Friday, August 22, 2014

An American in Asia (with Ambien) in April (Part 1)

Okay, so I haven't been good at keeping my itty bitty blog going.  That isn't surprising from my perspective.  When I'm spending time writing, I like it to be in the form of novels rather than blogs.  BUT, here's an update, starting with the month of April.

My husband Mike and I spent the month of April in Asia, visiting my son, Captain Andrew O'Kane, in South Korea.  We had an inauspicious start.  At approximately 3 a.m. on April 1st, the shuttle that was the one and only thing I had my husband arrange for our trip, arrived and picked us up.  At 3:45 a.m., as we're mindlessly riding along into the bowels of Westminster, Colorado, he suddenly turns to me and asks: "Did you pack OUR passports?!" 

"Is this a joke?!" I shrieked.  When he shook his head, I said, "What on earth would make you think that I would pack YOUR passport and not mention it to you?!"  He said, "Well, you had them out," and I said that, yes, two months ago, when I was arranging our Visas in China, I had them out.  So then I asked the driver if he had any pickups in hotels and could let us out.  Unfortunately, he did not.  I asked him to drive us to a gas station, so in the middle of a hideous, icy windstorm, we were left with our luggage at a deserted gas station in the middle of a town where we had no idea where we were.  We called a cab, which we saw drive past us at 50 mph, and which took a full hour and four desperate phone calls from us to finally retrieve.  At which point, he asked us where Boulder was.  He then proceeded to drive us south when we needed to go north.  He missed three turns after we corrected him, barely averted two head-on collisions, and drove us 95 mph to our house where Mike retrieved his passport.  We rode the 50 miles to DIA in 30 minutes, somehow arrived at the gate before final boarding call, and walked straight into our plane and to our seats.  We then wasted an our in San Francisco, and arrived in Seoul, Korea, an hour late, and met our son at the bus station in Songtan. 

As I said to my husband, "Maybe we're getting the bad part of our trip over at the start."  That proved to be the case.  There's a 17 hour time difference between Boulder and Seoul, so we arrived in the evening a day after we departed.  I took an Ambien shortly before we were to be served our meals.  I remember getting my chicken kiev.  I awoke in the morning, thinking that I'd had this weird dream in which I was struggling to get the chunks of chicken on my fork and into my mouth.  I got up to use the restroom, and discovered that my lap and my seat were covered in food stains.  I made the note to myself: never take Ambien prior to eating a meal.  Otherwise, though, I have to admit that I felt refreshed and energetic when we got to Songtan.  We saw Andrew's luxury apartment, had a fabulous meal at the Korean BBQ, where we learned about their curious affection for Kimchi and sweet pickles, then got ourselves nicely situated in his guest room.  I took another Ambien and awoke in the morning, feeling well-rested.

We spent two weeks in S. Korea.  To my surprise, I could happily live in Seoul.  I adored the people.  The temples and sites were amazing.  The food is fantastic and reasonably priced.  It is an outstanding place to visit.  I will write more about it, as well as our week in Vietnam and our week in Beijing, shortly.

Leslie O'Kane

Friday, November 29, 2013

leslie okane: Overnight Success After Twenty Years!

On Tuesday before Thanksgiving, I had my wildest-dream success from a promotion I ran on Bookbub for my mystery PLAY DEAD.  I watched my author ranking on Amazon rise from 20,000 to number 67.  On all of Amazon, there were only 66 authors who outsold me on 11/26/2014.  It is now Friday, August 29th, and there are now 225, but I'm not complaining.  I've sold several thousand books, and it has been an exhilarating and magical ride that I never truly believed would happen to me.  The promotion expires on Sunday, and my ratings will drop, but I'll remember how much fun this was for a long time.

I'll also remember, though, that my daughter came home for Thanksgiving still suffering with the after-effects of a terrible case of food poisoning.  She can still barely force herself to eat more than a couple of bites at any one sitting. 

I'll remember that I didn't manage to write the chapter in my next book that--no pun intended--I'm dying to finish.  I awoke this morning with my thoughts in their usual whirl as I tried to think of how I can get my book in front of my intended audience for THE BODY SHIFTERS.  I miss my son who's stationed in S. Korea.  I'm feeling guilty about some friends that I still haven't managed to have over for dinner.  My husband and I still have financial concerns as he retires from IBM in two weeks.  There's no way to know if all of these new-to-my-work readers will buy another book from me, or if by Tuesday, I'll be back in the 20,000th position.

This was probably my fifteen minutes of fame.  If so, I'm so happy and grateful that I got to experience it!  I've loved every one of those minutes; I've smiled for every second of them.  I'm also happy and grateful to have learned from this experience that life isn't very different for the 67th and the 20,000th sales-ranked author.  Either way, I still need to finish my next book to the best of my ability and then try to market that book to the best of my ability.  It's the nature of the beast to come up short, but also to keep trying.  How frustratingly wonderful is that?!

Warmest wishes for the holiday season!
Leslie "Caine" O'Kane

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Of Floods and Face Lifts

That's hardly as eloquent a title as: "Of Mice and Men, but there's an adage for writers: "Write what you know."  Then again, I'll ignore good writing advice re: the importance of dramatic leads and will instead state upfront that my house sustained very little damage from the flooding in Boulder, and I didn't have a face lift, merely a brow lift and upper eyelid surgery. 

Three weeks ago I wrote about August going out with a whimper.  Well, September sure swept in with a lot of force, here in Boulder!  Despite the Front Range's arid climate, it rained and rained for days on end.  We got more than half of our typical annual precipitation in one ten-day span. I've lived in Boulder for 37 years and have never experienced anything remotely like this.  The rivers swelled and rose.  There were flash floods in streets and neighborhoods that weren't in the flood plain.  It felt as if all of the ground soil in Boulder was dumped hundreds of yards downhill.

Unlike me, my husband does not wear earplugs at night, so he alone heard the call from our next-door neighbors asking if he could help with a sump pump for the water that was gushing in through their window wells.  That was the first of two nights of severely interrupted sleep for him, as the second night he had to keep emptying a three-foot tall trash bucket every ninety minutes to catch most of the water that was running from a small, newly discovered hole in our foundation wall.  We wound up with a soggy carpet even so in our guest room.  Between the contents on our storage room floor, and everything in our guest room, our rec room is crammed to the gills. We dried our carpet, mostly by soaking up the moisture with towels, now we need to shampoo the carpet and put the guest room and storage room back together.

I've often had impeccable timing for avoiding manual labor.  I'm your basic slug of a dinner-party guest who is rapt in conversation until the last plate is cleared, and who only then thinks to ask: "Can I help?"  Or who sleeps soundly until her spouse returns home at 4:30 a.m. from working on the neighbor's basement.

My avoidance-of-labor timing held true last week. I called my friends to ask about their houses, yet wasn't in the position to help carry items out of their flooded basements. Bending over and scrubbing on my hands and knees is very difficult with a bruised and healing face.  My eyes, cheeks, and forehead were sore, and I had a minor but enduring sinus headache.  I Skyped with my son in S. Korea, and he said that I looked like I'd been in a really bad fist fight.  I truly felt guilty for not only coming through the flood without damage to our home, but for (essentially) incapacitating myself over something driven by pure vanity. 

That said, a couple of years ago, I read somewhere that there is also wisdom in reversing the Golden Rule.  Sometimes we should each take a moment to ask ourselves: Would I tell my child the same things that I'm telling myself right now? 

The truth is that my friends know who--and how--I am.  They like me even so! People with better backs and better faces are pitching in to help physically.  Meanwhile, my friends still appreciate--I hope--how I continue to be held rapt by our conservations.  My husband knows that I'm a chronic insomniac, and that it's much better for both of our sakes to let me get whatever sleep I can.  Plus, I love my new eyes!  That makes me happy, and I'm a better person when I'm happy than when I'm sad.

Sadly, for some Coloradoans, it might take many months until their homes are rebuilt.  Much, much worse, some families have lost loved ones. The only help I can offer them is through my prayers. I ask those of you who are so inclined to join me in that venture.

With gratitude and blessings,

Saturday, August 31, 2013

August Going Out With a Whimper

Hi, y'all!

That's as close as I get to Southern, after my week on the beaches of North Carolina.  We had a great time, then I returned and went to two mini-vacations in the Colorado mountains.  Which is when I started whimpering.  My AOL account was hacked minutes before I was about to depart on my second mountain escape. 

What followed was a lot of time spent changing passwords and vigilance re: my financial accounts.  All seems fine now.  But I still haven't gotten back into my routine.  I haven't been doing my awful daily stretching routine.  I dislike stretching, which is why my body needs it so badly.  And I'm truly struggling to get back into my writing, mostly because I've spent so many hours in front of the computer doing other things, often while whimpering and cursing.

I'm getting an eye lift next week, so that means several days off the computer.  I might actually try writing while turning my computer screen off.  As long as I check my hand position on the keys it might work out.  It would just be stream of consciousness work as I continue to plot my 8th Domestic Bliss mystery.  It will be either my 20th or 21st novel--depending on whether I complete my 2nd book in my thriller trilogy before or after this one.  I'm also supposedly getting major landscaping work done after Labor Day.  I wrote "supposedly" because this was supposed to start two weeks ago.  We'll see if I update my photograph in another month or two.

Warmest wishes!
Leslie O'Kane 

Thursday, August 15, 2013

August 15, 2013

Hi, from Ocracoke, NC!

This is a favorite vacation spot for my family.  We haven't been here in several years.  Our vacation has been flying by.  I haven't given my book a second thought.  I hope that my unconscious is working out the plot, but I doubt that's happening.  The closest I've come to research is that I've been drinking wine, which one of my characters has made a career from selling. Maybe that counts for something.  

My son is in Korea, starting his year-long tour at Osan AFB.  My daughter is here with us. 

I had a dreadful dream the night before last in which I was looking back at my life and thinking that I hadn't tried hard enough to do anything meaningful with my life.  Wherever that came from, I hope it has parted company with my brain permanently.

My sister broke out a jigsaw puzzle, which is unfortunate.  I have an obsessive compulsiveness when it comes to them; it's all I can do to tear myself away--and this one is Monet's Garden, which is extremely difficult.  Many years ago I asked my family to never again give me a puzzle.  If my house caught fire and I was in the middle of doing a puzzle, that would be the inanimate object that I'd try to save.  (Although I'd balance my computer on the assembled puzzle pieces.)  

It's late and I'm starting to adjust to EST, just in time to return to MST.

Best wishes,

Monday, August 5, 2013

Itty-bitty blog

Hi! Thanks for checking out my itty-bitty blog. I am always impressed with people who write fully developed personal essays for each of their blog posts. I’m not one of those people. Although I’ve written more than 20 novels, I never cease to be amazed that I can actually write an entire book. In case there is an expiration date on creating storylines, I’m afraid to spend that time on beginning, middles, and endings herein. Even so, I will post every other week or so with my latest goings on.

This week, what’s going on is that my son, a Lieutenant in the Air Force, is about to leave for South Korea for a year. Less than a month ago, he returned to the U.S. from Afghanistan. I can’t begin to express how proud, relieved, and ecstatic I am that his tour of duty has ended. My daughter, husband, and I will soon be leaving for a family vacation in the NC Outer Banks.

Otherwise, I’m starting on my eighth book in the Domestic Bliss series, which is written as Leslie Caine and features interior designers Gilbert & Sullivan. The title, TWO FUNERALS AND A WEDDING, gives some clues about the plot. With luck and diligence, that eBook will be on sale by mid-January.

Since 1990, when I made the decision to fold my technical-writing business and concentrate on my life’s dream of becoming a novelist, I’ve created four series. Like any good mother, I love all of my series equally. My youngest brainchild is THE SOUL SHIFTERS, and that is the one that needs the most nurturing. As a thriller aimed primarily at young-adult readers, this is a new, unfamiliar world for me. I’d love to hear any suggestions you might have for ways to promote that series, and I hope that you’ll check it out--even if you’re not between the ages of 11 and 29.

Warmest regards,