Join my newsletter for info on upcoming books, classes, appearances, and discounts.Join Now!

Wonder Woman

Wonder Woman poster with 5 versions of WW

courtesy of DC Entertainment

When I was a kid, Wonder Woman was my favorite superhero (still is). I wasn’t a comic book reader, but I adored the live-action show with Lynda Carter, and my old vinyl record that had a couple of audio episodes.

I marveled at how well she could run in that asinine costume, which by today’s standards would be downright staid. But even more, I loved that she was stronger than the men, highly intelligent, and feminine.

Costume aside, what girl wouldn’t want bullet-deflecting bracelets, a magic tiara/boomerang, a lasso that forces anyone in its snare to tell the truth, earrings that let you breathe in outer space, and an invisible jet? Add incredible beauty, superhuman strength and speed, telepathy, and the ability to speak any language, and, hey, where do I sign up?

And now Wonder Woman—and every girl/woman she inspired—gets her own feature film starring Gal Gadot as Diana.

Anyone else counting down the days to June 2nd?

(Dis)connected

© Thorsten | Dreamstime Stock Photos

Do you ever wish you could disconnect from the Internet? We are plugged in via social media, on-demand television, virtual helpers like Google Home and Amazon’s Echo (Alexa), smart thermostats, email, our cars, online banking, and more. We don’t even realize how dependent we are until the connection goes down or we lose power.

Smart computer systems, using access to immense amounts of data, can use our browsing history to recommend new products, guess that we’re pregnant before our own family members, and predict the fastest route from our home to the beach at 5pm tomorrow.

How did I live without all this technology in the first half of my life?

And yet, I sometimes miss that disconnected life. I sometimes envy those who have managed to let it all pass them by, even as they become disassociated from mainstream society. Last year, I found myself almost jealous of the characters in the dystopian novel Station Eleven because they had no obligations to a small glass and metal rectangular object through which an astonishing amount of my life plays out.

I’m not a Luddite by any means. I love technology. I love having two-click access to almost any information, and the ability to turn on my lights with a voice command or “visit” my far-flung family members via FaceTime.

But sometimes, I need to disconnect. I need to go into my backyard, walk the dog, take a hike, or go to the beach, and live screen free for a while. Not just screen free, but instant-access free.

The problem with on-demand everything is that the minute we think a question, we can run off and answer it. But maybe it would be better to merely ponder it for a while. Enjoy the quiet act of thinking without distraction. To stew in our thoughts without always feeding our eyeballs with information.

I’m reading a book (on my iPad, of course) called The Inevitable by Kevin Kelly. It talks about the types of innovations we can expect to see in the future, and how we’re only going to be more integrated. There are a lot of exciting things coming.

But I’m still going to need a break from it all.

Even now, I feel better when I take some time out of my day to unplug. This is one of the reasons why I run. And do yoga. Or brainstorm with—gasp!—paper and pen.

I don’t want to ditch my devices and move off grid, but I am trying to purposely schedule sanity breaks into my day. I imagine they’ll be even more important as we march inevitably forward into the connected abyss.

What are your thoughts on our expanding connectedness?

16 free romantic suspense books

[UPDATE 18 April 2017: The promotion is over, but my book, Blind Fury, is still free at all online retailers. Many of these others are as well.]

Looking to try some new-to-you authors risk free?

Thriller author Mark Dawson has launched a new free ebook site called The Book Locker and I was lucky enough to get Blind Fury showcased during its very first week.

The Book Locker lets you search free books by genre, and new books are featured each week. Blind Fury—along with fifteen other freebies—is listed under romantic suspense, but you can click the Genres button at the top of The Book Locker page for great reads in just about any genre you can imagine.

Book Locker RS pageI hope you find some gems!

A winter without snow (finally)

dog in snowFor the first time in six years (minus the year in Alabama, where we did actually get a dusting), I’m not anticipating any snow for winter. Nor any below-zero, ice-particle-blowing, freeze-your-face-windy, shovel-till-you-can’t-lift-a-mug-of-tea days.

winter collage

I’m not going to lie, I’m pretty excited about it.

I prefer to visit the snow on my terms, and if I get the urge, Tahoe is only a few hours, some tire chains, and about 6000 vertical feet away. Yosemite, Shasta, and Mammoth are all fairly close too.

As much as I (yes, still) want to live closer to the coast, Sacramento’s location in the upper Central Valley is great because it has four distinct, but relatively mild, seasons. Summer gets pretty blazing hot without lasting too long, fall brings plenty of glorious, tree-turning color, and we can enjoy frosty nights and cool days in winter without having to turn out in twenty pounds of gear to stay warm.

And while the multitudes of deciduous trees are busy dropping their leaves, the fall and winter rains turn the wild grass emerald green.

red tree

No rush, but I’m looking forward to seeing everything blooming and unfurling in spring, even as the grasses fade to summer gold again.

Of the two countries, nine States, and 14 metro areas I’ve lived in, everyone of them has had a perfect time of year. What’s your favorite season where you are?

A day in Berkeley

Oxford St

Oxford Street across from the Berkeley campus

As a writer who works from home full time, it’s easy to let inertia set in and never leave my house except to fill my cupboards. But I’m an explorer at heart—as is my husband—so we made a commitment to spend at least one day a month sightseeing or hiking somewhere within a few hours’ drive of our house.

Last weekend, we chose Berkeley. A few years ago, when I was visiting to give a workshop to the San Francisco Romance Writers, I ran along the water to the Berkeley Marina—and had lunch and dinner…somewhere—but I hadn’t been downtown since I was seventeen.

It was definitely time to go back. The decision was helped by the relatively short drive—about 75 minutes when the traffic is good, which it happily was earlyish on a Saturday.

I’m certain there’s lots more to do in this fun, pretty college town, but we started and ended with food—there are plenty of options for plant-based eaters like us (we chose Saturn Cafe and Flaco’s)—and spent the time in between visiting UC (Cal) Berkeley’s pretty campus, and exploring Tilden Regional Park, which borders the campus up the hill along the east side.

The park’s botanical gardens have native plants representing California’s wide variety of climates, and lots of quiet, green spaces to wander.

These are a few of my favorite shots from that day.

eucalyptus trees

I love the colors on the peeling trunks of the eucalyptus trees! Blue and gold are especially fitting since they’re the University of California colors.

Sather tower

Sather Tower is hard to miss

view of SF

View of the East Bay and San Francisco (across the bay on the right) from Grizzly Peak in Tilden Regional Park

view of san pablo bay

View of San Pablo Bay from Grizzly Peak (facing NNW)

Gwen at botanical gardens

At the Regional Parks Botanic Garden

redwoods

Redwoods in the botanic garden

Found this guy hiding in the ferns at the botanic garden

Found this guy hiding in the ferns at the botanic garden

What are some of your favorite places to visit near you? (Or me, for that matter. I’m always looking for gems. 😉 )

Check out this page for more travel/road trip posts. Also, many of my small trips end up on social media instead, especially Instagram.

Oh, Montana (and Wyoming)

mountain pond

Pond above the resort as the sun crests the mountain

Oh, Montana. On Sunday, my husband and I—empty nesters that we now are—traveled to southwestern Montana to meet up with old friends, some of whom we haven’t seen since before the turn of the century. (I’ve been waiting for an excuse to use that phrase…)

Catching up was great, and doing it in a wild and beautiful place like Montana and northern Wyoming made it fabulous.

Here are a few of my favorite memories from our trip.

Stars

I don’t think I’ve seen so many stars since my parents drove us into the mountains in Utah at night and we lay in the back of our little pickup truck on the side of the road.

Out in isolated Chico Hot Springs (about an hour’s drive southeast of Bozeman, and maybe thirty minutes from the northern entrance to Yellowstone at Gardiner), there is little light to interfere with the view.

The stars. Were. Incredible.

Billions and billions of them filled the sky and the Milky Way looked like a band of gauzy clouds. We sat outside in the growing chill for hours, following the path of anonymous satellites and catching sight of shooting stars.

Absolutely breathtaking.

Mountains

I adore the mountains and ocean in almost equal measure, and one of my regrets is that Sacramento doesn’t have either the low mountains that cling to California’s coastline or the tall peaks that hug its eastern border.

In Southwestern Montana, on the other hand, the mountains roll in seemingly endless waves across the land. Some soft and green with pine trees, some brown with long grass, others barren or snow-covered with gray rock jutting toward the clouds like blades of a knife.

Chico Hot Springs Resort, Montana

Chico Hot Springs Resort, Montana

Yellowstone

I haven’t been to Yellowstone since I was eight. Pretty much the only thing I remember is Old Faithful and bears. On this trip, we hiked into northern Yellowstone—crossing into Wyoming after entering the park—to visit Hellroaring Creek, a clear, rock-strewn flow that feeds into the Yellowstone River.

The Yellowstone River from a suspension bridge on the Hellroaring Creek trail

The Yellowstone River from a suspension bridge on the Hellroaring Creek trail

Hellroaring Creek

Hellroaring Creek

Here there be bears. Luckily—though some in my party might have disagreed—we only saw paw prints. And a bison!

wybearprint

wybisontrail

Afterwards, we returned to Mammoth Hot Springs near the park entrance and walked around the mounds built up over the years by the (literally) steaming springs. The landscape is like something you’d find deep in a cave or on some imagined, hostile planet.

A mound at Mammoth Hot Springs, Wyoming

A mound at Mammoth Hot Springs, Wyoming

Mammoth Hot Springs, Wyoming

Mammoth Hot Springs, Wyoming

We ended our day trip watching elk eat, bugle, and even lock antlers, both at Mammoth Hot Springs and in the town of Gardiner, just outside the park’s Roosevelt gate.

Elk hanging out in Mammoth Hot Springs, Wyoming

Elk hanging out in Mammoth Hot Springs, Wyoming

Writing

I try not to worry too much about work when I’m on vacation, but my goal is to look at my story for at least a few minutes every day so I don’t lose my momentum. With Scrivener for iOS and a new hard-case bluetooth keyboard for my iPad, I managed to stay immersed in my manuscript while sitting on the lodge porch in the cool morning air, sipping hot tea, and soaking up the view of the turning trees.

View from the lodge porch at Chico Hot Springs Resort, Montana

View from the lodge porch at Chico Hot Springs Resort, Montana

Honestly, that’s not even work. That’s the dream.

Oh, Montana.


What are some cool things you’ve seen on vacation? Where would you like to visit next?

Letting go, again (or, fluffing my empty nest)

boys hanging from swing set

It’s their time to fly

Last weekend, I helped my youngest son move into the dorms.

Our nest is empty.

My husband and I have been looking forward to this new freedom, anticipating it as our kids grew, making goals for Life After Children. Not because we don’t enjoy having them around, but because we wanted to have a solid relationship that could stand on its own when they were both out of the house.

I believe we accomplished that, but there’s definitely an adjustment period where I have to learn to let go of my baby, let go of knowing what’s happening in his life day to day, let go of missing the random conversations at odd moments that I treasure most.

Two years ago, I wrote the post below when my oldest son moved out. Now that my youngest is away at school too, I can’t explain my feelings any better than I did last time.

Letting go, 8/27/14

My oldest son left home for college last week. It was both easier and harder than I expected.

He’s been working toward this moment for years, and it feels like we’ve been planning, visiting schools, and talking about test scores, grades, and financial aid forever. I was ready. He’s a solid, responsible, mature kid. This has always been our dream/plan for him, and he got into his first-choice university. I was ready.

But then as we said goodbye and walked away from his dorm on Saturday I realized that he was truly out of the house. Out. Gone. An adult who would come visit on breaks and during the summer, but with whom we’d no longer share the daily routine of home, the spontaneous conversations, dinners out on the weekend.

Yes, we are connected via text messages, email, phone calls, FaceTime, and airplanes. Yes, he’ll be back when school’s out next summer. But it’s not the same.

Maybe I wasn’t ready. Maybe I’ll never be.

That old cliché that “they grow up so fast” is a cliché for a reason. I can’t believe my eight-pound baby boy is now a freshman in college, making his own way in the world, (mostly) without us.

I’m happy for him, proud of him, and happy for us. I’m excited for him because he’s exactly where he wants to be, doing what he wants to do.

I’m also sad.

Letting go was easy because I trust him and believe in him. It’s also the hardest thing I’ve ever done.