Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Reflecting on 2008

It's been an interesting year. For many, we feel like this poor filly to the right. When we opened our 401K and investment statements, we felt like our heads were stuck in a tree.

For others, it was much worse, home foreclosures and job losses. I don't know anyone who doesn't know someone who wasn't adversely affected by the woeful economy in 2008.

And this year has an added second on it as well, stretching it out to make it longer than last year to catch up with the earth's rotation. As Stephen Colbert said, "WHY would anyone want to make this year longer?"

For me, 2008 was a good year. We're lucky. (so far as it's still 2008 until midnight!) Dh and I have our home, our jobs, and things are pretty much status quo. We didn't lose anyone in our immediate family, two-leggeds or four-leggeds and I'm very grateful for that.

Sadly, a few people I know passed, including a co-worker who died of pancreatic cancer in June, who was only a few years older than me.

We got a new addition early 2008 with Dolce. I'm very grateful for him, as heartbreaking as it was to see his owner give him up. He's a delight and a joy in our lives, and has adjusted so well that it's like he's always been with us.

Health-wise, it was a year of ups and downs for me. A good reminder that I need to find more time to relax and rest, instead of charging ahead at full steam.

FIL is still with us and in fairly good health, despite a couple of scares earlier in the year.

In Feb, we spent the weekend on the west coast and got to see a good friend and her sons, whom we hadn't seen in years.

April was RT and the moldy Hilton in Pittsburgh, and catching up with friends, and hanging out at the bar, which proved to be hilarious. Note to self: NO more moldy rooms. I was sick with a severe sinus infection for a week after, and had to take a week off work.

DH added more to the train layout, and added his skill to the train club he joined, building a new layout at a local train museum.

I went to Haiti, Nicaragua, and Honduras this year, and saw some heartbreaking stories of poverty as well as uplifting stories of hope.

Hurricane season came and went without a hurricane for us, though we watched with dread hurricanes hitting other areas, including Gustav hitting poor Texas and Haiti getting battered by four storms this year, causing massive loss of life and widespread destruction.

In September, I got to see my brother again, after 8 years. It was wonderful, and even though we didn't spend a lot of time together, it was great to see him at last. His job takes him constantly on the road, so family get-togethers are pretty tough.

On the writing front, I wrote one novella, one historical (The Lady and the Libertine) and one Nocturne (Immortal Wolf). I also accepted contracts to write two more Nocturnes, one more Bite and one novella in the Holiday with a Vampire anthology.

On the writing front, I wrote a book in two months. Pretty decent, considering I have a day job and also had to travel to Nicaragua at the same time and kept an eye on the hurricanes threatening our coast.

I also spent a week alone at a lovely B&B in east Tennesseee, which had inspired me to write Immortal Wolf, the book I wrote in two months. It was a nice writing retreat for me, and I hope to do it again sometime in the future.

Dh and I vacationed in Colorado, rode trains, tossed snowballs at each other at 8,000 feet in Estes Park, and drove all over.

Dorchester finally went back to press on The Falcon & the Dove, something I'd wanted for a very long time. And more of my titles got printed in other languages, including German and Japanese.

Went to the beach in March to write on the Alpha Smart and resolved to do it more often. Never did, but that one time was very nice.

Spent this summer finishing writing The Lady and the Libertine, which will probably be my last Egyptian historical, and was proud to make my deadline.

Spent more time experimenting with free writing, and reading books on creativity to free up my muse instead of making it work all the time.

Was a guest blogger over at The Wet Noodle Posse (love that name!) on writing and reducing stress. Failed to take my own advice. HA!

Got some distressing news in October about a former co-worker at the newspaper where I once worked, she killed herself with a gun after her former partner was found dead from over 100 stab wounds with a screwdriver. Police said she killed the ex-partner. Could not stop thinking about that one.

Made time to read in the backyard instead of always writing, writing, writing.

Discovered PUPPYCAM!!!!!! SHIBA INU! (smile)

Voted for a new president and got to see history made; election of the first black president in US history.

Did a great booksigning at the Altamonte Mall with the Central Florida Romance Writers yet again, and got to have dinner with a good friend from college.

Banged my head against the desk over the frustrating and growing issue of e-piracy.

Cleaned the linen closet. Watched it become a jumbled mess again, with hunting for Christmas linens.

Got rejected by a publisher, who like my writing and wants me to submit again.

Learned that some things in life are not worth stressing over, and that I can't save the world, maybe only try, in my small way, to make it a better place, one person at a time.

The last, I think, may be the best thing I learned in 2008.

The world never changes, much. There is still fighting in the Middle East, still hunger and poverty while others grow fat and greedy, still corruption and selfishness.

There is also generosity, people who sacrifice all for the sake of helping others, world leaders who care about their countries, creativity and inspiration and new ideas to make the world a better place.

And there are romance novels, to give us all a much-needed escape and bring smiles to our faces.

Last night I spent a few quiet moments sitting in the Florida room, staring at the little silver Christmas tree DH bought me last year. I had wanted such a tree for that room for a long time and he kept searching and finally, found one.

I looked at the lights, sipped wine and listened to the Coventry Carol playing on my I-pod. For those who don't know what this carol is, it's an old English Christmas carol about Herod's soldiers killing newborn boys in the search for the Christ Child.

I kept thinking about the world, and how it hasn't changed much since Christ was born. We still have wars, killings, torture, and poverty, and hatred, and heartache.

All we can do is try our best to make small changes in our own way. I'm always touched by donors to the organization I work for who contribute out of their need, sending a dollar here and there even though they are on SSI and probably barely have two nickels to rub together.

People like that make me want to fight the good fight.

As well as those from the younger generation who volunteer on their vacations, who donate their time, talents and birthday and Christmas money, to the less fortunate, or to causes they've embraced, be it saving the planet, animals, the arts or whatever.

I have an inspiring story to share. 2008 marked the 15th anniversary of my working for the poor, writing materials to raise money to help them, and traveling to countries like Haiti.

Many years ago, I visited our orphanage in Haiti and met an inspiring little girl who was 7. I'll call her Ginny. She spoke only Creole, but she was intelligent and poised. Her parents had abandoned her at the orphanage when she was 3 because they couldn't afford to care for her. If you've ever seen the photos I've posted in this blog of my travels to Haiti, you'll understand.

They wanted her to have a better life. Ginny was among some of our first girls in the home. I remember when the orphanage opened. I was on the trip with the president when he made the decision to open a girls orphanage in Haiti, because the need was so great.

Five years later, I visited the new home we opened for older girls. Ginny was there. She was learning French, had some command of English and she wanted to be a lawyer. She wanted a good education and to help her people in Haiti, as she herself had been helped.

Two weeks ago, Ginny came to visit our office. She's now 18. She is attending college in the US, after earning an international bacclerate scholarship and attending school in Norway. She speaks fluent English, takes notes on a laptop and she's bright and intelligent, gentle and sweet. She wants a profession in accounting or economics.

At a party recently, a longtime friend was shaking his head over Haiti, over the state of the world, really. He asked what good is it helping, when it seems like nothing good is accomplished?

I told him about Ginny. One young woman. That's enough for me. One life changed for the better, who maybe, just maybe, will go on to effect even more change.

2008 wasn't a good year for many. There's a lot of greed and corruption that got our economy into this mess.

There is also a lot of good, and people who can and do make a difference and make the world a better place to live. People who care. That's what gives me hope.

Happy New Year, everyone. May 2009 be much calmer, less stressful, more prosperous for all, and wishing all of you peace, love and joy in your lives, always.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Child slavery

Excellent article in the AP today.

Click here.

From the article: "The family brought her back to their spacious five-bedroom, two-story home, decorated in the style of a Tuscan villa with a fountain of two angels spouting water through a conch. She was told to sleep in the garage.

It had no windows and was neither heated nor air-conditioned. Soon after she arrived, the garage's only light bulb went out. The Ibrahims didn't replace it. From then on, Shyima lived in the dark. She was told to call them Madame Amal and Hajj Nasser, terms of respect. They called her "shaghala," or servant. Their five children called her "stupid."

While the family slept, she ironed the school outfits of the Ibrahims' 5-year-old twin sons. She woke them, combed their hair, dressed them and made them breakfast. Then she ironed clothes and fixed breakfast for the three girls, including Heba, who at 10 was the same age as the family's servant. Neither Ibrahim nor his wife worked, and they slept late. When they awoke, they yelled for her to make tea.

While they ate breakfast watching TV, she cleaned the palatial house. She vacuumed each bedroom, made the beds, dusted the shelves, wiped the windows, washed the dishes and did the laundry."

I've met former child slaves in Haiti, and they inspired me to write The Cobra and the Concubine, in which Badra, the heroine, was enslaved as a little girl. That story is a romance and has a happy ending.

I just wish all of them did. I'm glad the media is once again paying attention to this horrific issue.

No human being has the right to enslave another. Period.

Friday, December 26, 2008

No writing done yet. Was too tired, took a nap and had just fallen asleep when the doorbell rang. Dolce went nuts, good boy! It was a stupid solicitor. Grrr.
So instead I am playing with the new computer I got last week, since the old one was running slower than a turtle, and kept crashing. I uploaded a new photo program and found this one from 1975, I think. This is my Uncle Ed and Aunt Sylvia, cousin Regina, me standing behind my brother Drew, and Drew is holding cousin Amy. My relatives from Queens, who visited after New Year's, driving in from the city to our suburban NJ home.
Cousin Amy now has a baby of her own, Regina's three children are either in college or graduated, and Uncle and Ed and Aunt Sylvia are gone. Sigh...
This was our kitchen at the house in NJ. Note the pretty wood cabinets. Mom always polished them. She loved those wood cabinets. They were in such good condition that when we sold the house, 17 years after they bought it, the cabinets looked like new.

Twas the day after Christmas

And in Bonnie's house
Her DH took control of the keyboard and mouse
She'd given him a new cell and to the computer he sped
Photos and numbers into the new toy he fed.

While the doggies napped to recover from their Christmas frolic
And Bonnie sat on the sofa, coughing as if she had colic
You see, she got sick Christmas eve, no uglier sight was ever seen
Spent the night tossing ballast while her face turned Christmas green

She finally recovered mid Christmas day
And nibbled on turkey while DH and FIL ate away
Played with her gifts, and was beginning to feel fine
But then they went to the neighbors and they begged her to try Brazilian wine

She spent Christmas night turning both green and red
Wanting to just spend the rest of the week in bed
Finally recovering she is now going to try to write
To meet the next deadline she will type with all her might

Calling forth the paranormal creatures to come out and play
On vampires, on Draicon werewolves, gremlins today!
Weave your magick, tell your story, hurry before we see night descend,
Bonnie's throwing a hot tub party later and has to get ready for company again.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Merry Christmas

Dolce and Tiger beneath the tree, looking for gifts. From our house to yours, Merry Christmas, happy holidays and best wishes for a peaceful, joyful, and prosperous New Year.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Always check the paper first when sending out cards...

Been a trying week. They laid off a co-worker in my department because of cutbacks and the economy, and today is the 13-year anniversary of my mother dying from colon cancer.

So to cheer myself up, I'm reposting this blog post from 3 years ago when I made the biggest goof I've ever made when sending out Christmas cards. Uncle Ed died a couple of months after I sent the card, but I've always wondered if I made him smile.

Dear Uncle Ed,

I'm so sorry for the goof.

OMG, honestly, I never meant to send you a Christmas letter printed on the back of the erotic romance story I was writing.

It was dark in the office, I was tired, and thought I had loaded the printer with fresh, clean paper. Not the scrap paper from one of my current works in progress.

I had NO idea what I had sent you until I just looked now at the back of the Christmas letters and saw this printed on it:

"Because he found himself wanting, very badly, to have sex with her. To restore that sparkling fire in her eyes he'd seen earlier. To hear that throaty laughter turn into deep moans of passion as he thrust slowly into her wet heat...

"Yes, I'm afraid it's true, to answer the question probably spinning about in your mind. Your good little niece who works tirelessly for the poor and went to Sunday School and memorized prayers to the saints writes erotic romance. Yup. Steaming hot sex.

My secret is out. I hope you are doing okay and I didn't give you a heart attack. Give my best to everyone.

Love, Bonnie

Sunday, December 14, 2008

It's the most hectic time of the year...

Sorry for the absence, it's been a bit crazy between shopping for Christmas and getting ready for the holiday open house we did to show everyone the trains. The open house was last night and we all had a great time.

Yesterday was also the holiday party for my romance chapter, Florida Romance Writers. I seldom make meetings anymore, so it was simply wonderful to see everyone, and get to be festive with them. I finally got to meet Mary Ricksen, whose first book,
TRIPPING THROUGH TIME, is out next month. Yay! And got to spend time with FRW members I've known for a while, like Lyn Armstrong, Kathleen Pickering, Lisa Manuel/Allison Chase (she has a new dark paranormal out, yum, and others.

Today is clean up day and I'm hoping to finally just chill, and read and relax. I haven't written in a week or so, but that's a good thing because now I'm fired up to go and have all sorts of new ideas on how to write this vampire.

Someone said to me last night, "You must have a very creative imagination to think of all these stories."

Yeah, right now I'm imagining the mess in the kitchen is magically cleaning itself, lol!

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Help out author Jo Leigh and get some cool stuff!

A group of authors are having an eBay auction to help out Harlequin author Jo Leigh, whose husband died of cancer, and who had no medical insurance. She's now left with a stack of medical bills.

Click here to check out the auction!

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

New Cover!

Here's the cover for MIDNIGHT CRAVINGS, the anthology colleciton of Nocturne Bites. My Bite is in there, along with Karen Whiddon, Michele Hauf, Lori Devoti, Vivi Anna and Anna Leonard. It will be released in trade paperback in April.

Love this cover!

That's my news I've been meaning to tell. I'll have this novella out in April 2009, and The Lady & the Libertine, my Egyptian single title historical.

The other news is that I sold a novella, which will be featured in HOLIDAY WITH A VAMPIRE III next December. Woo hoo! I'm really excited about
writing a vampire.

So, as you can see, I've been busy, between Christmas, the day job, deadlines, and new deadlines.

I blogged today over at the Chatelaines. I went book buying and I'm giving away a copy of Emily Bryan's PLEASURING THE PIRATE. Just leave a comment to enter. Next Tuesday, Dec. 8, I'll draw a winner.

Have a good week!