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June 03, 2010

The Scent of a Mystery Writer

The Scent of a Mystery Writer
by Nancy Pickard

Now that I’m doing standalone novels people sometimes ask if I’m “still a mystery writer.”  It’s a fair question, given that these new books are different from my earlier ones, and I answer politely.  But inside of me, I’m yelling:  “Hell yes, I’m still a mystery writer!”  It’s like asking me if I still love my son.  Puhleeze.

My mom—almost 94—claims I was literally a born mystery writer because she read so many Agatha Christies when she was pregnant with me.  I’ll buy that. It’s in my genes and my blood. But there’s another reason I will never leave the mystery fold, and that’s because of the people in it.

Let me tell you a little story to show you what I mean, and why I think “mysterious” people are the world’s greatest friends and angels.  This story involves someone whose name you’ll recognize, but whom I have not seen since the events I’m going to recount to you.  Our paths haven’t crossed since then, but I’ll always love her because of her incredible kindness to me that day.           

This all happened at a mystery convention in Philadelphia in 1995.

Early Sunday morning, Oct. 11, my mom called my hotel room. 

“Your dad died last night,” she told me, in a tired, trembling voice.  He had been in a nursing home—with dementia and the acute leukemia that mercifully killed him. We’d been expecting this, just not when I was l,500 miles away.  My mom and I agreed there was no point in moving up my plane reservation when I was already booked to go home that afternoon.

I would stay a few more hours, as originally planned.

I would even do my scheduled panel, if I could manage it.

Feeling shaky, I dressed and went downstairs to breakfast. None of my best mystery friends were at that convention, so there was nobody to tell.  I didn’t feel I could spring it on strangers.  And so, I felt isolated and alone, all balled up with the news and with my effort to behave like a person whose shy and gentle father hadn’t died a few hours ago.

There was a line in front of the hostess desk in the restaurant.  I joined it.

I stared at all the noisy activity around me and thought,  “It’s so strange to be standing here with this knowledge, and nobody knows how I feel inside, and now I’m going in for toast and coffee as if nothing has happened.”  I wondered what secrets other people were keeping to themselves as they ate breakfast or waited in line; what troubles or aching hearts were they hiding behind their smiles?

Then a pretty blond woman stepped into line behind me. “Nancy Pickard!” she exclaimed, with a happy grin.  Her nametag said LISA SCOTTOLINE.  I had read her first book and loved it.  “I’m so happy to meet you!” she said.  “How are you?”

I looked into the sparkling eyes of this woman I had never met before, and I burst into tears.

Poor Lisa!  Omg.  I told her why and blubbered my apologies.

She didn’t hesitate.  She put her arms around me and comforted me. “Are you meeting anyone for breakfast?” she whispered. I shook my head, unable to speak.

“Stick with me,” she said, with kind, firm warmth.

Without waiting for the hostess, Lisa took my hand and led me to a table of mystery writers and fans.  She checked with me to see if that would be okay, and when I saw how they were laughing and enjoying themselves,  I knew they would be great medicine. “Yes,” I told her, and asked her not to say anything about my dad to them.  I didn’t want to cast a pall over their breakfast, and I wanted to soak up their unalloyed happiness.

I remember Harlan Coben was at the table, being hilarious.  He and Lisa were good friends.  It was the first time I met him, too.

They all moved over and welcomed us. I sat there, laughing at their jokes a little, and feeling embraced by a tableful of nice people, with Lisa seated next to me, glancing at me now and then to make sure I was okay.  Her friends didn’t seem to mind that I wasn’t contributing anything except for wobbly, moist-eyed smiles. They didn’t have any idea how much they were helping and healing me. 

So there’s the other reason why I’ll always be a mystery writer. I wouldn’t leave people like that for anything, not ever.

Thank you for letting me join you at this table, too.  Again, I’m joining a table of people who already know each other, and where there’s a lively conversation already in progress.  Thank you for making room. I sense the same warmth, the same great feeling of shared interests, the same good humor, wit, kindness, intelligence, and community that I felt at that other table on that morning all those years ago.

Still a mystery writer?            

That goes without saying, in the same way that I’ll always love my son, and the sun will always rise in the east, and I’ll never drink decaf coffee.  So pass the hard stuff--and tell us if there was ever a time when a stranger was especially kind to you.


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Welcome to TLC! What a touching story.

Welcome, Nancy!

I love Lisa Scottoline too! She really is a guardian angel, isn't she?

The first book of yours that I read was "The 27-Ingredient Chili Con Carne Murders" - it was a book group choice several - cough- years ago and Mary Alice made the recipe! I've been hooked ever since!

Welcome to a new home Nancy.

Whether it is good family or good community it is always wonderful to have support, especially unexpected support. Kudos to Lisa Scottoline.

Welcome, Miss Nancy!

What a wonderful story. I think Miss Kathy is right - Miss Lisa is a guardian angel. Take it from me... we ex-nuns know these things.

Just saying.

Cousin Rosie

Welcome, Nancy! I've only met Lisa briefly, and have no trouble imaging her being so helpful.

Our cross with a helpful stranger was in La Spezia, Italy. After a long day on several trains, and a long walk to the bus stop, my family of four, plus all our luggage, boarded a local bus going to the nearby town of Portovenere. With a standing room-only crowd, we noticed that we were making many stops in La Spezia. An older lady standing behind me, noticing the luggage, said, “Portovenere?” I said yes. She proceeded to speak in Italian. Feeling more like a ‘stupid American’ than anytime before, I finally picked up on her point that we were on the correct bus but going to a town in the opposite direction. After some persistence, she persuaded us to get off the bus, cross the street and wait for a returning bus. It was her stop as well. After some hesitation, she followed us to the new bus stop, waited with us, and spoke to the driver about our already-punched bus tickets. We were truly touched by the assistance of this grandmotherly Italian woman to a group of tired tourists who didn’t understand her native tongue.

Guardian angels. . .that reminds me of the time my car died, in a true blizzard,on a downtown highway overpass, and I managed to coast over to the side, and not two seconds later, a stranger in a truck parked behind me, got out and came to my window, and offered me a ride home, wherever home might be. I thought, "Okay, I either die in this blizzard or take this ride with a serial killer, which is it gonna be?" I chose the serial killer, who was not one, as it turned out, and was a Guardian Angel in disguise.

Good morning!

You and me, Nancy. There may be similar collegiality in the other genres, but the mutual support and friendship mystery writers extend to one another feels very special to me. Am still glad Lisa was there for you when the rest of us couldn't be.

Guardian Angels are all over, we just need to pay attention..:)

Welcome, Nancy! It's good to have you here....:)

Yes, those guardian angels are everywhere. Even in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, where a friend and I traveled just out of college, far back into the woods to visit the Pictured Rocks along Lake Superior. When my car's belt (of some kind) broke along an empty park road far from what little civilization there was outside the park we were feeling hopeless. And then along came a band of wandering tree planting Seven Day Adventists! Who drove us to town, found a place to buy a belt, drove us back out to the park and replaced the belt! Which immediately broke again. So they towed us back to town, found us a place to stay and drove us 100 miles to a rental car outlet! And we never even really knew their names.

Just goes to show...even in the deep woods good people come to the rescue.

I'm very sorry about your Dad. I know you still miss him every day.

Oh, there have been so many. I have been blessed.

One that stands out - we (me, my husband, our 3 sons, and our newly adopted year-old daughter) were flying home from China. We made it through the 15 hour Hong Kong to Newark flight and were getting ready to board our plane home to Syracuse. There had been uncertainty as to whether or not we would fly home that day or spend the weekend in Hong Kong, so we were dressed in our Hong Kong spring weather clothes - capris, light pants, a light receiving blanket for the baby. But in Newark it was the middle of a horrendous chill, well below freezing, a bitter wind, and we had to go outside to board the plane. No coats. No hats. Nothing.

It wasn't going to be a long time, obviously, but still, the baby was so small and unused to such cold temperatures. As we were lining up to go outside a Continental employee, a man with the most gorgeous blue eyes, walked up to my husband. "Sir," he said, "with your permission, I'd like to wrap your wife and the baby in my coat so they won't freeze on the way to the plane."

Of course my husband agreed. The man took off his thick, warm, Continental-issued coat and tucked it carefully around me, my daughter sleeping in my arms, my backpack. He bundled us up and gave us an amazing smile, wished us luck, and sent us out.

It was a small kindness, but one that has stayed with me all these years.

Janet, I love that story.

Cousin Rosie, you're an ex-nun? I know a lot of those here in K.C., lol. My writing pal, Sally Goldenbaum--who writes the Seaside Knitters mystery series--is one, too. Sally was in a convent for eight years. After she left, she met and married a Nice Jewish Boy, had three children, and wrote romance novels until she saw the light and turned to mysteries. I can't tell that history without laughing. :D

You guys! Thank you for the warm welcome, and for such great stories! Isn't it interesting that so far, they all involve travel?

Hmm, a book of true stories about Guardian Angels on the road? Who wants so do it? It's yours. :)

A fallen nun, my nonna says.
Margie calls me something else (a word I can't repeat here), but I guess I deserved that after The Incident (read about it in the archives!)

Anyway, that's really neat about your friend. We should have lunch. Not today, since I'm having lunch with Rabbi Morton, but soon!


Cousin Rosie

Nancy,I attended that conference, too--the first time I was ever a participant at a mystery event. I was asked to moderate the guest of honor panel (!! I'd never done such a thing!!) that consisted only of a father-mother writing duo who were so kind to me that I still get a squeeze in my throat when I see them.

That said, please understand that I have no clue why my big face is there on the screen today. Holly's working out the kinks. We're still in semi-functioning mode! Sorry.

Nancy, m'dear, I'm blubbering at your lovely story. This community is indeed wonderful!

As to a stranger being amazing? Well, I have to admit that you're on that list. You were once a stranger to me, then out of the blue, offered to read my first wee book. Now, you are a fan and a wonderful friend. I'm so happy I met you as I traveled through my first days of being a pro writer.

-- Maria Lima

Thank you for such a wonderful story to wake up to, Nancy. I love how this community is growing! I have too many Guardian Angel stories--and yes, now that I think of it, almost all involve travel and/or writers and readers. I know I'm lucky to be part of it all.

Like most people here, I too have a guardian angel story after my mother died. (And when my father died, I headed across the street to the yarn shop.) But never, never have I had Scottoline there. Wow. That is truly some heavenly love.

Great story, Nancy P, and welcome!

There's no crying in baseball. That's why we're writers. We can cry anytime we want to. So odd to have a life, or even a time in one's life, when we are doing exactly what we are meant to do. You make it sound easy, but I know how hard you have struggled and how tough the fight for you to be writing what you were meant to write, Nancy. Three cheers. (With apologies to the untimely death of Jenny Cain.)

That is a lovely story, Nancy. Thank you. And welcome!!

What a wonderful story, Nancy. Mystery folks are so welcoming and kind, and it's great to be reminded of why we love to be a part of this community.

I love your new books and I think you can call them whatever you like -- just as long as you stay a mystery writer and keep going to cons where we can see you!

Wonderful stories all. Welcome Nancy. I love this family and I know you will be a great addition. I look forward to becoming a fan. Now... which of your books should I start with?

Welcome, Nancy. The mystery folks have been my guardian angels. When I was sick three years ago and my tour was canceled, mystery writers around the country held a "tour by proxy" for me, even though they had their own books to sell. They saved my career.
As for ex-sister Sally, readers will love her Seaside Knitters series. Alexander McCall Smith blurbed it (we know about blurbs from Margaret yesterday.)
And how's this for a small world: Sally taught Latin at my high school in St. Louis when she was a nun.
A very young nun,I should add. Mystery writers are as connected as . . . er, the Mancini family.

Welcome Nancy......I am so looking forward to your words here and your visit to Mystrery Lovers on June 23rd with Sophie Hannah.
NOTE TO ALL: Nancy's new book is a killer and making headway on the NYTimes list! Signed copues available 6/24!

Ditto about the Mystery community angels.........you all were so wonderful through my breast cancer and chemo.........I will never forget the wave of notes, gifts and bitch slap cheers that carried me thru!

There are so many stories of guardian angels in my family, but I think the one that stands out for all time is when my mother-in-law, on her way home from the symphony with her friend, had a stroke while driving her Mercedes (a very old Mercedes), back in 1988. She managed to pull to the side of the road before she slumped across the seat, but in a very sketchy part of town. The friend did not drive, and she was a petite woman who could never have moved my mil over, anyway, so she got out of the car and asked a young man if he could help her.

These were two well-dressed ladies in an impeccably kept fancy car, remember. Anyone might have thought they were easy targets, especially in this predicament, but the young man, sagging pants and all, helped get my mil to a more comfortable position, assured her friend that he would call 9-1-1, and then he came back and stayed with them until the ambulance came, and until a tow truck could get there to take the car.

I was at home with an infant and a toddler, both sleeping, when the friend called our house. She had tried to call my fil, but he was out of town with his brother-in-law, one of the only other family members around, because my husband and his brother were both in Texas, and I had no way of reaching any of them.

Guardian angel--and an unlikely one--indeed.

Oh, yes, and both my mother-in-law and her friend were well over 80 years old at the time.

Welcome to TLC, Nancy! You're among some really wonderful bloggers.

My nice stranger story also involved a car. When I was in my late 20's, I was traveling back to DC from my hometown in East TN when my car died on I-81 around Wytheville VA. I didn't know a soul and had no idea how far the next stop was. But I did see a narrow road alongside the southbound lanes of the interstate. I rolled to the shoulder, got out and ran across the interstate, where I climbed over a chain-link fence and started walking down the road. Luckily I spotted a local gas station around the bend.

I spoke with a man working on a truck, and he said he'd help me get the car towed and stored until I could get it fixed. Having no other choice, I got into his truck and showed him where my car was. Then he looked up the bus schedule to DC that day and found out it wasn't coming until about 6:00 pm. So he invited me to spend the day with his family at their lake house and promised to get me to the bus station on time.

The kind stranger turned out to be the County Executive. His sister and brother-in-law (the Mayor of Wytheville) took me to the bus station and waited with me until I boarded.

I was, and still am, so grateful to all of those thoughtful people for helping someone they didn't know. And he and his family were delighted to find out I played bridge, because they needed one more person to fill out two tables. So, in a way, it was a win-win for both of us!

Oh, Nancy, what a great story about Lisa. And what a great topic.

Mine was in NYC. I was new in town and my boyfriend had just dumped me and I was lonely and crying, sitting in the courtyard of my apartment building. And then I heard the strumming of a guitar and two voices singing "Lean on Me" . . . two guys from the building that shared the courtyard had heard me crying and came down to play to me. We didn't talk much. They just played the guitar and sang to me.

It made me realize A. there are other fish in the sea; B. New Yorkers really do have big hearts; and C. I was going to be okay. And I was.

Welcome, Nancy! I'm reading The Virgin of Small Plains and loving every word. I, too, have been blessed by guardian angels both directly and indirectly. There was the time my mom, two aunts, two sisters, and baby cousin were driving from northern Virginia to Pittsburgh and blew a water pump on the Pennsylvania turnpike; a wonderful trucker stopped and spent I-don't-know-how-long fixing it for us. Also, the lovely couple at the rest stop on I-25 between Truth or Consequences and Socorro, NM, who gave me a lift to Socorro when I discovered a flat tire after coming out of the restroom. Not to mention the two guys who brought me gas in a rainstorm on I-64 outside Charleston, WV when I ran out, or the other two guys who pushed my car (containing me and my young daughter) out of the snow while on my way to a friend's house.

Indirectly, I've been blessed by the many writers whose words have comforted, amused, soothed, intrigued, and otherwise helped me in times of trouble, including when my Mom was in her last stages of cancer. Thanks to all of you!

I've attended a couple of mystery conventions as a fan, and can readily believe that guardian angels abound within that warm and welcoming community!

Welcome, Nancy!
It's so great to have you here!
I have bumbled and stumbled so many times in my life.
I have been rescued so many times when it truly changed the course that I took in life.
Having a coworker take over one evening while I kept a date with my future husband is the event that gave me a wonderful journey.
It was like my angel who sits on my shoulder said "Enough, already! Give this girl a lifeline before she hurts somebody or hurts herself!"
Everyday has been a blessing since I met THE ONE!
I can only hope to be there for someone else who needs a hand.

Like Kerry, I've had a few "trucker" angels...the one most important to me was the one who, after getting to know us over lunch at a truck stop, guided us through Indy's bypasses after Chuck felt ill...not sure if it was the heat (August), lack of sleep (we'd been driving all night...and at that time I didn't know how to drive. I do now!), or the food. He stopped with us to get something to drink, waited for us at rest areas...and eventually parted ways with us as he headed to Chicago and we headed home.
Mystery writers are angels, period. When I went to my first conference, Love Is Murder in Chicago, I went alone...I'm shy by nature so the entire concept was almost terrifying to me, but I ended up being helped along by Barbara d'Amato, Kelle Riley, Luisa Buehler, Michael Black, Dave Case, and Joe Konrath! So now...if I see someone looking like a deer in the headlights, I try to help. It's a pay it forward thing, y'know?
And Nancy, the new book is amazing! I have a friend on the BN Recommends reader crew, and she (not a mystery reader) loved it!

Thanks for sharing that moment with us. I read all of Lisa Scottoline's books and her web site also has her weekly column which appears in the Philadelphia newspaper. I think everyone will like it as she comments on "everyday life". Your story just re-enforces what I already felt about her - that she is a naturally warm and caring person. The internet has made reading all the more enjoyable as it now gives us an opportunity to actually get to know the writers and understand the whole process. Thanks for participating in this great site.

Wow! These are the coolest stories, y'all.

(Kansans don't actually say y'all, so that's in honor of Margaret and any other true Suth'ners here.)

I have a feeling something in here today will inspire at least one book or short story, if not for me then for another of the writers.

The problem with putting such things in fiction, though, is that they can be criticized as being "coincidence." And yet. . .these things happen, and they happen to most of us, (all of us?), and they happen a LOT. I mean, if I put in a book my own story about the guy in the truck in the blizzard, it could be said, "Oh, sure. Come on, that would never happen in real life."

But it did happen in real life. I guess it all comes down to how real we as writers can make it feel on the page.

(Thank you so much for the kind words about my books!)

It's always wonderful to discover that a 'celebrity' has behaved wonderfully well in private life--thanks, Nancy, for letting us see that side of Lisa.

As many have said this morning, I've had quite a few angels over the years. One of my favorites was when I was 22 and overwhelmed by fatigue, distress and uncertainty after about six months in my first post-university job (a huge responsibility that I'm amazed I was hired for at that young age, when I look back at it). I had to ask the organization's senior vice president a question, so walked into his office: when he looked up from his desk, he just quietly said, "Why don't you close the door for a moment?" I did, and he pointed to the comfortable chair that was nestled in next to some shelves behind the door, and said, "There's tea in that carafe, and your choice of Winnie the Pooh books. We can talk when you're ready." I had thought I was covering my distress, but with a box of tissues and honey for my tea right at my elbow, I had a brief little weep, read Pooh until I laughed, then the VP told me why my job was near impossible and how I could survive and enjoy it. Then, he asked what I'd come in for. I love that man to this day--more years later than I want to admit, and take delight in calling him and his wife occasionally to stay in touch.

Laraine, that may be the sweetest "boss" story I've ever seen. Winnie the Pooh and tea? lol! That's adorable. It makes me wonder how he came to be that way.

Oh, Laraine, what a lucky draw, to get such a boss. Your story made me tear up at such compassion.

Nancy, I have a blizzard angel, too. It does happen.

Summer 1987, I was shopping at an older stand alone JC Penney which was the size of two football fields and stuffed with rack after rack of clothing. I was in the menswear section, with my then 2 1/2 year old daughter, looking for a birthday/Father's Day gift from my husband. Department stores don't have the convenient child containment devices so prevalent in discount stores and this particular store was so stuffed I couldn't take a stroller into the racks of clothing.

My daughter was by my side one minute and the next minute she was gone. I started calling repeatedly, "Julie! Come here! Where are you?"

Each repetition became louder and more frantic. Panic was setting in as my daughter was nowhere to be found. People around me started to gather and began to help look throughout the store. There were 20 or more people combing the racks looking for my daughter. Finally after around 10 minutes of looking she was found hiding underneath a rack of clothing around 50 feet away from where we had been when I realized she wasn't beside me any longer.

I had never felt such a wild swing of despair to joy in my life and thank God have not felt it since. I never knew their names as they melted away as my attention was focused on my daughter, but there was surely a whole choir of angels in JC Penney that day.

I was reliving the panic I felt that day and forgot to say welcome Nancy P. Hope you like it 'round here.

Oh, peach! I feel faint just reading that, even though she was fine. It must have taken you days to get over it. I remember one time when my son rolled down the basement stairs--somebody had left the door ajar--in his "walker," and even though he wasn't hurt at all, I had to go lie down and stare at the ceiling for a long time.
The JC Penney Choir ftw!!

Laraine,that is a wonderful and compassionate story.
I can only surmise that your boss, even mentor saw great qualities in you. Thanks for sharing today.

Welcome, Nancy!

Lisa definitely is a guardian angel isn't she? My first time meeting her was at a lunch with other online book friends... I had never read her, but I bought everything of hers that I could find after that wonderful lunch. And have become friends with her (my fave is still Daddy's Girl..and State Trooper David Brian Mundy) since.

Wow, you learn something new every day! I have never heard the story about me in JCPenney before. I'm going to have to ask about this...

I will admit, I do remember doing this often when I was older. I guess Mom just got used to it, and decided enough was enough and started having me paged...(I believe the thinking was that I would be embarrased into not doing it anymore) Didn't work.

I don't know why I stopped doing the disappearing act at stores, but now when I am shopping with my Mom or Grandma, I get panicky if I can't find them.

Welcome, Nancy P. !

Lovely stories, and a welcome to you, Nancy. Your book is on my TBR pile as I write. I have had many guardian angels over the years. Some from the most surprising places. Your story about your Dad and MS. Scottoline was wonderful. She seems like a truly class act. People ask me why I read mysteries, and my answer is always because they are so human. As are their authors...

I got to be a guardian angel once. I was on the ferry coming home from Vancouver Island and started chatting with a young lady. She had hitchhiked from Tofino to the ferry and was going by bus to the airport in Vancouver. I offered her a ride to the airport as the bus for that long is awful. She was quite happy to get the offer. Once we were in the car I asked what time her flight was - it wasn't until the next day! I offered her dinner and my couch for the night and drove her to the airport the next day. I don't even remember her name, just that she was going to Philadelphia.

Laraine - I wish I had a boss like the one in your story. Awesome.

Peach, I remember getting separated from my mom in a store when I was about 5, scared us both.

:: Panting, running to catch up::--- Hi ,all. I had to get up at 5am to go to an event, yikes, and just got back to read this lovely essay. AH, Nancy. You are truly..ah, yeah.

And in the way the world works, sharing the panel with me today was Ann Hood, brilliant, who just wrote The Red Thread, which, essentially, is about connections.

I am very grateful to be connected to you all..

Nancy--I loved your thought about not knowing what was going on inside someone else's head. I have a quotation on my bulletin board that says:
"Be kind, for everyone is fighting a difficult battle."

I was blessed early in my writing career to meet a local hero of mine at a writer's conference. She was down to earth, gracious, and kind. My critique group and I followed her to conferences all over the area (this before the era of stalking) and referred to ourselves as her "posse". I will never forget her kindness and patience with this beginner. Thank you, Nancy for mentoring the writers around you.

Aw, Dawn, I loved my posse. :)
I'm at dinner right now with friends, but will check in later to say goodnight and thanks for all these wonderful posts.

I like it here!

Hi Nancy and welcome!

I was extremely blessed by two of the most wonderful people in the world. I had just moved to Arizona where my husband was stationed and I was pregnant with our first baby. I was about 6 1/2 months along when we were given the news that she was not going to make it. It's tough to talk about still so I'll skip to the heaven sent people I was blessed with. We didn't really know a soul here being so new to the area. But there was a couple on base that stayed by our side through the most tragic day of our life. We had only known them for day but they arranged a sitter for their 3 kids and they came to the hospital with us when our daughter passed away and was born, in that order. The wife was around the same age as my mother and she read scripture and tended to me like my mother would have could she have been there. They stayed all day and some of the night since my labor was long and tiring. I'll never forget them or the great amount of love and kindness they showed.

Thank you Nancy for this blog. I loved reading all these inspirational stories. We tend to forget sometimes that good people still exist in this world.

Wonderful story. Lisa & Harlan are the class of the biz. And so are you!

Dear Lolita, what wonderful people. I'm so glad they were there for you and your husband, and I'm so sorry for the reason they needed to be.

What incredible, touching stories, all day long and into this evening I can't thank you all enough for sharing as you've done. I intend to read over this comment thread many times. It's encouraging and inspiring, as Lolita said. I feel bad that I haven't commented personally on every one, but please know that I wanted to!

Hi, Paul, and thank you. :)

I've loved my first day of posting here. Long live TLC and the wonderful women who made it grow.


I swear I proofed that last comment, lol. Not that you could tell by reading it.

As any teacher will tell you the last two weeks before the end of school are unending and never more so than at the middle school level. We are all tired and want to be elsewhere-somewhere warm & sunny.
This evening I received a lovely autographed book with a sweet card inside. I have an interesting book to unwind with. I think it calls for a glass of wine.
Thanks to Elaine V.

For those who have commented on my dear 'big boss' (I was working for the man that reported to him) and life mentor, Peter, I later learned that he and his wife (also a sweet soul) had had both good fortune and tragedy in their lives--refining fires, as it were. I guess his way of responding was to reach for perspective and humor, and to share it with others. Yes, I was very fortunate.
Thanks, Nancy, for setting this lovely topic in motion.

We do what we must and it's good to have sudden angels at hand to get us through challenging times.
I was at a book signing in 1997 for my anthology Wild Women when I got the word my mother was dying and I had to leave after trying to give an interview to a university newspaper journalist. It was surreal. I can't recall the Barnes & Noble bookstore's manager but I recall contributors Susan Malone and John Day pitching in to help me get through that night.
Glad to see you here at TLC! You're an angel to many people, I do know that, Nancy.

I was driving home to PA from TX just me and my elderly bull terrier when he became deathly ill in Staunton VA. He was my baby. At the time I was in a gas station and was in an absolute panic--yes there were tears involved. Mr. B.L. Campbell, a very sweet elderly man quickly came to my aid patting me on the shoulder telling me to hop in my car and follow him, his neice was a vet and her office was just down the street.
When we got there he helped me carry my dog, crate and all into the office. His neice stabilized my dog so I could travel home. Mr. campbell stayed with me for hours while they worked on my dog.
I made it to our vet's office with him and my sweet dog lived for a few weeks afterwards. Had Mr. Campbell not been there I don't know what I would've done.
Nice to see you here Nancy.

What a beautiful story, Nancy, and welcome to this table as well. My friend Gerald says, "You do good in the world and the angels help you when you need it." (in my case many, many times). Most memorable, my students when my mother was sick, who supported me with care, concern, prayers, cards, books -- breaking any number of stereotypes about students in public high school.

What a wonderful post. My emotions are precious to me; I dont squander them but my eyes filled with involuntary tears on reading your post. How wonderful to have your spot in that line, that day of days.

I wish I had known! I remember it so well -- the editor Carolyn Marino was there too. I was a newbie back then and frankly was starstruck to be sitting with Nancy Pickard! You were so warm and gracious. Wow.

I saw this post right away, as you guys know I'm a huge fan, but I was so stunned and touched, I didn't know how to reply. Now I do. Thank you so very much, Nancy. I will never forget that day, either. And I'm proud to be your friend, always. With much love, L

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