Look! Up in the sky!

Yesterday we posted this picture of Bob back in the day doing SPIE Rigging with 4th Force Recon. That photo doesn’t show a lot, though I think you get the idea that it was fun.

Bob, on left.

Bob, on left.

SPIE stands for Special Patrol Insertion and Extraction. It’s used for getting people in and out of areas where helicopters can’t land, with the troops rigged to this super-heavy-duty line, where they dangle until they’re inserted on the ground. When they’re extracted, the helo flies to a safe landing zone and then takes them on board.

Here’s the view from below:

SPIE - 2

He got to do all sorts of cool stuff in the Navy — skydive, scuba dive, go to sea on big ships, fly in all kind of aircraft, shoot neat guns, etc.

All *I* ever wanted to do was drive a tank. Every time we were onboard Camp Lejeune and we passed the “tank crossing” signs, I really wanted to take one of those babies for a spin. You think the idiot drivers wouldn’t get out of my way then? Tick me off in a tank, and I will drive over you. I will leave you flattened on the road, and depending on what you did to tick me off in the first place, I might even fire my big guns at you.

Hmm.

Maybe that explains why the Marine Corps wouldn’t give me the keys.

 

 

 

 

 

Euphoria and Hair-Pulling

mjp-jpg23Every few months I rediscover two things about writing: the hair-pulling, what-the-heck-am-I-doing?, this-is-never-going-to-work and, eventually, thank you, God, the euphoria. I love it when a plan comes together! (Anyone remember what TV show that line is from?)

This most recent time the hair-pulling came on the fourth book of the Tallgrass story. To sell the book, I have to submit a partial — a chapter and an outline — to my publisher, so I started, as I always do, with the chapter. Lucy, Joe, and Ben were cooperating, but there just wasn’t any chemistry, no spark or wit or anything that would make the reader read on.

Let me say, I am notoriously wary of first chapters. There is the occasion where the chapter just flows from the first sentence, but that’s even rarer than me turning down chocolate. Usually it’s a struggle.  One time, when I was young and foolish, I kept track of how many times I began the first chapter of Somebody’s Baby. The total count was in the 30s, though thankfully I’ve forgotten exactly. There’s usually at least five false starts per book, ranging anywhere from a few paragraphs to twenty or more pages. Each.

So, anyhoo, I was plodding along on Lucy’s first chapter, my word count dwindling every day. I finally pushed away from the computer, well aware that the shrinking wordage meant I didn’t have the right beginning.

That night, while getting ready for bed, an idea came to me. I let it cure while I slept. (Most people let their ideas percolate. I’m not a coffee-drinker, but I do know enough about curing cement to get myself ankle-deep in trouble.)

The next morning I went to the computer and wrote 2500 words in 2 1/2 hours.

That was the euphoria. That’s why I write.

God, I love this job!

(Anyone know what movie that line is from?)

A Christmas to Remember — Cover Reveal!!

I’m really excited about my next release. It’s a Tallgrass novella featuring Ilena Gomez and her new love, Dr. Jared Connors, and it takes place at Christmas. It’s called A Family for Christmas, and that’s exactly what Jared gets after he meets an adorable elf and her baby elf.

The book releases on 03 December of this year — just three months and one day away. Yay! It will be available only electronically, and the other authors include Jill Shalvis, Molly Cannon, Hope Ramsay, and Kristen Ashley.

Being such a helpful person, I’m including the links to preorder it. We all know I suck at putting links in the cool way, so here they are:

Amazon – http://amzn.to/1dWZwBD

Barnes and Noble – http://bit.ly/1cnGbYC

iTunes – http://bit.ly/14JSNb5

And here’s the cover. Doesn’t it make you long for a little snow outside, a blazing fire inside, a cup of hot cocoa, and your Kindle?

AChristmasToRemember

The Booties Are Just Too Sweet!

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Wildflowers and Weeds

mjp-jpg23When I first saw this house eighteen years ago, one of the things I loved about it was the huge yard — nearly 5 acres. I liked yard work, and all of our years in the Navy, when we had a yard, it was tiny.

Too bad I didn’t look ahead to today, when I still love yard work but absolutely hate mowing. Need a tree cut down? A stump dug up? Brush burned? I’m your girl. Need the grass mowed? Go get a goat.

So after years of slacking off on the mowing, I decided this summer to start letting most of the yard return to nature. The area used to be a pasture — it’s always had more clover than grass — so it might as well go back to that. I have a couple of small areas close to the house I want to keep clear, but the rest of it, the wilder the better.

The black-eyed Susan in our side yard.

The black-eyed Susan in our side yard.

Indian paintbrush out front

Indian paintbrush out front

Paintbrush close-up

Paintbrush close-up

More black-eyed Susans

More black-eyed Susans

Something white, which goes well with all the yellow.

Something white, which goes well with all the yellow.

One of our dead pines. Did you know wildlife people say don't cut down your dead trees if they're not a danger so critters can live in them? See how well I'm obeying?

One of our dead pines. Did you know wildlife people say don’t cut down your dead trees if they’re not a danger so critters can live in them? See how well I’m obeying?

 

Final Pass

mjp-jpg23Sounds like something a football player does, or a frustrated boy with a wishy-washy girl, doesn’t it?

Final pass is the author’s very last look at a manuscript before it goes to print. It’s the last chance to catch any mistakes, continuity errors, typos, etc., but I suppose “final pass” sounds better and less ominous than “last chance.”

I sent in the final pass of A Man to Hold on To yesterday, so I won’t see it again until the ARCs — advance reading copies — come out. This is the second book in the Tallgrass series, and I’m happy to say I loved it as much this time as I did when I wrote it. It’s Therese’s story, and Dalton and Jessy are the secondary characters, along with the Princess of I-Hate-You and Jacob, Therese’s stepkids. The hero is new to the series, a medic from Fort Polk named Keegan Logan, and he brings two secondaries I love with him — his sorta-daughter Mariah and his mom Ercella.

Anyhoo, the book is officially done on my end. Now all I have to do is wait for it to come out. 25 February 2014. Mark your calendars, and color me happy! :)

 

 

Karma

mjp-jpg23When I was a kid, Mom taught us the Golden Rule — do unto others as you would have them do unto you — and a similar lesson that what goes around comes around. In other words, eventually, good or bad, you’ll get what you deserve.

Last week Bob and I were watching a documentary about an archeological site that required mountain-climbing skills. Well into the onsite work, the lead climber fell and cracked his sacrum. That’s the bone that hooks in between the spine and the coccyx (more commonly known as the tailbone).

I’ve had a number of broken bones, and I know they really, really hurt, but I’ve never broken that one and wondered aloud whether it was as big a deal as they made it seem or if it was such a big deal because he was a guy and had never gone through childbirth.  ;-)

Apparently, I say in an arid, middle-of-a-drought, Dust Bowl dry and wry tone, Karma was listening.

A couple days ago, Princess Graceful — that’s me — stumbled and landed hard on her butt. Nothing was broken, but my pride — and my tailbone — were bruised. For a day the only comfortable position for me was lying on my left side, knees bent in the fetal position, head pointing due north, sunlight falling on my elbow, and head tilted at a 27-degree angle. Oh, yeah, and only one breath every 3.8 minutes.

I’m gonna be more careful what I wonder about in the future, because apparently it’s true what they say about Karma. She really is a bitch.

 

A Hero to Come Home To

I’ve got an excerpt for the book up now. Just look above, find Marilyn’s Books, hover the cursor there, and you’ll get a dropdown menu of excerpts. The new one’s at the bottom.

Only twenty-one more days until release day! I can hardly wait!!

Hero’s First Review

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I’ve got my first review for A Hero to Come Home To (coming 25 June), and it’s the kind of review that makes an author jump up and down with joy!  First, it’s a great one!  Second, it’s a great one from Publisher’s Weekly!   Third, it’s a Starred Review  from Publisher’s Weekly!   They just don’t hand those Stars out too freely, so I’m absolutely thrilled to get this one!  Read on and share my happiness!

“Pappano shines in this poignant tale of love, loss, and learning to love again. Teacher Carly Lowry wants nothing more than to find peace after her husband, Army Staff Sergeant Jeff Lowry, is killed in a helicopter crash in Afghanistan. Two years later, what’s sustaining her is the Fort Murphy Widows Club, aka Tuesday Night Margarita Club, based at Fort Murphy, Oklahoma. On one club outing, Carly meets a man who captures her attention: Sergeant Dane Clark, who lost a leg in combat and who can’t quite believe anyone will want him again. Can the two overlook their losses and build a new life together? Pappano creates achingly real characters whose struggles will bring readers to tears. Well-placed secondary plots seamlessly set the stage for additional books in the series.”

And it got a STAR!!!!!

 

Throwaways

mjp-jpg23Sometimes throwaways are the absolute best. The only dogs we’ve owned during the 30+ years of our marriage have been thrown-away puppers, one acquired from a rescue group, the rest finding us in one way or another.

The notion extends to other things, too. You see people on Antiques Roadshow who haul something out of the trash Dumpster or give $2 for it at a garage sale, only to find out it’s worth $20,000 or more. Not that it’s ever happened to me. The trash I find is, sadly, trash.

But I do have some throwaway flowers that I love. When we bought this place 18 years ago, there were irises planted alongside the driveway. The old man who tended them warned me that they needed to be divided that fall or they’d quit blooming.

Never having grown irises, I dutifully went out one warm September day, dug them all up, divided them, and replanted them. And replanted. And replanted. I ran out of energy, time, and room in the flowerbed long before I ran out of bulbs, so I carried them off to the edge of the woods in the side yard, dumped them, and headed inside to recover from the new and unusual strains on my body.

Fast forward a few years. I look out in the side yard and see bright pops of color just inside the tree line. The bulbs I’d dumped had taken root, grown, and were producing beautiful blooms. (I’m guessing it’s thanks to critters that while I dumped them all in one spot, they grow over an area about twelve feet wide.) I don’t do anything to them, yet they dazzle the trees with their overachieving blossoms every year.

My kind of flower. :-)