Monday, July 28, 2014

July 26-27, 2014

 
     Yesterday was the last day of the Romance Writers of America's National Conference.  During the morning, I attended a workshop which highlighted one of my publishers.  Bell Books/Belle Bridge Books/Imajinn (write for Belle Bridge Books) was represented by their Marketing Director, Danielle Childers and Imajinn Editor Brenda Chin.  They are both so energetic and show real caring for what they do and for their authors.

Brenda Chin


Danielle Childers
     I'm very pleased with this publishing house.  After listening to the new adventures going on with Belle, I'm excited to have new ideas and new projects.  News at 11.  LOL
      The night ended with the Rita Awards presentation.  There were too many people and we were too far back to get good picturs of the presentations of the golden statue.  For the past 4 days, I'd dressed in mostly business attire.  Today, I was back in jeans and tennis shoes, and I may never get out of them again.

Jeannie right after the Rita's.  We were
waiting for Jack and Richard.
     This morning we went to the Alamo.  The last time we were here, there was about as many people visiting the shrine as the count had been the day the Texans tried to defend it.  Today, it was like Santa Anna had returned with his whole army.  The lines to get into the Mission and other out buildings wove up and down like the ones you get in at Disney World.
     Originally, the mission served as a home to missionaries and their Indian converts for nearly seventy years.  In the 1800's, the Spanish military stationed a cavalry unit at the former mission.  The land had cottonwood trees surrounding.  The soldiers referred to the old mission as the Alamo, derived from the Spanish word for "cottonwood".
      
Here is a picture of a nice prickly pair and the cactus behind them
is nice, too.  LOL

I would love to see this plant in bloom.  It is covered with buds.
The coloring is so beautiful.
          San Antonio and the Alamo played a critical role in the Texas Revolution.  Ben Milam, soldier, colonizer, and entrepreneur from Kentucy, was killed when the Texas Revolution was just getting underway.  His leadership prior to his death inspired his fellow Texans and Tejano (Texans with Mexican heritage) to retake San Antonio in 1835 at the Siege of Baxer, and ultimately to win Texas independence.  The winning volunteers then occupied the Alamo.
The Alamo
     On February 23, 1836, General Sant Anna's army arrived to take over the Alamo.  Texans and Tejano prepared to defend the Alamo together.  Commander of the Alamo, William B. Travis sent couriers carrying pleas for help to communities in Texas.  Only 32 volunteers arrived bringing the number of defenders to nearly 200.  Among the Alamo's garrison were Jim Bowie, renowned knife fighter, and Davy Crockett, frontiersman and former congressman from Tennesee.
     The siege of the Alamo lasted thirteen days beginning February 23, 1936, ending at daybreak on the morning of March 6, 1836 when  columns of Mexican soilders headed over the walls and into the compound.  By sunrise the battle had ended, and Santa Anna entered the Alamo compound to survey the scene of his victory.
     Just a couple of things about the Sacred grounds and the Shrine of Texas Liberty:
Men are asked to remove their hats before entering.
No pictures or videos are allowed to be taken.
It is my understanding that no building is allowed to be built near the Alamo that would cast a shadow on the Mission.
There is a marker right in front of the building.  Although it is now made of metal, it represents the spot where William Travis, as the commander of the Alamo, drew a line on the ground and asked that any man willing to stay and fight to step over--all did except for one.
Until later,
Dolores


Friday, July 25, 2014

July 25, 2014 Day #3

     I had lunch with Marge, then attended a couple of workshops.  One about taming the social media beast.  I actually got some good ideas from it.  I attended one hour of a 2-hour workshop on homicide 101.  Did you know that not all homicides are murders?  Homicide means the killing of one person by another person.  It could be a self-defense killing.  Or, accidental killing like when someone steps off a curb and in front of an oncoming vehicle.  But they are all homicides.   It all made sense when the detective explained, but I had never thought about it.
     As a mystery writer, I decided there might be a lot of little facts I need to know.  A friend gave me a whole set of books about police procedures and crime scene investigations.  Thanks, Cheri Clark, aka Cheryl Norman.  So I decided I would do some major research with these books when I get home.  With that decision made, I ditched the second hour of the homicide workshop and spent the next 2 hours hanging out in the lobby between the bar and Starbucks.  I knew that would be the perfect place to find most of my friends.  :-)
     Tomorrow I will attend a couple of workshops in the early part of the day.  My publisher will be doing a "chat with Bell Books/Bell Bridge Books" and I'll attend to show support for Danielle Childers (Marketing) and Brenda Chin (editor). 
     I plan to get back to the bus around 2:00 and fix dinner for us and Jack and Jeannie.  Then Jeannie and I will be getting all dressed up to the Rita Awards Ceremony back at the hotel.  The Rita's are to the romance industry as the Oscars are to the movies.  It is always a gala affair and very exciting to watch the presentation of the trophy for the top book in one of the many genres of romance.
     Tomorrow night, I'll post pictures.  My fingers are crossed that my friend Beth Ciotta takes home her Rita statue. 

Rita Statues
It's on my bucket list to win one. :-)

Until later,
Dolores

July 24, 2014 RWA Day #2

This will be a quick post.  I had a great day.  I spent time with old friends.  We have been friends for a long time, not that they are old.  :-)  Looking forward to another great day.
Beth Ciotta and me.  We had a few minutes to catch up.
On our first trip to New York City, Beth was our personal guide.
Richard was highly impressed with her knowledge of the town.  That was
a fun time.


Kathy Kinney and me.
This was a really big thrill for me.  I loved the Drew Carey Show and for me, Mimi was a major part of what made me laugh. 
Deborah Smith and Brenda Chin
A couple of Bell Books/Belle Bridge Books and Imajinn's finest.
Thanks for the great reception

Until later, Dolores

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

July 23, 2014 RWA National day 1

     What a great start to the Romance Writers' of America's yearly conference.  It was so much fun seeing old friends.  The booksigning appeared to be a big success according to the number of  people in the autographing hall.  Even though there was a problem with my books, I still had a place at the table with my name card (spelled wrong, but still a name card).

Me and my sign. :-)
 
Me and Sharon Sala at the Literacy signing.
Looking great, Sharon.

  







     I'll be taking pictures of some of the authors who will let me and not think I'm a stalker. 


Me, Skye Taylor, Deborah Smith, Elizabeth Sinclair

          A really fun part came at dinner time.  Deborah Smith, Vice President and Editorial Director of Belle Books/Bell Bridge Books, aka my editor, took BBB's Florida authors to dinner at one of my favorite places, Tony Romas.  Friends Jeannie and Kathleen McMahon joined us.  It was great to be in the company of women who share a love for books, whether we are writing or reading them.  Thanks DebS.  Very enjoyable evening.
     Until later,
     Dolores

July 21-22, 2014

     Jeannie and I went shopping at the Alamo Quarry Market in San Antonio.  As with everything in Texas, it was BIG.  Richard and Jack dropped us off around 11:00 am.  We started our trip like any woman would—lunch.  We ate at a wonderful Greek restaurant.  I had Grilled Rosemary Lemoni Chicken with couscous and Greek Salad.
     The mall is like our River City Marketplace.  Each store stands alone.  So, we had to go in and out of each store.  Yes, it was hot, but the cool breeze we were met with when we opened each door, plus the great buys inside the store made the heat worth it.  We were there until about 5:00.  BTW, I bought a $10 basket and that was it.  LOL
     The Alamo Quarry Market was once a functioning cement factory until it was abandoned.  It has now been developed into a marketplace with a Regal Cinema theater housed in the oldest building left by the cement factory.  A multitude of other businesses surround the theater.
     The developers of the Quarry kept the fa├žade of the cement factory.  The most notable feature and landmark is the four historical smokestacks that can be seen several miles from the Quarry.  They are 204 feet high, 18 feet in diameter at the base and 15 feet in diameter at the top.  Throughout the market, there is equipment let behind by the cement factory painted and displayed.  It was a unique and interesting shopping place.
Entrance to Quarry Market and old equipment display.

View of the Quarry Market from a distance.  Notice smokestacks.
  
     Tomorrow (July 23) starts my first day of Romance Writers of America’s national conference.  Because of other commitments, it has been three years since I’ve attended this conference.   I'm excited to see old friends. Wednesday starting at 5:30 until 7:30, 500 authors will gather for the “Readers for Life" Literacy Autographing.  If you are in the area of the San Antonio Marriott Rivercenter & Marriott Riverwalk, stop by to meet some of your favorite romance writers.  The event is open to the public.
     If you could meet one of your favorite authors, who would that be?  Mine would be Lavryle Spencer.
Until later,
Dolores

Monday, July 21, 2014

Catchup time July 18, thru July 20, 2014

     Do you remember the part in National Lampoon's Vacation, where Clark robbed a hotel then tried to hurry his family along as fast as possible?  Remember when they were looking at the Grand Canyon and Clark gave about three nods, then hurried his family away?  That is about what you are getting from me.  Just nod and move on.  :-)
     Over the last three days, Richard and Jack did RV maintenance, napped and good stuff like that.  Jeannie and I had to face the arduous task of shopping and eating authentic German food.  Yes, it was rough, but someone had to do it.  Periodically, Jack and Richard joined us for site seeing and eating.
     In May1846, after their long journey from Germany, 120 men, women, and children began their lives in Fredericksburg, Texas.  Their hope of a prosperous future for themselves and their children encouraged them to endure the miseries of the trip and the hardships still to be faced.
      It was truly a hard challenge, but over 160 years later, the people of Fredericksburg celebrate the unique community they created.  They strived to maintain the culture and their values.
One of the log cabins at the Pioneer Museum

 
     We toured the Pioneer Museum.  As we visited, we traveled from the 1840’s to the 1920’s.  Most of the structures (smokehouse, barns, homes) had audio kiosks.  It was laid out very well and helped visitors to imagine the early settlers’ struggles to survive and preserve their German way of life.    It was an exciting museum.  Richard disappeared and I was sure he was checking out the old tools in the barn, honing his knowledge on the things pioneers had to work with.  So, different from the ones he uses. 
Here is a picture of where I found Richard.


Jack taking a quick break.
  












 Jeannie and I rode to the town of Kerrville about 30 miles from Fredericksburg.  They had a few novelty gift stores and a unique site.  We weren’t exactly sure where we were headed, but we rode for what seemed forever.  We finally agreed we missed a turn.  Things like that don’t bother me, because I can turn a car around like a pro.  Finally, we found this thing we were looking for.
     There it was, Stonehenge II.  I couldn’t believe my eyes. 

      I told Jeannie that I didn’t realize the long ride we had just taken was all the way to Jolly Ol' England.  TaDum.  Okay, not my best punchline, but we laughed. 
Until later,
Dolores

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Thursday, July 17, 2014

     In May of 1981, I remember following the news reports of a jet crashing into flames on the aircraft carrier, USS Nimitz not far from Jacksonville.  Apparently, the pilot slightly missed the landing area, but with the small amount of space, there was no room for error. 
     That day 14 crewmembers died in the fire.  48 more were injured.  Some of them were taken to St. Vincent’s Hospital in Jacksonville.  4 jets were destroyed, including the one that crashed.  16 others were damaged.
     This incident stuck with me through the years.  I was excited to find out that the namesake of that carrier had a museum in his hometown of Fredericksburg, Texas.  Chester W. Nimitz was a World War II Pacific fleet commander, who was the Navy’s third fleet admiral.
     Chester W. Nimitz grandfather was a German immigrant who moved to Fredericksburg and built the Nimitz Hotel.  Locals referred to it as the Steamboat Hotel because of the ship’s bow front.  The hotel had its own saloon and brewery, a ballroom that doubled as a theatre, a smokehouse and a bath house.
Nimitz Steamboat Hotel


 
Chester W. Nimitz
     Chester W. Nimitz grew up in Fredericksburg and nearby Kerrville.  While still a teenager, Chester was accepted for enrollment in the United States Naval Academy.  There he graduated seventh out of a class of 114.  He rose to the rank of Commander-in-Chief of the US Pacific Forces in World War II.  Fleet Admiral Nimitz died February 20, 1966.
     The Nimitz Hotel now houses a museum, which is dedicated to Chester and his life in the United States Navy.  I found him to be a very interesting man and hope to learn even more about him.  The museum also covers six acres and is dedicated to the Pacific battles of World War II
Admiral Richard with his big gun. 
Pacific Battle Zone.
     We visited the Pacific Combat Zone.  It’s a re-creation of the Pacific Island battlefield.  That area was outside and totally surrounded by bamboo forests.  We saw a Quonset hut hospital, a PT boat and base, Japanese tank, palm trees and machine gun placements.  They do re-enactments throughout the year.
     My friend Jeannie is what I consider an expert on World War II.  For years she has entertained and awed me with the stories and facts of that time in US history.  My Dad was stationed in the Pacific (Philippines).  This is such a complete museum and well displayed.  For a lot of the vignettes, Jeannie could add other facts.
     One of the things she taught me was that Japan had been planning their attack on Pearl Harbor since the late 1890’s and continued until December 7, 1941, a day declared by US President Franklin Delano Roosevelt as “a date that will live in infamy.”  It was then the president declared war on Japan.
         There is way too much for me to tell about here, but if you ever get to Fredericksburg, Texas, plan to spend a couple of days.  There is much to see and do. 
Until later,
Dolores    

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Wednesday, July 16, 2014


     We are in Fredericksburg, Texas.  It’s an impressive town with many of the original stone houses and buildings from the beginning of Fredericksburg which was founded in 1846.  Although the town was named after Prince Frederick of Prussia, old-time German residents referred to Fredericksburg as Fritztown. Some of the businesses still use the nickname in their names.
     The town is also noted as the home of Texas German.  Most of the German settlers refused to learn English, so they developed their own dialect spoken by the first generations of German settlers.
     Richard and Jack went their merry way to see things they would enjoy like Street Dreams.  Evidently I missed a great attraction.  Here’s a link if you care to check it out.  http://www.streetdreamstexas.com/
     Jeannie and I hit some of the unique antique stores on Main Street.  I found a couple of things I couldn’t live without.  J  I found a rolling pin to add to my collection.  Of course, cookbooks were involved in most of my purchases.
      In the mid-afternoon, Jeannie and I dragged our hot and tired rears into a wine house which had the catchy name of House.Wine.  They have rich, fine furnishings arranged for cozy seating.  We bypassed those and went straight to the bar.  We soon found their wines were rich and fine, too.
                                             House.Wine. Main Street, Fredersburg, Texas
     It had been hours since we’d eaten lunch, so we ordered a cheese platter with some of the best tasting cheese I’ve ever had.  It also had apples, thin crackers, olives, and salemi.
     All in all, it was a great day.  We will be here for several more days.  Tomorrow we will go to the Nimitz and Pacific War museums.
Until later,
Dolores   

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

    Today was a moving day.  We moved from Dallas to Lampapas.  Along the way we stopped in the small town of West, Texas.  There we found a place our friends have been visiting through the years.  Apparently, this is world famous.  It didn't take me long to figure out why.
      The Czech Stop has been promoting the Czech Heritage spirit so popular in the small town of West, Texas. We parked and walked a couple of blocks to the bakery and kolache shop.  People were lined way back into a long aisle.
     You cannot name a kolache they didn't have.  I felt lightheaded just looking at all the good things.
I could never list all they had, but if you are interested check out their menu.  http://www.czechstop.net/our-menu/  They also ship (but not in the summer months).
     The town of West, Texas was in the news last year.  On April 17, 2013, a fertilizer plant, West Fertilizer Company, on the north side of town that stored ammonium nitrate, which is used as an explosive, caught fire and exploded.  The fire triggered two explosions very close together.  15 people died, including 12 first responders, and injured at least 200.  Schools, an apartment complex, and a nursing home were destroyed.  Hundreds of homes in the surrounding area were damaged.
     The explosion measured as a 2.1 magnitude earthquake.  A month later, an investigation ruled the cause of the explosion undetermined because there were several possible causes that couldn’t be ruled out.  Possibilities include arson, an electrical glitch or a golf cart that overheated.
     I searched the Internet and found recipes for kolaches made at another Czech bakery also in West, Texas.  I will be making them for our next concert later in the fall.

Until later,
Dolores

Apricot Kolaches




Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Monday, July 14, 2014

     The four of us, Jack, Jeannie, Richard and I set out on a mission to tour the George W. Bush Presidential Library in Dallas. 
     But first, we HAD to go to the Container Store.  I wish we had one in Jacksonville, but I do just fine ordering things from there over the Internet.  I have no idea why I have such a passion for containers, but they make me almost as happy as a brand new stove or refrigerator.  Containers just make my life simpler especially in the bus where there is nowhere to run, nowhere to hide and only few places for storage.
     Richard and Jack sat patiently in the center of the big store, each carrying on a conversation on their cells.  Jeannie and I met some of our walking goal by not missing an aisle in the entire store.
     Our next stop was at the Bush Library.  Since we had done so much walking, we decided to eat before going into the center.  They had a wonderful bistro call Cafe 43, which represents the fact that Bush was the 43rd President of the United States.  It was really a classy place to eat.  I had cucumber gazpacho, which was wonderful since it was soooo hot outside.  For dessert, I had a beautiful piece of lemon pound cake topped with strawberries, marscapone and honey.   And yes, I have found a recipe that I think will come very close to duplicating the pound cake.
     I thoroughly enjoyed the museum.  It opened to the public on May 1, 2013 and is located on the picturesque campus of Southern Methodist University in Dallas.  The center presents the life and time of President and Mrs. Bush and his American Presidency.  The museum has interactive galleries.  I found the one about the Twin Towers very heartbreaking.  I felt silly sitting in the gallery with tears streaming down my face. Several men and women sniffled and wiped their eyes.  I wasn't alone.
     There are fifteen acres filled with native Texas prairie grasses and wildflowers.
     They have a replica of the Oval Office.  The professional photographer told Richard to sit at the desk and pretend he was President Bush.  Richard mumbled something about he'd rather pretend he was President Clinton.  I pretended not to hear him, which most of you know I do anyway.  :-)

Until later,
Dolores

                                                     Jack and Jeannie in the oval office.

Richard and me at the Bush Presidential Center.

Texas Bound July 6--July 13, 2014

     We are on the road again.  For those of you who have followed us on some of our excursions like last summer's trip to Alaska, you know that Richard and I  usually travel for 2, 3, or 4 months during the summer. 
     This summer, we have started learning what old age really means.  A lot of people work hard their entire lives in anticipation of retirement.  Most people dream of traveling the world.  If only life really was that way.  sigh. Reality, at least for us, is at our age we now have to be home for doctor's visits and picking up all our meds.
     This year's trip will only be about a month.  So I will try to post at the end of every day just exactly what we are into.  I'll bring you up today:
July 6--We left late in the evening, headed west on I-10 on our way to Dallas.
July 7--I slept while Richard drove.  When we got to the campground, I went straight to bed.
July 8--Slept all day.  When we stopped went straight to bed.
July 9 thru July 12--Ditto!  Did I mention I was tired?
July 13--we arrived at the Sandy Lake Campground in Dallas where Jack and my bestest friend Jeannie were waiting for us.  They live in Joplin, Missouri, and their 2 children and 3 granddaughters live in Dallas and Flower Mount.  Their son and son-in-law are policemen and they were on duty Sunday evening, but their wives and one granddaughter went with us to dinner.  We ate at a family-style restaurant called Babe's Chicken.  It was beyond yummy. 
     I'd like to thank all of you who followed us last year and especially those who left comments.  It was like having my friends and family with me.  I'm proud to say I received over 12,000 hits on the site.  So, if you follow, let me know you are traveling with me.
     Starting tonight, I will post the activities of the day and you should be able to read it each morning.  I hope to be able to keep up with it the whole time we are gone.

Until later,
Dolores