Friday, December 19, 2014

The Longest Night of the Year

Winter Solstice is almost here. The longest night of the year brings with it an image of a quiet and very still snowy night, at least for me. Not something I've experienced personally, and definitely not something we get here in Los Angeles, but we have the ocean, which can instill the same wonder and sense of renewal. As the days get longer, we look forward to the new year and the promises a new start brings.

As a descendant from various Celts, I also love honoring my ancestors this time of year. And I'm a big geek. If you didn't know that, you haven't been paying attention, have you?  

Anyway, here's a Xena song I like to listen to this time of year - Solstice Night. Enjoy and Happy Holidays!

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

We've moved!

Well, we're finally in the new house and getting settled. Of course, with these old homes here in LA, that means we've been doing repairs that the previous owners neglected to do, or possibly just ran out of the funds to do. The main thing is that it's very quiet and private and I have a sanctuary for my writing again.

I even went on another paranormal investigation. I hadn't been in over two years, the time we moved back to SoCal, and it felt so good to be in the field again. We investigated a famous theatre here in LA and got some great photos and even a couple of EVPs. We're still going through all the recordings so I'll have to blog about it later but it was the perfect venue to make my Halloween special this year. And the hubs was excited to see me get into my old hobbies again. He's been pushing me to get back into it.

I'm currently editing the final Desert Magick novel and gearing up to publish a new fantasy in 2015. I hope you are keeping busy with things you love, as well. If you haven't already, please check out my website at

Happy Halloween and stay safe out there!

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Selling, buying, and Bewitched! Oh my!

It's been almost a month since I blogged. In that time, we sold our house and bought another one. Crazy, right? Now, were 8 days from the move and are packing, while trying to keep our old dog calm. She's doing well, by the way, with us 15 weeks now.

Hubs also surprised me with a visit to the original Bewitched house! It. Was. Fabulous! I've wanted to see it since I was just a wee tot and in love with the TV show.

Once we're moved into our new home, I'll get back to my regular writing schedule and have more time to update my blog posts. Until then, be excellent to each other!

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Our home is in escrow!

The real estate market here in SoCal is crazy and it's definitely a seller's market right now. Our home is now in escrow. Yea! Took a total of 1 day to get a sale. Not so lucky for us as buyers. We've lost out on 4 homes already due to multiple offers and bidding wars and now are waiting on word for a 5th home. . This is a special kind of stress. The kind that causes hives, sleep loss, and downright crankiness. I believe if couples can survive buying and selling a house at the same time, they can survive anything.

Monday, August 4, 2014

House chaos continues in the midst of finishing my latest novel.

Renovations are finished and we've cleaned up the landscape from all the construction. Now, we're in the staging phase and packing up anything we won't be using in the staging. Our little shelter pup has been with us just over two months now and is settling in, though she still has problems with other dogs. As soon as we can take a breath, we'll get a trainer to help us with that.

Meanwhile, I managed to finish the first draft of Desert Magick book 5, just when we're about to start marketing the house and looking for a new one to buy. I know, I'm crazy to try and do all this at once but writing helps to keep me sane when my home is in chaos.

That's all for now. Back to filling nail holes and doing touch-up paint before I hit the editing.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Writing - Not for the Faint of Heart

Writing as a career is a tough business. And if you think your family will coddle you, well, um, you might be in for some surprises. Some family members might read everything you write and support you no matter what - I have a couple of those in my life. But just because you're closely related, doesn't mean everyone will support your endeavors, enjoy your work, or even pretend to. A fact that just makes the writing life more interesting and gives you fodder for those characters you adore writing so much.

Most of my family don't bother to buy my books, much less read them (Not the hubs, of course - he reads everything I write because he's awesome). =) But when three close relatives finally told me they'd read my very first award-winning book, I expected, at the very least, polite, noncommittal and generic comments - "I liked it" or "It was good" - something along those lines. Instead, one just turned her head away and never actually committed to even finishing the book. Another said, "I found some typos" and proceeded to chat with another relative who was in the room. The third one frowned and uttered, "It's not my kind of book" then promptly walked away from me, giving me a nice long look at the back of her head as she retreated. As far as I know, these three relatives never read anything else penned by me, so I suspect I didn't make lifelong fans of them.

Was I distraught or livid? No. I worked in Hollywood for many years so I'm programmed to set aside rejection and move on to the next project. Was I disappointed? Sure. Even as adults, we hope our families will love our work, or at least offer supporting comments if they don't. But my disappointment didn't last long and I have to admit, these comments actually amuse me. They also reminded me that I was writing because I love it and not because I hope my relatives support my pocketbook and my ego by buying and cooing over everything I do. No matter who you are, how many awards you receive, or how many times some people tell you they love your work, there will always be someone who surprises the hell out of you. In my case, the someones just happen to share a whole lot of my DNA.

While the comments I received might sound harsh coming from family, I can assure you they're not unusual. I have spoken to many writers with similar experiences, so if you're looking for a career that coddles you, makes everyone an adoring fan, and pays you a boatload of money, writing is probably not for you. If you just can't help yourself and you have to write because your head will explode if you don't get all those ideas and worlds out of it and into a cohesive format, then writing sounds like the perfect career for you. Just remember to write because you love it, not because you're trying to attract a world of adoring fans. Although, that's probably a pretty good gig if you can get it. =)

Monday, June 9, 2014

Construction and sick dog means not much time for anything else.

Sorry I haven't posted much the past couple of weeks. Between bathroom construction delays and adopting a new dog with kennel cough and a bladder infection, we've been a little busier than usual. My writing has suffered and this is the first day our new pup has been content to stay in her playpen long enough for me to get a new chapter started. With construction guys in and out all day and making all sorts of noise, it's rough on us all. We'll be selling this house soon and then it's on to finding a new place. We hope to be in a new home by the fall, so all this stress will be over, and my writing schedule can get back to normal.

Meanwhile, please check out my award-winning Desert Magick: Superstitions (Bk 1). The eBook versions are currently on sale at SynergEbooks for just $1.98! Limited time only. Various formats available.  

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Authors responding to bad reviews - Don't do it!

I like to add new authors to my personal reading list. Just today, I was looking at some book reviews and saw that an author responded to an unfavorable one for his own book. This isn't the first time I've seen this. As a writer, it screams unprofessional. As a reader, it's a huge turn-off. All of us authors receive bad reviews now and then, but it's very unprofessional to post a response. Go hit a punching bag. Yell at your computer screen. Cry. Whatever. Just don't post a response. Period. Trust me on this. You'll thank me later.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Meniere's Disease clinical trial

I received an email about a Meniere's Disease clinical trial and was asked to share this information with my followers. They're looking for unilateral (one affected ear) patients. Unfortunately, I'm bilateral so I don't qualify for this one. You can read all about the study here:

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Construction zone

It's been very difficult to work in a construction zone but I'm plugging away at my next novel. If my characters suddenly build an extra bathroom onto their house, readers will know why. In fact, I'm tempted to write an entire novel that takes place at a construction zone. Maybe magically enchanted hammers. Or ladders that fly. Um, I really need the guys to finish before I totally lose it.

Monday, May 5, 2014

Writers inspiring writers.

This week, I received a touching message from a reader who said my work has inspired her to take up her own writing again, after many years away from it. A few years ago, a close friend and two acquaintances pursued publication and are doing very well right now. They said it was because I inspired them to keep at it.

I'm not sure I can take credit for their success, since they already had an interest in writing before they met me, but it's nice to know that maybe I gave them a little extra nudge in that direction. I can honestly say that I've been motivated throughout the years by many writers, so it feels great to think I can pay it forward through my own work and help others reach their goals. =D

Dana's free May 2014 newsletter

Dana's free May 2014 newsletter is available at

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Free April newsletter now available!

My free April newsletter is now available! And SynergEbooks Publishing is offering a sale price on one of my books. Pop over to my website and check it out.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Free Kindle book for Dana's birthday!

It's Dana's birthday! Get her award-winning tween/teen Kindle book, The Mask of Tamirella, free for a limited time only! Available April 9-11 at Amazon.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

For genealogy beginners

Lately, I've had a few people message me about genealogy research and where to start. Ancestry is great but it will cost you, and if don't use it regularly, it's a waste of money. Two of my favorite free sites are and - These sites are great for newbies and those who've been doing their family tree for years, as new records are added all the time. My favorite software to keep generations of information organized is Family Tree Maker. Yes, there are many more genealogy sites and software but these are the ones I recommend for newbies.

Here's a photo I took with my ancestors' gravestone in Ireland. What a fabulous trip!

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Abandoned pup melted our hearts.

Early Saturday morning we found a chihuahua puppy shivering and cowering next to our garbage cans and took him in. We then spent an exhausting 3 days making him feel safe and loved, while trying to find the owner. After an extensive search in our neighborhood and online, we came to the conclusion that he was abandoned. We've heard horror stories about animal shelters, so we weren't about to turn him in. The poor little guy had been traumatized enough.

While we were at the vet with him, we met a woman with a chihuahua that had been abandoned at the vet office a few years ago because one of her feet turns in and she didn't qualify as a show dog. This woman took that dog and gave her a forever home, along with another dog. Well, her precious little girl lost her original companion a couple of years ago, and the woman has been looking for a puppy to raise as a new companion. She fell in love with our little rescued guy when she saw him and told us her story.

We got the dogs together Monday afternoon and they absolutely love each other. With our full schedules, he really needs another dog around to keep him company. This woman's dog is happy, well-trained, and well-adjusted, and in a loving environment. And she was thrilled to meet our little guy. We miss him but he's so happy with his new sister that we feel very good about the situation.

Funny, if we hadn't taken our little foundling into the vet when we did, we wouldn't have met this woman, so I believe it was fate that we found the pup and then ran into her. She also has daily access to training and grooming and is eager to get him started. Her latest updates informed us that the two adopted siblings were playing and relaxing with each other, like they'd known each other all their lives, and the little guy had a great first night sleeping in his new forever home. 

We both miss the little guy and get teary-eyed when we see one of many photos we took of him, but he's happy and that makes us happy. 

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Dana's free online newsletter now available for March 2014!

Things are busy for me right now, especially in the publishing industry. Read all about current happenings in my free March 2014 newsletter at

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

My foster siblings - a lifetime of wondering

When I was three years old, having foster siblings didn't thrill me. My mother explained that we were going to be an emergency and short-term foster family for kids whose families couldn't take care of them. But I didn't understand short-term. A day lasted forever when I was a child. I enjoyed my alone playtime and having my own space, so I didn't get why strange kids could come into my home, play with my toys, use my things, take attention from my parents, and I was supposed to be okay with it. These were my parents. This was my house. I didn't want to share. But I quickly adapted, as kids tend to do.

Some amazing "brothers and sisters" came into my life and even when they were shy or scared, they always opened up to me first. We played, we argued, we acted like, well, siblings. But the shared times with these kids never lasted. Every single one of them eventually left. Was taken away from me. Just like that. And there I was, once again, wondering why. Did I do something wrong? Why did they want to leave me? Didn't they like me anymore? Why couldn't we just adopt them all?

My mother tried to explain about the return to their birth families, or extended family, or that they were finally getting adopted by someone who always wanted children. I was a very intelligent child, so I could understand some of this, but I was also very sensitive. My heart ached each time one of them went away. And each time, they took a little piece of me with them. I know two were adopted and one went to live with his grandparents. I know nothing about the rest. I've asked my parents but they don't know, either. Once most of the kids left, they were never informed of anything else.

As an adult, I understand exactly what kind of horrors some of these children went through and I'm grateful I was able to make them smile or, at the very least, help them feel safer with me. A few years ago, I had the fabulous luck of getting in touch with one of my former foster brothers. I was already a teenager when he came to live with us and never thought in a million years I would learn anything about his life after he left. Despite the abuse he suffered as a kid, he's thriving and successful now. I'm so very grateful he came through alive and whole in the end. I can't express what a relief it is to know what happened to him and to be in touch after all these years.

But I still wonder about the others. The one who was so afraid she didn't speak to anyone but her biological sister. The one whose stepfather broke his leg because he was angry. The brother who was my best playmate and friend, who never talked about his family. Ever. Not even with me. The one with down syndrome, who would forever be a child inside and wanted nothing more than to laugh and hug everybody. The deaf brother who learned a few hand signs from a book with me so we could communicate. No one had ever taught him.

Some weren't with us very long, a few days at most, others stayed much longer. But each and every one of them touched me, and that uncertain little girl I was long ago is now thankful she had them in her life. My life. My brothers and sisters. I hope one day I will learn what happened to the rest of them. For now, I will just envision that each one of them found a good life and someone to love.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Once in a while, other authors' characters become family.

I'm a huge fan of certain book and TV characters but not usually one to care much about the writers' and actors' lives. As a writer with a Hollywood and theatrical past, I know the difference between characters and those who write or portray them and have always kept the two separate in my mind. I get a little sad when I hear of a writer or actor dying, especially if I enjoyed their work.

A few years ago, an author, whose books helped me through some tough times and still have special meaning to me, passed away. I'm talking about David Eddings. He was one of my favorite fantasy authors. His wife, Leigh, collaborated on the books and she died a couple of years before he did. From what I've read of them, they were very close, so it doesn't surprise me that he didn't live very many years after she passed.

I recently came across an old article about his death that made me remember those beloved books, all of which still sit on my bookshelf. Once I started reading, I couldn't put the books down, and read the entire series (The Belgariad) in a matter of days, then I moved to the second series (The Malloreon) that continued where the first series left off. The author published 3 more books related to this world and I read those when they came out.

Over the years, I've reread the books or my favorite passages from them. Like the characters I create for my own books, these are family to me. Maybe a beloved aunt or uncle, but still family. It isn't very often other writers' characters touch me so much that I dream about them. But Aunt Pol, Garion, Grandfather and others from Eddings' world did, and still do once in a while. When I'm working through a tough problem, one of them might show up in a dream to help me out. Or someone here in the real world might say something that reminds me of one of those characters and makes me smile.

I hope my characters will mean something special to a reader, perhaps help them out when they're having a tough time and need an escape, become like family to them so that they want to keep and reread my books. That's why I write - so others can have an escape, a release, and just forget about the real world, even if it's only for a short while. That's my ultimate goal as a writer, and always has been. I don't care about teaching lessons or creating a masterpiece worthy of the Louvre. I just want people to get lost in my worlds and enjoy the ride, the way I still do with Eddings' books.

The world will always miss you David and Leigh, but know that you made a profound impression on at least one reader, and I'm sure many, many more. 

Friday, January 17, 2014

Just for fun! You know you're a short woman when...

Yeah, I'm short. Just thought I'd have a little fun today. Enjoy!

You know you're a short woman when...

1.       You have a step stool in your kitchen so you can reach the cabinets above the counters.
2.       You can’t reach the top kitchen shelves with your step stool so you climb onto the countertops.
3.       You get to a parade the day before so you can get in the first row, otherwise you won’t see anything.
4.       You have a step stool beside your bed because the new mattress set needs those “deep pocket” sheets.
5.       You have to extend the pull chains on all the ceiling fans.
6.       You had no idea the top of the fridge got dusty because you never see it.
7.       You have to climb onto the countertop to clean the top of the fridge.
8.       Foods go bad on the top shelf of the fridge because you’re too lazy to get the step ladder and see what’s there.
9.       You hate shoe sales because your smaller size is always sold out – to those elementary and middle school girls who want to look grown-up.
10.   You always factor in tailoring costs when buying clothes not listed as petite.
11.   When you don’t feel like visiting the tailor, you just buy regular Capri pants because they reach your ankles just fine.
12.   When you’re with your taller friends, it takes a while for people to notice you.
13.   At least once in your adult life, you’ve been mistaken for someone’s kid.
14.   You get carded long after age 21.
15.   Others get cool nicknames like Rocky – Yours include, elf, short stuff, mini-me, little bit, Short Round…
16.   Five pounds on your tall friends is negligible. Five pounds on you means you have to go up another pants size.
17.   You learned that getting patted on the head was just some tall person’s reflexes at work. They just can’t help it.
18.   When someone tells you to watch your head, you just ignore them and walk right under whatever is hanging down.
19.   You visit an elementary school and all the 5th graders can look you in the eye.

20.   You love when screen actresses are short. Finally, you have a Hollywood mentor!

Thursday, January 16, 2014

20th Anniversary of the Northridge Quake

Tomorrow will be 20 years since the Northridge quake hit the Los Angeles area. I can still remember it like it was yesterday. Hubby and I got tossed out of bed at 4:31 in the morning (I managed to get a look at my alarm clock) and stumbled downstairs, trying not to fall as our townhome shook. We did our best to calm our freaked out pets and not panic ourselves. And we weren't even near the epicenter. I've been through several quakes in my lifetime but that one was the longest and scariest. 

Of course, right afterwards I turned to my husband like a good Angelino and said, "Ooh, what do you think? 6.5 at least, right?" (It was actually a larger magnitude)

"Yeah. At least." He nodded and smiled as we braced for the aftershocks. 

Luckily, we only had minor damage to our place. A crack or two in the drywall and a few things fell off shelves. My cousin-in-law lived near Griffith Observatory and her apartment looked like a tornado hit. No structural damage, thank goodness, but what a mess. 

I was doing a production in Burbank at the time and one of our cast members lived near the epicenter. After the inspector cleared her home as still livable, she decided to have a cast party so we could see the damage first hand. Every chimney in her neighborhood, and I mean EVERY chimney, was on the ground with yellow caution tape around it. Her home had huge cracks in every corner where the drywall had separated. It had been cleaned up by this time but she said the place looked like a disaster area after the quake. The good news is that she wasn't hurt.

Others weren't so lucky and several people lost their lives. Mainly because an apartment building that wasn't built to code (on purpose) collapsed and crushed them. I hope that builder is still having nightmares. Sections of our freeways also collapsed. Not as badly as what hit San Francisco but bad enough. Many buildings were damaged, natural gas leaks and fires broke out all over the place. A real nightmare for those involved.

I woke up at 4:31 every single morning for six months after that quake and even a little bump makes me sit up and pay attention today. We can never be prepared enough here on the West Coast and sometimes we get too complacent about earthquakes. People from other areas think we're nuts to live here but our quality of life, fabulous weather and beaches have us in their grasp. But then, we think those who live in tornado, hurricane and blizzard states are a bit off.

Anyway, we've got our emergency kit packed and ready. I just hope we never have to use it.If you're too young to remember the Northridge quake, here are some photos.

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