Saturday, October 31, 2009

FIRST SIGHTING!!!

It was "dump your old pharmaceuticals" day at my local Wegmans, and boy did our family accumulate a LOT of unused drugs. (It's a shame they can't be given to people who can't afford them. But, up in smoke they'll go.)

Bookplate.sm So while I was there, I decided to check out the book section and HELLO!!! There it was, Bookplate Special. Three copies--which means one has already been sold. I did a little happy dance and called to a woman who was walking by, "It's My Book!" like I'd never seen a copy of my book for sale before.

What the heck! I'm happy!

If you're local, please check out your Wegmans grocery stores (and even if you're in PA, VA, or NJ, too!) and maybe buy a copy? :)

Snoopyhappydance Weeee! you never get over seeing YOUR new book on a shelf in a store.

Glee!!!

Monday, October 26, 2009

Oops--missed my cue

Bookplate_Special.sm2 I've had so much on my mind lately, I forgot that yesterday kicked off my (admittedly limited) blog tour for my new book, BOOKPLATE SPECIAL. I was interviewed by Avery Aames of the Mystery Lovers Kitchen blog. (And I shared a yummy recipe for mini spinach quiches--definitely NOT diet food, but delicious.)

So, if you want to read my pearls of wisdom (?) check it out. (Scroll down to Sunday's entry. Then scroll back up and read Avery's current post. Then scroll down again and read everybody else's posts. They've shared some really cool recipes.)

I've got a number of stops to make on this make-shift blog tour, most in November. I've got them listed on my web site, but will try to mention them here as well.

Yikes! Just seven days until Bookplate Special is released. (I'm not ready!!!)

Monday, October 19, 2009

I MEANT to grow them that small . . .

3_tomatoes The veggie garden is done for 2009.  The other day I picked the last of the beans (and what a magnificent crop it was), the peppers, and the lone squash.  The tomatoes were history about a month ago.  The heirlooms succumbed to the blight--so we didn't get to eat even one of them, but the celebrity tomatoes were magnificent.  Oh, they got the blight, too, but they were made of hardier stuff and if you cut out the black bit, were just fine to eat.  And of course, Mr. Groundhog completely destroyed the Brussels Sprouts and broccoli, so I won't even go into that heartache (again).

But getting back to the peppers . . . we got one full-sized (and that was on the small side) pepper, which I allowed to fully ripen.  It was a beauty and I lovingly tended it for about 6 weeks.  One other plant produced a pepper, but it rotted on the stem.  Then in September, the second plant suddenly bloomed and the next thing you knew, we had three tiny peppers. 

Miniature veggies There's the rub--they were TINY peppers.  And so was the acorn squash.  I got that as a freebie from the local nursery.  We bought some annuals and they gave away one free squash plant.  Unfortunately, I put the little squash in the driest part of the yard.  I faithfully watered it, but the water seemed to flow downhill away from the squash.  Still, I got some beautiful glads, so I can't complain too much.

Hubby couldn't get over how darned cute that little squash was.  To convey the size, I figured I'd better include something to give it scale.  We haven't eaten the squash yet--and I wonder will we get get a teaspoon each--but it is awfully cute, don't you agree?

Friday, October 16, 2009

Was it something I said?

Unsmiley The other day I got a startling phone call from my literary agent:  she's leaving the business.

Talk about a shock!  There's a lot going on in my life right now--most of it not very good--so this piece of news was not welcome. 

I've never actually met my agent in person, but we've exchanged hundreds of e-mails and talked on the phone more than a few times, and she is the reason I am where I am today.  She was my fourth agent.  She took a chance on me, she's gone over my contracts with a fine tooth comb and fought for me.  I'm extremely grateful for everything she's done for me . . . and heartbroken that she's leaving the business.

This is the second agent I've had who's decided to leave the business.  That two of my agents should leave the business makes me wonder . . . is it me?

Nah!  I'm just being paranoid.

The silver lining in all this is that I don't have to go looking for a new agent (which is a roller coaster ride, more spills than thrills).  My agent's partner is taking on a portion of her clients, and I'm one of them.  My friends who have this particular agent love her, and sing her praises.  I feel very lucky she's taking me on and feel confident we'll have a long and happy business relationship.

Happyface I'm also very impressed with the way my current agent and my new agent work.  When my third agent left the business, I heard it secondhand.  She didn't bother to tell her clients she'd quit until weeks after the event.  But on Wednesday, I spoke to my current and new agent within an hour of each other. They were both concerned that there'd be a smooth transition and that their clients would be happy--the hallmark of professionalism.

Too many things seem to be changing in my life all at once.  So what could've been a negative experience is looking pretty positive.  It's quite a relief.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

PET PEEVE THURSDAY: Whatever happened to maternity clothes?

Pregnantbelly3 There seems to be a baby explosion in my town.  Everywhere I go I see young pregnant women, but none of them seem to be wearing maternity clothes.  You know, baggy clothing that actually looks comfortable instead of tight-fitting fabric stressed at the seams.

Pregnant belly 2 These soon-to-be mothers must be on a tight budget, because they're wearing everything they wore before they became pregnant, and it's not attractive.  This lets-not-wear-maternity-clothes trend may have started when Demi Moore posed pregnant and nude on the cover of Vanity Fair back in 1991.  It "sparked controversy," but I think it made a lot of pregnant women feel beautiful.  The problem is--not all pregnant women LOOK like Demi Moore.

Maybe I'm just old-fashioned, with my Crocs and sweats, but comfortable clothing will always be my first choice.

And what's bugging YOU today?

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

I FEEL SO ALONE . . .

Every year I go through this:  I feel regret that I didn't go to a conference.  This week is Bouchercon--the BIG mystery conference.  This year it's in Indianapolis, which is drivable for me. 

There are a lot of reasons I decided not to go all those many months ago, and if I'd signed up, I would've had to cancel for personal reasons anyway.  But still--all my online pals are either on their way to Indianapolis, or there a day early for the big Sisters In Crime event.  The Guppies will be gathering for lunch on Friday (I missed their gathering in Washington in May because I had lunch with my editor, and I wouldn't have missed that for the world--but I did miss not connecting with my Guppy sisters en mass).

Already my friends are posting on Facebook and Twitter.  I read their reports and feel wistful.  And yet, I decided NOT to go.

I hate crowds.  Bouchercon is CROWD CENTRAL.  When I went in 2006, I felt so overwhelmed.  I was in the overflow hotel two blocks from the conference hotel, and when I escaped, I escaped for hours--not a few minutes.  I had to haul books up and down a hill.  It was awful.  (Not that our hotel was awful.  It was nice.  And they even gave us a "stay one night free" coupon, which I gave to one of my Guppy sisters who lived in Wisconsin.) 

I wasn't sure I could afford it.  (Turns out, I could!)

Unsmiley I'm going to jump back into the WIP today and try not to think of all my friends having fun while I'm working hard and not having fun. 

Bummer.

Monday, October 12, 2009

My Artist Date

The artist's way If you've read Julia Cameron's THE ARTIST'S WAY, you know about artist dates.  Basically, it's doing something you enjoy that refills your creative well.

Saturday, I needed an artist date, but I wasn't sure I had the patience to break out of my routine and do something.  I've been wanting to get a picture frame for several weeks, and decided that I could do that and squeeze in an artist date at the same time.  So I headed off to Joann, Etc. and their picture frame department.

I love to hit craft stores.  I love looking at all the scrapbooking stuff (even though I don't do scrapbooks), and the rubber stamps, the papers, the Christmas Ornaments (they're already 30% off at Joann, Etc.) the candles, the seasonal fabrics (even though I don't sew), etc.  

I usually buy my picture frames at yard sales.  But finding frames you can hang are a challenge.  Most of them are "table top" frames.  And, Joann, Etc. only had table top frames.  Bummer.  So off I went to A.C. Moore down the road.  This store has a different feel, and is smaller, but they seem to have a lot of different stuff.  I totally resisted the urge to check out the wedding aisle--it's been 18 years since I got married, but I just love looking at all the wedding stuff--the Jordan Almonds, the netting, etc.  And I had to avoid the pen aisle, too, else I'd be heading home with a ton more gel pens (that I don't need).   They had a great assortment of frames and I found the perfect one for my photo.  And, luckily, it was on sale for 40% off.  Win-win!

So where do you go for your artist dates?


Wednesday, October 7, 2009

KEEPING TRACK OF THINGS

Bible6 It's no secret that I have a memory like a sieve.  It's just that I have so much on my mind, I can't keep track of every single detail of my life.  Especially my books.  That's why I've created a Bible for each of my series.  (That's what they call such a document in "the trade.") Okay, I'm behind on the Jeff Resnick Bible.  Just haven't gotten around to it.  Besides, I know Jeff, Richard, and Brenda better than I know myself.

My Booktown Bible has come in really handy when I need to remember what color eyes Mr. Everett has or the name of Tricia's attorney (who hasn't shown up since the first book--but needed to be mentioned in the fourth book).  

I'm currently working on my Victoria Square Bible.  It consists of a list of characters, their traits and a description (however brief) of what they look like, a list of businesses, facts about the little town of Jones Mill (which may or may not be changed by the final draft--I'm leaning toward changing it.  One caveat:  it's got to have "Mill" as the second word -- but I'm open to ANY suggestion), etc.

Besides being a vital aid to writing the subsequent books, creating this bible is a great way to actually keep from writing.

What are you doing to keep from working on your work-in-progress?


Tuesday, October 6, 2009

In My Hot Little Hands . . .

The doorbell rang a while ago.  That always sends at least two of the cats into a frenzy.  YIKES--STRANGERS!  Now why they are terrified is beyond me.  For one thing, we don't, as a rule, have serial killers visiting.  In fact, usually we only have family visiting.  And those family members are known to them and feed them.  (Then again, when they visit, they just put the key in the door and DON'T ring the doorbell.  Maybe the cats are smarter than I give them credit for.)

Bookplate.sm Usually, it's just a delivery.  No person comes in.  They just dump a box or envelope on the step and take off again.  That was the case this morning when the Fed-X guy rang the bell.  And inside that familiar white bubble-envelope was one copy of my next book, Bookplate Special, and three cover flats.

Yee-ha!  It's a real book!

Years and years ago, my friend Doranna Durgin told me that getting that first copy of your book never gets old.  She was right.  When Frank yelled, "Fed-X man!" I knew what it would be and I ran to the front door and frantically cut open the envelope -- and -- yes, did a little Snoopy Happy Dance.

The rest of you don't have to wait too long to get the book, either.  It will be released on November 3rd.  I'm anticipating that it'll start showing up in bookstores a week or two before that date.  This book is special to me.  I got to write about something that's important and hopefully it'll be a teaching moment, but not a preachy one.  

And speaking of the book, I just got a copy of the review that's in Romantic Times.  Of Bookplate Special, they said:  "The third top-notch Booktown mystery is a cleverly plotted cozy with everything a reader could want: mystery books, delicious food and bad guys. With its bookstore setting and small-town charm, this series is bound to be a favorite for cozy readers."

Snoopyhappydance I'd say that was worthy of a Snoopy Happy Dance.

Monday, October 5, 2009

I want my cuppa tea!!!

Three months ago I had a violent stomach bug.  I never spent a night puking for so long and so hard in my life.  The next day, I lay on the couch eating (saltless) Saltines and watching old movies because my stomach was so upset.

I figured it would go away in a day or two.  And it didn't.  And didn't.

For weeks, I kept discovering foods I dared not eat for getting killer heartburn.  Anything with tomatoes.  Anything with vinegar.  

Prelief Cutting out tomatoes was tough.  A lot of what I eat has tomatoes as a base.  So I ate my spaghetti with Parmesian cheese and herbs (as my friend Lee Rowan used to make--and probably still does).  I had no Indian food for two l-o-n-g months.  Nothing seemed to work for me, despite the bottles of Malox I drank, and the hundreds of antacid tablets I downed, until I found Prelief.  (I should take out stock in the company.)  I'd down a couple (okay, maybe as many as five) of these little white pills and it neutralized the acid.  Gradually, my stomach healed enough to reintroduce these acidic foods.

Except for one thing:  tea.

Typhoo tea Now, for as long as I can remember, I have started my day with a cup (or pot) of tea.  I had to give up caffeine back in the 1980s, and learned to love decaf tea.  (Okay, ENGLISH decaf tea.  There's a big difference in taste.  American teas are pretty wimpy.)  Even with seven Prelief tablets, nothing seemed to help.  To add insult to injury, I'd purchased 11 boxes of my favorite Typhoo tea (that's 880 tea bags) just about the time this all started.

I was letting myself have one cup of tea a week to see if the old stomach could handle it.  Usually I choose Mondays, figuring I'd have the rest of the week to recover before I tried again.  It was only a week ago that I had a cup of tea and didn't get heartburn.  That made me braver.  I tried again (only that time I didn't have anything to eat with the tea).  Ugh.  Heartburn.  So I tried with food (and Prelief) again.  Ah, success!  Yesterday, I had tea with just Prelief.  Yea!  No heartburn.  And I've done it again today.  (Okay, it's kind of early, but I've got my fingers crossed.)

Cuppa I can't tell you how wonderful it has been to have that one cup of tea most mornings for the last week.  Oh how I've missed it.  But it's only one cup.  I can't wait until I can get back to drinking a whole pot of tea and without taking Prelief first.  On that day I will celebrate--with another cup of tea.

Have you had to give up something you love to eat or drink, and how did you handle it?