Friday, October 31, 2008

A Little Inspiration

Okay, I'm a little late to the party, but better late than never, right? On my recent trip to Scotland (tired of hearing that yet?) I downloaded season one of THE TUDORS to watch on my ipod. OMG, so good. Episode one and I was hooked. Jonathan Rhys Meyers is yummy as is the guy who plays Charles Brandon (Henry Cavill pictured above). He just might be my new inspiration for my next hero. The costumes are fantastic. How could I have been missing this? So if you haven't had a chance to see it yet, check out showtime and watch an episode and/or add it to the Netflix queue.

Although the show is set about a century earlier than my Highlander series, it's good for setting the mood. I'm doing revisions for book #3 and adding an early court scene. I decided to reference one of my favorite songs from the period--Greensleeves--and wouldn't you know some nice person at You Tube has put together a video with scenes from the Tudors. So now, when you read that scene you'll know my inspiration!

Are you a Tudors fan? Any other costume dramas that I'm missing out on?

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Halloween is Coming!

I have to admit I love Halloween. We live on what is known as "the" Halloween street in the neighborhood. I kid you not, last year we handed out about 600 pieces of candy in a little over two hours. My mom, who lives only a few blocks away, hands out maybe 40-50. We take the kids out early just so we can get back to sit on the porch (we gave up answering the door about 1/2 hour into our first Halloween) and see all the kids come by. At the height of the rush, from about 7 to 7:30, you literally look out on a sea of people in the street. The only thing that comes close to what it looks like is the old fraternity row parties I used to go to at USC when they would block off the ends of the street with beer trucks--but I'll save that for another post, LOL.

I can't think of any holiday that has changed more than Halloween since I was a kid. It must be second only to Christmas in terms of commercialization. I was at Target last weekend (buying about 700 pieces of candy!) and was completely blown away by the aisles and aisles of decorations. For some reason the commercialization bothers me less for Halloween than it does for Christmas--and I have to admit we have a few witches, scarecrows and pumpkins adorning our porch. I was tempted to add to the collection, but refrained (at least until the after Halloween sales). As much as I'd like to scoff at the idea of "decorating" for Halloween, it's pretty fun seeing all the decorations go up around the neighborhood and the kids love it.

This year I have a ghost and a bunny--nothing too elaborate. The one thing I don't do is sew, so the kids usually put something together or get store bought. My mom, on the other hand, used to make me some pretty amazing costumes. The ones that stick out: Princess Leia, Wonderwoman and a Raiderette. Thankfully all of these were pre-digital so I don't need to fear that Raiderette picture popping up somewhere. :)

So are you ready for Halloween? Anyone dressing up in your family? Has Halloween become too commercial for you? What's your favorite holiday?

Thursday, October 16, 2008

White Noise

On my recent trip across the pond, my travel companion, Scottish Historical author extraordinaire Veronica Wolff, told me this phrase one night over a discussion (and a whisky or two) about how relaxing it was in Scotland away from all the "white noise" of normal life.

It really resonated with me. She was referring (or at least I took it to mean) all the "stuff" we have going on in our life, all the things we surround ourselves with, all those extra things that drown out what's important and add to the stress. For me it's the driving the kids around to endless activities, signing up for this or that, over-stuffed closets of clothes and toys (i.e. the junk!), email, internet, paperwork...all those demands on our time that sometimes feel overwhelming and out of control.

My kids' weekly schedule is ridiculous: dance once--sometimes twice--a week, two soccer practices, two soccer games, tutoring, tae kwon do for both kids twice a week, boy scouts once a week, and cross country twice a week. All this for only TWO children. Most of these also require some amount of parent support. These are the "normal" activities, factor in doctors appointments, ortho appointments, conferences...

You get the point. And I haven't even mentioned work-related stuff (websites, promotion, blogging :)).

I know I'm not alone in wondering how I do this to myself.

When I was in Scotland I vowed to simplify when I got home. It hasn't happened. It's hard to know where to cut, where to simplify.

I think living in America, where we have so much available to us, it's hard not to take advantage of it and get caught up in the rat race. If your seven year old shows promise as a baseball, soccer, tennis, (fill in the sport), there's the temptation to "give them the opportunity" and hire a personal coach. Really? A personal coach for a seven year old? Talk about upping the ante.

When I travel, I make it a point to cut myself off from the internet and email. It's amazing how freeing it is. Usually I don't even bother to connect, although this trip we had free wi-fi at a number of hotels and I popped on a couple of times (mostly to email photos to the family).

Both Veronica and I were talking about how amazing it would be to rent a cottage on some Hebridean island for a few months (or a year). Part of the appeal for me, I think, is to remove myself from the hustle and bustle of modern american life. I'm sure I'd miss the fabulous restaurants, the cinema multiplexes, the Starbucks :), Target, the knowledge that if I want something its probably only a few miles away, but I can definitely see the appeal on getting away from it all for a while and reconnecting with what's really important.

What about you have too much "white noise" in your life? Have you ever considered chucking it all for a while and moving somewhere remote?

Thursday, October 02, 2008

I'm back!

Scotland was amazing--though how could it be anything but? I can't believe how quickly 12 days sped by. I traveled with fellow Scottish Historical Author Veronica Wolff and it really was the trip of a lifetime. We were mostly around Argyll (Campbell and MacGregor country), but also took a ferry to the Isle of Islay which was definitely one of the highlights. In addition to a fabulous local guide (Iain Watson from Doodlebus), we had an amazing run of good luck. Not only did all of our flights take off as scheduled and all of our luggage arrive on board, it stopped raining the day we arrived and didn't rain again until the day we left.

You'll be seeing what amounts to a photo travel journal over the next few months as I took plenty of pictures for my website of all the big places in my upcoming Campbell trilogy, but here is a picture of Veronica and me on Loch Katrine (above) in Trossachs National Park.

Sigh, when can I go back? I better hurry up and write more books so I have an excuse!