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August 26, 2010

Welcome Wagon & Gossip!

Welcome Wagon & Gossip

Transmitted by Nancy Pickard

Hi, Everybody,

Welcome_wagon

I asked the Tarts to catch us up on their professional and personal news that might otherwise slide by.  Who knew this would turn out to include lizards, earwigs, vampires, and eeking?

Nancy Martin

On the home front, my husband and I are delighted that we're going to be grandparents again!  Our daughter Cassie is expecting her second in February.  Let's hope for a Valentine's Day baby.

 And, in professional news, I've spent a month tinkering with a new book idea. (Hey, that's what summer is for!)  And I have new covers to show off! What do you think of them? The first Roxy book (previously titled OUR LADY OF IMMACULATE DECEPTION) will hit bookstores in trade paper in January.  And Roxy's second outing--called STICKY FINGERS--will be on sale in April. 

Nancy martin same size

Diane Chamberlain

 is trying to learn how to get her new iPad to play nice with her desktop and laptop and Blackberry and she’s about to toss all four of them out the window!


 Hank Phillippi Ryan

  is battling the earwigs in her dahlias. Cleaning out the front hall closet looms. The November rating sweeps are on the way, inexorably, and she is worrying that this will be the year (after more than 30 in TV) that she won't be able to come up with great investigative stories. The good news: large-print editions of the TIME mysteries are coming this fall!   She's working on a new book that her agent just told her she loves—now comes the hard part.  And she's counting her blessings--getting ready for her 13th wedding anniversary this September. (The 13th is the best-seller anniversary, Hank is happy to report.)

Elaine Viets

has been lucky in love, personally and professionally. She and Don Crinklaw were married 39 years this August. Elaine says she not only loves Don, she likes him -- but that "in sickness and in health" clause in their vows has been a real bear. On the dark side, Elaine's short story, "Vampire Hours" has been published in the anthology, "Vampires in Love" from Barnes & Noble. Whoever thought she'd be in an anthology with Anne Rice?

Louise  Penny

On the professional front I just did my first television interview in French.  My publicists advice?  Don't merde it up.  So I was feeling pretty confident.  Merde.
On the personal side Michael and our friend Susan and I are off to Vermont to see the Ansel Adams exhibit and take part in the Farmer's Dinner, a gourmet dinner of local produce outside.  Then we're staying at the Inn at Shelburne. Bliss.

Margaret Maron

 is coming down to the wire on her next book.  This week, while she wrestled with fictional murder, George, the orange skink who has lived in a crack in her office baseboard for three years, suddenly streaked across the floor—with a black snake in hot pursuit.  Margaret yelled for her husband, who chased the snake back into the crack, then sealed it up like a cask of Amontillado.    George is wistful about his lost hidey hole but happy not to be skink hollandaise.  Margaret's sure there's a short story here somewhere. (The snake has quit knocking.)


Kathy Reschini Sweeney

 is having a great summer and NOT discussing the following upcoming events: Kate starts her freshman year in college at Chatham University; Ty starts his sophomore year at Central Catholic High School; Kathy becomes a Golden Girl in September. Also on the verboten topics list: the heat, the humidity and the complete dearth of safe treatments for menopause.

Harley Jane Kozak

will have a short story called “Lamborghini Mommy” in the 2011 Mystery Writers of America anthology, The Rich and the Dead, edited by Nelson DeMille. In other news, elementary school starts in 142 hours, causing much weeping in the household; not all these tears are sad tears.

Heather Graham

EEEK! My life right now is just getting ready for Writers for New Orleans, which brings writers into the city at cost so that we all support a great historical city that so many have used in their careers--a city whacked with an oil spill right when it was coming back from the year of the storms. It's crazy; my entire family comes to help out with everything that has to be done, and they all perform in the dinner show (with our gorgeous Harley as well) and we actually put together a full band . . . and then, the dastardly finale! Right after, I take six-foot baby girl back to CalArts! 

Cornelia Read:

 I spent all of yesterday masquerading as a grownup (phone calls that required lots of time on hold listening to "market news," refilling prescriptions, paying bills, buying lampshades at Target for pair of Mateus-bottle lamps acquired free at end of a garage sale in June, delivering paperwork) which has left me feeling frail, obtuse, and embittered. But at least I know where my car keys are. Or did, until about 30 seconds ago. Tomorrow: college tour road trip! Meanwhile, leaves in New Hampshire ALREADY TURNING!! FEH!!! I mean, o ye gods of cold and sleet and stuff, it's, like, NOT EVEN SEPTEMBER YET!!

 Writing wise: five pages yesterday on WIP Valley of Ashes (hey, I woke up at 3:55 a.m. Should maybe do that more often?) Fourth novel is still kicking my butt. However (waving turnip, backlit) as God is My Witness, I Shall Never... um... not finish this draft again? Or something like that. 

Nancy Pickard

made the mistake of having a monster shrub torn out of the ground,  and now she has a huge bald spot in the yard.  Fortunately, perennials are on sale in late summer! Unfortunately, she’s the one who’ll have to plant them.  Fortunately, the weather’s cool! Unfortunately, it’s going back up to the 90’s on Friday.  And life goes on.  Much like the endless book she’s writing.

(Don't worry if we missed your fav Tart--we'll catch up with her next time.)

Now it’s your turn. yes, it is.  You didn’t think you were escaping, did you?  What’s going on with you and yours?

If you’re new here, please tell us something about yourself.  If you’ve been around for ages, please introduce yourself to the newbies. 

And lurkers?  We know you’re here. ::grin::  This is a good day to hop out and say hi.  NOT like snakes, no no no, or even skinks.  Rather, like the charming, lovely people we know you are.  We’d love to make your acquaintance, too.

The WELCOME WAGON opens now. . .there’s cake and coffee on that cart over there, and beer and wine behind the bar if this thing turns into a party.

Party

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My life, as always, revolves around...

Work, which is, well, work.

My garden, which is all screwy this year because California has not gotten a proper summer.

The Girls (my basset hounds, Lucy & Winker), who are alternately Our Sweet Babies and Evil Princeesses of Dogness.

My wife AKA My Sweet Little (insert name of a bird, dinosaur, pastry, mammal or flower) Of (choose from: Love, Sweetness, Lust, Cuteness or Passion).

Amidst all that, I spend entirely too much time on Facebook and I have begun writing daily stuff on my Live Journal again, which in a bit of self-pimpage, I'll post the URL to: http://doccross.livejournal.com/

Plans to take over the world are on hold since we are preparing for either the Zombie Apocalypse or the Arrival Of Our Robotic Masters.

Nancy M. Congratulations on your upcoming addition to your family.
I love your book covers and cannot wait for new Roxy story.Low key summer spending time with daughters having lunch and catching up.

Going many times with DH while he flew RC helicopters.
Reading loads of books including delicious reads by Elaine, Hank, Harley and hoping to pick up more by most of the fabulous authors here.
All in all not a bad summer keeping up with TLC.

Love the painting..talk about a beautiful Party, Nancy P.
Au revoir mes amies.

Oh my! Continue big money job hunt search(to pay for the following), just brought sis and my daughters to airport for a big adventure, son starts college sat (after finding out he does not have a terrible disease...dislike of doctors continue), daughter moves to apt for final year of college, young son starts 8th grade...older daughter starts college basketball coaching job...and I may have time to knit and read MORE...one can hope, right? But first...coffee! And I'm going to Bouchercon!!!!

Doc, you made me chuckle with your affectionate/funny names for your wife. "My sweet little velociraptor?" Okay, maybe not.

Marie, "RC helicopters?" I probably should know what that means, but I'm still working on my first cuppa.

Omg, Nora, clearly you don't have enough on your mind! That thing about your son. . .I'm so glad the doctors (not our "Doc") were wrong again.

Royal Canadian?
Really Cool?
Ralph's Crappy?

My life this summer has revolved around some of my favorite things. As a 4-H leader I've helped members prepare crafts and sewing projects for the Lawrence County Fair. I've also taught some of them to cook in a Microwave (11 & 12 year olds).

Our garden has been producing like crazy and for the past month I've spent many hours canning and freezing all the bounty. We've begun to see the light at the end of the tunnel as only the peppers remain. All the garden produce inspires me to be creative in the kitchen and I've dreamed up a few new dishes that are now added to the list of dishes my family wants me to prepare again. Now if I could only remember what I did.

I'm traveling to Silver Spring, MD tomorrow with my daughter and parents to visit my brother & my sister-in-law. This is our mini-vacation before we hit the ground running on Monday for a new round of craziness. Including helping the church youth make 4 varieties of homemade soup to sell on Wednesday. Then 2 weeks of craziness as we prepare for our annual church rummage sale of which I'm the default chair.

New projects recently undertaken, with my daughter (Peach Blossom) as co-conspirator, are a photo-documentation of all the roadside wild flowers in our locality. She takes the pictures, while I spot, identify, and write up a few facts about the flower.

Another project started over 5 years ago and set aside for lack of time is the copying from a neighboring town's newspaper archives all the news items relating to our small town since 1878. We only had around 25 years copied when we stopped and had done no organization. Our final goal is a search able data base for the local historical society for use by local historians and genealogists.

I'm hopeful that today I will finally get to start a sewing project for my parents. I'm making new seat cushions for their wicker furniture. I've had all the material since this spring, but had no time for sewing. 9 a.m. is the projected start time.

I forgot to say that we've started work on the archive again during the past month.

"Now if I could only remember what I did."

lol, peach. Your list of projects makes me want to go lie down, but I admire it a LOT. The wild flower album and the town archive project. . .so cool and civic-ly generous.

I love Doc's term: "Self-pimpage." Oh, do we dare introduce that into the author lexicon?

I'm betting RC is Royal Canadian, but I wondered for a second if Marie's DH was riding the pope around.

Nora, we must see you at B'con!

And is Peach the only person who'd spend her vacation making soup??

I love hearing everybody's update.

Nancy M., I wasn't very clear in that paragraph. I'm coming back home and making soup after the mini vacation.

I have a copy edit descending next Monday, a book due next Wednesday, and, oh, I've been trying to breathe life back into the Sister in Crime blog for the past six-eight weeks (the patient is still on life support. Come on over now and then and give it a kick to see if it's still alive, will you? http://sisters-in-crime-sinc.blogspot.com/ ). I have a synopsis to deliver in 15 days, and a big talk to give in 16 days (where I'm supposed to be charming, sweet, smart, and probably about 25 pounds lighter).

Please tell me miracles really do happen.

Nancy P....yup it was a terrible three weeks...arrogant doctors, labs that don't take enough blood AND don't send out blood...fabulous! This was one of the times my "question authority" mentality won! I was this close to calling Hank....when will doctors learn to not poke the beast and listen to parents? And this all the weeks before being a college freshman....oh a month to forget for sure!
Nancy M!!! Be there or be square! Bouchercon sounds wonderful, attending with my author friend...disco night? Waaa hoooo...

Oh, Nora. . .!

Lorraine, don't read this--you should be working, lol. Hey, you made me feel so bad about ignoring the Sinc website--which is REALLY GOOD, btw--that I scurried over there and left a comment, with questions, on Polly's blog post. I will publicize the site on my fb, and I'll talk it up at my next Sister's meeting. I'll also make a habit of dropping by now and then. Poke me if I don't, 'k?

Introduce ourselves? Oh my, where to begin? The whirlwind love affair with the secret government agent that ended tragically; the beach side encounter with the cute surfer who turned out to be a publishing executive; the romantic rendezvous' at tea gardens and the library; the police surveillence; the early morning FBI raids; the prison visits; the bail bondsman named Bubby?

Or should I say I write in the mornings and edit in the afternoons; I run a Facebook group called How Many Pages Did You Write Today? that I wish everyone would join; I'm planning a research visit to my mother's house in Louisiana; I'm attached to a series of public readings; and my favorite food is cheesecake.

You can decide which is real, which is fiction.

Ah...the life of writers.
I work as a RN in a small county hospital, 12 hour shifts, 5 days a week. My off time is spent remodeling our rent house (after a renter from HELL), and babysitting my alcoholic brother.
And EVERY DAY that I am off I have lunch at the same cafe, eating the same lunch (Asian chicken salad followed by a fruit cup)and reading a book. And I do not invite company. It is my quiet time to sit and escape and sometimes, if I am very lucky, enjoy a book from the TARTS.

Fifteen more pages of edits on novel #2, at least one new chapter to add, and I've just realized the ending does NOT work and needs to be completely re-done...

And it's cooling off already, and my garden is fading and needs attention, and the dogs are needy (not to mention the hubby).

Think I'll have another cup of tea ;-)

Long time...No post! :)

Running around crazy trying to get MS finished. Three full requests and I can't seem to get a$$ in gear.

Spent first 1/2 of year preparing for the PRO Retreat at RWA National (held in Orlando on July 29). Spent the two weeks after that with performance let-down! :) (Side note: For those who probably don't know...I am on the RWA Board of Director as PRO Liaison) PRO Stuff has slacked off for now. I have a column in the RWA National magazine (RWR) every other month, but I don't have another due until October. Have a guest blog on Romance University on Sept. 15, which I haven't written yet (and I think they are looking for it!)

For the newbies, I used to post here every day, but I don't have the free time I used to. :(

Cornelia - you are not alone. The leaves in Vermont are changing color early, too.

Louise - enjoy your visit to our beautiful state. I've heard that the localvore dinners are wonderful!

Cynci--missed you! And Peach, that's so wonderful. YOu are tireless! Ramona, off to find your facebook group. And Lorraine--you are a sensation. NYT bestseller! You'll be wonderful, as always.

Off to the sinc blog. But I'm a regular there..so yall come. http://sisters-in-crime-sinc.blogspot.com/

Nora! See you at Bouchercon! (Very excited...)

Nancy M--whoa. New titles. New covers. GENIUS. Brilliant.

Oh, Nancy P, getting all this news is such a good idea.

I love the Welcome Wagon idea! My summer has been busy with trips (Oregon, California-twice, Brooklyn) and brutally hot weather here in the Heartland. Oh, I also finished a MS my agent loves (Yay!), watched the weeds take over my garden (along with the bunnies), and had lots of fun dinners with my hubby and friends.

Can I head to the wine cart now, Nancy?

What's amazing, in contrast to the east coast ... we've just started to really have summer here in Los Angeles. So we're just beginning the annual round of, "where's the AC? it worked for one day and then broke? where are those shorts?" Weird.

Otherwise, I'm typically a lurker here, have a full-time technical writing job, and am frantically absorbing everything I can about how to promote a book, because I signed a contract for my debut novel a month ago.

That means two things: 1) I'm still jumping around with glee, 2) yes, Lorraine, miracles do happen.

Hands Judy a Mimosa, and raises hosannas to her agent loving her MS!!

Hi, Cyndi! I'm so happy you heard our Wagon roll up and you ran out to say hi.

clp, I know that roller coaster of emotions when you a.) realize an ending doesn't work; b.)thank god you realized it now instead of too late; c.) face the work to be done; d.)pat yourself on the back when it all clicks.

Kellee, I think that, too, about the life of (some of us) writers as compared to the rest of the world. Very very fortunate, even on bad days.

Ramona, you're just trying to throw us off the track. It's ALL true.

Good morning, Karen, Hank, and NancyM!

A lurker appears! Hi, Tammy K. It's so nice to meet you. That's thrilling about your first novel. I, too, was a "normal" writer until I was overtaken by the compulsion to commit murder.

I'm doing a final edit on the second Randi Black mystery, and writing a first draft of the second Brocs Harley repo man mystery. The first draft was going well until I realized my main character didn't really care so why should anyone else. Now I've got 30,000 words of sub plot I'm trying to wind into a story he really cares about.

I'm taking care of my father who has parkinson's and looking for a job locally so I don't have to travel any more. I loved my traveling job, but daddy needs me more. I'm also refinishing the basement in my dad's house so I can live with him and actually have a place to put my books and clothes.

My baby sailor is getting ready to deploy to the middle east. He's more excited by this than I am. And I'm housebreaking a new puppy. So far the only thing getting broken is my sanity.

Can't wait for the leaves to change and the weather to cool off around here. I'll be glad to see the end of summer. Although I did enjoy the tomatoes.

I spent the summer getting ready for college. My three oldest and myself. I started at Goddard this summer and am up to my ears in reading,writing annotations and parenting. I am down to just one at home during the day and not quite sure after 20 years of at least two, how I am to entertain her and do everything.

I lost the reading contest again this year to the 13 year old. And I have enjoyed my garden more than ever. I am not sure how much we grew since most of it was raided in the morning for breakfasts and snacks by eight other people. Like Cornelia, I am not impressed by the early leaf change.

My oldest daughter left this morning for College in Burlington VT and I am not sure that I am ready to be without her. So, today is a quiet and reflective day of trying not to cry or mope. I prepared in advance with plenty of chocolate on hand. Otherwise still busy as always.

Hi, Nancy!
I should have said Radio Controlled Model Helicopter models averaging 1/8 scale.
DH builds and flies these as a hobby while I keep him company.
I encourage him in his hobby so that I can read, read, and read.

I seem to spend more time reading about other people's lives than living mine. Nancy P., thanks for letting me play voyeur and look into the lives of TLC back bloggers.
Margaret, delighted George escaped the snake. I like the smallish lizards we get here in Florida. After they grow more than a foot long, they go into the dinosaur category and should head for extinction.

Whee! A party! After Judy gets her mimosa, may I have one, as well? Thank you kindly. The Tarts are the best hostesses!

Longtime reader here. Former author myself (non-fiction, but hope to someday write fiction, if I ever get my ass in gear), former editor, and now kind of retired, although I still do bookkeeping for my husband's business. He's a wildlife photographer, and one of his photos is on the front of the new Jonathan Franzen book, FREEDOM! The blue bird head, which is really a cerulean warbler.

My year has been one of a lot of traveling, including to South America: Peru/Machu Picchu and Ecuador/the Galapagos--the trip of a lifetime, and driving some 9,000 miles in these United States. At the beginning of the year I'd been to 44 of those States, now I've only Alaska to visit. Finally got to New Orleans, and had a wonderful time, even though it was the dead middle of the summer. My three daughters, all grown, live all over the US, and I was able to visit all three of them this year. Sheer bliss. And my only grandchild starts kindergarten on Monday.

For those of you who are new, there's a cadre of us backbloggers who started supporting one another the first week of January to lose weight, exercise more, eat right, and to become healthier. We call ourselves the HMOH: Help Me Out Here, and I'm happy to report that, as of yesterday, we have collectively lost 110 pounds! If anyone would like to join us, just let us know. I personally have lost 8 pounds, thank you very much.

Good lord, just thinking about my summer is exhausting.

I taught two, 2-week, summer horse camps for kids. It was fun, but tiring, especially when I was still giving lessons in the afternoons.

I finished writing the second book and took it on vacation to start editing. Unfortunately, my family experienced Vacation Interruptus, when in the middle of the week's stay at the lodge in northern California, we were told my dad died, so we had to drive 10 hours back to southern California and hop on a plane to Illinois in time for the funeral.

Our son is beginning his freshman year at CSU-Long Beach, so there has been much prep work, including several drives over to the campus for auditions and placement tests (he's a music major), shopping for dorm room supplies, and financial finagling.

In the midst of this madness, I got a puppy. Our older dog died unexpectedly in May and I was incredibly lonely without those four legs. He's a Pembroke Welsh Corgi named Duffy, and he's equal parts cute, fun, funny, annoying, willful, stubborn...

Wow. I may need to go back to bed.

Gayle Carline, author of FREEZER BURN.

Nora... how awful. I've done my best to de-arroganate future doctors of the world but do not reach tham all.

My life's been an open book here, so don't know what else anyone might possibly want to know.

Today, then. I can do that. Today I am waiting for my new and vastly improved power wheelchair. I'm naming her Big Boned Gal from Southern Alberta- k.d., for short. She will elevate and tit-recline, go really fast, hold my computer for me so I can read and write much, much better, and her batteries will go all day, yay.

I have multiple disabilities- quadriplegia got me a few years ago, but most disabling is multiple seizure types that interfere with personal relationships. I don't always get the social nuances, so be forewarned and don't send me any personal emails, because I will probably think you are a friend!

I hope to return to work, but that won't happen, so I'm playing around with the idea of writing. Two years ago my dear friend and neighbor was murdered by a serial killer who had been stalking both of us. That's when I became interested in murder mysteries.

I love TLC and all the TARTS. Please try to get all your books recorded, so people with disabilities can read them. Please. Yes, I'm fucking begging.


Oops... that's tilt-recline.

KD, when I moved in with my mom a few years ago, I did the same thing you're doing--fixed up the basement. Eventually I moved upstairs with her, but for a year or so it gave me a privacy transition, as it were. Our basement isn't that great for residence, anyway. As for your son deploying--I have a son, too, and I can imagine how you feel about it.

Leslie, so many moms and dads sending kids off to college right now. Facebook, etc., makes me aware of all the tears being held back or shed. ::sympathetic smile::

marie,bwah!! So it's not the Royal Canadian Air Force, huh? Sounds MUCH more fun.

Morning, Elaine. I love your lizards.

Karen in Ohio, WOW! Can you share the cover? Wow, it's only the biggest book of the whole damn literary year!
And as for your weight loss group, I had no idea! That is incredibly cool, and that's an impressive # of lbs. Oh, and here's your Mimosa. :)

Gayle, what a year of loss and changes for you. My sympathy on the loss of your dad and the loss of your beloved dog. Why is that people so often seem to lose an important family member AND a pet in the same time frame? Or maybe I just happen to know several who've had that experience. It's so nice you have a puppy.

Marie-Reine, I liked your first version, lol.
I had no idea about your physical challenges (a word that does not even begin to cover it!). My books are recorded, I'm glad to say. As for your future books. . .I think you should start to write them.

I have written a scene this morning, yes I have. Now on to the next one. Forward, forward. . .

Physically hardest summer of my life teaching Musical Dance Theatre to 120 kids in Homestead. I am the spokes person for Motrin. Filmed at short movie which reinforced my love of live theatre.
Am making costumes for my Pelican Playhouse and The Fantasy Theatre Factory and enjoying rehearsals for Cabaret. I've got the wonderful role of Fraulein Schneider who in my opinion is much more important that Sally Bowels in the play. Rehearsing my Fan Dancers for Florida Days Daughters of the Nile.
I have a question for Peach...you're supposed to COOK in a microwave?

86 the orange juice...I'll have mine cold and sparkling if that's okay! It's still 96 degrees in the shade in Miami Springs.

EXCUSE ME! Judy gets a Mimosa, Karen gets a Mimosa. I told all my deep and dark secrets. Where is my Mimosa???

I, like Karen in OH, have lost 8 pounds since the first of the year with the help of our HMOH group. Unlike Karen, I have seven or eight times that to go -- but this is the way to do it: lots of support, regular exercise (walking with a partner 4-5 days a week), and modified eating habits.

Here's a link to the Amazon page. Click on the image to make it bigger, so you can see the bird better:

http://tiny.cc/jabqb

Truthfully, we don't know if my husband took the photo or his twin brother who works with him did. They do so much of this stuff together that it's hard to say.

After 2 hours on a plane of sneezing folks, the vacation pales and I am nursing a head cold.

Still trying to wrangle stories about our 20th Anniversary.........pretty big deal!Any stringers out there?

Rounding up the usual suspects for Sara Paretsky 9/11; Jenny Crusie 9/24; John Sanford 9/26 and Louise Penny's US launch 9/29

Have you ordered your books/tickets today?

My summer has been fairly quiet, relatively speaking.

Was dating a guy, he cheated, we broke up. Screw him. LOL!!! She can't even spell...hmmm, maybe he liked that she was illiterate?

Travel related, I went to Madison WI for the 2010 US Transplant Games. Pics & tidbits were added to my fb page. Watching friends break swimming records was the best.

Oh, as a lead in to summer, we had a party at a friend's house.... I made 13 desserts, I think. All mini's so that the children wouldn't waste as much. LOL!!

I found out that I have donated 15 GALLONS to the American Red Cross via platelet and plasma donating every two weeks.

And I was just suckered into being the Jr. Vice for the Marine Corps League Aux that I belong to. Oh boy...as if.

Finally, in book news as a reader, I was able to read about 40+ books this summer while working full time. I do like it whem my boss is away, though. LOL!

My summer has been extremely quiet. I was diagnosed with C Difficile in June and the end of May, most of June was lost in a haze of sickness. I was very weak afterwards and have been off work all summer rebuilding my health and stamina. Only problem is the health problems started again last week . . . Off to the lab for more tests, next month the Cardiologist and October is Gastro Dr.

I have had lots of time to sleep and sleep and sleep. Oh and read books and blogs. Go for walks, go to physio, go to Dr. I am very lucky to have a job with sick leave benefits. I wish you all good health!

I was the STL Walk to Defeat ALS (Lou Gherig's Disease)volunteer recruiter so I spent lots of time pleading, cajoling and otherwise convincing my family, friends and dozens of others to work at our annual Walk (we surpassed our goal of $212,000 and survived a very hot June Saturday in St. Louis which made all the hard work worthwhile.)

I decided to change 4 light fixtures in my basement which evolved into putting in a full bath and renovating half of the basement so I had fun with contractors most of the summer. I elected to do all the painting, put up trim, caulk, and build a 4 drawer TV/storage cabinet which is still keeping me pretty busy.The bathroom ended up being placed in the middle of my "shop" area (I like to build small furniture pieces as a hobby) so I'm now sorting and moving all my tools and equipment to fit the space.

In the middle of that I went to Emory University in ATL for 3 days of testing (3rd year) for their familial ALS study which involved having 1 1/4 hour brain MRI, EMG's, skin elasticity tests, 11 vials of blood and other "fun" things (no lumbar puncture this year since I had leakage last year.) Since I've lost 8 family members to ALS and have 2 with it now (50/50 for me)I'm hopeful the study will lead to a breakthrough for a treatment and cure.

Wish us luck with our ALS Golf tournament at Forest Park tomorrow. Looks like it will be a beautiful day.

I'm still working on basement chores and trying to catch up on my Tarts TBR pile. I finally had time to finish Half Priced Homicide and listened to 2 of Maisie Dobbs adventures while I was priming and painting.

I started reading this blog because of Elaine and have found so many wonderful new authors. I also remember Harley from her days on GL. It has been a treat to read her books as well. As the saying goes "so many books so little time".

I was a lurker for many years but post from time to time.

Mary Alice--how wonderful.I just headed over there and ordered TOO MANY books!

Here you go, Ramona . . . . I'm passing you the whole pitcher of mimosas!

The girls went back to school last Monday--you can survive until that first bell rings, Harley (move to Colorado where school starts in early Aug)--and my productivity has soared. Finished a copy edit earlier this week and will write "THE END" on the first draft of my WIP tomorrow. Trying to get signings and stuff set up for SWIFT JUSTICE which comes out from St. Martin's on 12 Oct. Very excited!

All the heat in the Midwest this summer? Yeah, that was my fault - I was pregnant (and that's just how the universe is...). We welcomed a baby boy at the end of June. He joins his "big" sister who is a whopping 15 months older. ("Oh, sure, we'll have them close together" sounded better on paper... Lol.)

Luckily, everyone is healthy and happy (although I'm pretty sure big sis is recording any and all injustices to use against me later...) and really, really tired!

I've also been working on workshop presentations for early care and education providers (or "daycare folks") to be done in October. (I research and write the trainings and then attempt to present them without throwing up.)

Since there hasn't been much downtime (did anyone else hear the hysterical laughter in my head? No? Odd...), I just have to take pride in raising readers. Sandra Boynton is more their style right now, but give them time.

xena, that sounds like the wildest combination of great fun and exhaustion that I ever heard. Here's a whole magnum of champagne, just for you, kid. If Ramona tries to grab it, slap her hands!

Judy, thanks for taking care of Ramona. :D

Mary Alice, happy 20th! It's been a ride, eh?

Karen, thanks for the link. That is just. . .wow. Still wow.

Diana, so glad you stopped in again. I'm in awe of the work you did in your home. Where'd you learn to do carpentry, etc?

paulabuck, congratulations on your baby boy! That's very funny about "sounded better on paper," lol.

Debby, you could sing your own plasma/platelet version of "99 Bottles of Beer on the Wall." 15 gallons every two weeks? That's amazing.

Laura. I M Jellus.

Gaylin, we wish good health right back to you.

Holly, I missed you. You can't blame me--you're 8 pounds invisible.

My father was a machinest in the Lead Mines in MO and built all the houses I lived in as a child. He would work all day in the mines then come home and work on whatever house he was building in the evenings and on weekends. He built all the kitchen cabinets etc. so I got my love of woodworking from him. I also helped work on the last house by nailing down roof decking, painting and other little chores. Learning how to do things myself has saved me lots of money on minor household repairs through the years. I was the baby of the family and last child living at home or otherwise a "girl" probably wouldn't have been allowed to do those things. My brothers also helped Dad but they were married and out of the house by the time I was 5.

Building small furniture pieces (mainly cabinets of some sort) is a great stress reliever for me. I started when I was still teaching years ago. I have learned better techniques and upgraded my tools so I'm slowly replacing many of the things I made years ago with things that look more professional and not "home made". I create my own designs so things sometimes change during the building process. My contractors were quite impressed with some of my pieces.

Diana, your dad was sure one hard-working man. I wish I'd asked my dad to teach me basic woodworking, but it didn't interest me then. I've looked around KC for a class, but no luck so far. I think it would be just as you say--stress releasing and satisfying. Thanks for the explanation of how you got to this point with it.

Nancy P, Yeah, I guess "tit-recline" is pretty funny. The idea of challenge is very important to me, because I really enjoy newness, especially finding new ways to do things. The success of doing that matches any other success I've had in life.

I am so glad your books are recorded. I've had some little success in reading hard-bound books with the use of a special book holder, but it really takes so long that I can only read a paragraph or two at a time. Sooo... thanks to you and all writers who manage to have their books recorded! The Library of Congress has a very poor/limited selection of audiobooks, and if the book is popular, you may never get it! And now that Nook and Kindle must have their text-readers disabled... well, it is a huge loss to some who actually need that application.

Thank you, Nancy, for your encouraging words. I am starting - I think - today, but I don't see how I could ever promote a book the way it seems is necessary. So that, I am supposing, would make publication impossible-- even if everyone in the world loved my book!!! I will do it, though. Another fucking challenge!

No new books written. The biggest news for the summer is that I have lost 55 lbs. I weight less than I did when I graduated from college. The goal: Weight what I did when I graduated high school. The downside to losing 50 lbs; new pants, new underwear, new shoes and eating 5 pounds of carrots a week.

Princess 2 started kindergarten a week ago. She loves it. Her sister is in the third grade with a new to the building teacher. It is going ok.

I have had the same employer for a full year. Sort of nice this working full time thing. DW has survived two rounds of lay offs.

All in all, it has been a good year.

Gaylin, hang in there.

Diana in STL... wish you the very best on funding ALS research. I know that having all that testing can be horrific, but have no doubt it will advance research.

Nancy P ~ No, not 15 every time...but total so far since I started donating and they started keeping track!!! LOL!! Dear God...I would be dead! One gallon is actually four donations.

I've been waiting for the official 'Please come out of Lurkdom,' invite. I love TLC. Hello all!

Don't let Ramona pull a fast one on you or hog the mimosas. Nancy M - your book covers look scrumptious! Tammy K - I'm in L.A. too! Congrats on the book contract. And I hope all you people who are sick will feel better soon.

This summer started with dashed hopes - (my agent got fired.) Rebounded by signing a contract with Krill Press for my debut novel, Cupcakes, Lies and Dead Guys, to be published this fall, 2010. It's a comedic mystery, heavy on the comedy. Now I'm finishing edits, planning marketing stuff, etc. Yikes!

I'm writing a YA novel, threw my back out, crawled around for a couple of weeks, took a really cool writing class called 'The Storymaker', and have run over my black kitten several times, as she insists on reclining next to the rollers on the bottom of my desk chair. Then we snuggle and play fetch to make up for my cruelty.

Oh, and a little thing called - WORK.

Thanks Tarts! xo,

Alan! That's such amazing good news! I know how very hard it is to lose that much weight; congratulations.

Spend most of the summer unemployed. Plus side is I finally got all the rooms in the house painted and some cross stitch projects that I've been working on for 5 years completed. I doubt that's what the government has in mind for the unemployed but I have really really been trying to find a job. It's just not happening and now with the state putting all state jobs on hold till the economy recovers, it could take even longer.
On Saturday, we had winds of 70 mph and it took out a lot of trees in the city. We're expected to have the same for this evening. We have a tree company that's been working on removing 6 trees from our property which was already scheduled before the storm. They aren't working today for fear of the wind. It could take awhile to get those 6 trees out.

Got back from the summer holidays the last week-end. We went to Brittany and it was nice even though during three weeks we could never swim - the water was freezing cold.

The school starts next Thursday and it means that I have to get up 1,5 hour earlier each day that doesn't really enchant me. Meanwhile I'm among some unlucky people who are back to the office already.

I would join Karen's group to loose some weight because as we could not spend much time on the beach in Brittany we spent quite a lot of it in restaurants. But I cannot find pure cherry juice in Paris (only half apple half cherry - that's it, I don't know if it works like this and I cannot stop eating chocolate either)...

Paulina, no need to find the cherry juice, and I still have chocolate every day. Join us!

Karen, how do you do this together (via Facebook)? I promised to my husband not to put myself on Facebook as he thinks that in this case he will never see me. How can I do?

Tackles Pamela! Another lurker delurking! This is exciting. Pamela, I love your book title. I would *have* to pick it up.

Debby, lol! You know, if I had stopped to think about it. . .

Marie-Reine, I hate to be crass about this, but actually your "situation" might make you MORE likely to get publicity than less likely, and ways could be figured out to do it. So much can be done on-line, for one thing. At any rate, that's way down the road. For now? What matters is to start, just as you said. I know a published novelist who believes in 50 words a day when she's finding it hard to work. Just 50. Per day. Pretty soon you've got a chapter.

Alan P., what wonderful news all 'round. congrats!

Ack, Bev, are you collecting all the bad luck right now? I hope yours changes asap.

Paulina, you live in Paris? Sigh. Massive sigh. I love Paris. It's been years and years, but that's not a love that dies.

How could I forget to say! The first print book that I've been able to read in several years was sent to me by Louise Penny. She heard that I was looking for a hardbound copy (necessary for my bookholder) of Still Life and could not find one. I was so surprised. That act of kindness was a great boost! Thanks again, Louise.

Nancy P. your encouragement is a well-received blessing, and I can't thank you enough for that. Some days I do get a teeny bit discouraged. Today is different. Another blessing today is learning that the control knob on my new wheelchair can be used as a mouse with my computer... yay! That will make writing much easier!

Alan P. fantastic to lose weight like that... congratulations!

Paulina, we correspond daily via email. Send me a note to: kmaslowski@fuse.net

Anyone else who would like to join us, please let me know.

Marie-Reine, I cannot begin to imagine the challenges you face every single day. Your attitude is great, though.

Nancy P., I agree, Paris is wonderful. Welcome!

Diana, the things I build look homemade, but I don't care. I love building bookcases and repurposing wood furniture. On my to-do list when I finish WIP is replace sliding cabinet doors with regular hinged doors. (In this humidity wood swells, sliders stick.
Laura, know you must really be excited. HEY Y'ALL? I've read SWIFT JUSTICE and it's a terrific debut.

OK I'm relatively new to your blog, and was so very excited to find it. I've been a voracious reader since I've been a little girl, and still get through 2-3 books a week, on average. I am such a nerd that all the ladies at my library know me by name, and I've frequently popped into the library to have someone say, "Oh, Lora, we just got one of your holds in."

Originally from PA, I'm now a Southern lady and could not go back. I have four boys, and recently went back to work (in my kids' school library!) as my hubby is unemployed. Before that I was a professional volunteer, and still help my friend with a charity she started "Bags of Hope CFL". We take bags of supplies (food, water, soap etc) out to the homeless camps.
(http://www.bohcfl.com/htms/AboutUs.htm) And we've discovered that the harder these people have fallen, the more difficult they find to ask others for help. We try to give them back their dignity, by reaching out and treating them as we would our friends. My friend Rhonda is the driving force; I am merely her behind-the-scenes henchman.

But enough of my soapbox...I'm also very glad to hear that all you ladies are hard at work on your next masterpieces, because this fan is anxiously waiting! :)

Lora! Thank you for introducing yourself! I'm really touched and impressed by the work you and your friend Rhonda do with the homeless. Talk about putting your compassion into action. We're delighted to have you here. I think there's some champagne left, too.

Margaret, I didn't know you could do that much carpentry. Very nice.

(Lora, that link isn't connecting, and when I googled, I wasn't sure which site to link to.)

I think Lora meant www.bohcfl.org

I'm late, again. I volunteer at a historic property (both archaeological and architectural) on Mondays and Thursdays helping with event planning and doing admin stuff. Historic preservation is my background, and since non-profits have been hit hard by the recession, I wanted to help do whatever I could, especially since the exec director is a friend of mine.

Last week we took our son to college for his sophomore year. He's living in a frat house this year, which had to win the award for the trashiest place I've ever seen. Hopefully the building is in much better shape than when everyone was moving in...and I believe that pigs fly...

My husband's mom has Alzheimers, and it's been sad seeing her decline this summer. She's becoming more fragile week by week, and my father-in-law (her only caretaker) is looking ragged but won't ask for help. There is an up side to her condition, though. She wasn't always nice to me, but now since she doesn't know who I am, she's become very friendly.

The cozy mystery that I want to finish this Fall has been put on hiatus until I complete a short story. Luckily I have a great writer's critique group that meets every Tuesday to give me feedback.

And I'm VERY jealous of Cornelia being in the NE and watching the leaves change color. I LOVE cooler weather and am so ready for the recordbreaking heat to leave the Mid-Atlantic region.

Nancy M, I love the new cover and name for your first book and am looking forward to Roxy's second book. When is it going to be released?

Thanks, Holly.

Becky,you might be interested in what just exploded (not literally) here in KC. A (way) out of state real estate firm that now owns our most beloved part of town was going to build an 8 story glass monstrosity in the heart of it, tearing down a charming old building in the process. Honestly, it would have been a glass knife right in the heart of KC. People went nuts! Outrage! Petitions! Facebook pages! Letters, emails,fury. The law firm that was going to take the space back pedaled so fast it's a wonder they're not in Japan by now. There is a new plan, lol. In less than a week! Power to the pissed off people! Of course, we haven't seen the plan yet. . .

That's awesome, Nancy! I love it when grassroots efforts have big results. And thank heavens their work paid off. Now pulling up your local online papers to read all about it.

Thanks for straightening me out, ladies. Yes it is www.bohcfl.com. I had copied the http from the web address on our main site. Guess it doesn't work that way. I'm never too old to learn something new.

And thanks, I just love champagne. :)

Lora, you're welcome. And thank you. I hope you keep comin' back.

I like the covers, Nancy M. I don't comment often, but I do enjoy reading the blog. Having spent the first part of the year trying to purchase a house, I spent the summer moving and settling into the new place. I would say this was the last time I was moving, but I said that last time and life intervened. Now that I'm mostly settled, I'm hoping to have more free time.

I just read all of these comments. This was like a big mingle. Fun! Extra fun was the Mimosas. Ahhh!

I have been remiss -- reading _Missing Ink_ and doing projects for the Y (success on the attendance forms, not so much on redoing the CD of our aqua-aerobics routine -- going to ask the Apple gurus for help on Saturday).
It is good to read all the stories today -- I'm very impressed by the rescue of the skink! I have been chasing raccoons off my deck to protect the frogs that like to hang out on the big glass door. "My frogs! Go get your own!" I owe them sanctuary after Prince cooperated so well for my "Frog and Friends" CD.
I finished _Mockingjay_ yesterday -- more violent than my usual choice, but compelling and somewhat inspiring. Retirement allows so much more time to read. Maybe all schools should have teacher sabbaticals . . .

Last-minute waving at Shannon, Ramona, & Mary! Glad you made the party before the Mimosas ran out. We'll have to do this again some time.

G'night, all. You're all such sports!

Diana, I'll be giving a workshop in April for Rivers Bend AEYC. My dad and his brothers built the house I grew up in -- impressive skills!
Debby, I'm nowhere near your total, but I did freak out one of my students when I wore my gallon pin. "They took a gallon?!!!" Poor dear . . .
Haven't lost as much as my HMOH cohorts, but happy to be losing rather than gaining . . . and happy to be getting around better, too.

Thanks, Nancy. What a delicious nightcap!

Dear Tarts and Friends,
You've finally convinced this lurker to come clean after reading this fantastic blog for 2 years. Thanks to everyone for the thought-provoking and fun entertainment!

Explanation as to how I arrived here:
1. Looking for something new to read, I discovered Harley Jane Kozak's wacky and wonderful Wollie series. I checked her website to see when I could expect a new Wollie adventure and found this blog!
2. After reading the blog I then began reading Elaine Viets. The Dead-End Job series is my favorite. Sadly, Elaine was only 30 miles from me at the Jamestown, NC Library this summer but due to this dreadful thing called "work," I was unable to meet her and have my books signed.
3. I also began reading Sarah Strohmeyer due to this blog and have all the other Book Tarts on my reading list as well.
4. Being a native North Carolinian I faithfully read Margaret Maron and was thrilled to see her join this blog! (My secret hope is for Margaret to write a mystery revolving around the North Carolina barbecue argument-- eastern style vs. western style!)
5. I was also thrilled to discover Louise Penny has joined this blog. I am anxiously awaiting "Bury Your Dead"!

Thanks all!
From your North Carolina friend,
Tracy

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