Monday, June 30, 2014

Farewell to Chi-Chi

Last night our family lost a very precious, beloved friend.

Chi-Chi was more than a pet in the Keenan family. Here is a blog entry that I wrote about her back in 2010. 

I don't have anything poetic or fancy to say, only what it upon my broken heart. I'm going to truly miss this beautiful and brave little girl who gave our family 17 years of love and happiness. Chihuahuas live many years, yet somehow they all went so fast. It's so hard to see her bed, now so lonely and empty, and her collar, which is on my baker's rack upstairs to remind me of my little companion who kept me company through so many stories that I wrote, both in my office upstairs and in the dining room back in Union City. She was always content just to curl up at my feet, ready to leave the office only when I did.

She loved the kids and the grandkids and filled our lives with fun, love and memories.

This poem says more about our beloved Chi-Chi right now than I can say in my grief.

He is your friend, your partner, your defender, your dog.
You are his life, his love, his leader. He will be yours,
faithful and true, to the last beat of his heart. You owe it to him
to be worthy of such devotion.  -- Unknown

Chi-Chi Margarita Keenan

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Half-Year Resolutions?

Why not?

Every year, it seems you can't find a parking space and you have to hunt down an available treadmill at the gym...but only after January 1st. By February, you have your pick of the litter as far as the machines are concerned, because people didn't lose 20 pounds in January and they gave up. There's something very sad about that.

As writers, I think a lot of us rummage through our workspace, realize our New Year's goals/resolutions are in there (and now the paper's all wrinkled and the ink is faded) and either chuck them or leave them there, saying, "Ah, well, maybe next year."

Listen, why not this year?

The good thing about a year is that it's 12 months/365 days long. Like Yogi Berra said, "It ain't over 'til it's over." With the last week of June upon us, why not review your original goals or revise them?

Think of this as your "Half-Year Resolutions." Guess what? You still have 5 months to make it happen, whether we're talking about health/fitness goals or writing goals or whatever accomplishment you wanted to undertake.

Six months is also a long time. Maybe your situation has changed. Maybe you've moved and there's not a gym for miles around, so you have to improvise. Maybe you didn't get that book contract; maybe you're about to embark on the journey of indie publishing. Maybe your well for contemporary romance fiction is dry and you've always wanted to try your hand at an historical mainstream novel.

Get those original goals out--plus some white-out! If you have them in electronic form, it'll be that much simpler to change. Or if you tossed your goals/resolutions out in frustration, that's fine. Write some new ones and keep all of this in mind:

1. Be realistic. You have 5 months left to the year. You won't be writing 5 novels, especially if you're a busy stay-at-home mom or a grandmother who works full-time. Better to write one well written book that readers will love than 5 hastily written ones. By the same token, you might take longer to lose those 35 pounds. Be gentle with yourself and resolve to taking baby steps and being happy with the weight you do drop.

2. Keep in mind that you don't HAVE to be constricted by a time frame. You may not reach your writing goal or fitness goal by December 31, and that's all right. The important thing is that you begin, and that you work steadily, each day, towards that goal.

3. Think quality, not quantity, in whatever you do. You can lose 20 pounds on a fad diet and gain it back by Christmas, or you can resolve to treating yourself well and eating healthfully. You can take Zumba, yoga, kick boxing and feel like exercise is another full-time job, or you can start walking every day and enjoy that time so much that you will feel like you're missing something if you don't get that walk in by 7 PM each night.

4. Don't be hard on yourself. Approach your Half-Year Resolutions with enthusiasm and faith in yourself and your work. Today is a new day.


5. Your Half-Year Resolutions can be a secret. Nobody but you has to know about your resolutions and/or goals. But you can share and inspire others when you accomplish them!

Got all that? So you're off to a good start! May God bless you in all your endeavors.

Friday, June 20, 2014


For the convenience of people who used the pier to fish, the restaurant had designated a restroom for their use with an outdoor restaurant right behind the bar. Valerie loved to fish, but she didn’t love the fishy smell that clung to her hands after handling bait and fish all day. After washing her hands, she used a travel-size bottle of hand cream in her backpack, warm vanilla scent, that she’d picked up at the mall, before checking her cell phone.
One missed call from Kylie, a text from Mom—Have fun, my love! Tell me about it when u get home, k? It was cute to her, how her mother had mastered short cuts on texts as well as any teenager.
The second text message had come from Zed. Reading it brought an exasperated sigh from Valerie.
so whos the fisherman? I no we said we were taking this slow and could see other people but wow that was quick. we just got back together and u didnt say a word bout it either. alright not a big deal just kinda sneaky of you but ok.
“Sneaky? Really, Zed?” she mumbled to herself as she jammed the phone back into her shorts pocket.
This was coming from the same guy who had done his share of “sneakiness,” and not only when they were younger, either. The very last time she’d been his on-again girlfriend, he’d secreted away a side-dish girlfriend, someone from Lodi who’d been visiting Wildwood with a few of her friends. Valerie had found out from the grapevine, because Zed would have kept the little game going for as long as he could if he hadn’t gotten caught, that they had continued to see each other for months. All the times he’d said he was going to New York on business, he’d really been driving up to Lodi to visit his little redheaded secret.
Could it be that Kylie was right? She tried to avoid the subject whenever her best friend and her mother were in the same room, because those two agreed with each other when it came to Zed. But Kylie had said something that had stuck with Valerie.
Zed was your first love. I don’t believe he was ever really the person your heart made him out to be, but you haven’t stopped believing the dreams of the teenager you used to be. That’s why you keep holding on, because you think your love is going to make him into something he’s never been and never going to be.
Valerie smiled, walking back along the long pier, past others who were dropping their lines into the water below. She remembered how she’d teased Kylie about behaving like an amateur psychologist.
And yet…it rang true. Her best friend was like that sometimes, very insightful and, Valerie would say, even wise. Maybe Kylie sometimes seemed to just know her better than she knew herself.
Up ahead stood Josh, checking her line. He had paused and was watching her approach, standing with his long, slim legs spread apart. His tan was deepening from the time they’d already spent out in the sun that day, and there was something oh-so-hunky about the way his complexion went so well with his wind-tossed, sandy brown hair. His sunglasses concealed his eyes, and she mused how he reminded her more of some handsome secret agent rather than a beach-going local.
Awesome guy, she thought.
She found it funny how she’d gotten his choice of drink right on the money. He hadn’t even waited until they’d broken out the sandwiches, either. Josh had whipped out the chocolate milk container and had begun to sip it.
Chocolate milk, an occasional soda, and iced tea. He told her that morning that he never drank except when he was younger, and that he’d done that only to be part of the crowd. Now, he said, he felt no such peer pressure. He claimed not to like the taste of beer, wine or liquor, and that he wasn’t into drugs, either.
Then maybe April was mistaken about…that other matter? Josh hadn’t mentioned a word about it. In fairness, though, that wasn’t something a person offered to bring up, especially while out on a first date.
Please,let it not be true, Lord, she prayed. I don’t know—can I pray that? I guess not. You can do anything, I know. You’re God. But the past is there; it is what it is. It can’t be changed. Please let him be honest with me. I’ve had enough of a man keeping secrets from me, Lord. I’d rather he not disrespect me with a lie. That he be honest with me.
Josh was wiping his hands on a small towel he’d brought with him when she made it back to their spot on the pier.
“You missed it,” he announced.
“What? Oh, man—I wasn’t even gone that long!” she moaned.
“Yep. Feast your eyes on this baby…”
He opened his cooler, which they’d used to store any fish they’d caught—if any were, in fact, caught. Fishing was often a gamble, but a fun one. Inside the cooler, resting on a bed of ice, was a fish big enough to produce two suitable fillets.
“Oh, that’s one gorgeous fish,” she said reverently.
“Yeah, ain’t he good-lookin’? He’ll look even better on a dish with lemon and tartar sauce.”
“Next to some of those yummy, little fingerling potatoes. Roasted fingerlings.”
“And corn on the cob.”
“With butter.”
With all that talk of food making him hungry, Josh licked his lips. That made her think of kissing. The thought of kissing him made her have to catch her breath.
“That menu sounds perfect,” he declared.
“And we forgot biscuits. I know how to make really good ones from scratch, like the ones you get at Red Lobster, with some shredded cheddar and rosemary and garlic spice.”
He cleared his throat. “You think you’d like to…have that for dinner tonight? Or…You’re busy after your volunteer work?”

One date…to be continued. Tonight.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Recipe from Pinterest

And now for something totally different!

I guess you could say this is my own recipe, since I changed it up so much from the original. But let's give credit where credit is due & give you the original, coming from Sparkpeople. I introduce to you from Sparkpeople--tada!--Roasted Vegetable Casserole with Panko and Parmesan Topping. The above pic was taken with a few twists from Connie Keenan's Kitchen.

This was whipped up on the fly for a dinner held at another family member's home. Now here were the changes that I made, because I used what I had on hand, and isn't that easier sometimes?

* The recipe called for sweet potatoes; I used white potatoes, peeled, rinsed and cut into bite-sized pieces

* I omitted the mushrooms and brussel sprouts, instead using yellow squash from our garden

* Instead of corn off the cob, I drained a can of niblets and tossed them in

* No celery, no chestnuts, though next time I'll have both on hand when I make this, because that sounds great

* No Panko on hand, so I used regular Italian breadcrumbs and instead of Parmesan, sprinkled a blend of Parmesan and Romano

* Instead of regular extra virgin, which I DID have on hand, I substituted this infused olive oil, which is delicious on salads with balsamic vinegar in place of commercial dressing

* The tomato, which was a fresh Roma, was added the last 20 minutes or so

* The onion in my dish was a Vidalia (they're so sweet!)

* Also, I added baking time, around another 40 minutes or a little more, for the potatoes to be done and roasty

So there you have it. My version of this recipe, which I found on Pinterest. (Thanks to my daughter-in-law, Yesica, who introduced me to Pinterest, and now it's a favorite of mine for recipe-hunting.) Do try the original or use what you have on hand and let me know how it turns out! Oh--I should add that it smells DELICIOUS baking in your oven. Very heart-healthy side dish and you can use up the veggies in your garden.

You can omit the cheese with its calories, but ahhhh, you only live once! Enjoy!

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Back on Track

Almost a month since my last post? Not good! Here's an update:

During this time, I HAVE been writing, though I've gotten sidetracked with other projects and am now working steadily on THE JOYFUL NOISE SERIES' second book, DISTANT FIRE. I haven't forgotten my goal to put 4 books, plus a 5th, shorter one, out this year. Just been working on other projects in between, and it's hard for me to switch gears. For that reason, DISTANT FIRE will now be a July release, and hopefully that's early July, so that FOR THE LOVE OF SUMMER is actually published in August or sometime in early to mid-September.

DISTANT FIRE is Linda Cuthbertson's story, and Linda is the mother of UNCONDITIONAL'S heroine, Valerie Welch. I took note of how many readers had mentioned, after reading THE CHRISTMAS WALTZ, that they enjoyed finding a romance about an older couple. With all the 20-, 30- and even 40-somethings in my books (all romances, actually), it really is a pleasure to tell the story of finding love as older adults. In this case, both Linda and the book's hero, Drew Lingerfelt, are in their 50s. Since I'm in that age group, I can say that that's an interesting time in life. Also in the case of this book, these two are not finding love but rather finding it again, and rekindling it after about a quarter of a century that had been lost between them.

This is a story about how our choices can affect our lives, but God is the one who orders our steps, and He will always try to steer us back onto the path He meant for us, His will for us. DISTANT FIRE is about a young man and woman who once were deeply in love, and yet they were separated by both making wrong choices. When the Lord brings them back together years later, they find that love is more enduring than either believed, and that God, forever faithful and loving, always has something better and more beautiful in mind for those who love Him.

So there's a little background on my now JULY book! Looking very forward to delivering it to readers.