brought tears to my eyes they were that good.

Toward the end, they pulled suckers out of the audience to teach them to step dance. Now that was funny! I thought about volunteering, but I didn’t have the nerve. As soon as it was over, I vowed not to miss an opportunity like that again. I would suck, but it would be so much fun!

And so ended day 3 of my trip.

Monday, June 25, 2007

I'm Home!

I'm jet-lagged, but so relaxed. I expect to share my adventures on a daily basis starting tomorrow. This way I won't overload you with information. Sorry, I won't have pictures to share until I learn how I can do that. Of course, since I have a 35mm camera I also have to have the film developed! But I promise you will see my pics at SOME POINT!

For now, I'll leave you with this. On Saturday night, I went into my favorite tavern in Edinburgh for dinner and a couple of pints of my favorite beer. I sat at the bar. The bartender looked at me and said, "A pint of Tennent's?" So, you know I must've had a great time if the local bar staff know me that well just after 6 days!

Friday, June 22, 2007

Still in Scotland

82 pictures so far.
50 pages of new material.
Only 2 1/2 days of rain so far.
2 nights in my happy place, Glenfinnan.


Sunday, June 10, 2007

You Won't Believe It!

I'm here in Dublin. The trip across the pond was harrowing- 23 hours to get from Austin to the hotel lobby in Dublin. Lots of delayed/ missed flights, lots of running through airports and lots of confusion! But I got here and the weather is PERFECT! Sunny and warm, no clouds in the sky and it's been that way since Friday. (And of course I didn't bring any T-shirts or short sleeved shirts! Well, I'll just have to buy some, won't I?)

I've been to the Guinness Storehouse, the Old Jameson Distillery, Trinity College for a look at the Book of Kells and St. Patrick's Cathedral. Plus we've hit several shopping places around downtown Dublin. Just relaxing now and thinking of going to have another Guinness. Tomorrow we head out for the south of Ireland. The only stop I know for sure is Blarney Castle where I hope to kiss the blarney stone.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

I'm Off!

Well, actually I have about another 10 1/2 hours before the shuttle picks me up. I've got lots to do in the morning and I should be abed, but I don't think I'll be able to sleep. I'm TOO EXCITED!

Oh, I went to the surgeon's Wednesday afternoon for my 1 month follow up. He says all is well, I seem like all is well and I don't have to go back. In 2 weeks I can start stomach exercises again, 2 weeks after that I could bungee jump if I wanted or whatever else tickles my fancy. (Although, being afraid of heights and having inner ear issues I think I'll keep my feet on the ground...or airplane aisle, as the case may be).

I doubt I'll be able to post again for some time, so I'll leave you with some links of my travels. I promise to update you when I can from the road (if I can). The idea of being away from a computer for a whole 17 days is kinda freaky after so much time in this chair over the last week and a half, but I'm soooooooooo looking forward to it!

My Scottish Highland Hotel (which is in the village that inspired my contemporary series)
The Ring of Kerry- A view of one of the places I'll go on my Ireland bus tour
and for those of you who share my passion for a good beer, check here!

While I'm gone, get lots done, stay out of trouble and keep me updated with a comment or two! (Okay, you don't have to stay COMPLETELY out of trouble. After all, what fun would that be?)

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Book 1, Book 2, Book 3--Oh My!

Just so you're kept up to date on my manuscripts and the craziness that has overtaken my brain:

FP- The one that's "finished". The one that has won or finaled in 5 contests this year. The one that needs to be revised.

TCAFS- The current one. The one I expected to finish while I was laid up from surgery. The one I've barely worked on since surgery. (Although, a few people have commented that that's from the anesthesia. Go figure!) The one I'm now trying to reorganize and finish the rough draft during my vacation.

HC- The next one. Yeah, it was going to be something else, but this hero has quietly demanded that he be next. Him, I know pretty well. As for his heroine? I ain't got a clue. Luckily he's promised to talk to me during my trip so I can start brainstorming scenes and conflicts for him.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Almost There

My excitement for my trip continues to pick up speed now. I can't believe I'm really going to Ireland and then back to Scotland! I hope 5 rolls of film will be enough!

I got my business cards in the mail today from Vista Print. I LOVE them! I'm so glad I got them. There's already a stack in my carry-on luggage just in case I make some new friends on my travels.

As for packing, I'm just about finished. I've got a few odds and ends that I can't put in until tomorrow and then of course there are the odds & ends you have to wait to pack until the morning of travel. It's been kind of odd trying on, buying and packing long sleeved shirts and sweaters when it's 90+ degrees here. But I'm soooooooo looking forward to the cooler weather. I even packed my Texas winter pajamas! (Hey, the overnight temps in both Ireland and Scotland are in the 40's and low 50's. BBBRRR!)

I'm also trying something else new this trip. I haven't packed 1 T-shirt. I love T-shirts and I live in them as much as possible. I know I'll probably buy a couple there, but I decided to pack clothes that don't make me look like an American hood. So, no T-shirts. Only dressier clothes (but still comfortable) and 3 different pairs of shoes. I figured if I want people to take me seriously as a pre-pubbed author, then I better start looking more respectable when I'm out and about! Image. It's never too early to revamp.

I'm off to read a bit and work on FP revision ideas. Have a good night!

Sunday, June 03, 2007

Shadow Hawk & Nessie

Shadow Hawk by Jill Shalvis-OMG! Go. Get. This. Book. I finished it in a matter of hours. I think this hero has knocked off my previous Shalvis hero. I can't say enough good things about it! Hawk will DEFINITELY stay in my mind for quite a while. Yeah, and that's really not a bad thing.

Nessie- My Scottish friend Meggie has her own thoughts on the latest sightings of the Loch Ness Monster. Have a peek at what she thinks.

Saturday, June 02, 2007

A Trip To My Favorite Place

Well, THAT won't happen for another 2 weeks (Scotland), but I visited my favorite place here in town-Barnes & Noble. I was very good. I only bought 3 books and I was there for almost 3 hours. Jan Hudson was signing copies of her new book, The Texas Ranger. A bunch of us went to the signing and I ended up hanging around chatting with all our chapter mates who showed up. I also bought Her Irish Warrior by Michelle Willingham. I've been following her blog for quite some time and it's great to get the chance to read the book that launched her career. Finally I bought Shadow Hawk by Jill Shalvis because I LOVE her books and her blog and well...the cover of Shadow Hawk. (Seriously check it out!)

Hot Damn! I'm only on page 18 of Shadow Hawk and I'm already all worked up! I want the hero and I want to be the heroine!

Friday, June 01, 2007

Celebrate With Me!

I got my scoresheet back from the Merritt judge today. It was good. She said, "The author has a distinctive voice and she sets up a compelling situation." She pointed out what needed work and then ended her comments with, "After some revision I would be interested in reading this book."

At first, I was disappointed because I thought, "How do I make those changes???? I can't do it! There's just no way!" But then reality set in. This is a request. This is a type of request I haven't gotten before. No one's ever made suggestions and said resend the same manuscript. Usually I get a "no" on what I send with a "please send something else". So, after sending a few e-mails to writer friends, I decided to view this as the good thing it is!

Now, I just have to buckle down and get busy....while I'm getting ready for my trip, finishing the rough draft of the 2nd book and brainstorming the 3rd. I don't have much pressing between now and when I leave and so I thought to throw myself into a revision hell so I could send it out to her before I go to Ireland, but that may not be possible. Oh well. Bottom line is I've got another request! And what was I thinking?! OF COURSE I CAN DO IT!