#1 NYT bestselling author Linda Lael Miller
Return of the Blogger

I have missed you all!  

A lot has happened since my last blog–I traveled to Gettysburg in late June, to spend time with friends (Sandy and Janet, hello!) and check an item off my bucket list: watching part of the re-enactment of the famous battle of Gettysburg, which actually took place on July 1, 2nd and 3rd of 1863.  I saw the staging of Pickett’s Charge, which turned out to be a real disaster for the Confederacy.  And, certainly, for the actual troops involved. 

There were, of course, far fewer men on the field the day I visited than in 1863, but it didn’t take much effort to imagine the scene as it would have been on that long-ago day–soldiers in blue coats as far as the tree-line and well beyond, Confederates in their rag-tag uniforms–most of them butternut in color, rather than gray–facing all those men and horses and cannon.  It was altogether heartbreaking and it felt so real–I wanted to cry, and nearly did, and I had to suppress an urge to shout to the Rebels, “Go back!”  or “Run!”

I stood next to a re-enactor, and he told me those who will fall in battle are chosen ahead of time, which makes sense.  It’s not the greatest duty, given the heat, the humidity, and the bugs.  Often, I learned, the pretend-wounded/dead must remain on the ground for a very long time.

When I returned from Gettysburg, I was just plain exhausted.  Still a little fatigue left over from that round of c-diff I suffered earlier, I guess, and I had been to a conference in Portland, OR. shortly before, so I spread myself a little thin.  I’m trying to learn to pace myself, when it comes to travel, but old habits are hard to break.  I chuckle (ruefully) when I remember days gone by, when I did things like flying to Bangkok, spending the night in an airport hotel, boarding another plane in the morning, bound for Chang Mai, and riding an elephant.  I spent one night there, then returned to Bangkok and joined a tour group, traveling on to Singapore, Bali, and Hong Kong!

Sigh.  Those were the days.   Now, I would need long stopovers in each location, if I went at all.  For one thing, I can’t be away from my kitty and my dogs for that long.

There are still a lot of faraway places I want to see–the Great Wall in China, for instance, the statues on Easter Island, the Greek Islands–but I may have to settle for watching documentaries on Netflix :).   I’ve traveled far and wide, and I’m grateful I did all that globe-trotting when I was younger.

I’ve  been ‘pre-writing’ all this time, which means I was binging on YouTube art videos and trying the techniques that interested me, which are acrylic flow painting and working with alcohol inks.  Zounds!  There are so many talented people in this world–I especially love to watch Rick Cheadle, Caren Goodrich, Danny Clark and Anne Marie Ridderhoff pouring their glorious abstract paintings–it’s all glorious color and sweet suspense, because you never know what’s going to happen after the paints are mixed and poured onto a canvas.  If you’ve never seen this art form before–I hadn’t–check out these talented people, or any of the many other talented folks brave enough to film their projects and put them up for all the world to see.  The alcohol inks are equally fascinating–the colors are so bright, and the results are amazing, even when calamity strikes.

My own pieces are less than fabulous, but each experiment brings me joy and teaches me something.  As Danny Clark often reminds his hordes of viewers, and as I myself have assured many an aspiring writer, if you want to be good at something, you have to be willing to suck at it first, and maybe for a long time.  I’ve had some spectacular failures, as well as some small successes, and I promise to post pictures as soon as I have anything decent to show.

So why did I refer to all this as ‘pre-writing’?  Because painting uses a different part of the brain, and allows the storytelling part to do its magic, bubbling away beneath the surface until it’s ready to go onto my computer screen.

Happily, I have reached that stage, and begun my next western romance, THE WAGER.  I’ll be telling you more about that as time goes on, and about the art, too.  And I’ll be blogging.

P.S. There’s a new contest underway (finally), and the rules are the same as always: if you comment, you’re entered.  Two winners will be chosen at random, notified by Super Jen, and sent signed copies of one of my books. 

Winners and an Update

This week’s winners are: Doris Richard Ellis and Debbie Petrouske.  Each of you will receive an autographed copy of one of my books.  The new round begins today; as usual, entering is as simple as posting a comment.  Two winners, chosen at random, will be notified, announced on this blog–each will receive a signed book.

I am well, for all practical intents and purposes, but I do run out of energy fairly quickly–I’ve been told by other veterans of C-diff that full recovery can take a long time.  So, I must pace myself, which is probably a good idea anyway, now that I’m no spring chicken.  :)

I’ll be heading down to Portland, Oregon on Wednesday to attend the Historical Novel Society Conference, and I’m really looking forward to that.  What a fabulous opportunity to learn, make new friends, and catch up with old ones.  I’m back on Sunday, only to gear up for another trip to Gettysburg, this time for the big re-enactment.  You can expect lots of pictures, stories and videos.  Jen is going along, and we’ll be seeing our good friends, Sandy Pennesse, Janet Wahl and Cynthia Taylor.

I’ve finally given up on Paleo and gone back to Weight Watchers–the only program I can really live with.  Not that I ever actually left–my meeting is full of wonderful, inspiring people, and our leader is terrific–but I didn’t count points.  Now, I’ve recommitted; I’m tracking what I eat and, in order to get back in step, I’ve subscribed to the new WW Fresh program; each week, I receive 7 lunches and 7 suppers, pre-made by chefs.  Breakfast and snacks are easy–all fruits and vegetables are “free” on WW–thank heaven.  The food is delicious and filling, and I actually have some trouble getting in all the points I’m supposed to have in a given day.  I won’t keep having the meals delivered indefinitely, but they’re perfect for a transition–and SO much better than the frozen stuff from the supermarket.

The last of the peonies are in glorious, spendthrift bloom, so beautiful that they take my breath away.  This year, I didn’t cut any for bouquets, preferring to leave them as they are, nodding on their bushes, so heavy they droop.  

This morning, thumbing through a copy of “Grit”, I saw a blurb about the solar eclipse (total) coming up on July 21.  (I remember when “Grit” was a tabloid-style newspaper, sold door to door.  Now it’s a slick magazine.)  I’m excited about this rare celestial event, and I’ve ordered special goggles to protect my eyes, so that I can really see the phenomenon.  I stayed up half the night to watch the last lunar eclipse, and it was well worth the sleep I lost in the process.

I’m keeping up my bullet journal and, as always, listening to/reading tons of books.  :)  Recently, I’ve listened to Julia Glass, Lisa Unger, and Gail Godwin, all favorite authors of mine.  There were others, some I couldn’t finish, though those shall go unnamed, since I never shoot down another writer’s work, as I’ve said before.  I’m learning a lot from the Great Courses, too–as you probably know, or could guess, these are college lectures on a wide variety of subjects.  I recently finished “Becoming a Great Essayist”, “How the Stock Market Works” and others, and now I’m into “Great Masters: Mozart”, which is fascinating and, naturally, sprinkled with dazzling notes of this incredible composer’s musical genius.  Like most writers, I’m interested in just about everything.  

That’s the blog for today.  See you soon.