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November 27, 2010

Some days Are Diamonds and Some Days Are Rust


 Margaret here:  I'm truly delighted to introduce my friend and fellow Tar Heel to any who may not yet have met her. (And if you're in the mystery world, don't worry:  sooner or later, you will, I promise you!)  Kaye Barley, along with her husband Donald, and their corgi, Harley Doodle Barley, lives in the beautiful North Carolina mountains.  Kaye writes the Meanderings and Muses blog, where, along with her own ramblings, she hosts a multitude of guests from the mystery community.


You know how some days are diamonds and some days are rust?





(Y’all –is that the MOST gorgeous video ever?  I love it.  ‘Course I love Joan Baez and I love the song, but this video is one of my favorites, ever.)

Days of diamonds and rust.

We all have some of each, and after a few rusty days, a precious day of diamonds is most welcome.

I experienced a sparkly little diamond day when an email popped into my mailbox from Margaret M. with the subject line “Wanna Be a Tart?”

The first thing I thought was, “ruh roh, what’s she up to now?”  The second thing I thought was, “The hell’s she talking about?  I AM a tart, she knows that.”  But when I opened her email I realized she was inviting me to be a “Guest Tart.”   Here!   At The Lipstick Chronicles!  Wow.  This is kinda like being  Queen for a Day!  Well, actually - loads better.  Does this woman have any idea what's getting ready to happen to her head here??  Looks deadly serious). 


(Remember this old TV show??  I guess “Reality TV” has been around longer than I realized!)


Margaret and Nancy suggested I chat a little about what it’s like living in a small town, one that is somewhat isolated, and yet still able to be a part of the mystery community

My introduction to the people I’ve gotten to know in the mystery community started many years ago and has grown gradually.  I’ve always been an avid reader, but didn’t really pay particular attention to any singular genre.  I started reading quite young, discovered our public library at an early age and would read most anything I’d happen across that struck my fancy.  As I got older I discovered book stores (and shoe stores!  But that’s a story for another day).   As I’ve gotten still older I’ve discovered on-line bookstores.  A lovely thing  for those of us who live in small towns which are somewhat “resource limited.”  

But when I first discovered the on-line mystery discussion group DorothyL, my interest in mysteries increased because there were so many knowledgeable people sharing and recommending so many “new to me” mystery writers. 

One of those I was introduced to was Margaret Maron.

After discovering  Ms.  Maron’s books and taking a few trips across North Carolina (albeit vicariously) with Judge Deborah Knott, I worked up the nerve to send her an email.  It was important to me to let Ms. Maron know how much I enjoyed her work, and (on a selfish note) I wanted to know when Deborah would be visiting the High Country.

Margaret wrote about it in a blog entitled “Serendipity” at Meanderings and Muses .

Getting to know Margaret has been one of the loveliest experiences ever.  She truly is, just as you hear people say, one of the most gracious women out there.


What I’ve learned over the years, is that most of the people in the mystery community possess much the  same generosity of spirit and graciousness.  I’m not going to try to kid anyone and pretend I’m bosom buddies with a whole lot of big name mystery authors; I’m not.  It does tickle me pink, however, to be recognized and called by name by some, and has me grinning from ear to ear that there’s a picture of me giving the dishy Lee Child a kiss on his head in his webpage scrapbook .  (who is, by the way, just an all ‘round very nice man.  In addition to be dishy).


My place in the mystery community is teeny, but it’s an important, treasured part of my life.  Its allowed me to meet people I never would have met; and I’m not speaking of just the writers.  The fans are just as fun, just as wonderful, just as gracious.   Meld them all together and what we end up with is a “tribe.” And one which has brought me a huge amount of joy.  And just by hanging around for so long I’ve been lucky enough to end up as a minor character in a few books, and I’ve been blessed with an acknowledgment in one of Margaret’s.  Appropriately enough – High Country Fall.

The biggest mystery community “lovefest” is Bouchercon.  If you haven’t been yet, I encourage you to do so.  Yes, it’s huge and yes it can be intimidating, but it can also be, for a fan of mysteries and the wonderful people who write them, better than Disneyworld.

But, if you’re unable to get to Bouchercon or any of the other cons, the community is also right at our fingertips.  We can get to know our favorite authors, along with fellow fans, through blogs just like this one.  Where there’s a common bond, and a sense of friendship.  For the many of us who also happen to be a bit introverted, it’s a perfect way to feel included.  So what if you’re in a small town with the closest airport a couple hours away.  Someplace where it’s quite rare for writers to visit, well – pafooey – these days we can just log onto our computers and from the comfort of home, say “hey!”   (I just adore Facebook).

Now, here’s the thing.  I won’t be the only person you’ll hear describe this community as a “tribe.”  That’s exactly what it is, and as with every tribe, there are some who are going to be more welcoming and more nurturing, and there are going to be some who are perhaps not quite so warm as others.  But.  It’s still a tribe.  It’s still a special group of people with its own mystique, and its own foibles.  And as with any tribe – there’s always room for one more member.   If you don’t already consider yourself a member of the family, perhaps it’s time for you to send one of your favorite authors a note telling them how much you enjoy their work – time is shorter than any of us realize.  The opportunity to say “thank you” to someone who has touched your life could disappear in a moment.  And that gesture to could lead to a friendship greatly cherished by the both of you.

Which leads me to what I really wanted to say.

When Donald had his heart attack in May, I learned first hand exactly how extraordinary the mystery world is.  The outpouring of concern, good wishes and love carried me through one of the toughest times of my life.   I am forever indebted, happily so.  And so is my Donald.



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Kaye, thanks so much for being our guest. And part of our larger tribe, too. I remember attending my very first writers conference, and the feeling of standing in a huge hotel with so many like-minded and extraordinary people was thrilling---and comforting, too.

Here's my question, though: Exactly what is a Tar Heel? Where did that expression come from??

Puzzled in Pennsylvania,

Thrilled to be a member of the tribe. So many diamonds, so little rust. Best to you, Kaye and The Lipstick Chroniclers.


Nancy, the term originated because all our pine forests meant that we were big producers of naval stores: tar and turpentine. Our longleaf pines were strong and straight and made excellent ship masts. As for Tar Heels, there are at least 2 stories about that. The less flattering is that a Civil War general supposedly said he was going to put tar on the heels of his NC soldiers to make them stick to their guns in battle. The other is that Lee praised the "tar-heel boys who didn't run." Naturally, we believe the latter.

Kaye, what a wonderful post! And I agree with you...the mystery community is amazing and supportive!

I've always enjoyed "Diamonds and Rust" by Baez (my dad is a fan), but hadn't seen the video. Thanks for introducing me to it!

Kaye, you said it perfectly! I am incredibly lucky to be a member of this tribe, too. You described the feeling of Bouchercon and the community of mystery writers exactly right. Every day I count myself fortunate to count myself as part of this wonderful group. But one quibble -- your place in this community is most certainly *not* teeny! Lovely post!

I so enjoyed reading your guest-blog, Kaye! Fantastic job. :)

Fun post, Kaye. And if we are a tribe, you are our tribal leader. :)

Aw, Kaye, you're the Queen of Tarts (or is that Hearts?) and a great example of the warmth of the mystery community. Liz

Kaye, what a lovely blog and photos. Welcome to you and to all new commenters today!

NancyM, I'm so glad you asked that question. Have wondered, meant to ask.

Great post Kaye! You are a Sweet-Tart! Ha ha ha.

OH, perfect Jill! A Sweet-Tart. And forever more our Kaye shall be deemed so.

Trying to mremeber, KAye, where we first met, and I think it must hve been at a Bouchercon. After we cnonected on the DorothyL. GOsh, it all seems like a ling time agoan.And, as somone said, what a long strange trip it's been.

Or I should say--it's being.

I remember when you started your blog! You were wondering if anyone would ever read it. HAH! (I cntinue to hink it; a book. But that's just me..)

Happy holidays to you and your dear husband..and to the pooch ,of course.

(I wish I could watch the video, but I'd cry.)

Mornin' Guys!!!

Many thanks to Margaret and the rest of this incredible group for inviting me here. I've always wanted to be a Tart!

I'm so happy Margaret was here to explain Tar Heel! The woman is a treasure - but most particularly a North Carolina treasure. I doubt there's a history teacher around who knows more about the state than she does. If I had had teachers who could share their knowledge of history as wonderfully as she does I might have paid more attention.

Wonderful post, Kaye! Yes, indeed, the mystery community is amazing -- and your M and M blog manages to pull it together beautifully.

I'm tickled pink to see some of my gal pals here today!! And members of the "tribe!" How fun!

MANY thanks to you all for coming. I was scared to death! I was worried folks would drop by and be disappointed not to see one of the real tarts here and move along to their next favorite on their blog list. You've helped prove my point about how amazing this community is. Thank you!!!!

Sweet-Tart - LOL! That's too fun! (Jill - you must be feeling better!).

Liz, I like Queen of Tarts too (wonder how many more names I can accumulate today?!)

Kaye, it's so good to see you here. You've become an Institution in the writing world, and now you're a Tart, too! How cool is that? I'm so glad Donald has recovered so beautifully. Thanks for sharing the Diamonds and Rust video. It seems to have disappeared (might just be my puter?), but you inspired me to look it up on YouTube. Wonderful!
Hugs, Diane

Hank, I think we did connect at DorothyL. And exchanged a few notes about W. Newton (where my Donald was born). Toss in the Atlanta connection and we had a ton to chat about. NOT to forget the fact that I love your books. You were also one of the first to reach out to me while our husbands were both convalescing in hospitals miles and miles apart, but at the same time. Many hugs my friend.

Julia and Julie.

You were two of the very first people to make me feel welcome in the mystery community.

Julia and I did an interview YEARS ago.

Julie (bless your adorable heart) helped make it possible for me to sit in on Lee Child's "Hot Ticket" event at the Indy B'Con. One of the coolest experiences ever, ever!

Speaking of an Atlanta connection - Gerrie & Hank - did you guys know one another in Atlanta? It's not such a crazy question as it might sound - you were both reporters there at the same time, I think . . .

Cathy Lee - Hey!!!! I'm so glad you dropped by - now get back to that manuscript, girl!

And here's another North Carolina treasure - our own Vicki Lane. AND another NC treasure - Diane!!! Both of whom write wonderful books about two of my favorite areas of the state. The mountains and the coast. thank you both for your kind words about Meanderings and Muses.

Nowadays, whenever I read the word tribe, I think of tribal belly dancing, which is all about improvisation--which well describes TLC. You NEVER know what's going to happen here.

Welcome to the experience, Kaye.

Great post to a "sweet-tart". You are amazing, you bring out the best in everyone you come into contact with and do it with a smile and some encouragement to join into the fun. I've only ever been in N.C. once and I was on the coast edge, so someday, I'm going to make it to your mountains to see that land you love so much.


Welcome, Kaye. You are a Tart forever -- however you look at it. I've also found the mystery community extremely generous. I think we work out our murderous feelings in our writing and reading.

Nancy and Nancy - thanks for the nice welcome. I love it here! I brought my pillow and blankie so I can stay a long long time. ;>

Ramona, I agree about never knowing what might happen here. I love that too. Belly dancing sounds fun . . . Can we do it in baggy sweats and a long Tshirt?

Lovely to see you here, Kaye! I hope to get down your way this spring when I visit my new nephew (just got to spend time with him over Thanksgiving, and he's an adorably pudgy 5-month-old). It would be so terrific to meet you in person! But it's also fun to keep up with you on Facebook...

Thank you, Elaine.

Putting some of those murderous feelings on paper that translate into exactly what we readers are feeling is a GREAT thing. There are so many times I'll read something and say "how did they KNOW?" amazing. And keeps a lot of you out of the hoosegow to boot!

oh, Patty. thank you. gotta go get a tissue

Meredith, hey! Let me know if you make it down, please.

Don't you love Facebook? I love Facebook.

Lovely post Kaye! You capture the mystery community ties so well. Margaret Maron is not only one of my favorite authors but favorite human beings. I'll never forget our visit to Ava Gardner's grave in Ava's home town.


Kaye, I really enjoyed your post and can relate so well with what you had to say. As a new mystery writer, I've experienced the same warmth and generosity from the mystery community. I just have to add that you, sweet lady, have been a boon to the mystery writers, as well, hosting many of them on your blog and having such positive things to say. You are a "really care" kind of person and I agree that you are a Queen of Tarts/Hearts! "See" you on Facebook and Dorothyl.

Hi, Kaye! It's so great to meet you.
To paraphrase a song sung by Phil Harris "That's what I like about the South" this is what I like about TLC. I get to meet some great people.
All the best!!

Every day with Kaye is a diamond day! What a lovely sparkling piece. Once again, you have made such a contribution to the mystery community. Hope you'll be back to talk about the shoes on another day.

Hugs, MJ

I love your guest post, Kaye, and that photo with Lee Child is wonderful. The one time I ran into him at Bouchercon, I was speechless. I managed a tiny smile before I scurried away, afraid I'd turn into a gushing fan if I said even one word.

EEK! How did I miss my friend Elizabeth (another NC writer) here earlier? Hey, girl - thank you for stopping by!

Patricia, hi! You know - I have to say this. Being kinda "fangirl-ish really isn't so bad. Is it? The term gets a bad rap. God save us all from being so cool and smooth that we don't gush when we meet someone who has contributed so much to their field. Next time you run into Lee Child just give the man a hug. I think he likes hugs. Or maybe he just tolerates 'em. But he sure is gracious about them. He was also very gracious about not mentioning a piece of pizza I had stuck to the side of my face one time . . .

MJ! I love you! And I'm so glad you're here, thank you! And guess what?! Now that I'm retiring, I should be able to get down to where ever Molly is going to have you gals during Easter. Yay, Yay! Maybe we'll have time to shop! Think Shoes!!

Cara and Coco (sounds like a yummy chocolate treat!) - thanks for stopping by, and thank you both for the nice words (my head is getting HUGE!). Coco, you, m'dear, are going to do great - I just feel it in my bones!

Marie, hi! Nice to meet you - I love that song too. now, however, it's gonna be stuck in my head for the rest of the day!

I'm just a reader who enjoys your blog, and writings on DorothyL.
What is it about North Carolina? I spent some time in the mountains, and they were magical. It also appears to have spawned some very good, and nice, writers. I am discovering more of you all as I go along.

I love the TLC community. I found it through Elaine (we miss her in STL) and have discovered so many wonderful new authors as well as old favorites. I'm looking forward to my first Bouchercon in St. Louis next September.

Problem is my TBR pile keeps growing. As the saying goes "so many books, so little time".

Hi, Lil! No such thing as "just a reader!" I believe, we readers are the backbone of the writing world. I know all our favorite writers would continue to write, 'cause they have to, but I think our love of their words fuels them on to write even better. And even more. Don't you think?

These North Carolina mountains are indeed magical, I agree. The Indians/Native Americans (choose the term you prefer) who were here before us are said to have believed the area north of Boone, NC called Meat Camp (where Donald and Harley I live - awful name, but still just gorgeous) to be an area of "great energy." I believe that. And yeah - we are a pretty nice bunch most of the time, if I do say so m'self.

Diana, I can't wait to hear about your first Bouchercon experience! I keep mentioning this all over the web world, and I know people are tired of me repeating myself, but that's just me being me. Hank Phillippi Ryan made a statement in her B'Con 101 session in Indianapolis that she could guarantee everyone in that room at least one magical moment at B'Con, and that's true. At least one, but probably many, many more. And yep, that TBR pile will grow by leaps and bounds! We're all gonna have to live to 110 to read all our books we want to read, aren't we?

Kaye, I love this post, and I love Joan Baez, and I love the word "tribe" . . . except ours is the kind that roasts marshmallows, not the kind that sacrifices virgins during the winter equinox. Happy to be among us.

Is it possible I've never met you face to face? We go to all the same conventions and know all the same people -- let's remedy that next year.

Cara, I so remember that day when you wanted to take a picture of Ava's grave because your mother had loved her. I never pass that cemetary w/o thinking of you.

Liz referred to you, Kaye, as Queen of Hearts, rather than Tarts, and I tend to agree with her. I'm so glad to be included in your tribe. Big hug, Kaye!

Lesa - www.lesasbookcritiques.blogspot.com

Harley, hi! I too love that we're part of a tribe that roasts marshmallows rather than sacrificing virgins (I think there's a story there!!). And I do hope to meet you someday - sooner rather than later!

Margaret - where is Ava Gardner buried?

Lesa, my friend! thank you for coming by!!

Kaye, this is wonderful! Thank you so much for the warmth and lovely vision. And of course I love Joan Baez. Never had seen that video, however, so thank you for that, too. I'm saving it as an Mp3 file... and yes you are so right about computers and being an introvert. Well put... really identify with that! Muah!

Thanks Margaret!

Kaye, Darlin', anytime you put two or more words together, I'll read it and love it. No exception with your post here. Let's see now. You've been christened the Belle of Boone, the Darling of DL, and now The Queen of Tarts and a Sweet Tart. You're accumulating a long list of titles and it's all good. Who knows? Maybe Tall Chambers will come up with a new pet name for you when he arrives at your house.

I'm so glad I met you, Kaye, on DorothyL, a branch (arm? sect?) of the tribe. Love the Joan Baez video and here's a Small World thing: my high school physics teacher knew her father and I was thrilled about that. Oh, and one more--my late father dated a woman who had been Queen for a Day! She was very proud of it, too. I thought it was weird.

You put what it's like to be a member of the mystery community perfectly. Thanks!

Well said, Kaye. You are one of the great blessings I have discovered in this family. Love you!

Love the song, never saw the video before. Thanks, Kaye. You are one of the people that introduced me to--welcomed me into--the Tribe. I am so glad everyone was there for you and Donald. Even Lee Child seems to realize a smooch from you is worth posting!

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