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April 10, 2011

Where in the World are the Tarts?

Brunonia Barry Barry_mapoftrueplaces
I've been on the paperback book tour for The Map of True Places. Or rather, I should call it the culinary tour of Connecticut and Vermont. Great stores, great people, and great food and wine at about nine PM every night. I tried, Weight Watchers, I really tried! But it's just not hospitable to refuse these local favorites. Local Vermont Cheeses and maple cured sausages? Okay, so maybe that was breakfast, but you get the idea. I'm back home for a few days, hitting the treadmill and the bike and eating my five point Think Thin bars. More tour to come, but I'm determined. Thank God I'm not going south this time. On my last tour, I went to Charleston and New Orleans. Weight Watchers didn't stand a chance.


Viets_Uplift Elaine Viets    
I'm spending this weekend in my hometown, St. Louis, at the Missouri Writers' Guild Conference, where I'll get to see Nancy Pickard, another featured speaker. I hope I didn't disgrace myself giving the keynote speech at the banquet last night. I promised the conference organizers my talk would be mercifully short. Sunday morning, I teach a three-hour master's class on creating characters. Then I fly home to Fort Lauderdale on Southwest Airlines. That's the airline that had a plane with a huge hole in the fuselage. Don assures me the flight will be perfectly safe. I told him if I die in a plane crash, I will haunt him for the rest of his days. At night, he will hear me whispering "I told you so."


Barbara O’Neal HowToBake
I am cooking for zillions, cleaning my house because it hasn't really been cleaned since I went underground to finish the current book two months ago.  (It is not finished, BTW.) There is a wedding this week.  My son and his smart, tough, beautiful fiance, whose mother referred to her as "ours."  Doesn't get any better than this, I promise you.   Next week, I'll get back to finishing the book.  Now, if you will excuse me, I have some bacon jam that needs to go in the crockpot.....


Kindred Spirits_lowres Sarah Strohmeyer
I am on deadline for my YA book Smart Girls Get Everything!

[Yet she had time to look up the recipe for Barbara’s Bacon Jam to post on Facebook.][Sarah's link broke, but this is another recipe.]


I'm hunkered down with the windows closed, praying for rain, waiting out pine pollen season. Another week should do it. These pine trees are way oversexed. No wonder they're the first trees to grow in a barren field.
Tomorrow, I'm off to a week-long retreat with some of my writer friends, so I'm packing the car with computer, notebooks, bedlinens, a 12-pack of Pepsis,a bottle of bourbon and a frozen casserole for the night when it's my turn to cook supper. (No Cheetos though. Gave them up for Lent.) I hope to come home with 5000 more words on my 2012 book and a good sense of where the book's going.


[When I asked the Tarts to write these, I sent a reply to Margaret that I had problems with alder tree pollen and had in Washington State, Vermont and California. To which Diane chimed in…]


Chamberlain_midwife Diane Chamberlain
No no, Holly, you don't understand what Margaret is talking about. The pine pollen isn't the make-you-sneeze type. it's the takes-over-the-entire-world type. I made the mistake of opening my office window yesterday and by evening a layer of yellow dust was on every sheet of paper and piece of equipment and ME in my office. I’d covered all the porch furniture with green sheets that are now completely yellow. I've lived lots of places but never experienced anything like this till moving to NC. So this time of year, when you long to open the windows, you must fight the urge and keep them closed.

So that's what I'm up to, along with being chained to my desk, 2 weeks from deadline with the book from hell (oh wait...they all are) that still has no title. It's this deadline that's preventing me from going away with Margaret and the gang for a week of writing and balderdash. :(


Harley Jane Kozak Kozak_DateRefuse
I'm rehearsing this week for the Romantic Times Convention -- I'm the M.C./Joan Rivers-type person for the Mr. Romance Contest (male cover models), as well as singing, dancing and performing Shakespeare at the Vampire Ball, in a show entitled "Zombie Dancers from Planet 9."


Kathy Reschini Sweeney
Today, I am in shock.  My baby boy is 16.  He was a bit of a surprise - one that has turned out to be the greatest delight of my life.  But don't tell him I said that.  He already gets away with too much. How did all these years go by?  I need cake.  Stat.


Joshilyn Jackson Jackson_BackseatSaints
Today my husband and I are engaged in an EPIC SCRABBLE BATTLE. The loser must give Mentally Ill Grudge-Holding Cat his Kitty-Prozac all month. Mentally-Ill Grudge-Holding Cat needs his meds, but he hates to be touched only slightly less than he hates to be pilled. The person who loses this battle gains Mentally Ill Grudge-Holding Cat’s considerable, baleful, and long-memoried  ire. OH, this cat. You shouldn’t make him angry. You wouldn’t LIKE him when he is angry. And since I work from home, I am available to be ired at all hours of the day. So.  I am not going to lose. I have a pocket full of blank tiles and a fistful of illegal tranqs. I LOVE my husband, but if first skill and then luck and finally cheating all fail me, I will have no choice but to roofie my beloved and swear up and down I was victorious.
PS Margaret! I read this and immediately thought
Margaret are you grieving over all your pines unleaving?
 But pines don’t have leaves. And un-needling does not rhyme.
Margaret are you feeding, needing, bleeding, pleading, BAH!
 I actually get a grant from the state of Georgia to NOT write poetry.

Yes yes it is a SPECIAL pollen bowl kind. We have it. For a month the purple car is yellow and the orange car is yellow and my cream trimmed rosey-bricked house is yellow and the green grass is yellow and THE VERY FREAKING AIR IS GOT’DAMNABLY YELLOW.


Sticky fingers_1_very_sm Nancy Martin
I'm hitting the campaign trail to sell Sticky Fingers.  (In the Philadelphia area?  Come to the Borders store in Springfield on Friday, April 15th at 6pm or at the Philadelphia Book Fest on Saturday from 11am to 1pm.)  I'm also finishing up the 8th Blackbird book--which should be published early in 2012.  And . . . my iPad arrived!  Now I have to learn how to use it.  Any suggestions for good apps?


Nancy Pickard Pickard_scentofrain
I’m busy distracting myself from my book that keeps saying it doesn’t care if I need to make a living, it still has percolating to do.  Have I ever mentioned that I think commerce and art are TERRIBLE bedfellows?  Of course, that’s not what my favorite Kansas playwright thought about it.  William Inge, who wrote Picnic, Splendor in the Grass, Bus Stop, Come Back Little Sheba, and The Dark at the Top of the Stairs,  (wow, right?) said that forcing art through the commerce sieve and vice versa was hunky-dory.  His actual quote is:  “Literature flourishes best when it is half trade and half an art.” I agree, but only when my book actually gets finished and then published and I get paid.  Until those moments, the bedfellows continue to kick each other and bellow and be total nightmares. And let’s not overlook the fact that Bill Inge killed himself.  Damn, I just made myself feel like sitting in this coffee shop and crying. He was so brilliant, and he suffered so from depression and from hiding his sexuality from the pigs and bigots of his day.  Well, you’d never know it from what I just wrote here, but I’m actually feeling happy and springy, in spite of sieves and stubborn books and tragic playwrights.  Here, everybody, have a double latte and a chocolate truffle.

Hank_drivetime Hank Phillippi Ryan

The ducks are back! But you know that..Flo and Eddy have been baffled by the ice on their backyard pond, but other than that, it's a sure sign it's spring. My tulips and crocuses are pushing their way out of the still-frozen earth, and I saw a whole flock of robins in our neighbor's yard. (It was almost scary, you know? Cue Tippi Hendren.)  Right now I am somewhere in the air between Boston and Indianapolis,  gave a speech in Indy to a wonderful group who wanted to know all about e-publishing.  (Gee, I wish I knew. Don't we all?)  Yes, there's a new book (cross fingers please, everyone) which I am editing now. (It's easier to cut than add, right?)  Looking forward to the MWA symposium in two weeks, then the gala Malice Domestic convention where DRIVE TIME is up for an Agatha for Best Mystery of 2010. (Yes, our NancyP is up for one, too, sigh, but she's sold more books than I have, I bet, so don't I need the teapot?)  Is it time to send my winter clothes to the dry cleaners? Ah, I'll think about that later. 


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Nancy, when are you going to be at Borders in Springfield? I went to their website, but it is woefully inadequate--proof that they were slow to come to digital,and that's why they are going out of business sooner than B&N. (When I attempted to get directions, the first "P" for "State" was "Palau," which has never happened to me before, and then it said that it could not find the store location, because the autofill did not include a street address that their own mapping software could recognize.)

And your website didn't appear to have a "tour dates" section.

This weekend all of my efforts are focused on finding creative excuses for not getting back to the novel writing side of my schizophrenic life. Because of Japan I’ve been focusing my efforts of late on my non-profit work.

With that thought in mind, here are a few of the “Good Guys” to add to your giving list if you are so inclined. Fortunate Blessings, http://www.fortunateblessings.org, is putting together a team to go to Japan to do counseling for traumatized children. Water Missions, http://www.watermissions.org, provides clean drinking water to Third World countries. LibforAll, http://www.libforall.org/index2.html, fights Islamic extremism through education and tolerance.

All of these are low over head organizations – translation: 95% plus of every dollar goes to the cause and not to “administration” – and they really make a difference in people’s lives.

Crap. Now I have to get back to my next book and it is not even due for another six weeks. Oh look, something shiny! I'd better check that out and...

I added a comma to the end of the links above and the Google Gods were not amused. Try these...


It was 90+ yesterday here in St. Louis. I will be going to the park (which one is yet to be determined, but Tillis is in the lead.) That would be after feeding the children, Religious school, web page updates that should have been done on Thursday, On that note, if you know someone with experience as a medical coder, there seems to be several openings in the St. Louis area. Look for them on http://www.aapcofstl.com/ after noon today.

After the park will be Sam's, dinner, homework and bed.

Elaine, you should hold your class outdoors. Gonna be a nice day.

When Diane and I grumbled about pine pollen, we were stuck in a yellow dusbowl, but we've had rain twice in the last few days and the air is blissfully clean again. Dogwoods are white again. Azaleas are pink. Grass is green. April has quit being the cruelest month. No more yellow dust for a whole year!

DUSTbowl! Have no idea what a dusbowl is and don't want to speculate.

Charleston gets that pine pollen blizzard, too. It's sheerly amazing to clean off your car and the next day it is completely coated again. Happy to hear that it's gone for the year for you and Diane, Margaret!

Nancy, what other states are you traveling to? Not that I'm a stalker or anything.

On Friday I spent the day roaming the cavernous hall of the Duke Energy Center in Cincinnati, which is the new home (yay!) of the famous International Quilt Festival's spring show. More than 300 vendors, some of whom I've known for many years, and millions of yards of fabric. I was there for hours but didn't even get to see more than a handful of the hundreds of spectacular art quilts they have hung around the exhibit area. Must go back today. Tomorrow I'm giving a tour of the city to an exhibitor whose never been to this area before.

Then onto Hamilton, Ohio, my home town, where the Write Like Mad writing conference was going on, with Hallie Ephron as the keynote speaker. What a well organized conference this is. If you have a chance to attend, I highly recommend it. This was the sixth year, and in their first five years they raised $25,000 for local literacy programs. Sponsored by Miami University, held on the Hamilton campus, less than a half-mile from one of the streets where we lived when I was a kid.

They had some of Rod's books there, too! That was also like seeing an old friend. :-)

Al, we are supposed to get temps in the mid- to high 80's today! Then back to 50's or 60's tomorrow.

It will surprise none of you to learn that Elaine gave a wonderful keynote speech last night and that she looked gorgeous. We got to have dinner together Friday night, yay!

My next Tart get-togethers will be with Elaine, Hank, and Margaret at Malice.

In Charleston -- where we now live thanks to daughter #2, AKA “The Most Blessed Provider of Grandchild” -- Pine pollen season corresponds with “Live Oak from Hell” season. In addition to the blanket of yellow, the live oaks drop these squiggly little worm like things. You can blow off the deck and an hour later it has another inch of them on it.

Thanks to two days of rain combined with 40 mph winds, the worst is past. This week is “window sill cleaning week.”

I was at The Hamilton “Write like Mad” conference. A very nice event.

Are we supposed to say what we are up to today? Well, I went to Shop Rite, got my car at 6:45, which is when I told the people in the garage to bring it up, was back by 8. Had breakfast, read the NYT online (99 cents for 20 days, I think), checked back here to see whether Nancy posted her Springfield information, need to get showered and dressed, maybe take the family dog for a walk (if I am allowed) and let her have a virgin visit to my apt., iron my shirts, and do not much else. Oh, and continue to entertain my unwelcome guest, whom I hope is gone when I get back Wednesday.

And the napkins. Have to iron the napkins.

NOt only pollen, but MULCH! We're all sneezing...

Yes, Josh, I was supposed to invite you all to tell us what y'all (I'm not Southern [well Southern Californian by birth][I know, not the same] I just like the inclusive tense) are doing. Like I haven't updated the events list (maybe Nancy M will show up there!) after setting up a nifty way of keeping track. Today's To Do list.

Poison Ivy is alive and well and my face, hands, and leg are living proof. (It was hiding in the other sourge- honeysuckle)

Can't make it to Malice but I will be at Bouchercon in Sept. I plan to register this month.

But, but, but...Holly, if we all (two words, unless someone wants to use w'all) post our To Do List here, what will we post on Facebook?


My life is the total an thesis of all you glorious tarts. I am up to my eyeballs in crochet and knitting working feverishly to meet due date deadlines for blankets, booties and hats..OH MY!
The Tarts work so hard for us and provide such great entertainment for us. A Huge Thank You!

Diana, my cousin once got poison ivy on her face. She called her boss to let him know she wouldn't be in that day. He asked if she was calling in sick, and she said, "No, I'm calling in ugly."

Today is the first day of my vacation! However, the vacation will be spent at home painting the living room. Today we buy supplies. Tomorrow we paint. Since two walls will be deep red, we'll probably paint the next day, too. Hopefully, I'll spend the rest of the vacation vacating.

Methotrexate last night...slept in this morning and awoke to the sound of Chuck doing his laundry. 75F already, so the windows are open a bit for the breeze, which is slated to turn into a full fledged wind (with rain and hail if our weatherperson is right) sometime later today. Before that, Chuck is getting up on the roof to clean out the gutters so we can set up our Free Water Rain Barrels...great idea for watering without using city water according to the son-in-law (whose green thumb is almost neon). I'm headed to the market...and then home to reduce my collection of books and CDs and DVDs and donate to the local library.Last time it was six good sized boxes...sigh. However, I'm also reading Charles Todd's latest Rutledge book, so we'll see how that goes :o) Our pollen is the sneezy kind...I've already brought out the Claritin and Ocean. Have a great week, everyone!

Sandi your cousin was exactly right. It looks like I have a combination of the mumps and measles and have been drinking non-stop. It would scare small children. I just hope it's cleared up before I go to DC to meetings with senators & reps on Capitol Hill. They may think I'm bringing the plague.lol

Pollen allergies are bad enough then you throw in the poison ivy and it's quite a treat.

Ugh, Diana. Hope you feel better soon. Nothing worse than that itch that travels along all your nerve endings.

The last time I had it was last summer, and we happened to be in Boulder, Colorado. I stopped into a homeopathic store and they suggested a bottle of Rhus Tox, which stopped the itch immediately, and cleared it up in--no lie--two days. I've never had such instant relief from anything else I've used.

I know there's a lot of skepticism about homeopathy and homeopathic remedies, but I have personally had extremely good results with them, and without having to resort to supposedly beneficial pharmaceuticals with side effect lists as long as your arm.

Thanks Karen I will look for the Rhus Tox. I'm on prednisone which I don't like because I just got off it a week ago for bronchitis. As you might have guessed I'm very sensitive and even the smallest contact balloons very quickly. I'm usually pretty careful when I work in the yard but it was intertwined with the honeysuckle so I didn't see it.

I will try to find the Rhus Tox.

Diana, the key to homeopathic remedies, and why some people think they don't work, is that you must take them properly. No other "taste in your mouth" for 20 minutes before and after you dissolve the pellets slowly under your tongue. If you don't get immediate relief, try again (usually 3-4 pellets at a time), an hour or so later. Don't chew them, and don't just swallow them; it's very important to just allow them to dissolve.

The Rhus Tox can also help you to avoid getting a rash in the first place, but I am not qualified to tell you what kind of regimen to follow to accomplish immunity.

Prednisone is one of those pharmaceuticals I try to really hard to avoid. Hope you get some relief.

What fun to read where you all are-except for the pollen, and the poison ivy-hope all gets better soon. This blog is a pleasure to read.

What am I up to today? Relaxing a little after I spent the last three days shopping, organizing, prepping food and finally supervising all kitchen activities for a Benefit Pancake Breakfast held at my church for a 2 1/2 year old little boy who is battling leukemia. The best news of the day was that over $5000 was raised in breakfasts sold, raffle basket chances sold, and additional donations. The entire cost of the breakfast was taken care of through individual and business donations of cash or groceries before we even opened our doors yesterday morning. We served 200 plus breakfasts in a four hour span. Leftovers were not wasted as we gave all of the excess groceries and prepared food to a local mission serving the homeless.

Diana, a warm bath with apple cider vinegar (NO not white vinegar) also helps with surface relief.

This weekend has been lovely, it didn't rain yesterday, I went and got my hair cut, came home and had a nap and spent the evening reading a book while watching Tin Man on tv. Today I got up at the crack of 11:30 and just made gluten free pancakes, it is raining really hard so I am thinking today is a stay home day. There is a vague possibility I will do some house work. Maybe I will stay in my pajamas all day.

I sorry, but I'm not sure I want to live somewhere where it is remarkable (as, you did remark) that "it didn't rain yesterday." Even if slaves helped build it, or something.

Hey Josh,
Here in Vancouver it is either rain or stunning sunshine . . . not enough of the latter! In the winter time when it has been raining for, well, ever, what is most often heard in conversation is "at least it's not snow".

It is a great place to live if you like to cozy up with books.

My, what a bunch of Traveling Tarts we have here! My sympathies on the pollen, since I have to deal with whatever the hell blooms here in NorCal that gives me a constant headache for days on end.

Myself, I don't expect to be traveling much any time soon, other than the 1,600 miles a week I drive at work.

On the creative front, I'm only 34 states away from finishing my Altered (United) States entries on my blog. After that, all 50 of 'em get copied over to the website and dumped into the Doclopedia,

Thanks for all the tips re: the poison ivy. This is the worst bout I've had in a long time and I definitely will explore the Rhus Tox and apple cider vineger. Not only am I entertained by this blog I respect the opinions of those willing to share their advice.

I hope to meet many of you at Bouchercon in STL in September.

I've spent an exciting day doing laundry and playing brain games on the AARP games web site. Gotta keep those little grey cells active. Now I'm ready to read to keep them active. By the way I love the Nook Color even if it has a very short battery life. Thanks again for all the helpful tips re: e-readers.

Same here, Diana! I hope to go to STL, as well.

Glad you're enjoying the Nook. It has a lot longer battery life than the new Motorola Xoom, which says "three hours". Yikes! And I've noticed that when the Nook tells me I have only 20% power left, that's more than an hour and a half, plenty of time to read, although the pop-up reminder is annoying.

Love the Sudoku!

I love the sudoku as well and I knew the battery life was short when I bought it thanks to you and Marie. The other features make up for it though. The screen is so crisp and clear even in full darkness. Haven't used it in the sunlight but I did put a non-glare screen cover on it. Since the prednisone kept me awake I played sudoku for several hours last night.

Hope to see you here in STL. We'll have to make sure we all wear TART lips or something. I'm so excited about it. I've not been to any of the conferences before. I may even splurge on one night at the hotel. Otherwise I'll take the Metro down.

Diana, another home remedy. If you are oozing, make a light paste of baking soda and water and spread it carefully over the ivy spots. It dries out the icky stuff faster than the pink lotion. Just don't get into the vinegar soak at the same time, else you turn into a human volcano.

Thanks Ramona Lol You're right I wouldn't want to turn into a middle school science experiment by mixing the vinegar and baking soda! I've used baking soda paste on bee and wasp stings and it really does help. It is finally easing a little today but I still look like I will scare small children.

I'm back home for a few days, hitting the treadmill and the bike and eating my five point Think Thin bars.

Thanks for your efforts to fix this problem.

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