The Big Island

September 26, 2009

Here are some of the reasons we fell in love with the Big Island of Hawaii.  And why we want to go back.

Kilauea Volcano

Kilauea Volcano

Closer view

Closer view

Entrance to Thurston Lava Tube.  How amazing to walk through a fern forest to this huge tube imagining lava flowing from the volcano and through the tube.

Entrance to Thurston Lava Tube. How amazing to walk through a fern forest to this huge tube imagining lava flowing from the volcano and through the tube.

Inside the Lava tube

Inside the Lava tube

Waikoloa Beach Marriot and royal fishponds

Waikoloa Beach Marriot and royal fishponds

View from our lanea.  What's not to love

View from our lanea. What's not to love

Sunset at Anaeho'omalu Bay

Sunset at Anaeho'omalu Bay

The Big Island has such a variety of climates and landscapes.  On the drive from Volcoano, we went through rain forest, saw waterfalls and breathtaking cliffs, rolling hills of pastureland and then volcano desert.  The Marriott was fantastic and we all wished we’d spent all our vacation on the Big Island.

Next time I’ll show pictures of our snorkling trip.

Pictures from Oahu

September 23, 2009
Waikiki Beach from our lanai

Waikiki Beach from our lanai

Waikiki Beach has changed a lot in 30 years

Waikiki Beach has changed a lot in 30 years

Arizona Memorial Pearl Harbor

Arizona Memorial Pearl Harbor

Diamond Head from the water in front of our hotel

Diamond Head from the water in front of our hotel

Waikiki Beach from the water

Waikiki Beach from the water

These are the pictures I tried to upload for the My Summer Vacation post.

Some bests from Oahu.

Best Day:  Pearl Harbor

Best lunch:  Cheeseburger in Paradise

Best dinner:  Duke’s Canoe Club

Best walk: From our hotel towards Diamnond Head.

After the HEA

September 22, 2009

Even as a kid, I always wanted to know what happened after the end of the story or book.  I spent many lovely hours imagining where my favorite stories are books would go next.  And no matter what problems or dangers I threw at the characters all came right at the end.This is probably why as an adult, I like series and why my first two manuscripts are part of a series.  And why I write romance.  I like HEA

But outside of fiction, here in the real world, our stories don’t stop at the happy moments when we achieve a longed for goal or find our true love.  Life with all it’s ups and downs goes on.

I always looked at my parents love story as a HEA.  They met, fell in love, faced adversity and overcame it.  I learned from them that making a marriage, a family, a career successful takes work and the work never ends.  But the rewards are worth the effort.

My parents have had a long life together, fifty-six years.  They have been partners, lovers, parents, best friends.  Now they are at a point in their journey where there can be no happily ever after.  My dad has dementia and Parkinson’s disease.  He can’t tell the difference between what he sees in his mind and what is actually going on.  He cannot walk very far, falls a lot, and can not carry on a conversation.  It is tearing my mother apart seeing him like this and knowing there is nothing she can do, that anyone can do to fix this and it will only get worse.

My mother always feared developing Alzheimer’s disease which runs in her family.  She never dreamed my father would be the one to lose his mind.  She never expected to be his caretaker.  But she is coping.  And determined to keep him at home.  She is having to make hard decisions.  She is having to accept she cannot do it all and needs help. She is coping.  With tears, sometimes anger and sometimes self-pity but she is doing it.

What are the lessons my parents’ story has to teach?   Avoid love because it can end badly.  Shun happiness because pain and despair might follow.  Stay where you are comfortable instead of venturing out and risking rejection? I don’t think so.

Life is a journey.  There are peaks where you feel you can reach out and touch eternity.  Times when you are so happy your body seems to small to contain your joy.  There are valleys where the road is neither hard nor easy but sometimes dull and boring.  There are deep holes you fear you may never climb out of.  We don’t know where, when or how our journey will end.  Love, family, friends, faith keep us going.  Remembering the happy times helps get us through the sad.  You are stronger than you think, can handle more than you ever imagined.  There is beauty in sunset as well as sunrise and even the darkest night will end.

If I can teach my kids even a fraction of this, I will feel I’ve been a success as a parent.

After the HEA, the story continues more compelling than before.

September 16, 2009

Some of you have asked to see an excerpt from my writing.  When I first wrote this book, it had a prologue.  As I learned more about writing I realized the prologue was back story and didn’t move the story along.  So I dropped it.  But it’s back story that really gives an insight into the characters so today I polished it up and am letting you see it.

The Turning Point

Dan Lawrence grabbed the pager vibrating on his hip.  His chest tightened when he read the number.  “I’ve got to call Lara,” he told the men gathered around the table.  “Something must have happened to one of the kids.”

“Use the phone in my office,” his commander said.

Dan nodded and ran into the next room.  His hands shook as he punched in Lara’s number.  “What’s wrong?” he barked as soon as she answered.

“What’s the phrase they use to tell the trainees in BUD/S they’ve passed Hell Week?”

“You sent me a 911 page to ask me that?  Are you out of your mind?  I was in a briefing.”

“I don’t give a shit about your briefing.  Joey and her band of Junior SEALs are sitting in the ocean and won’t come out.”  Lara’s voice shook.  “What’s the phrase?”

“You’re their mother.  Tell Joey you outrank her and to get out of the damn water or she’s grounded until she’s 30.”

“Didn’t work.  Tell me the freaking phrase.”

“Secure.  Tell them they’re secure.”   He sagged against the desk as he listened to Lara scream the phrase at their ten-year-old daughter.  It was November.  The Atlantic was too damn cold.  The kids would catch pneumonia.  What if Joey didn’t—

“They’re out.”

“You need to get them back to the house and into a warm tub.  Make sure they strip off the wet clothes—”

“I know the drill, Lieutenant.  Go back to your briefing.”  Lara hung up before he could say anything else.

Dan dropped the phone into the cradle and rubbed his eyes.  God, how many of the eight kids in Joey’s little band had followed her into the water?   He didn’t even need to ask to know their son Danny was one of them.  He followed Joey everywhere.

“What happened?  Are the kids all right?”  Commander Dave Crowther asked.

Dan straightened and turned to face him.  “For now.  Evidently Joey decided to take the Junior SEAL training a step further.  She had the kids doing surf torture.”

“Surf—” Dave’s eyes widened.  “Please tell me it was in a kiddie pool in the backyard.”

“Nope.  The ocean.  If Joey is going to do something, she goes all the way.  Too bad I didn’t remember that when she started building the obstacle course in the backyard.”

“Lara’s going to give us hell for telling the kids all those BUD/S stories isn’t she?”

“Oh, yeah.”  Dan blew out a breath.  “What am I going to do with her, Dave?”  He didn’t have to specify who.  Dave was Joey’s godfather.  He knew her almost as well as Dan.

“I bet she checked the water temperature, calculated how long it was safe for the child with the lowest body mass to stay in and based her plans on that.  It’s been a warm fall.  The kids probably won’t even catch a cold.”

“I’ll be sure to tell the other parents that.  Maybe they’ll just forbid their kids to play with Joey and won’t demand that the police arrest Lara and I.”

“I wonder what percentage of the kids who started the training with her six weeks ago made it through the course.”

Dan grimaced at his friend.  “I’m afraid to ask.”


“Did you get grounded too?”

Joey glanced up at her brother.  He sat halfway up the stairs clad in warm flannel dinosaur pajamas and a green robe.  His curly red hair gleamed in the reflected lights from the Christmas tree in the living room.

“Danny, Mom and Dad sent you to bed.  If they catch you out here, they’re going to add to your punishment,” she whispered running up the stairs to his side.

“I was waiting for you.”  Danny slipped his hand into hers.  “It’s okay, Joey.  A week isn’t too long.”

She sat down beside him.  “Three weeks.  I’m grounded until Christmas Day.”

“Three weeks,” Danny’s voice squeaked.  “That’s not fair.”

“Yes it is.  I’m the oldest.  I should have been setting a protecting you and setting a good example not leading you into a dangerous situation.”  She blinked back tears.  “Dad said a leader should make the safety of his men his first priority and I didn’t do that.  I’m sorry, Danny.  I didn’t meant to get you and the other kids in trouble.”

“We all agreed to the plan.”  Danny patted her on the arm.  “If we hadn’t finished this week out we would have failed.  But we all made it, Joey.  Nobody quit.  We all made it through Hell Week, how many kids can say that.”

Joey tried to smile.  “As far as I know, we’re the only ones.  But it wasn’t the real Hell Week.  We were just pretending.  There is no such thing as Junior SEALS.”  She stared into the lights of the tree.  They flickered and ran together as tears again filled her eyes.

“There is now.”  Danny folded his arms over his chest and frowned at her.  “It doesn’t matter what Dad and the rest of them say.  We did the training and Hell Week and we’re Junior Seals.  Someone has to be the first.  Isn’t that what you always say?  We’re the first Junior SEAL and you’re going to be the first girl to get into the SEALS.”

Joey dropped her head onto her knees to hide the tears running down her cheeks.  “I’m not going to be a SEAL, Danny.  Dad said that I’m old enough now to understand that.  In America, women aren’t allowed to go into combat.”  She scrubbed at her face.  “It’s a dumb law. You don’t have to be physically strong to serve your country.  And I will serve my country.  Somehow.”

“Joey, Danny.  What did your mother and I tell you to do?”

They jumped up.  Joey looked down at her father.  His auburn hair was mussed where he’d raked his fingers through it when he was in the office with her.  Lines framed his mouth and creased his forehead.

She straightened her shoulders.  “You told us to go to our rooms, Dad.”

“You do realize the length of your punishment is contingent on good behavior don’t you?”

“Yes, sir.”  They said quickly.

“Then I would suggest you both go to bed immediately.”

Joey took Danny’s hand and started up the stairs.

“And lights out.” Their father called after them.

“Lights out?”  Danny cried.  “But it’s only—”

Joey shook her head and he sighed.  “Yes, sir.  Lights out.”

“Sleep tight, Danny.  I love you.”

“Love you to Dad,” Danny said and trudged into his room.  “But it’s too early to go to sleep.”

Joey glanced at her father in time to see him hide a grin behind his hand at the grumbled words.  She put her hand on her doorknob.

“Joey, your Mom and I love you very much.  You know that don’t you?”  His voice was soft and gentle.

Tears filled her eyes again.  “Yes, sir.  I love you too,” she said without turning around.”  She walked into the room and started to close the door.

“Door open, Joey.”

Her dad sounded tired.  That was her fault.  She left the door ajar and crawled into bed.

“She’ll forgive us eventually, Dan.”  His wife wrapped her arms around his waist.  “She had her dreams shattered.  We need to give her time to adjust and find a new dream.”

He turned and took his wife in his arms and laid his cheek against hers.  “She scares me, Lara.  She’s so smart and she cares so much but she has no fear, no concern for her own safety.  And I never know what she’ll do next.”

Lara kissed him and led him to the couch.  He dropped down and tugged her hand to pull her into his lap.  She snuggled against him.

“She cares about other’s safety.  We made our point when we told her that the other children trusted her and would follow wherever she led.  She’ll watch out for them if not for herself.”

“After this stunt, I think their parents are going to make sure they don’t come anywhere near Joey.”  He stroked his hand over her reddish-gold hair.


They sat quietly for a few minutes watching the flames dance over the logs in the fireplace.  “Dan, what percentage of candidates usually make it through BUD/S?”

“It varies but usually between twenty to thirty percent,” he answered absently his mind busy assessing the possible repercussions of the children’s dip in the water.

“Joey brought one hundred percent of her group through their version.  That’s pretty remarkable when you think about it.”

Dan let his head fall back against the couch.  “It wasn’t anything like the actual course.”

“True, Joey made adjustments and concessions based on the kids age and size.  That chart she had ready to give the parents showing the water temperature and the research into body mass and reaction to cold was pretty impressive.”

“You sound like you think she should be rewarded not punished.  She broke the rules, Lara.”

“Which rules did she break, Dan?  She got Lauren to go to the beach with them so there was an adult present.  Every child had a buddy and every child was wearing a life jacket even though they were sitting in only seven inches of water.”

“And the rule about not going in the water in the winter?”  he snapped.

“Did we ever make that rule?  I seem to recall a couple of polar bear swims in February.”

“We’re adults.  And Dave and I only dipped Joey and Danny in for a second because they kept begging us to take them.  We wanted them to understand how cold it was.”  He didn’t meet her eyes.  Maybe they hadn’t ever spelled it out as a rule.  But Joey had a genius IQ.  She should have been able to figure that out for herself.  “You don’t think we should have let them keep going do you?  The next step in training after Hell Week is the Dive Phase.  And after that is demolition training.  Thank God, we stopped her before she came up with some version of that.”

“Is that why you told her she could never become a SEAL.  So she’d stop training for it?”

“I just told her the truth.  Even if the laws change about women in combat, they will never be admitted to the SEALs.”

“She could still join the Navy when she’s old enough.  With her leadership abilities, she could become the youngest admiral in the history of the Navy.”

He pulled back and stared at her.  “Only if they give her admiral’s rank on enlistment.  Otherwise, she’d be facing a court martial before she finishes OTC.  If our daughter thinks an order doesn’t make sense, she’s going to find away around it and you know it, Lara.”

“Yeah, heaven forbid anyone question some of the obsolete and ridiculous rules on the Navy books.”  She stood up and held out her hand.  “Come on into the kitchen.  You can pour us some wine while I grill the pork chops.  I’m starving.”

“Let me check on the kids, then I’ll come and help.”  He squeezed her hand and headed for the stairs.

“You know honey, with the kids in bed and asleep before their usual bedtime, we have a couple of empty hours to fill.  Got any suggestions on what we could do to pass the time.”

He grinned.  “Oh, I can think of one or two things we might do.”

“Only one or two?  You must be tired.”  She turned and walked toward the kitchen her hips swaying seductively.

“Ah, but you don’t know which one or two things I have in mind,” he called after her.  He ran up the steps and went into Danny’s room first.  He was sprawled on his stomach, a stuffed dinosaur clutched in one hand.  Dan pulled the covers up around his son’s shoulders and kissed his cheek.

He paused outside Joey’s door.  A faint glow showed beneath the mound of blanket and comforter.  He sighed and walked over to the bed.  “Lights out means flashlights too, Josephine Elizabeth.”  He held out his hand when she stuck her head out from under the covers and she handed him the flashlight.  “Book too.”  He stuck the light and the paperback she handed him in his pocket and sat on the edge of the bed.  “What am I going to do with you, Joey?”

“I’m sorry, Dad, but I couldn’t go to sleep.  It’s too early.”  She scooted up and put her head on the pillow.

“Did you try?”

“No.”  She shrugged.  “ I never go to sleep this early so I figured I wouldn’t be able to tonight.”

“You don’t usually spend the afternoon doing surf torture,” he countered.  “Hell week usually includes sleep deprivation.  Have you guys been doing that part of it too?”

“Just getting up a couple of hours earlier than usual.  I was afraid some of the kids might get cranky or fall asleep in school if we tried to get by on less sleep than that.”

“Good call.”  He brushed her unruly curls away from her face.  Her hair was the same glorious color as her mother’s.  “I think you’ll find it won’t take much effort to fall asleep tonight.”

She obediently closed her big green eyes.  He wondered how long that would last and if another flashlight was hidden under her pillow or in the drawer.  But he’d made his point and would make sure he and Lara made noise when they came up the stairs later.  He didn’t want to have to extend her punishment and hell, he’d read under the covers when he was a kid too.  He kissed her forehead.

“I’m sorry I upset you and Mom.  I’m going to make you proud of me, Dad.”

“I’m proud of you already.  I love you sweetheart.”

“Love you too, Daddy.”

He walked out of the room and pulled the flashlight and paperback out of his pocket and laid them on the hall table.  Profiles in Courage by John Fitzgerald Kennedy.  He shook his head.  Courage she had in abundance.  It was common sense she needed to work on.  He walked back downstairs.  As he passed the Christmas tree, he looked up at the angel on top.

“Dear God, You better send your best guardian angel to help keep Joey safe.”  He thought for a minute.  “Better yet, you better send her angels plural and you better make sure they are Navy SEALS.  No one else could keep up with her.”


September 16, 2009

Welcome to the new home of Working On Happily Ever After.  I will try and be better about updating this blog.  Really I will.  I plan to share bits of my life, and my journey as a writer.

I’ve just sent in a submission to an agent who requested it this summer.  It will be interesting to see if the response is any different because I decided I needed to start the book at a different place so the first 10,000 words got ditched and now I need to weave in that backstory.  I’m very excited and think the pace of the book will be much tighter now.  This book is a romantic suspense.  Over the next few weeks I’ll be working on the adjustments to this book.  I plan to finish this by the end of October so I can start my new project during National Novel Writing Month in November.

Please let me know if you visit by making a comment even if it’s just to say “Hey”

What we did on our summer vacation

August 18, 2009

Now, I had great intentions of writing about our vacation while we were on it but I wanted to include pictures so had to wait. So here is the first installment of “Hawaii–with teenagers.”

First, I’ve been to Hawaii once before–30 years ago. I went with my two sisters, a friend and her friend. It was a great trip and I’ve wanted to go back ever since. We spent most of our time at Waikiki and on Oahu but did take a quick (very quick, all in one day)trip to the Big Island to visit the Volcano National Park and to Maui for a sunset luau.

Planning the trip: I love this part. I have so much fun reading about the place we are to visit and picking the activities I think my family will enjoy. I first started planning the trip to Hawaii 5 years ago. We had our flights and hotels booked and then had the house fire. Since then, we haven’t been able to get the hotel and airline tickets using points until this year.

For anyone interested in visiting Hawaii or just reading about it I recommend the series of guidebooks on the islands by Andrew Doughty published by Wizard Publications. They have one on The Big Island, one on Oahu, one on Maui, and one on Kauai. I used Hawaii, The Big Island Revealed and Oahu Revealed. I’m seriously considering buying the other two because one day I hope to go there and it’s so much fun reading these books.

So first stop, Oahu because the main thing DH wanted to do in Hawaii and the reason he’s always dreamed of going there was to visit Pearl Harbor.

We got up and were out of the house by 3:30am to catch our 5:25 am flight. We went Richmond to Charlotte, Charlotte to Phoenix and Phoenix to Honolulu. Later this year there will be direct flights from Charlotte to Hawaii. When I was planning this I figured we’d be so excited that we would want to go for a walk on the beach or a swim that afternoon. The guys told me, no way don’t plan anything for that day because we’ll be wiped out. And they were right. By the time we got the rental car, went to the hotel and checked in what little energy we had left was gone. We ate dinner at the hotel buffet(and it was better than I’d expected from the guidebook’s review, we all enjoyed our food) Then the boys went up to the rooms and DH very kindly walked across the street to the beach with me.

Waikiki and Honolulu are very different than I remembered

Merry Christmas to All

December 21, 2008


December 12, 2008

Once again, I’m done. Thank you McB, McB’s mom, BCB, CMS and my critique partners Alleyne and Diane for all your feedback and help.

The last full, which needs to be sent snail mail, won’t get out until Monday because I had a brainstorm last night and decided the black moment would be blacker if done in the antagonist’s POV. So today I rewrote it. It works. I hope. I’ve been reading and rereading. Going over comments and adjusting and editing and revising to the point when I can’t really assess it any more.

I’m going to wait to hear back from the partials (or until Feb 1st) before starting to send out cold queries.

And I’m ready to move on to the next project. After I clean the house and decorate and bake and do all that holiday stuff.

Clearing and Cleaning

November 30, 2008

I’ve been spending the last couple of days clearing stuff from our bedroom and cleaning. When I’m busy writing, I let things pile up. I can take it for a while then it starts to stifle my creativity. So I decided to work on clearing things out of the room and my mind. So far, I’ve cleaned the closet, packed up summer things and gotten a trash bag of clothes to take to Goodwill. I’ve gone through a large box of cds and photos that’s been sitting in our bedroom since last Dec. My dresser top is cleared. Next it’s my bookshelves and vanity and two boxes on the floor.

I’ve thought of some places I need to work on in Body Language and tomorrow, I’ll start going through it again for the last time before sending off the requested full manuscripts.

I still hope to get them off by Friday, but this week is turning out busier than I had planned. I have a dentist appt and an appointment with the satellite TV people Tues. Wed. is critique group and Christmas shopping. Thurs my dad has two doctor’s appts and I’m going with my mom to help her. The plan is to work on the book tomorrow, Tues afternoon and Thurs afternoon and hopefully to print it out on Friday and mail it. But if necessary, I’ll work during next weekend and get it out at the beginning of the following week. The important thing is to feel confident of what I’m sending off. I don’t expect the agents and editors will be looking at what I send until after the holidays, but I want it off so I can move on to revising the second book.

So decorating is going to have to wait until this is done. And the house is clean.


November 25, 2008

All my chickens are home to the roost and I’m thankful for my boys and my wonderful husband who supports my writing and has never asked when I was going to get a job that brought in actual cash money. And he just laughs when I say I’m going to clean the house now the book is done. Got to love him and I do.

I’ve had people say they just can’t identify with heroines who fall in love within the first few hours, days, weeks they meet the hero. They say it takes longer. You have to really know someone before you can love them.

Settle around your computers and sip your cup of mulled wine, tea, or hot chocolate and I’ll tell you my story. Back when I was young, I threw myself into my career as a dietitian. I loved my work, served in professional organizations, worked with the local Heart Association teaching cooking classes and working on heart healthy restaurants, and did worked after hours as a consultant. When I was thirty, I took a good look at my life and decided it was lacking something I wanted, a man to love and a family. So I decided to put some of the energy I’d been funneling into my career into my social life.

I resigned from my position in the professional organization, I agreed to blind dates, and to shut up the friends and family, who said I must not be looking very hard or else I was too picky, I joined a dating service. It was expensive. Very. (More for women than men, I discovered later.) But I decided to do it because I wasn’t meeting many eligible men who had the same interests as I did.

Interesting experience. If you decide to go this route, don’t be afraid of being a sqeaky wheel. If I hadn’t gotten on the phone and complained they would never have decided to shut me up by sending me a better selection. (Because I didn’t want the guy with the panty hose fetish or the one who weeped over the phone about the wife who recently left him, go figure.)

I don’t know how it goes with the computer dating services now, but back in the old days (1985), they sent the women the phone numbers and you chose if you called or not. So I called the new set and made dates with all of them. Meet in a public place, drive separately, be safe. Four nice guys. But there was this one. We talked on Feb. 10th and set up a lunch date for the 12th. Turns out we both worked downtown and our offices were two blocks apart.

I walked into the city hall where we were to meet and looked up the escalator at the only guy in sight. ( I don’t know, maybe there were other guys but I didn’t see them.) He was coming down, talking and laughing with a woman on the floor above. Dark hair, long overcoat, broad shoulders. Oh, please let him be my lunch date. He was. We went out to lunch, talked, talked, talked. I must have eaten something, but can’t remember what. He walked me back to my office holding my hand. We made another date for Friday night. (Valentine’s Day, but neither of us mentioned that)

I think I floated upstairs. I called a girlfriend and told her I was probably crazy, but I’d just met the man I was going to marry. Then I said I knew that was nuts and I knew it couldn’t be possible, but…

Friday it snowed. We’re talking central Virginia here not the northern states. Measurable snowfall is the exception not the rule. There was more than six inches on the ground before six p.m. (Schools close and people strip grocery store shelves of bread and milk for 1 inch.) I got dressed for dinner expecting any minute to get a phone call cancelling. He was late. But he came. In fact he missed my house and had to help a driver who spun out, go up a large hill and come back down then make it up my driveway which was steep in order to appear at my door. Luckily, he grew up in NJ and went to school in Indiana so snow wasn’t a barrier. We went out to dinner to a Chinese restaurant we both loved and sat there almost alone with the snow falling outside the windows and talked. And talked. And talked.

He didn’t kiss me goodnight. (Told me later he was afraid to for fear he’d screw things up), but did ask me out again. We were engaged by Easter and married in August, 22 years ago. And I love him more than I did then.

So this Thanksgiving I’m thankful for the love in my life. The love of my parents who had a love story that should be immortalized. The love of my husband, my boys, my family and my frieds. I am blessed and very lucky and I know it.

I hope you all have a wonderful Thanksgiving.