“Our Magic”: The perfect end to an awe-inspiring summer.

When I was a teenager, a boy I liked wrote something in my yearbook that I will never forget: “Have an awe-inspiring summer.” I’m sure he hardly thought about it at the time and probably doesn’t remember writing it now, but it had a profound effect on me.

Did I have an awe-inspiring summer then? No. Not really. I worked in the public library, read a lot of books, spent a week at the beach with my family. I didn’t really know how to go about having an awe-inspiring summer then.

This summer was awe-inspiring. For me, anyway. Why? Mainly the travel. I spent almost two weeks in the mountains where I grew up, a week in Wyoming where I went to Yellowstone and got to see Old Faithful and a bear, and finally a four-day trip that took me back to the mountains, then to the U.S. Space and Rocket Center in Huntsville, Ala., and finally through Cherokee, N.C. and back home. Peppered in between I played school librarian and published Tracks in the Sand. It’s been a good summer. A productive summer. And it comes closer to approaching an awe-inspiring summer than any I’ve ever lived before. Even my kids think so.

And today I got an email from R. Paul Wilson, producer and director of “Our Magic”, a documentary about magic by magicians. I’m very excited about this documentary for several reasons, not the least of which is that it’s about one of my favorite subjects. I’m also proud to be a backer of this project. The opportunity presented itself just when I started my Sleight of Hand series, and I jumped at the opportunity to be involved in a project with real magicians.

Check out the trailer here: Our Magic.

Gathering raw material.

I’m on vacation, which means I’m not writing, but I’m not just gathering rosebuds. As a writer of romantic fiction set (mostly) in the South, I’m always doing research. I’m gathering material. Raw material. Very raw, some of it. For instance, yesterday, I saw alligators. Enormous alligators. Some of them with heads as large as my five-year-old daughter and tails as long as me. Here’s a sample:

Very large alligators.

Very large alligators.

I was in awe. Very impressive. I tend to put things that impress me into my stories, so you probably shouldn’t be surprised if gators figure into a future storyline pretty prominently. I also saw some other rather impressive reptiles in the scaly flesh. I’ve admired the king cobra for a long time. I used to draw pictures of them on my notebooks at school. I thought they were badass. Seeing one in person did nothing to dispell that image for me, either. To quote me: “Oh my God, that’s all one snake.”

Yes. It's all one snake.

King Cobra

I can’t quite figure out how to fit a cobra into one of my southern romances, but an equally impressive and much more likely alternative might be the cottonmouth or water moccasin. As luck would have it, a few tanks down from the cobra, I encountered one of these, thankfully with a wall of glass between us.

Water Moccasin

Water Moccasin

I couldn’t take my eyes off this one, but in spite of the glass between us, I didn’t dare get too close, either. I’ve grown up around snakes and I’ve always been warned to stay away from all of them, but the cottonmouth is the one that I’ve heard the worst stories about. The rattlesnake warns you, the copperhead hides from you, but the cottonmouth will come after you if you piss him off.

So how can I fit all these cold-blooded reptiles into my love stories? I can’t swear I can. I already had a heroine do battle with a copperhead in Where the Heart Lies. (I did enjoy writing that scene, which was inspired by finding a copperhead in my own backyard. I didn’t kill it, by the way. My husband did.) I do know a warm fire feels much warmer after you’ve been outside on a cold day, though, and it might be interesting to find out how hot and bright the flame of romance might burn against a colder backdrop than what I usually use.

Might. Remember: raw material.

Announcing: Romance Girls Gone Goblin Halloween Blog Hop!

Good morning, boys and girls. How is your October going? I’ve had a pretty active one, myself. A couple weeks ago I went to Las Vegas for the first time ever. I have to say, Las Vegas is way different from anyplace I’ve ever been. I’m not what you’d call a world traveler, but I have spent some time in different cities, including New York, St. Louis, Baltimore, San Francisco and even an unforgettable month in Bristol, U.K., followed by a week in London. None of these cities ever made me feel like a provincial, small time North Carolina girl.

Las Vegas did that. Yep. I came to the quick realization that I could never really belong in Las Vegas, nor could I pretend to. I enjoyed my time there, but it was as an observer instead of a participant. The closest I came to participating was putting five dollars in a slot machine, watching it grow into a hundred dollars, then shrink back into nothingness. But even though I walked among the other participants of Las Vegas for several days, I never really felt like I belonged there. I felt like everybody who looked at me knew that, too, but it didn’t really matter. In Las Vegas, the only people actually looking at other people are observers like me.

But now I’ve recovered and it’s time to move on. For me, that means getting back on the blog thing! This year, Halloween means even more to me as I’ll be participating in Romance Girls Gone Goblin Halloween Blog Hop! Hosted by fabulous romance author Lisa Sanchez, the hop starts on October 28 and continues until Halloween, so check back here for giveaways and links to other romance authors also eager to give you stuff! For more information about the blog hop, click on the cool image to the right, and I’ll see you back here on October 28!