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Monday, May 25, 2009

Once a Dreamer Always A Dreamer

So...we have this Big Event coming up. And, living with a neat freak, that means (ugh) cleaning the house. Which means that project I've had in a plastic bag hanging over a chair in the kitchen for about...oh, say a month...has got to either be ditched or done.

But this I know: If I ditch it--stash it somewhere out of sight for another day--it will never get done.

Which is why, first thing this morning, I dumped my bargain linen sundress onto the kitchen counter, found the line of teeny crochet flowers I thought would look cute on it, pinned one to the other, and began to sew.
By hand.

Now, I'm not a natural sewer. I grew up with a student mom who didn't bake and didn't own a sewing machine. She could wield a needle, which is about all I can do. So don't go picturing the Bayonne Tapestry here. Just an easy nip and tuck, attaching the flowers across the bodice of the dress.

As I sat there, though, I discovered something kind of relaxing about slowly moving the needle down and up, down and up. My mind wandered. Before I knew I was going there, I was thinking about what it must have been like to stitch clothes together. Before electricity. By hand.

Not just your clothes, either. Everyone's clothes. Needlework wasn't just a decorative skill. It was a necessary practical one.

And what if you were just clumsy with it? What if your stitches--like mine--were uneven and lopsided? I could hear someone (who?) shaking their head:

"That girl will never get it right."
And someone else (mother, sister, teacher?) saying, "She has the talent but not the will."

And why not? Because "she'd" rather be doing...what? Fencing with the boys? Traipsing in yon woods picking wild strawberries?

My mind conjured up a cabin. No, a castle. No, a farmstead. No, a---

You get the picture. I was off and running, another story forming in my head. And I don't even write historicals!

Dreaming stories is probably part of most writers' mindset. But what about everyone else? Can the most mundane task conjure up characters and settings in your mind? Does your imagination "write" stories?

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Bring On The Cliches

Oy, it's hard being a mother.

Did your mother ever tell you that?

Up to now my daughter and I have been pretty cool about the upcoming wedding. But now that its a little less than two weeks away, the pressure is on. We've had 2 melt downs in the last 2 weeks. Not a good average, I'm thinking. Unless you take into account the previous 11 trauma-less months. If that's the case, I think we're batting close to .300.

I only hope that as the days tick on we can keep our stress level down. Why does such a wonderful time bring with it so much tzuris?

Stupid question, seeing as it's a huge turning point in our lives.

But it would be nice to avoid the cliches.

On the other hand, experience becomes cliche because most of us go through the same thing, right?

So, now that I think about it, WTF--bring on those time honored cliches: the meltdowns, the laughter, the tears of sadness and of joy .

We could hardly call it a wedding without them.

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Saturday, May 16, 2009

You Can Have Me--Cheap

I'm participating in Brenda Novak's Auction for Diabetes Research. It's a pretty cool idea, whether you're a writer or a reader. There are tons of stuff to bid on, from baskets of stuff to lunches with authors to looksees from agents, and loads of books. And its all for a good cause.

I'm offering a critique of a first chapter, plus a signed copy of One Deadly Sin. And if my reputation precedes me you know I give good critique. Or maybe I should say I give a close reading and a detailed analysis.  Or if you just want me to gush, I can do that, too....

The best part? I can be had for a song. Bidding started at a mere $2, and as of this writing has made it to a miraculous $16. You get Bergdorf quality at a Target price. 

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Monday, May 11, 2009

On The Road Again

May's a huge month this year. Three--count 'em--three college graduations, and then, of course shortly after, the Big Day.

But right now we're between the first and second graduation. Which means we're on the road between Chapel Hill, North Carolina, where Carolina Blue holds sway over UNC, and St. Louis, where no one seems to care what color you wear at Washington University.

The highlight of the trip so far--ceremonies aside--was Boone, North Carolina. With a name like Boone, I admit my inner city girl was a little snarkish. I mean how much could a place with a name like that in a southern state offer?
Well, put that city girl to bed. Boone was an amazing place. Home of Appalachian State U, it is a beautiful place. Hilly, like San Francisco, but with tree-covered mountains framing it.m Well, hardly mountains, says my Canadian husband, but not hills either. Just pretty, pretty, pretty.

In fact, the ride through the Cherokee National Forest to Boone, was worth the trip in itself.

And Boone was a great place to stretch out legs and catch a bite. We ate at Boone Drugs, which has been a part of the town since 1919. It has an old soda fountain set in the midst of herbal remedies. The food was only so-so, but we probably should have had hamburgers instead of the vegetable plate. But we enjoyed the atmosphere and the gold plates naming the regulars who have now passed on.

It was fun to walk up and down the main street with its vintage clothing stores (we saw beautiful wedding dresses in one), craft galleries, antique and collectible stores (vintage games like Go to the Head of the Class) and the metal-cast car place. Every vehicle you could think of in three-inch metal. My husband treated the place like a shrine and went around pointing out every car he'd ever driven or ridden in over the last fifty years.

Of course I can't go anywhere without thinking story, and Boone has a ton going for it--scenery, a university, the local mountain community, history, and possibility. It would be fun to spend some time there doing research. In fact, I saw a house there that looked almost exactly like the house I described in One Deadly Sin in which the elderly Ellen Garvey lived. I love it when something I imagined exists somewhere in reality...

Chapel Hill is another great place. UNC rules the roost there. The fire trucks, the buses, even the police cars are Carolina blue. Graduation day was a sea of sky as nearly 4,000 undergrads sat in Kenan Stadium and listened to Desmond Tutu talk about our role in the universe as God's helpers.

Graduation was on everyone's mind in Chapel Hill. Many restaurants had special hours and special deals for the weekend. The hotels were booked, and with Duke graduating the same weekend, there were many folks, like us, in that part of the state with smiles on their faces.

We get a one-day stopover at home and then on to St. Louis. It will be interesting to see the difference between a big-city graduation and what happened at UNC. The graduating class there is so big they don't call out individual names. I think things will be a little more intimate at Wash U. But I'll bet the city doesn't close down either, so you don't have that wonderful feeling that the whole world is celebrating with you.
Hope your month is as full of good things as mine. And of course, this is all just prep for the wedding, which comes in June.

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Monday, May 4, 2009


The One Deadly Sin Blog Tour is coming along nicely. It's helped introduce me to a lot of new readers.

But I do admit it rankles a bit to hear "I never heard of" or "read one of" after what feels to me like a whole library of books on my shelf. I wonder about those stories of the "overnight success" who wrote, like, twenty books before being "discovered." I'm not sure I can make it to twenty! I guess those are the folks who are more concerned about the journey rather than the destination.

To which I say. . . patooy.

I mean, who wants to be on an endless journey that never gets anywhere? Just a pile of hot, stinkin' patooy.

But that's not really what I want to talk about.

What I want to talk about is this great online chat I had last night at Writerspace.

I find it amazing that I can string the words "great" and "chat" in a sentence together. Usually, those things are SO uncomfortable for me. I'm there, clearly, for the purpose of promoting my book, which is, well, awkward. Everyone seems to know everyone, and, as per the above, no one knows me. And they're all talking a mile a minute, fingers going so fast you'd think they were nuclear powered or something. And me trying to get a word in here and there. Shudder.

So you ask: mah nishtana ha laila ha zeh?

Or, in the vernacular: Why is this night different?

Easy. Two of my buddies showed up.

Unexpectedly, of course. One was even in disguise, but she gave herself away by mentioning MCRW (Music City Romance Writers).

Finally, I knew someone in the room. Finally, I had some peeps around me.

Boy, what a difference. The hour just flew by.

Ain't it grand to have friends?

So here's a huge shout out to Jody Wallace, aka Ellie Marvel, AND Marie-Nicole Ryan.

Great writers, great friends, and two people I'm lucky to have in my corner.

And THAT ain't no patooy.

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