Thursday, December 31, 2009

The Real Meaning of Christmas (Originally posted 12/08)

There are 11 children in my family. Seven girls. Four boys. All of my sisters are married, three of my brothers are married, and several of my nieces and nephews are married and have children. There are 63 people in my "immediate" family.

We have a Christmas tradition in our family of a cookie exchange. The deal is that you state your intention to be part of the exchange then Tammy (my youngest sister) sends us an email letting us know how many people are participating. This year there are 12. That means each of us will pick a type of cookie and make 12 dozen of that one kind. (I'm the peanut butter blossom girl.) Then December 20, we bring all our cookies to my mom's and 'exchange' them for one dozen of everybody else's.

Everybody involved ends up with 12 dozen different kinds of cookies for company but everybody also only has to bake one kind.

It's probably my favorite family tradition. And we've got some whoppers.

With 63 people in the immediate family, we have enough people (especially kids) to have our own personal Easter egg hunt. We have a sort of unofficial competition to see who can get my mother the best gift for her birthday. Every Wednesday morning in the summer, one of us hosts "breakfast" for the family members lucky enough not to have a real job -- or who have summers off because of working for a school district. My sister Laura is usually the winner for favorite breakfast. She makes waffles with whipped cream and fresh strawberries.

In October the kids dress up and take part in a Halloween parade. This year they were the Flintstones, complete with PVC pipe Flintmobile. In a way, they were their own little float.

Every Friday after Thanksgiving, rather than battle shoppers, my mother hosts the cookie painting party for her grandkids. She bakes sugar cookies and makes colorful icing and the kids paint the cookies with the icing. They go on a Christmas tree in the family room with bubble gum and candy canes.

There are enough of us that if every 'family' within the family chips in $50 we can buy my mother a major appliance for Christmas.

In a lot of ways we sound like a small town, but really we're just family. We like to be entertained -- maybe too much -- and we enjoy each other's company. We were taught to share, to be generous, to include everybody in every baseball game, football game and/or card game we played and those lessons carried over into adulthood.

I sometimes look at my family and our traditions and wonder. . . Are we a tad crazy? A little too in love with entertainment and stimulation. . .Or is this what life's really all about? Sharing your toys, including everybody in the game, and baking enough cookies that everybody gets a dozen.

Merry Christmas. This year, share your toys, include everybody in the game and bake an extra dozen cookie to give to someone in your town, your church, or at your office, who might not get a cookie this year.

Susan meier

susan meier
MAID IN MONTANA, Harlequin Romance, 6/08
THE MAGIC OF A FAMILY CHRISTMAS, Harlequin Romance 11/09

The 12 Days of Christmas (Originally posted 2008)

When Donna put out a call for authors to join her in celebrating the Twelve Days of Christmas, I answered quickly. I love Christmas! Not because of the presents. . .well, maybe a little. . .LOL. . .but because I love the spirit of the season.

For me "Christmas" began a little before Thanksgiving. I was tired. I'd worked since early morning, while my son slept in. It was, after all, his day off. I've noticed that writers don't get days off. . .but that's a blog for another day.

Anyway, Michael has a seizure disorder and doesn't drive. When he awakened, bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, ready to go to the bank, do a little shopping and buy lunch, let's just say I wasn't in as festive of a mood as he was.

A dutiful mom, I put on boots and a coat and drove him to the bank and a sandwich shop and then to the discount department store to get his prescription and a few things. I sat in the car and watched him jog inside, waving to friends, yelling greetings and laughing.

I'm not really Scrooge, but I did look at him and think, it must be nice to have all that energy. Then I remembered he was going into the store to buy medication that stops his seizures but makes him tired. He fights it. He has a job that pays him a decent wage, but he still has to live with his parents. (That can't be easy.) But he rarely complains. He makes the best of what he has.

In a few minutes, he ran out again and by this time the Salvation Army bell ringer was in place. Without hesitation, Mikie dug into his pockets and pulled out a few bills which he tossed into the pot. The bell ringer thanked him. He shrugged off the thanks and ran to the car, ready to go home and eat lunch.

In that moment I wasn't sure if I was more proud of him or more in need of the V-8 head-thump myself. Sometimes we get so bogged down in what we perceive to be the necessities of life that we forget life's biggest joy is giving. Not merely money, but smiles, waves, little acts of kindness.

Mikie knows how to appreciate the holiday because he doesn't see what he's lacking; he appreciates what he has and he turns his appreciation into action. He starts early, gives generously, loves mightily.

On that day in November, I decided to take a page from his book. I started early. I'm giving. Not just money, but time and conversation.

And I'm loving mightily. I'm looking around, seeing who needs to be loved. Who needs a smile. Who needs a prayer. Who needs someone to show him or her a simple kindness. And I'm doing those things. Even if it means going out of my way, giving up my place in the checkout line to someone who looks more tired than I am, being patient in traffic.

Celebrate the season by giving yourself the best gift of all. . .the gift of giving. Watch the smiles of your week double, the sincere thanks warm your heart and the love you give come back in wonderful, unexpected ways.

The Magic of Christmas (orginally posted 2008)

This time of year, I hear a lot of grumbling and complaining about the commercialism of Christmas. Truth be told, I categorize the complainers into two camps: Those who hate to shop and those who've never experienced the magic of Christmas.

When I was young, I spent a Christmas Eve in the back seat of the family car, with five or six of my brothers and sisters, waiting while my dad fixed our car, which had died halfway to the popular discount department store where my parents planned to buy our gifts. In the dark backseat, we whispered to each other that there'd be no Christmas that year. Not only had the money been spent for car parts, but also by the time the car was fixed the stores were closed.

But under the tree the next morning were gifts galore. Things my parents had purchased at a drugstore that stayed open later than the department store. I remember pop beads, a toy medical bag complete with candy pills, and, of course, a doll. Some of my all-time favorite presents. I don't remember what I got for Christmas most years, but that year sticks out - - because of the magic.

One year, my father worked away from home and because Christmas was on Monday, he had to leave on Christmas Eve. The mood at our dinner table that night was solemn, sad, until my sister went into the living room and under our tree were our presents. Santa, my parents told us, had visited us first since he knew Dad couldn't be around Christmas morning.

The "how" of all my Christmas magic is transparent when I look back as an adult, but it's magic all the same. The memories make me smile and also make me realize how far my parents would go, what they would sacrifice to make our Christmas special.

That's what Christmas magic is all about.

The magic of Christmas isn't something you can buy at a store or catch in a jar. It's an unexpected jolt of joy, a sense that anything's possible - - if you believe.

Sometimes you feel it from something as simple as having someone open a door with a smile, a merry conversation with a stranger in the checkout line, or a parking space that suddenly opens up when you're trying to shop on your lunch hour.

Sometimes your heart will be touched. Listening to the choir sing a familiar melody, you suddenly feel lifted. Dropping your coins into the Salvation Army container, you receive a smile of gratitude from a cold, probably hungry, bell ringer and you suddenly realize that lots of people do more than shell out money to make the holiday special for their friends and families, they give time and make sacrifices for needy strangers, people who depend on others for their Christmas magic. . . and you ask yourself. . .why haven't I?

Sometimes the scent of pine cones or fir trees or gingerbread will transport you to a happy time, when you were young and everything was magical and you realize how much your parents, aunts and uncles, cousins and friends loved you to make all your Christmases special, wonderful.

That's what we pass on. Our legacy to our kids isn't a philosophy of success as much as it is the ability to see real magic and to know we're all magicians.

All it takes is a smile, a helping hand, an open door, more time than money, more love that sacrifices.

That's the magic of Christmas.

And that's what my hero, Jared learns in HER BABY'S FIRST CHRISTMAS. Jared has a tragic past, the kind of past that would level most people. He survived by living in denial. But face-to-face with someone who's suffering in the here and now, longing for the type of family he's throwing away, Jared not only learns to count his blessings; he also realizes that Elise copes by seeing the magic in everything. But can he learn to see the magic before his time runs out and he must return home for Christmas?

HER BABY'S FIRST CHRISTMAS easily turned into one of the favorite books I've written, all because of the magic.

I'd love to hear other Christmas magic stories!

susan Meier

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Christmas Is Over...

...but I'm going to be reposting some of my Christmas 2008 "best of" blogs for your entertainment this week.

I have a book due early January, so I'm knee deep in that and posting in the Challenge, Challenge, Challenge blogs in the RWA online chapter forums, if you're really interested in the true challenges some of us face making tight book deadlines!

I'm also giving an online class, THIS IS THE YEAR YOU WRITE THAT BOOK, for the Yosemite chapter in January. You have until January 4 to sign up for that if you're interested. It should be tons of fun! Half the course is lessons on understanding the psychology of writing a book. The other half is lessons on crafting. Some fun, intersting stuff.

All of my nieces and sisters were taking pictures yesterday, but I think this one about sums up our Christmas this year! (I'm the one in the green cat socks.)

Monday, December 21, 2009

Happy Christmas!

We got several inches of snow over the weekend and I have to admit (or maybe hate to admit) that it made me feel jolly, Christmas-y, happy and festive. My husband, who has been shoveling the stuff, isn't quite so merry.

This has been an odd Christmas season for us. Our kids' circumstances are unusual at best. But the bottom line is neither Sarah nor Mikie has money to buy gifts for Christmas.

It's been hard on them. Their dad and I don't want them to use credit to buy gifts, but more than that, we wanted them to get this lesson. Christmas is about more than gifts.

We always say it's more blessed to give than receive, so what happens when that blessing is taken away from you because of job situations?

Mikie has been okay with it. He's looking to the future. Seeing himself next Christmas able to buy gifts.

Sarah, a nurturer, is feeling the pain. She wants to give. So she's wrapped up cookies, giving massages, doing more personal things.

All in all, I think both are getting good lessons. Mikie's learning one year of difficulty isn't the end of the world. Sarah is learning that the best gifts in life aren't those you buy from a store.

Merry Christmas, everyone.


Monday, December 14, 2009

RWA Online Chapter 136

If you're a member of the RWA Online Chapter (136), scoot over to the forms, the Challenge, Challenge, Challenge topic and look for my daily posts about writing a book through the holidays ... with a few other distractions thrown in!


Sunday, December 13, 2009

Christmas Cats

A cat, Creamsickle, plays a leading role in bringing the hero and heroine together in THE MAGIC OF A FAMILY CHRISTMAS. This isn't an accident. My cat Sophia has done some remarkable things. She can cheer up anyone. She keeps the rodent population to a minimum in our little section of town. She meows if I yell...even if I'm "yelling" to call someone to dinner. Which has turned me into a much quieter person. But she doesn't get along with our other cat Fat Fluff.

We've figured out why. She believes she's a member of the family and Fluffy is just the cat. The pet.

It all goes back to the day we got Sophie. A few weeks before we'd had to put Fluffy's brother Basil to sleep. I couldn't seem to get over his loss. He was a wonderful, huge black cat who loved to hide in poinsettias. So it was awful.

My niece Kelli just happened to be driving home from Pittsburgh one Saturday and they found poor Sophie on the road beside a stretch of woods. She was so tiny she fit in the palm of Kelli's hand. She was also covered in dead leaves, and sneezing. A new mom, Kelli couldn't leave the poor kitten, so she brought her home and my sister suggested they call me since I had just lost a cat.

I went to Helen's house to see Sophia and it was not love at first sight. She was filthy. She was angry. And she didn't seem to want pity! LOL But she needed me. So we took her home and my husband (ace that he is with cats) tried to give her a shower. Get that picture in your head. There's my well muscled, tough guy husband holding a squirming, screaming fist-full of kitten under the shower head. He ended up wetter than she did.

Fluff wanted nothing to do with her. First, Basil was his brother. Second, she had a virus (which we didn't know until the next day when we took her to the vet). Third, she was a feisty little brat.

She was also so tiny I had to feed her milk from the tip of my finger. Then because she was so small and so scared, I cuddled her. I used my chin like a mama cat would use her tongue to bathe and sooth a kitten. And I guess somewhere along the way Sophie decided I was her mom.

After that, we presume she looked around, realized Fluff was a pet -- but the rest of us were family -- and she was being treated like one of she must be one of us.

We named her Sophia Maria Lolita Conchita Chequita much of a longer name than Fat Fluff that we also figure that helped fortify her theory that she was family. So now she seriously treats Fluff like the family pet, while she's one of us.

And her greatest love is to sit on my desk, watching the little characters appear to the computer screen while I write. She absolutely, positively has a say in things around here!

With such an odd cat like Sophia, you would think she inspired Creamsickle in THE MAGIC OF A FAMILY CHRISTMAS, but it was actually Fat Fluff!

Creamsickle is quiet, but loving. He wasn't really happy when the new foster kid moved in. But when he realized how in need of love and affection Harry Martin was, he stepped up...just like Fluff did when Sophia arrived. He didn't even protest when Harry bought the bell collar for around his neck. In fact, he sort of liked it. And he also agreed with Harry that Wendy Winston, Harry's new guardian, needed more love in her life. Not just from wonderful Harry, but from a mate. So he didn't mind one iota being involved in Harry's plot to get Wendy Winston and Cullen Barrington together before Christmas.

Add a candy factory and a sexy, but grumpy, hero to the mix and you have quite a story! LOL THE MAGIC OF A FAMILY CHRISTMAS was one of the most fun stories I've ever written. I actually read it when my author copies arrived! LOL. Not only did it put me in a Christmas mood, but also I liked being with those characters. I liked being in that candy factory. I loved the small town, with the tinsel and silver bells, ice storms and fluffy white snow banks. I loved Wendy and I loved Cullen. Because they were both such wonderful people. Both had hearts big enough to open when Harry needed love.

Yeah, Wendy and Cullen really deserved a happy ending. They really deserved each other. But it took some conniving on Harry's part, a little bit of magic on Creamsickle's, and lots of cocoa and popcorn by the fireplace!

It's a special book about special people and I was thrilled to be the one to get to write it!



Saturday, December 12, 2009

The Wizard of Oz Wore Braces

Yes, it's that time of year again...High School Plays.

My niece Lindsay was the Good Witch Glenda in her high school's production of the Wizard of Oz. She was so good, we wanted to stand up, point at the stage and yell, that's my niece! LOL

The cowardly lion was also fantastic, as were the tin man and the scarecrow. It's amazing to realize these were only high school kids. But Lindsay's high school has a history of producing fabulous musicals.

I didn't realize how long it had been since I posted until I logged in to write this post. In the past week, my editor has gotten back to me on two books that are already in. Both need to be proofread (coming next month! LOL) and two projects I'd been waiting for comments on.

But I also celebrated my wedding anniversary. We got some good news for our oldest son. My daughter is "this close" to getting a job. And our son who lives in Pittsburgh may have found a house. Add writing to all this and I guess we've been a tad busy.

Today my husband and son are rebuilding our stairs...and I have to confess I'm nervous. LOL

I hoping I don't have to sleep on the couch tonight and wear the same closes for three days while they figured everything out!

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Technology versus Susan Meier

Reprinted from Harlequin Romance Authors' Blog on

Susan Meier Versus Technology...

And technology is winning!

For those of you who were at the HR authors blog on Friday, you realize that I also posted then. Why? The Google Calendar we use to keep track of the Harlequin Romance authors blogging each month seems to be having weird hissy fits. I've been deleted and added back in on dates that I SWEAR I have not chosen. I've dropped off dates I've chosen and magically reappeared only to disappear again.

They tell me (they being my more technologically savvy kids) that this is my fault. I am doing something wrong. Really? There's a secret handshake? LOL

Nope, the kids reply...You're clearly missing a step, not clicking an icon or hitting save or walking around your desk three times while chanting nursery rhymes.

To fix this, since I'm embarrassed that it's always me who seems to have trouble on Google, I volunteered to do the calendar manually.

Problem solved.

Yeah. Until I decided this week that it was time to become active on Facebook and to join Twitter. Only one hour into my Twitter experience I had the distinct feeling I was David going against Goliath...with no sling shot.

I filled out the form and quickly discovered I couldn't call myself Susan Meier. Someone else had taken my name. Okay. I get it. Susan Meier is kind of a common name. So I called myself Susan Meier 1 and everything was peachy. Except when I announced to friends to find me on Twitter...and I wasn't there.

Four days later, I still don't come up in a people search. You can find me by going directly to but you can't search for me. I'm not hiding...At least not deliberately. I'm simply not coming up in searches and no one seems to be able to figure out why. But don't worry, I've contacted customer support. I'm #367,845. They should be getting to me in the year 2048.

Still, I persevered. I can do the HR Author blog calendar manually. Not a big deal. I also don't mind the little glitch in Twitter. I'm sending everyone I know my addy to avoid the evil search. I needed to blog and to be on Facebook and Twitter so I could announce that my new ezine was coming out...Just as soon as I wrote it.

I have a really neat system for writing my ezine. I use blogspot. I can write it, edit it and even publish it myself without having to bother my web designer -- who is a lovely person and would help me in a minute...but I'm determined to conquer this Internet thing!

Anyway, I wrote the Intro, found a great lesson from one of my online workshops to use as a writing tip (it's a mini-goal-setting seminar, great for people wanting to set 2010 New Years Resolutions). I wrote a cat tail, reminded people of all the things they missed by not popping onto my website in the past 3 months... and published it. Bingo. Perfection.

Sort of.

I realized I had offered people the option of subscribing to the ezine, but didn't have a system for delivery. No problem. I would capture their email addresses and put them in a group and send them all a notice containing the blog addy to find the ezine. Piece of cake.

Not really.

I had more subscribers than I'd thought and my little "capture" and create a group project took hours. But that was okay. I'm not averse to a little hard work. LOL Even if it does mean I'll be hunched over for the next forty days.

I sent the email announcing that the ezine was "up" and then discovered I'd forgotten to put an excerpt from THE MAGIC OF A FAMILY CHRISTMAS in the ezine. Duh! That was sort of the point of the ezine. To let people know about the new book! Duh! Double Duh!

Suddenly Twitter wasn't looking like the cause of my Internet problems anymore and maybe Google's calendar wasn't half-baked.

Could the problem really be me?

Maybe...Well, yes.

The whole dang problem with Social Networking is that it changes overnight. Just when I master one thing there's a new thing on the horizon. And I want it all. I love being in touch. I adore helping people with writing tips! I want to brag about my cat, tell people stories about my heroic son, whine a little about my weight and in general enjoy every darned person I can find.

So it's me. My love of communication will always have me wanting to be on the cutting edge even before I know how to get there!


Friday, November 27, 2009

Cookie Painting at Gramdma's!

Well, the big day has finally arrived! It was cookie-painting day at Grandma's. We ended up with lots of colorful cookies for Grandma's cookie and candy tree for the family room. As you can see we have some real budding artists in the crowd!

Owen had a hand in preparing the icing and we think he's going to be one of the first employees when my sisters Tammy and Laura open their bakery!

Yesterday was Miss Helaina's birthday, so we doubled-up, having a small party for her before we painted the cookies.

She was less than thrilled with the attention. She's 2...LOL...But we all enjoyed the cake.

She got a talking pink pig, pink vest and pink furry boots from doting aunts and uncles...If I were better with pictures I'd post some! Maybe next year! LOL

Before we actually painted cookies, while waiting for everyone to arrive Gavin enjoyed his video game!

We had about fourteen kids this year and almost as many adults (none of us can resist a piece of Tammy's cake! LOL). I've posted some extra pictures in the space below to show you the fun!


Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Tuesday Before Thanksgiving

I thought I would happily post on Monday morning about the family's calendar party. No such luck. Not only did I not go to the party (we went to Gettysburg instead to make sure my sister-in-law was okay) but the days before Thanksgiving are a lot busier than I remember.

I didn't have to buy a turkey. My father-in-law won one at the fire hall turkey raffle. Yet I still spent $165 shopping for "other" groceries for the meal. Pumpkin pie can be really expensive! But it's one of my favorite things. And one of those things that I bake well, so I'm looking forward to it.

Still, $165 for seven people? Something feels wrong with this picture!

Yesterday I shopped. Today I began cleaning. Last week, my sister put up the drapes she'd made for me...gorgeous green I'd already cleaned windows and sills, vacuumed the living room furniture and in general made the house presentable. So one would think there wouldn't be that much left to do. But you know how it expands to fit the time available. LOL I super-cleaned the downstairs bathroom, washed carpets, lightly scrubbed my living room hard wood..Why not? I had time. LOL

So now it's Tuesday night. My feet are thumping. My hair is grimy from sweat. My hands are prunelike from being in rubber gloves too long. But my floors are scrubbed, the dining room is picture perfect, and tomorrow I can put the finishing touches on the living room ... before I bake my beloved pumpkin pies.

I'm having real mashed potatoes for Thanksgiving dinner, sweet potatoes, green bean casserole, from-scratch stuffing, real gravy, and corn...all to be made Thursday morning.

But I've still penciled in two hours for writing. Now let's see if I really get to do it! LOL


Thanks to everyone for the great response to THE MAGIC OF A FAMILY CHRISTMAS. I'm not sure if it's still in stores, but if you missed getting a copy it's still at Amazon and Barnes and

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Cleaning Can Be Fun

Anyone who knows me also knows that's virtually my mantra. I love to clean because I find it relaxing. But I don't get to clean as often as I'd like (or need to) because of commitments.

So when we decided to spend two Saturday mornings cleaning my Mother's house for the holidays, I saw two mornings of relaxation in my future.

But for those of you who aren't quite as enthused as I am at the thought of rubber gloves and pretty blue Windex, my family has other ways to make cleaning fun.

For instance, as soon as we stepped into the door of Mom's house the scent of chocolate chip cookies greeted us. Yep. Tammy was at it again. Using up spare ingredients she had in her cupboards she'd made chocolate chip, toffee, pecan cookies. They melted in your mouth!

Our big goal for the day was to clean the family room, and replace what we thought was a drop down ceiling...It wasn't. It was one of those tongue and groove things. So Helen recruited two brothers (John and Brian) and two brother's-in-law (Steve and Charlie) and created a team that got the supplies and put up the tiles. She was right in there with them, handing tiles, stapling, and cleaning up!

Feeling in the way, Janette and I left the family room and headed for the dining room where we washed windows, dusted curtains and walls, cleaned the China closet and buffet. As we worked, we chitchatted about our kids.

Cleaning the room divider in the living room as niece Jessica washed walls and niece Amy dusted above windows and cleaned nicknacks, we talked about raising kids and good books to read to unwind at the end of a long day.

Miss Lainie (Tammy's almost 2-year-old daughter) examined everything I took off the room divider so I could dust it. Miss Maddie (Tammy's 5-year-old daughter) brought the new kittens to the screen door, one-by-one, so I could be properly introduced.

Jake and Owen (Tammy and Jessica's sons) watched "Uncle John" as he burned old newspapers and boxes that had accumulated throughout the year.

We stopped at noon for ham sandwiches with hot peppers. (And another cookie...or two) Then began to disburse because most of us had errands to run and our own cleaning to do, but we also knew we'd be back again the following Saturday morning to finish up.

My sister Janette said she doesn't really look at cleaning at Mom's as a chore, but more like a social event. She should have told me sooner and I would have dressed better! LOL

But next weekend is also the calendar making party. We'll finish Mom's cleaning on Saturday morning, rest up, then meet at Janette's on Sunday afternoon with pictures taken this year so that we can create next year's family calendar.

I'll blog about that next week, with details (that may bore you! LOL) but it's always fun for us.

The saying is that the family that prays together stays together, but it's a little different for us. We pray together, but we also cook and clean and eat and chit chat, look at pictures, make calendars, buy gifts, go to jewelry parties and go to the games of whatever high school niece or nephew happens to be that year's player! This year it's Zak. His team's in the playoffs. They won yesterday...not that I'm bragging!


Oh and by the way...for those of you who live in my area THE MAGIC OF A FAMILY CHRISTMAS has sold out in our Walmarts, but it's still available in Giant Eagle and a few of the drug stores that still sell books.

If you miss it there, there's always eHarlequin, Amazon and Borders!

Monday, November 9, 2009

Sisters, Sisters

Good morning, everyone!

Yesterday was a good day. It was warm and sunny and beautiful, so all of my sisters made it to our sister Laura's Lea Sophia party. (Lea Sophia is expensive costume jewelry.)

Anyway, of course, most of us brought food or wine (or both). Laura made a yummy (and I do mean yummy) pumpkin layer dessert. It was sort of like pumpkin cheese cake but better. I bought two necklaces for myself and one for my sister Janette...because she's made me silk drapes and on Wednesday we intend to hang them.

How many other people do you know who would not only scout out the material, figure out the design and then actually sew your drapes? Only a sister!

So Wednesday is the big day for drapes. It was supposed to be tomorrow but my husband's sister had emergency surgery last week. She's fine, but he'd like to visit her so we may be taking a day trip tomorrow.

Then Wednesday, after drape hanging, we're taking Janette to Applebees to celebrate her birthday. On Saturday, my sister Helen and I will join our two brothers in cleaning my mom's family room for Thanksgiving. The following Saturday, all sisters will be at my mother's to clean the rest of her house before company on Thansgiving.

We're lucky to have each other and we know it.


By the way, get out there and buy THE MAGIC OF A FAMILY CHRISTMAS!!

Friday, November 6, 2009

Susan Meier versus Technology

Reprinted from Harlequin Romance Authors' Blog on

Susan Meier Versus Technology...

And technology is winning!

For those of you who were at the HR authors blog on Friday, you realize that I also posted then. Why? The Google Calendar we use to keep track of the Harlequin Romance authors blogging each month seems to be having weird hissy fits. I've been deleted and added back in on dates that I SWEAR I have not chosen. I've dropped off dates I've chosen and magically reappeared only to disappear again.

They tell me (they being my more technologically savvy kids) that this is my fault. I am doing something wrong. Really? There's a secret handshake? LOL

Nope, the kids reply...You're clearly missing a step, not clicking an icon or hitting save or walking around your desk three times while chanting nursery rhymes.

To fix this, since I'm embarrassed that it's always me who seems to have trouble on Google, I volunteered to do the calendar manually.

Problem solved.

Yeah. Until I decided this week that it was time to become active on Facebook and to join Twitter. Only one hour into my Twitter experience I had the distinct feeling I was David going against Goliath...with no sling shot.

I filled out the form and quickly discovered I couldn't call myself Susan Meier. Someone else had taken my name. Okay. I get it. Susan Meier is kind of a common name. So I called myself Susan Meier 1 and everything was peachy. Except when I announced to friends to find me on Twitter...and I wasn't there.

Four days later, I still don't come up in a people search. You can find me by going directly to but you can't search for me. I'm not hiding...At least not deliberately. I'm simply not coming up in searches and no one seems to be able to figure out why. But don't worry, I've contacted customer support. I'm #367,845. They should be getting to me in the year 2048.

Still, I persevered. I can do the HR Author blog calendar manually. Not a big deal. I also don't mind the little glitch in Twitter. I'm sending everyone I know my addy to avoid the evil search. I needed to blog and to be on Facebook and Twitter so I could announce that my new ezine was coming out...Just as soon as I wrote it.

I have a really neat system for writing my ezine. I use blogspot. I can write it, edit it and even publish it myself without having to bother my web designer -- who is a lovely person and would help me in a minute...but I'm determined to conquer this Internet thing!

Anyway, I wrote the Intro, found a great lesson from one of my online workshops to use as a writing tip (it's a mini-goal-setting seminar, great for people wanting to set 2010 New Years Resolutions). I wrote a cat tail, reminded people of all the things they missed by not popping onto my website in the past 3 months... and published it. Bingo. Perfection.

Sort of.

I realized I had offered people the option of subscribing to the ezine, but didn't have a system for delivery. No problem. I would capture their email addresses and put them in a group and send them all a notice containing the blog addy to find the ezine. Piece of cake.

Not really.

I had more subscribers than I'd thought and my little "capture" and create a group project took hours. But that was okay. I'm not averse to a little hard work. LOL Even if it does mean I'll be hunched over for the next forty days.

I sent the email announcing that the ezine was "up" and then discovered I'd forgotten to put an excerpt from THE MAGIC OF A FAMILY CHRISTMAS in the ezine. Duh! That was sort of the point of the ezine. To let people know about the new book! Duh! Double Duh!

Suddenly Twitter wasn't looking like the cause of my Internet problems anymore and maybe Google's calendar wasn't half-baked.

Could the problem really be me?

Maybe...Well, yes.

The whole dang problem with Social Networking is that it changes overnight. Just when I master one thing there's a new thing on the horizon. And I want it all. I love being in touch. I adore helping people with writing tips! I want to brag about my cat, tell people stories about my heroic son, whine a little about my weight and in general enjoy every darned person I can find.

So it's me. My love of communication will always have me wanting to be on the cutting edge even before I know how to get there!


Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Dreams...Gotta Love 'em

Last night I had another dream about being at a writer's conference. Now, I know I go to my fair share of conferences so it's not unusaul that they'd pop up in my subconscious. I love to teach. And, honestly, I've spent a lot of years studying the craft of writing so...if I do say so myself...I'm a fairly good teacher.

The thing that a lot of people don't get about writing is that it isn't easy. LOL Many people believe that talent carries authors to fame and fortune. Still others believe our stories "come to us" in visions or downloads from heaven.

Sometimes both are true. But that only happens about once every three or four books. When you're writing 3 books a year, or even one bestseller every year, a download from heaven every four years isn't enough.

Most of us have to learn to craft. Every book we're supposed to get better. When I figured those two things out, I began going to every conference I could afford and taking lots of online classes. When things began making sense to me, I began teaching.

This new crop of people that I recently met in New Jersey really has a lot of talent and a lot of potential. But what I liked most about these bright-eyed authors was their commitment. Most of them realize good ideas aren't enough. An author must learn to turn her ideas into exceptional books, because the competition is tough.

But back to the dream...

What troubles me about this dream is that there is always a guy in a black top coat in the dream. Last night, he was beside me at the buffet table. Sometimes we're in the elevator together. Sometimes he's unlocking the door of the room beside mine in the hotel.

He's a nice guy. Sometimes, like last night, he offers quiet advice. (Though for the life of me I can't remember it.) Other times he says nothing.

This is one of those times I'm almost tempted to consult a dream book!


Monday, October 26, 2009

What to say after a conference

It's always hard to figure out what to write about the day after a writer's conference. Everything was so great this weekend at the New Jersey RWA Chapter Conference that I'd hate to focus on one thing at the risk of not mentioning other equally important things.


Karen Rose's keynote reminded me of why I'm a writer. When asked by friends who couldn't attend, why her speech had affected me that way I honestly couldn't remember. I think it was subtext. There she stood, at the podium, telling great stories about her life, relating how she overcame some difficulties and still has a day or two when she gets stuck. She was pretty and happy and enthusiastic, obviously in love with her job. I almost felt she was speaking directly to me, agreeing that the writer's life though tons of fun has its pitfalls. But that's okay because most of us overcome them.

Allison Brennon's lunch speech was equally good, though for the life of me I can't remember most of it. Probably because the hotel gave each table 3 bottles of wine to make up for the fact that the fire alarms kept going off the night before. I slept through them. This is actually the 3rd time I've slept through hotel fire alarms. If there is ever a real hotel fire, I'm a gonner.

The booksigning was absolutely delightful. I sold a lot of books, but also had participants in my workshop drop by to say hello. I had done a workshop on scenes...not the most "attractive" of topics, but a necessary one and those who attended shared my enthusiasm. If you're going to write, you must know the basics of crafting. That's usually what I teach. (I'm unfortunately down to earth! LOL)

It was great to interact with a wonderful group of ladies who agreed with me!

I had a few panicky moments. My black shoes rubbed and I refused to wear tan shoes with a black dress with houndstooth jacket...and ended up giving my workshop with throbbing feet! My hairdo fell. But luckily I had a clip.

This is the first time in years I didn't meet the editors or agents. Mostly because my workshop was opposite theirs. I wish I had some great news or information to post from them, but that boat sailed right by me.

As always, though, I came home refreshed and enthusiastic and loving my job! What other profession do you know where we can work in pajamas and where talking with our friends on loops is considered part of our job!


Tuesday, October 20, 2009

A size fourteen in a size 0 world

I have a little bit of a problem with a size 0. Seriously. If you're not big enough to warrant a you exist? Haven't you disappeared?

I've always fought my weight. Except when I smoked and right after I had kids. Obviously, I quit smoking...and right now my kids don't want me chasing after them making sure they don't fall or hurt themselves or get into trouble...though there are days I think they might benefit from having me right behind them.

Anyway, about ten years ago I decided to give up the battle and, of course, I gained some weight. For a long time I stopped on a size twelve and was fairly happy there. Unfortunately, about two winters ago I put on some more weight and now I'm a size fourteen. But even though the research suggests that most of us are a size 12 or 14, no one seems to have told makers of women's clothing.

This causes all kinds of problems. At church on Sunday I sat down and my pants and shirt didn't meet. It might be cute for a twenty-something with a firm behind to show off the top of her butt. one wants to see that little piece of flesh below my top and above my jeans.

Worse, one year for Christmas my husband asked me what I wanted. I suggested he buy me something (nightwear) that he wanted to see me in. Christmas morning I opened up a package containing a huge flannel nightgown. As I dialed the number of my lawyer, he hastily explained that he'd bought me flannel because I'm always cold and he only wanted to see me warm and happy.


I bought the explanation because he does have a tendency to be considerate, but I re-explained my request...telling him that I wanted him to buy me some sexy little number he'd like to see me in. Then I sent him back to the mall with a bit of cash.

He returned with a cute little red thing that came with a thong. I went into the bathroom to put it on so I could come out and model it. I took off my clothes and put on the thong...and whoosh it immediately disappeared in my fat roll.

I looked at the box. Nowhere does it say "must have a hard body to wear this". Or "Danger, tight thongs will disappear into fat rolls". Nope. There were no instructions at all.

In the meantime, my husband was getting restless. While he was calling, "Hey, babe, don't you have that thing on yet?" I was debating calling the fire department to see if they could bring over the jaws of life to get the red thong out of my fat roll.

I have no clue why sleeveless clothes are so fashionable when most of us refuse to wear them. There are maybe ten women who can wear sleeveless dresses. And whose idea was it to bring ruffles back? Do I not look round and cuddly enough? I actually have a three-tiered gray dress that makes me look like a keg of beer. I would be incredibly popular at college dorms in that thing.

Short plaid jackets also make me shake my head. First off, if you've got any sort of bustline at all, you ruin the line of the plaid. But second, does any woman really want to look like she has the shoulders of a linebacker?

Seriously, they dress football players better than this. Have you ever watched a game that had even ONE PLAYER who didn't look like he had a tight butt? Heck no. They dress these guys to show off their broad shoulders and tight butts and hide their big tummies.

So why can't designers make fashionable clothes that make the rest of us look good? Face it. The football players have money. They will never lack for a date or companionship and no one would dare tell them they looked bad. They could wear burlap and pancakes and no one would say a word.

Forget the football players. Make the rest of us look good!


Monday, October 12, 2009

Apple Butter in Pennsylvania!

This weekend my husband and I traveled to a small town in East Central Pennsylvania, near Gettysburg, to make applebutter with the church ladies (and men!) at my husband's brother's church.

Thare are so many things I could talk about in this blog. First, making applebutter is kind of cool. LOL Second, everywhere you walk in that part of the state you find yourself face-to-face with history. Their little church is historic. The cemetary beside it is amazing. The farmland has been has been passed down from one generation to the next.

But the most important, most fun part of the experience for me was the people. As the men stirred the apples simmering in huge kettles outside, the women prepared a lunch of homemade soups. (I had the beef vegetable!) Three vendors sold their goods near the eating area. One had knitted and crocheted items, jewelry and little purses. (I bought my daughter two scarves.) Another had framed photographs. The third had handmade flower arrangements.

I worked in the far corner at the bake sale. The church ladies had been slaving away for days baking pies, (I bought cherry) and apple dumplings (I bought two). But individually they'd baked everything from cupcakes and cookies (I got the gingerbread) to peanut butter fudge (yes, I bought some of that too).

By now you're probably noticing a pattern. I spent a lot of money that day! LOL

We got there around eight and prepared the bakesale for the crowd that would be arriving around nine. We made pretty displays of cookies and cupcakes, pies and apple dumplings, fudge and pumpkin bread. When everything was packaged and displayed for sale, I asked how much we were to charge and was shocked to discover you could get a cupcake with a piece of candy corn on top for $.25. A quarter.

I said, Are you kidding? In the city we'd sell this for seventy-five cents and they looked at me as if I were insane and said, Who would pay $.75 for a cupcake? (The crazy people who live in the city and don't bake! LOL)

They were great, witty, fun companions all day as we began to realize the difference between this city mouse and those country mice. By the end of the day I'm sure most of them genuinely believed I didn't know the value of a dollar! LOL And I wished with all my heart and soul that I could bake about half as well as any one of them.

We ate soup and talked about kids...whose problems, by the way, are universal. What school to go to, how to handle bullies, worries that they'll maintain good grades, get a part in the school pay, pick the right mates. We talked about husbands...and, let me tell you there are no more honest wives than a group of church women waiting for bake sale customers. We sold fresh-in-the-jar applebutter to people who'd driven miles just for a jar of warm, cinnamony delight.

The sun was warm. A breeze rippled through the orange and yellow leaves on the trees surrounding the old cemetary beside the church. Good moods abounded.

It was probably the last little festival of the year. Thanksgiving and Christmas will soon be upon us all so everyone's attention will be drawn to more spirital matters as they plan and prepare their own family celebrations. So everyone seemed to take the time to just smell the applebutter sputtering in the copper pot and share a few minutes with friends and neighbors.

No matter how much I love living in my small city, being beside Walmart (not right beside but close enough to get milk at 5:45 if I want to) and not having to walk down a lane to get my mail, I thoroughly enjoyed that weekend in the country, with good people, fresh apple butter for saltines, warm, wonderful homemade soup and warm, wonderful people!

susan meier


Sunday, September 27, 2009


Driving to my mother's this afternoon, I enjoyed the views of coloring trees on the mountains. It made me think of last Halloween when my nieces and nephews dressed up as the Flintstones and took first place in the town's annual Halloween Parade.

So I wasn't surprised when I arrived at my mom's and my younger sister asked me if I wanted to dress up as a killer bee for a new family tradition. Instead of having a stagnant Halloween Party, Jessica (my niece) has rented a bus for the family to ride from place to place to trick or treat.

Sounds like a good time to me! LOL

But can I carry off the black tights and black and yellow striped tunic? Probably not. I'm probably going to have to go as an M&M or maybe a beer keg. Something that takes advantage of my new "round" shape.


P.S. Don't forget THE MAGIC OF A FAMILY CHRISTMAS will be released in November. Still haven't seen it on Amazon...but I really is coming! LOL If you search under books for Meier THE MAGIC OF A FAMILY CHRISTMAS, the UK edition will come up. Then click mass market paperback.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Link to Journey Steps Workshop

I mentioned on Cata that I was doing the Journey Steps workshop in November.

It's for Yosemite Chapter

That's the link. You might have to cut and paste it.


Tuesday, September 22, 2009

You Know It's Fall...

Last Friday afternoon, my husband announced he was in the mood for a high school football game. Immediately, my son and I pounced. We'd wanted to go see nephew... play but Zack plays for a small town team. The field is beside the town park, and over the years houses have been built almost to the fence. Needless to say, parking is a nightmare so I wouldn't even attempt the trip. But, if my husband, storm trooper driver, was willing to drive, we wanted to see Zack play.

My husband balked. He didn't want to say it, but Zack plays for the team which has been the rival team for his old high school. For decades (lots of them) he's cheeered against this team. Did I really want him to go and watch them play...seriously?

Well, yes.

We bundled up and got in the car and drove to the field an hour before the game just to be sure we got a parking space. Believe it or not, we just barely found one. I pity the people who thought arriving fifty minutes before the game was early enough. LOL

Now, to sort of add fuel to my husband's not-quite-happy-fire, it was also homecoming. Before the start of the game we were introduced to quite a long line of homecoming queen contenders. I didn't mind. Mikie spent most of the time at the concession stand and looking for other "cousins" who'd come to watch Zack play. But my husband sighed a lot and kept looking at his watch. He's not much on seeing the latest fashions in eveningwear for high school students. LOL (Luckily, I am.)

Finally, finally, the game started. At first it appeared the other team might beat Zack's undefeated team. For those five or ten minutes that the other team strutted their stuff our stomachs clenched. So when Zack's team got the ball, we couldn't help cheering for them. Even my husband rose to his feet to cheer for his high school's rivals. I saw him sort of twitch afterward. But he wasn't cheering for the high school as much as he was cheering for family. LOL

Zack had some great plays. It really is fun to go to a high school football game and see someone you love do so well. And even my husband enjoyed the game.

It's also fun to see cousins in the refreshment stand, cousins walking around the field, nieces and nephews with new boyfriends and girlfriends...and even a younger cousin in the band.

The small town in which most of my family lives is nearly perfect. And when I say perfect I don't mean perfect in the sense that they do no wrong. But perfect in the sense that they have two competing grocery stores so there are sometimes price wars. They have used car dealers run by guys they actually trust. And wonderful restaurants with homecooking that give the one and only McDonalds a real run for its money. They have a Main Street with a genuine volunteer fire department, where volunteers sit on their off hours like guardians. Ready in case someone needs them.

Old houses aren't demolished. They're remodeled and become some of the prettiest properties in the town. Flower gardens abound. People actually grow their own tomatoes and share zucchini recipes. In the morning, kids in raincoats stand along the street on the sidewalk waiting for the bus.

And everybody goes to the football game! Which is why it's hard to find a seat, harder still to find a parking place. LOL

But what great fun!


Monday, September 14, 2009

Two Fall Online Workshops and one Live in New Jersey

I've finally begun accepting workshop offers for 2010. I love to teach. Love to do online workshops and live presentations. Plus, I've had a long career with all kinds of ups and downs so I've got some great info to share. Fun stuff. I'm every bit as energized to write after a presentation as the attendees are! LOL

But time is always a consideration. Technically, workshop presentation is a "second job"...and one that frequently doesn't pay! LOL So it's always a challenge to figure out which months I'll have enough time to do an online workshop and/or accept live teaching opportunities!

Teaching is really fun for me because (as I told a friend yesterday on the phone as I was plowing through all my workshops, reading them as I transferred them to a different drive) my workshops are like a journal of my career. Each introduction tells the story of why I chose to write that workshop...what I had to learn to be able to write and teach the material and usually why I had to learn it! I tell on myself because I think it's important for authors at all stages of the game to realize that everybody makes mistakes and that sometimes even seasoned authors have trouble when editors, the market and reader tastes shift.

So I have a lot of fun admitting my checkered past! Showing attendees that I've studied nearly all 26 years of my career and that it's not bad or wrong or shameful to say, Hey, I don't know something! I think I better study.

So ultimately I did carve out some time in next year's schedule to teach, to share, and I still have two online workshops scheduled this year and one live for the New Jersey conference. So if you're interested in one of my workshops, Yosimite RWA chapter is hosting one in November and RWA's Online chapter is hosting one in December. Come and get as energized about your career as I'll get from teaching! LOL

Don't forget THE MAGIC OF A FAMILY CHRISTMAS will be out in November. I got fan mail this morning from a few ladies who read last year's Christmas story and loved it. People must be getting in the mood for everybody's favorite holiday!

I hope to be doing a booksigning for that book and will post the info if I get one scheduled!


Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Labor Day Weekend

This past weekend, my family visited my husband's sister and her husband who live in the eastern part of the state, near Gettysburg. (His younger brother and sister-in-law also live in that part of the state.)

Friday we golfed. Saturday I helped my sister-in-law at a fundraiser then she and I shopped. Sunday we golfed again then we had a picnic.

It doesn't sound like all that exciting of a weekend, but the truth is this family gathering is always a blast. My brother-in-law got a new puppy who was so excited to see so many people that you'd swear he had springs in his back legs. John's wife rode along with us on the golf course and saw just why we laugh so much when we golf. I got some amazing bargains. My youngest son made us laugh. My daughter amused us with her fear of bugs. My sister-in-law, Jan, made her fabulous pies!

The best parts of the weekend are the times we just sit and talk and catch up on each other's lives. Too many things are forgotten on short visits, but long, stay-all-weekend visits lend themselves to great conversations!

On Thursday before we left my editor emailed me with the offer of a new contract, including a 100-page story for one of Harlequin Romance's Holiday 2-for-1's. Because it's a Christmas story, that book is already in production!

A few people have also asked about the Ezine, which hasn't been updated since June. Never fear. LOL. I'm updating that in months when I have a book out so the new edition should be out November 1.

Today I had breakfast with two of my sisters, my mom, my son and my nephew Bud. It's always fun to get together with family, but we had an especially good time because we talked about my sisters' new baking venture. In a few weeks you will be able to order some fabulous baked goods from their Something Yummy website!

I'll keep you posted.

Don't forget...THE MAGIC OF A FAMILY CHRISTMAS...comes out in November. This is one of my favorite books! I'm excited for it to hit the shelves and excited to hear your comments!


Monday, August 31, 2009

School Has Started

Well, school has started here in Pennsylvania. The air is now crisp and smells like fall. And about half of us are depressed because summer zoomed by!

But the good news is I'm about to start a Christmas story. It's part of a two for one anthology to be released in 2010. So once again, I begin fall thinking about Christmas...about iced sugar cookied and hot cocoa, presents, evergreens, and all things pumpkin.

This year I also did a Christmas club, so I have a nice check coming for shopping! I didn't get as much in as I wanted but a few extra hundred dollars will be just enough to make this holiday extra special.

I know Thanksgiving is in there...and my daughter's "milestone" birthday...but those are just nice stepping stones to the big event. We'll have a Thanksgiving bash at my mother's and a gathering for friends and family for Sarah's birthday...which probably means we have to rent a hall! LOL

My nephew plays on his high school football team, so that will be a huge part of our fall fun! Miss Maddie is back in dance. Oh and Jake starts pre-kindergarten. I'm sure we'll get a few good stories out of the adventures of Jake (or Jake's teacher!) LOL

This weekend we also meet on the Eastern side of the state for the Annual Meier weekend. Years ago, when my sister-in-law and her husband and son lived on a farm, we'd spend Labor Day weekend at "the farm". The kids would do all kinds of crazy farm things, the women would plan menus, shop and cook, the men would play golf...and groups would go to Gettysburg for ghost tours and battle field tours.

We'd sit outside and talk into the wee hours on nights just beginning to feel the nip of fall, and we'd have a big picnic on Sunday afternoon.

Now Barb no longer lives on a farm. She lives in a lovely two story red brick house on the edge of farm country, so only a few of us actually spend the weekend. There's no barn for hide and go seek. And there are a heck of a lot more of us who golf.

But it's the one time in the year when we all get together for a picnic and see how the nieces and nephews have grown, talk about life and simply enjoy each other's company.


Wednesday, August 19, 2009


Well, I'm late again with my blog. It made me wonder today if I shouldn't actually shift my post day to Wednesday! LOL

It's been a busy week. I've been working on several projects and today got a short (happily short) letter about the book I just turned in. Hopefully, I can find the boo-boos and inconsistencies found by my editor and copy editor and turn the book back into Sally quickly.

We also discussed the Christmas story I'll be writing for 2010 and a special book that I'll be working on next. It's too soon to give you details.

So my head as pretty much been in the business end of things. Add to that conversations on catawriters about agents and revisions and I'm thinking more logically than creatively.

I don't even have a halfway decent funny family story to tell. Unless you count the family breakfast we had this morning. It was smorgasbord. Because it's our last breakfast of the summer, my sister Tammy hosted it at her house and everyone brought a dish. We had some fabulous things like nectarine coffee cake, homemade fudge, sausages (I have to cook something and they come in a package and are very simple to prepare!) egg casserole, bagels...and lots of donuts!

My niece Lea and I are going to miss these breakfasts. Not because we love a good bagel, though we do, but because we enjoy the company. It's nice to have the relative peace and quiet of a Wednesday morning to have some eggs and catch up. Our lives are so busy and go in so many different directions that a Wednesday morning catch up is almost a necessity.

But school begins soon. Teachers and teachers' aides go back to work. And Lea and I might just meet Wednesday mornings at Grandma's. We'll bring the donuts!


Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Day at Idlewild

I'm late with my blog again this week, but this week I have a very good reason. Yesterday, I went to Idlewild Park with my sister, her husband and their four kids, my niece and her two kids, and my nephew David.

We had a blast. This is the first year Lainie (who is a little over a year) could ride the rides and she was filled with joy and happiness. She didn't even fuss when she was too small to ride certain rides that her brothers and sister and cousins could ride. She would laugh and point at them, clap her hands and wave to them, making their fun her fun.

I couldn't helping thinking that it's too bad that we lose that childish enthusiasm. Wouldn't the world be a fun place if we all learned to enjoy each other's successes and achievements as much as we enjoy our own!

Tomorrow is breakfast at my sister Helen's. We're bringing out the Bonzi water slide. It will be another morning of fun for the kids and a hoot for us who watch them!

For those of you who are counting, this is my fourth day of not working! I turned in back to back to back books and I honestly think my brain needs a rest! I'm waiting for the muse or my editor to send me back to work. I'm guessing the editor will arrive before the muse does. LOL

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Harlequin Romance Author Blog

I know I mentioned this on Monday, but the Harlequin Romance Author blog is now up and running.

Just go to eHarlequin, scroll down the menu on the right until you get to that, then look for the Harlequin Romance Author's blog link on that page.

I posted today!


Monday, August 3, 2009

Harlequin Romance Authors now have a blog!

My husband and I went to his class reunion on Saturday. I always enjoy these get-togethers because my own class doesn't have a reunion. Even if they did, I probably wouldn't go. The last time I went no one recognized me. I told them who I was and still they scratched their heads. Nope. They didn't remember anybody with my name.

That's really God-awful. Not because everybody wants to be remembered...though we do. But because I felt as if I didn't exist. Sheesh. Talk about a buzz kill.

Anyway, that's why I like my husband's class and his class reunions so much. These people genuinely like each other. They remember each other. They're glad to see each other and happy to catch up.

So even though I was recovering from a virus I put on my pretty black dress and pumps, a little makeup and panty hose and spent two hours with the people my husband went to school with. They're a good group!

And speaking of good groups... is the email addy for the new Harlequin Romance authors' blog! We've been talking about this since Nationals and Donna Alward spearheaded the project. Today we are up and running!

So congratulations to us! Hope you'll drop by and join in the discussions!

I also saw the UK cover for my November release, THE MAGIC OF A FAMILY CHRISTMAS. It's adorable! I'm really excited about that book. But I think I'd be foolish to wish away the summer just to get to see it on the shelves!


Monday, July 27, 2009

Some Reviews

I was a tad slow in sending our review copies of Maid in Montana. Here's a great review from Elizabeth at Bella Online. If you don't know about Bella Online, you should check it out. Elizabeth is an avid reader who reviews a good many books every month. She also has a reader forum that's fun and informative.

Here's the link to the review!

Also, the Pink Heart Society blog review is up. This blog is run by a group of romance novelists who post some really fun blogs. If you're in the mood for some entertaining reading, this is a great blog to visit.

Here's the link.


Wedding Planners Blog still up and running!

Fans of the Wedding Planners contunuity series will be happy to know that we've decided to keep the blog up and running!

We plan to recycle a lot of the wedding related blogs, especially blogs by experts so that people planning weddings, brides, moms of the bride, sisters of the bride and engaged people, can have access to the wealth of information we ammassed last year when we put the blog together!

That's it for this week. I'll be working like crazy these next few days, trying to meet an August 1 deadline. I'm close but not quite there. So cross your fingers.

I'll post again next week!


Thursday, July 23, 2009

Back from the RWA National Conference

Well, I'm back and I seriously don't even know where to begin to tell you about it. The literacy book signing was fun and I got to see my friend Elizabeth who drove down from Lancaster to get some books. She's one of my favorite people so it was great to see her!

The real highlight of the conference for me was the tour of the Washington Post arranged by the London Editors. I never thought I'd be the kind to be impressed by a tour of what is essentially a business, but the choice of front pages hung as art work on the walls basically was a history of the United States. We met a Pulitzer Prize winner and sat in on an editorial meeting. Very cool.

We also had a chance to speak with Kim Young, our senior editor, in a more informal setting. Even the ride on the Metro and the giant, scary-steep escalator to the Metro was fun.

Kim and I discussed some potential future projects, so readers may be in for some real treats in 2011!

The Harlequin signing on Friday was a trip! Imagine giving away a hundred books? No one tells you "No. Please don't give me a free book!" LOL And everybody had a great story to tell either about one of my past books or one of my workshops.

I met some wonderful people!

The Harlequin party was, as always, amazing. Great gin and tonics! LOL Fun dancing. And an opportunity to see some friends whom I kept missing in the press of the crowds in the conference hotel.

Sadly, the second highlight of the week for me was sitting at the hotel pool. LOL. I attended Kim and Sheila's workshops, but really decided to order the tapes on any other workshop I might want to hear. LOL

Why did I waste somuch time at the pool? Because I don't have a pool. I've wanted one my entire life but my husband is ... well, not really against it, but not really a fan of the idea. Frankly, a trip to the beach usually shuts me up when I'm begging for a pool. So I think he might think that not getting me one is win/win. (He's a beach fan too.)

Anyway, that was why the pool called to me. I read a Cindy Girard book under the shade of a huge tree...and I came home fairly rested.

Though I did come home with a slight limp from one of my new pairs of shoes. LOL

So to recap the highlights, I ate, I drank, I saw some old friends and met some new ones and I sort of have something of a light tan from my pool time.

Oh...and for those of you who like these things...I got the cover for the November book! THE MAGIC OF A FAMILY CHRISTMAS is one of my favorite books! It's posted right below this.

susan meier


Monday, July 13, 2009

Wedding Weekend

I know I said I wouldn't be posting until after Nationals, but my niece got married over the weekend and it was a wonderful wedding. My nieces (and two of my younger sisters) did the music for the ceremony. It was perfect. We certainly have some talented people in our family.

My next-to-the-youngest niece, Madeline, was the flower girl. She wore a dress similar to the bride's and a matching tiara and she was in child heaven! LOL. My daughter was also in the wedding, along with my niece Amy...and two other nieces, the bride's sisters Kate and Jessica. Our family was in total agreement that the bridesmaids we were related to were the prettiest. We're biased, but seriously they were the prettiest.

My brother Steven, his wife and son tried to sneak into the church through a side door in the clothes they'd worn to Scotty's early morning Little League game, but I was waiting on the other side of the door with a camera.

My sisters and mother made about...240 dozen (yes, dozen) cookies for the reception. The groom's family also made cookies. There were boxes of leftover cookies at the "open the gifts" picnic yesterday. And they were still fabulous. We will, however, been seeing lady locks and caramel cups in our sleep. (Gosh, I love a good caramel cup. Wish I wasn't dieting...I'd have taken them all home...which is probably why I have to diet.)

The reception was a hoot! I sat with my brothers John and Art and their wives Mary Jo and Shirl, and my sister Helen and her husband Frank. The pictures I took at the table didn't come out well. Actually most of the pix I took after we got to the reception and began sipping mixed drinks came out fuzzy. That's all I'm saying about that. LOL

With newly 21-year-old niece Stephanie leading the way in crazy dancing, we all had a great time. My older sister Helen can still shimmy up a storm...and I'm afraid there's embarrassing video of us dancing in a circle doing the one-finger John Tavolta disco point. Even my brother John and his wife Mary Jo danced!

Also danced with cousins Connie and Gerry (who are sisters), Sharon and Mary Kay (also sisters) and Kim, whose sister didn't come. Weddings and funerals are about the only times I get to see a lot of my cousins. So it was good to see Butch and Pat, Joel and Renee, Sharon and Donny, Mary Kay and Theron, Oh, good grief now that I've started this I realize there are lots of cousins and spouses who attended and I seriously can't list them all since I'm afraid I'll miss just let me end this section by saying it was wonderful to see my Aunt Mary out and about. She came with her son Dan and his wife Rita. But she's been under the weather for a few years so it was wonderful to see her looking so well.

My own mother looked especially good in a bright blue dress. My sister Diana, the bride's mother, had on a stunning yellow dress. Most of us, however, wore black. We laughed about how a few years ago it was a no-no to wear black to a wedding...something about hints of funerals and sadness that should be avoided. Then the fad of having a black and white bridal party hit and now it's okay to wear black. I still frown on white, though. That's the bride's color. We should leave it for her and the deliriously happy flower girl. LOL

My son brought a date, which shocked a few guests. But not all. Alexis is very pretty and very nice so she won high marks from the family. We're hoping to continue to see her at family events. I can say that because Spunky doesn't read my blog. I can even call him Spunky. Some nicknames never go away. So if you're young and still having kids remember this warning.

Nephew Bud also brought a date. She was also a lovely girl. Trevon was dateless, which is good since he's a bit young. Davie danced with his mom. Which is even better since he's definitely too young to date. My sister Mary's situation is kind of funny. Mary's an introvert, who married an extrovert. Nothing wrong with that. Opposites attract because they balance. But the funny party (incredibly funny part) is that Mary's kids are all extroverts. Mary would be perfectly happy to calmly dance in the crowd, but her kids drag her to the center of the circle and make her the center of attention. Luckily, she looked absolutely fabulous in a bright blue, form-fitting dress. Good figures abound in our family...except for mine because of those damned caramel cups!

My sister Tammy's three remaining munchkins (See above: Maddie was the flower girl) stole the show with Jessica's two boys, Gavin and Owen (who were ring bearers...No blog would be complete without the mention of how Owen wouldn't carry a pillow and stalked up the aisle to the altar looking like he was on his way to the line up for a football game...can you say Rarrrrr...) Anyway, Tammy's kids are always cute, but on Saturday they were adorable. Jack, the oldest, danced a bit. Jake enjoyed taking his Aunt Laura's time and attention, upstairs in an empty space where the kids played that we dubbed Romper Room. And -- as Alexis pointed out -- 18-month-old Lainie's feet never touched the floor. She was so cute everybody wanted to hold her. My brother Brian seemed to have her a good bit of the time. She loves Brian. It's not unusual to see Lainie, sucking her ever-present nookie, as she contentedly sits on Brian's arm. I think she likes it there because she can see everybody from that perch. It's the same reason I wear really high heels.

My niece Lea looked particularly stunning in a black and white dress with turquoise beads and shoes. Niece Lindsay had on a sensational red dress that sort of stole the show! Mandy and Becky, my sister Janette's daughters, also looked gorgeous. And let's not forget Nikki and Andi! Nikki, I believe, got the votes for the best shoes and Andi looked stunning in a black dress. As my nieces creep into adulthood, and their dresses get prettier, I feel older and older! LOL (Which is fine because my feet still thump after a few hours of dancing. I'll never totally pass the dancing torch, but I may choose to take my shoes off earlier.)

I've put so many silly things in this blog that I'm now wondering if I should hit "publish". But, there isn't a whole heck of a lot of people who read my blog so we'll just keep the silliness between us!

Oops! Almost forgot...the bride and groom, Carissa and Mike also looked wonderful. Carissa was probably the happiest bride I've ever seen...which bodes very well for Mike. LOL

Now, seriously, I have to get off the Internet and pack for Nationals. Everybody cross their fingers that my clothes fit!

I'll be posting next week!

MAID IN MONTANA (That makes it sound like I was made in Montana and I wasn't...but that's the book that's out. Go buy it!)

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Busy Week!

I'm a little late with this week's post...but for good reason. My niece is getting married this weekend. That requires a pedicure, a trip to the beautician, and the dentist. Toss in a mamogram and an MRI, and a book that's due August 1 and I've been a bit busy.

But on top of all of that is preparation for RWA Nationals. I leave the Tuesday after Carissa's wedding. This year the event is held in DC, which is close enough to drive so though I'm leaving the same day that I normally leave, Tuesday, I'm not leaving at 4:00 a.m. which is the time I typically have to leave for Nationals.

Plus, I can't go away for five days without some new clothes. Then I have to pack and create a schedule in Excel. Packing will be a frantic endeavor on Tuesday morning. Shopping is ongoing until the very second I leave...and even then I may stop at the mall. But the schedule...that's a work of art.

First are the emails. I email friends to see if they're going. I get emails from friend asking if I'm going. Lunches and dinners are planned. The London editors have a cockatail party for their authors...and a lunch. I've been invited to participate in a focus group. I'm signing books at the Harlequin "publisher" signing on Friday morning. Plus, I belong to a group which has both an Annual General Meeting dinner and a party called Death by Chocolate...Can't miss that!

Most of the publisher events come with a room assignment and a time. But for the breakfasts, lunches and dinners with friends, I'll need a cell phone number and a date and time.

You can see the need for a spreadsheet.

So you won't hear from me at all this week, but look for me July 20th, when I hope to have a condensed rundown of the fun I had!

MAID IN MONTANA...Still available at eHarlequin and

Monday, June 29, 2009

Dieting on Vacation

My niece's wedding is two weeks away. So last week, when I had a whopping three weeks, I decided to go back on Weight Watchers Points. In a perfect world, I would lose all 25 of the pounds I gained because of a bum knee. In a semi-perfect world, I'd lose 10. In this weird world we live in I'm shooting for seven. Seven pounds, three weeks. It didn't sound so hard. In fact, Monday was a breeze.

Tuesday my husband took me to Cracker Barrel for breakfast. Staring at the menu filled with things that made my mouth water I realized I had a choice, give in, eat like a fool and start again tomorrow. Or order something realistic. (Realistic being a sketchy word.)

Anyway, just as I was about to succumb to temptation, I remembered that we were going to Gettysburg the following weekend. Was I going to quit every time something special happened? If I was, I certainly wouldn't hit my goal of seven pounds. And if I continued to indulge myself every time we got in the car and drove anywhere that served food, I'd soon be buying my clothes from Omar the Tentmaker.

So...last Tuesday morning, I took the plunge. I said, "You're not going to be a wuss anymore. You are going to do this."

It was actually very easy to order an egg and a biscuit and drink black coffee while my husband ate gritts, several eggs, biscuits, bacon, ham, and baked apples. (When I say easy, I actually mean possible.)

But we soon found ourselves in the golf store (he needed new golf shoes) and breakfast was quickly forgotten. With this success under my belt, I raced home and plotted my strategy for the trip to Gettysburg. I looked up our usual restaurant haunts online and found meals on the menus that I could eat without breaking my WW points bank. Then I planned what I'd order in the small mom and pop restaurants that don't have websites and menus online.

I also made some rules or guides for myself for traveling while trying to lose weight...or even trying to stay the same.

1. Go online and review the menus for the restaurants you know you'll frequent while you are away. If you're going to a new destination (Ocean City this year instead of Virginia Beach) find a website for your destination, see what restaurants are available...see if they have online menus. If they do, you're in luck!

2. Choose a few meals and figure out the calories, Points, or dependent. Eventually, you'll find something you can order and if you can' least you'll know what you are getting into! If you figure the Points for a meal at 25 and your total allotment of points for the day is 25, you have a choice. Eat only that one meal...Or be smart and eat half.

3. If you have determined that certain meals work for your diet DON'T LOOK AT THE MENU. Stick to the meal choices you've already made. Don't tempt yourself!

4. Take salad, fruit, diet bread, reduced fat peanut butter. If you're staying at a beach house, you'll have a fridge. Already made salad is better for lunch than the burgers or pizza your family will buy. Don't worry about feeling deprived. Feel smart. Feel empowered! Think of your heart, your arteries, that new black dress you bought!

5. Take a container of low fat Coffeemate. Most restaurants have cream. Don't drink your calories in a few cups of coffee! Get the low fat Coffeemate (and a big purse). Or get a small purse-size container of Coffeemate.

6. Focus on your goal. Do you need to fit into a new dress for a wedding, as I do? Do you need to get back into your skinny jeans? Are you fearful that your next shopping trip will be to a tent maker? Scare yourself! Motivate yourself!



How did I do on my weekend trip to Gettysburg. Good and bad. I stuck with all of my pre-choices. Unfortunately, I made a "whopper" of a mistake. I misread the Weight Watchers points guide and thought Whopper Juniors had only six points (which is the number of points in a "small" fast food hamburger in the guide). Turns out Whopper Juniors are in a class by themselves and have 10 points! So I went over my points by 4 on two days.

Now, this doesn't mean I gained weight. I simply didn't lose. But, after a mini-vacation, I'll settle for not gaining! LOL

Enjoy the week!

susan meier
MAID IN MONTANA, still available!

Monday, June 22, 2009


I do my best writing while also doing the laundry. I don't know. Maybe it's the sound of the washer? The hum of the dryer? The scent of fabric softener? Or maybe it's that women are built to multi-task.

If my husband is making a sandwich, even if he's finishing up, setting the top slice of bread into place, he can't talk. He's deliberately mute. Focused and on point with his bread and cold cuts. Talking and cooking don't work for him. But I can't make a sandwich without also washing the dishes or chatting with the kids, filling a glass with milk or talking on the phone. Because women are multi-taskers!

When I realized that, my writing life became a lot easier!

Many times when writers tell me they have writers block or they can't seem to come up with the next chapter or plot point or interesting scene, I ask them what 'else' they're doing as they write. Most think I'm being critical of their focus, accusing them of letting their minds wander. In truth, I'm trying to show them that sitting down, staring at a computer screen isn't what most of us were made to do and that's why we aren't very good at it!

Ask my husband how many times I've written a new scene on our church envelope and then had to take it home with me and sheepishly drive the money to the rectory the next morning!

How many times have you been at a movie, reading someone else's book, showering, driving, cooking, attending a child's ball game (or ballet recital), singing happy birthday, chatting with a neighbor, cleaning a toilet. . .and had the perfect idea come to you?

Probably lots! LOL

Because we're not made to sit and stare at a screen. We get our ideas from living life.

This actually takes me to my two points for this blog. First, never leave home without a pen and paper. Trust me. It's incredibly embarrassing to have to explain to your pastor that you are handing him cold hard cash without a church envelope because you scribbled all over it during his sermon. He will not be amused.

Second, get out and live life. Seriously. Silence may be golden and we may actually need silence to get the words on paper (or screen). . .but you're not going to find the answer to anything staring at the blue and white screen in Word.

You need to watch kids play. See the very old interact. Watch a new mom with her baby. Study the color of the sky. Observe a mailman on a familiar route. Scrutinize lovers. Watch a gaggle of teens. Oh, dear heaven, do watch teens! They virtually speak another language and they are so up on technology they will force you to either keep up or die! Star Trek has nothing on teens when it comes to boldly going where no one has gone before! If you want to get up to date on anything. . .just interact with a teen!

So watch people, but then listen. Eavesdrop on conversations. (Carefully and with discretion.) Listen to sales clerks in stores, parents disciplining kids, married couples making decisions or talking about their days. Listen. That's how you learn.

Many years ago, I attended my first conference with two authors who were already published. Sitting in the restaurant dinning room on Saturday night, the one author pointed around us at the tables, most of which were filled with multi-published authors. She said, "What do all these women have in common?" My friend said, "They're all published." I (being young at the time and very stupid about how short of a time span youth is) said, "They're all old!"

I can laugh the time I was rewarded with a cross look and a scathing tone when my mentor said, "They're all over forty. They've got some life under their belts. They've learned some lessons. They have something to say. That's why they're writing the bestsellers."

Yeah. That about sums it up.

But you don't have to be over forty to have something to say. Simple life experiences of winning and losing will teach you lessons worthy of being shared. So will secondhand knowledge of someone else's pain, heartache or joy. (Watching a friend or loved one go through a life trauma. . .even something as simple as getting his or her insurance company to pay for damages in a fender-bender can teach you a great deal about life!)

More than that, life experience isn't merely about having good lessons for your heroes or heroines to learn in your books. The things you see and experience are also fodder for scenes, character, stories.

Mining your real life for sad, funny, infuriating situations is the best way to come up with scenes and chapters that resonate with real people!

That's not to say that you copy events. That could get you sued. It's the underlying core emotion of the experience that resonates. Names and details can be changed if the emotion rings true!

So today, instead of sitting at your computer angry with yourself because you can't pull something out of thin air, get up, go outside, peek at your neighbors (discreetly). . .Better yet, talk to your neighbors. See what's going on in the world around you. Look for emotions behind actions - - the stuff that connects your make-believe people to readers.

Your story will probably be richer for it!


Sunday, June 14, 2009

Good News!

Just got "the" call from the More Than Magic Contest coordinator...


Tied for first place in the traditional category!

Sprinkle, anyone?

Easter week for my family was our last peaceful week. After that, we hit the ground running with weddings, showers, graduations, ballet recitals, T-ball, Little League, birthdays (my own included), mother's day, father's day and prom. With eleven kids in my family and thirty-something nieces and nephews and ten or so great-nieces and nephews there's always something to do.

This year we added a little something special, though. My mom's been saving for years to remodel her bathrooms. Several thousand dollars later, she finally has two wonderful new bathrooms.

And no money for new accessories and towels! LOL

At my niece Carissa's bridal shower we got to thinking that it would be a good idea to throw my mother a sprinkle for her bathrooms. Not as big or elaborate as a full-fledged 'shower' a sprinkle would have just enough invitees to get the new towels, toothbrush holders, fuzzy rugs and wall art to complete her new bathrooms.

A few days later (at my niece Lea's graduation party) we counted out how many people we had to invite (sisters, sisters-in-law and nieces), and how few things a person really needs for a bathroom and we realized we had more people than gifts.

So we did what any red-blooded American family would. We decided to go to Bed, Bath and Beyond together on Tuesday night. . .Oh, wait, Laura works on Tuesday nights, let's make it Wednesday. . .and buy all the things my mom would need and then split the cost.

We chose Johnstown, and, at niece Madeline's ballet recital, realized that we had to make that Altoona because Mary and Jessica would be working that day and they could meet us after work if we went to Altoona.

In group email on Monday morning, we realized we couldn't shop on empty stomachs. So a visit to Chilli's was planned for before we hit the stores.

At the last minute on Wednesday, two of my sisters couldn't come along but two of my nieces joined us (probably for the margaritas).

While we ate, we discussed who would bring what food for the sprinkle. (Please. You are not getting eighteen adult women together to give gifts without serving pie. Or cake. My youngest sister Tammy makes cakes that will make you weep and thank your maker.)

I was assigned wine. I cannot cook. So I daily thank God that there is a need for drinks and plastic silverware at parties. Otherwise, I'd have to hang my head in shame.

After some jumbo margaritas we trooped into the first store. As usually happens with normal women, we spent the time in the first store negotiating our tastes.
Unfortunately, even though we had a clear picture of what we wanted, the second store didn't have it.

Store number three was actually a bridal shop. My niece, Carissa, who was with us, is getting married and none of us has a dress. Might as well kill two birds with one stone, right? Wrong. We flipped through racks, lamented weight gain, lamented being too old to wear some of the styles, tried on a few and left without any one of us having bought a dress.

Back on the trail for bathroom supplies, we hit two more stores before finally, finally finding some wonderful things that all seven us of agreed on without a hitch. (It really is possible to find things seven women will like. . .the items simply have to be absolutely gorgeous and well priced!)

In the parking lot we decided that the gifts should be wrapped. Oddly, the bathrooms that didn't need so many things actually needed an entire cart of things. Mirrors, extra toilet paper holders (not to be confused with the actual toilet paper roller by the commode), shower curtains, shower curtain hooks, fancy towels, every day towels, art work, fuzzy rugs, wicker baskets, towel racks, soap dishes, tooth brush holders, soap dispensers, waste baskets. . .and other things I'm sure I'm forgetting.

There was some definite wrapping to be done. So we decided to meet Saturday evening at my at my mother's after my sister Helen took Mom to church. We would drink wine (we certainly couldn't wrap gifts thirsty) and wrap the presents.

Saturday night, while my oldest sister Helen took our unsuspecting mom to church, Laura and Tammy straightened the kitchen while Kate and Carissa (two nieces) and I knelt on the living room floor and wrapped the gifts. Then niece Stephanie arrived with a friend and they joined the wrapping team. My sister Janette and her daughter Mandy arrived and they also wrapped. I looked up at one point and could have sworn I was in Santa's workshop.

The highlight of the wait for mom to return from church was when Tammy's S'mores cake caught on fire in the oven. After my brother Brian beat out the flames with a dishtowel, we pronounced it no worse for the wear, (who doesn't love a good charred marshmallow?) put it back in the oven to finish baking and later served it as if nothing had happened.

When my mother arrived home and saw all the cars in the driveway she thought someone had died and the whole family was there to support her. Imagine her surprise when she realized she was getting new toilet brushes and uber-fancy toilet paper holders.

While she opened her gifts, we ate pie and banana splits, drank wine and ate flambeed S'mores cake.

The next day at Gavin and Owen's birthday party at niece Jessica's house, we debriefed. Everything had been perfect. My mother loved the things we'd chosen. The apple pie was the best we'd had in a long time. White Zinfandel goes with anything.

That evening, I got home, finally put up my feet, seriously ready after the week we'd had to just get some rest, and my calendar fell off the coffee table. As I picked it up, I read. . .Helen's last day of school Monday -- set date for shopping for dress for Carissa's wedding, hair appointment on Tuesday with Laura, sister breakfast on Wednesday, surprise party for Dr. K on Saturday (bring a salad and a dessert).

Yep. It's summer. We've hit the ground running!

(Don't forget MAID IN MONTANA in stores now!)

Thursday, June 4, 2009

The Power of a Happy Ending

MAID IN MONTANA is now available on Amazon and should be in bookstores over the next few days. Monday is the official release date, but some stores will get it earlier. This is my thirty-eighth or thirty-ninth book. . .I'd have to go to my book list and count to know for sure and . . . well, it's just too early in the day to do math.

The release of an author's first book is such a cause for celebration that actual money is spent on champagne and parties. (I just remembered, my fortieth will be released in this must be 39!) But thirty-ninth books are sadly ignored.

But that would be a real shame in the case of MAID IN MONTANA.

Yeah, I know. I wrote the book, so I should feel that way. The truth is I put my whole heart and soul into every book I write. I want readers to come away uplifted and encouraged. Glad to be alive. Hopeful that there is good in the world. Willing to trust again.

That seems like a tall order for a story but that's why I write romance. Every day I see good in the world. I have three kids who aren't turning out too badly. Mikie has health issues, but we have two fabulous doctors - our family doctor and Mikie's neurologist - who keep him healthy.

My husband is...I genuinely believe...the best husband in the world!

I have six great sisters and four great brothers. My sisters-in-law are like friends. They've been the mothers of nieces and nephews I adore. My sisters are my friends. We shop, drink margaritas, plan parties, host parties. . .never thinking about the cost or the food because we all know that we'll chip in. Our goal is to see our children's graduations celebrated, weddings be picture perfect, birthdays acknowledged.

We have wonderful neighbors with three adorable little boys who will someday play football in our combined back yards.

My editors are knowledgeable, thoughtful women. If they didn't live "across the pond" I'd visit them. If they lived in my town, they'd probably be my friends.

You're probably thinking, "Oh, yeah, lady, you can say that because your life sounds easy." Go back up a few paragraphs. My son has had serious health issues his entire life. My mother had a major heart attack that precludes her from doing a lot of the things she loves. In my early years as a wife and mother, money was tight! So tight I once debated buying a $2 box of generic cookies.

And right now, I don't have a stairway. . .well, I have the stairs, just no banister! LOL My entire house needs to be remodeled because it's over twenty years old but with our recent recession woes, that's probably not going to happen.

But we have a roof over our heads, food to eat, and good company. . solid, trustworthy companionship.

And that's what I try to write about in my books. Life isn't about finding a rich hero (though that has its merit!). It's about seeing the people in your life for who they really are. Inside. When we take the time to really love the people around us, nine chances out of ten our vision of the world will change.

And maybe, just maybe, we'll become easier to love ourselves.

So read MAID IN MONTANA. See how a even a cranky rancher can become a better man when he stops long enough on life's trail to help a single mom.