My Friend Helen

HelenHatSMALL-296x300Yesterday I had the good fortune to attend my friend Helen’s retirement party at the Library of Congress. Helen has been the Head of Publications at the Copyright office since 1997, but I’ve known her longer than that.

I first met Helen in the the 1980s when our husbands became coworkers, but we didn’t become friends until she joined my very first writers group in 1995 when I first started writing. Now I count her as one of my very dearest friends.

Helen has been with me on my whole writing journey and she has read nearly every word I’ve written. I credit her with helping me insert commas where commas need to be and also with correcting some of my stupid mistakes. Like writing “a hair’s breath” instead of “a hair’s breadth.” I also credit her with introducing me to Traditional Regencies (Mary Jo Putney’s The Rake and The Reformer, Mary Balogh, and others), which sparked my love for the Regency.

Helen also started our writing group’s annual Christmas Déjeuner Avec Des Chapeaux (lunch with hats). We go out to lunch, but, like ladies of old, we wear hats. We also open presents. Every year someone in the restaurant compliments our hats.

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Helen and Julie
Virginia and me
Virginia and me

At the retirement party, Helen’s coworkers praised her for her enthusiasm, her friendliness, her energy and her general cheerfulness. They nailed her personality to a T. They also gave her credit for coordinating The Science Fiction and Fantasy Forum, a group of Library of Congress workers who love those genres and invite authors and other speakers for a lunchtime program. When Helen took over she really raised the bar on attracting speakers. I know everyone at the Library of Congress will miss her.

In honor of Helen’s love of costume, attendees to the retirement party were asked to dress in steampunk. The writers group appeared in steampunk hats Helen made for us last year. Here we are in the center of the group.
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Helen will not spend one moment of retirement bored or at a loss for things to do. She can sew, make hats, create steampunk and other costumes. She can indulge in her love of movies, play with her dog, Gaius, arrange Barbie tableaux, edit books. She can also write and I’m hoping she will finish her New Orleans book she started years ago. She’s also been asked to be on the Advisory Board  the  American Women Writers National Museum, which she’ll probably transform.

And Helen will continue to read my books as I write them and help me make them the best they can be. I am grateful to her for that, but I am mostly grateful to count her as my friend.

Helen, this one is for you!!!

Winner!

Winner of my Lady of Notoriety contest is….

Blakesmomma!

Look for an email from me!

The prize is a signed copy of the Harlequin Historical 3-in-one, including Diane’s A Reputation for  Notoriety, Reforming the Viscount by Annie Burrows, and His Lady of Castlemora by Joanna Fulford.

Check out my new contest and read a sneak peek of Bound By Duty, in bookstores March 17

Yoga!

One of my constant challenges is engaging in regular exercise. I know how important exercise is to good health, but I have the hardest time keeping to a regular exercise schedule. I have no excuse. I could easily make time. I tell myself every day that I’ll get out and walk, but then…I don’t. And I should, because I need exercise! I’m sure if I had been more physically fit, I would not have strained my back lifting the cutest-grandson-EVER.

Yoga_lotusMy friend Darlene Gardner invited me to go to a yoga class with her this week. I’ve also been telling myself I’ll sign up for a yoga class, but…I haven’t. There was no reason for me to say no to the class Darlene attends, though. First off, it is free. Second, it is only about 5 minutes from my house. Third, it is designed for people of a certain age (like me) who are not accustomed to exercise. And Fourth, I could go with a friend. The only drawback was it starts at 8:00 a.m.

Actually the early hour is a good thing. It gets me up and moving. Literally.

The class is run by Debbie from Abundantly Fit in Fairfax, VA., and it is held in a local community center. Debbie was cheerful, pleasant and obviously knowledgeable. She led us through a series of chair exercises that reached every muscle group. At the end, I felt both relaxed and energized.

I like Yoga. I’ve taken other classes and have always loved theml

I’m scheduled to go with Darlene again next week and I plan to go. I’m planning to attend it twice a week.

That’s still not enough exercise. I should be walking 10,000 steps a day and I even got a Fitbit for Christmas to help motivate me to reach that goal. But at least I’ve made a start.

I’ll let you know how I do….

How about you? Do you have an exercise routine? What do you do to stay healthy?

A Visit To Air And Space

Before I injured my back, which is now 80% recovered, the dh, my son, daughter-in-law, and the cutest-grandson-EVER visited the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center, the part of the National Air and Space museum that is in Dulles, VA. It is a huge hangar displaying airplanes and space vehicles from the history of flight–all the collection that can’t fit in the Air and Space Museum in Washington, D.C. As is true of all the our national museums, admission was free, but we had to pay $15 for parking.

We could have joined a tour led by an enthusiastic docent, but we decided to just walk around on our own instead. It was a good thing, because I quickly learned that I didn’t care that much about the details of the history of flight. I just liked looking at the air planes.
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I didn’t record any details from the photos I took, either, so I can’t tell you what these planes were.

Here’s an early one, though:
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And even I can recognize the SST! We used to see it fly overhead on its way to Dulles Airport:
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Some things I found visually interesting. Don’t these look like flower pots?
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Probably my favorite exhibit was this one:
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I think that was my favorite, because it harkens back to “my” time period, showing balloons on china dishes. Obviously I am more attached to the Regency era, than to our recent history.

I did enjoy the museum, but I have to admit it wasn’t as thrilling to me as walking through Apsley House! The cutest-grandson-EVER enjoyed it, too, even though, at 18 months, he didn’t have a clue what he was looking at!

Hope you had a chance to do something fun since the holidays!

Late Again

Just when you think it is safe to go into the water….

After my dh’s pneumonia and my in-laws downsizing and holiday move and the holidays, you’d think it would be clear sailing. But…I picked up the cutest grandson EVER one too many times and strained my back. It’s getting better, but it has wrecked all my good intentions and New Year resolutions.

One nice thing, though, I got my new bookcover! Bound By Duty will be in bookstores on March 17 and released as an ebook on April 1

Happy New Year

Last year my New Year’s blog included several inspirational quotes. This year I could not resist repeating this idea. From the Inspirational Quote Of The Day I receive in my email, today’s quote was:

“We will open the book. Its pages are blank. We are going to put words on them ourselves. The book is called Opportunity and its first chapter is New Year’s Day.” — Edith Lovejoy Pierce

How perfect is that for today, especially for writers and readers?

I wish you all a Happy New Year. Now get to writing that “first chapter!”
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UK Reading Binge

9781474006460Feel like binging? For Uk readers only, two ebook bundles include Diane’s Books. Historical Romance – The Best of The Year has Diane’s A Lady of Notoriety. Regency Society includes The Mysterious Miss M and Chivalrous Captain, Rebel Mistress.

Available to everyone, though, is the special release Innocence in Regency Society which also includes The Mysterious Miss M and Chivalrous Captain, Rebel Mistress.

Christmas Novellas

Are you having as busy a time this holiday season as I am? I am currently at my in-laws, helping them organize for a major move from a three bedroom house to a smaller two bedroom villa in a very lovely retirement community. They have to move out of the house on Dec 27, so you can see that the timing is not great for anyone.father_christmas_cover

Nothing helps with holiday stress as much as reading Christmas romance novellas! This morning I started my friend Mary Blayney’s Father Christmas, which you might be able to still get for free if you hurry. I had to force myself to put it down and get to helping with the downsizing. I love Mary’s Regencies and this contemporary romance novella is every bit as charming, emotional, and romantic as her other books.

 

 

cr-print-full-cover-2-flattenedI also just finished Louisa Cornell‘s A Perfectly Dreadful Christmas in the anthology, Christmas Revels: Four Regency Novellas. Louisa writes with a great deal of humor and wit, but, at the same time, she made me cry. What could be better than that?

 

 

 

 

 

51Bq2pOt5yL._BO2,204,203,200_PIsitb-sticker-v3-big,TopRight,0,-55_SX278_SY278_PIkin4,BottomRight,1,22_AA300_SH20_OU01_Then there is my friend Darlene Gardner‘s just released Her Very Merry Mistake. After a hiatus from writing romantic comedy, Darlene is back with this light, breezy Christmas story. Because, as Darlene says, “there’s no better time than the holidays to fall in love with love.”

There are other Christmas novellas on my Kindle, just waiting to be read:

A Christmas Reunion by Susanna Fraser

A Partridge in a Pear Tree by Amanda McCabe

And if that isn’t enough, I can check this list–twice: 10422486_10152931300390070_4482348185122273708_n What Christmas Novellas are you enjoying this year?

 

Cat Day

As if this wasn’t a busy enough time of the year, our cats are acting up. Yesterday, this fellow was caught relieving himself in the dining room! This has usually meant he has an infection so off to the vet we go.
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Turns out, he was fine, so now today I took the-cat-who-used-to-live-on-the-kitchen-table to the vet, because she is not eating and now she is the more likely candidate for a urinary infection.
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So far tests look like she might be okay, too.
I’ll also eventually have to take this fellow to the vet.
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All of them have needed their shots, but I was hoping to delay until after Christmas.

These are all old cats with health problems. Our lady cat is 19 years. The black and white cat is 17 and the devil cat who started the whole episode is about 11 years old, so health problems are expected, but why now?