Saturday, March 31, 2007

The entrepreneurial spirit

One more thing.

I just learned that my children, having been denied the luxury of a lemonade stand, have discovered a new outlet for their money-making instincts.

They're selling doodlebugs door-to-door.

For a nickel apiece.

So far, evidently, they've made 35 cents.

We have very nice neighbors.

Ah, normalcy...

So nice to be worrying about age-old questions like which color laundry to wash first (Dark? Middle? Light?) rather than imagining catastrophic scenarios involving close family members.

Thank goodness.

This morning, instead of googling terrifying subjects, I'm in my office, listening to the sounds of my children playing on the street (hopefully not in the path of cars) and being thankful that we're not camping, since it rained torrentially and there was an extensive tornado watch last night. If you ever have a drought, ask me to plan a group camping trip in your vicinity, by the way. That will take care of the problem automatically.

On another note, I posted on Killer Hobbies today, on my general hobby-impairedness. Think Hefty bags and orange spray paint. It's a fun blog; I've been meaning to add it to my links section for some time. In fact, I may go do that now.

I realize I've been rather remiss re: word reporting lately. For the record, I did write another 4500 words this week despite my neuroses, putting me at about 37,956 words, or about halfway through. Not that I'm counting or anything. ;)

Thanks again for all your kind thoughts this week, and I hope your weather is as glorious as ours is now that the rain has gone!

Oh -- and if you're in the Austin area and don't have anything planned for tomorrow, please stop by and see me at BookPeople. I'll be there from three to five!

Friday, March 30, 2007


It's not cancer, thank God. But the mole is weird enough (it's more like an adult's abnormal mole than a child's) that the doctor wants to have the area around it excised, and skin checks every six months. I just KNEW there was something wrong with it. I've had a sick feeling in my stomach since I first noticed it. But all's well, that (hopefully) ends well.

And I'm making an appointment for myself TODAY, since Abby and I have the same color skin, and I've got all kinds of... well, let's call them marks of character.

I'm still all jitters. But what a relief not to have to wait all weekend. I don't think I could stand it.

Thank you all so much for all your well wishes. I can't tell you how comforting it's been. Like a warm emotional blanket -- and I've needed one.

Lots of hugs all around from a very relieved Karen

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Still waiting.

So I didn't hear anything today, but spent a good bit more time googling, as a result of which I now own about fifty dollars worth of heavy-duty sunblock. And a new hat.

The upshot of all of this is that the chances of a kiddo between 10 and 14 getting melanoma is like 4 in a million, and there aren't even numbers for kids younger than that, so I'm being completely and entirely irrational.

That being said, I am still a bit on the apprehensive side. Okay, more than a bit on the apprehensive side.

Off to take a valium now. Wait, we don't have any valium. Shoot. What I need is a cozy, and maybe some chamomile tea. And perhaps a frontal lobotomy.

Is there such a thing as a worry gene? Because I think I got it...

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Parental paranoia

Hi, everyone...

Sorry I haven't been on much the last few days; Abby had an unusual mole on her back, and I've been so worried about it (we just had it removed this morning for a biopsy) that I haven't been able to think of anything else.

Which means not much writing, not much blogging... not much of anything but obsessively googling skin conditions and scaring the you-know-what out of myself.

I'll find out more tomorrow or the next day, when the lab results come back. I'm sure it's fine, but it's been scary. And I'm suddenly noticing all the oncology clinics around town.

Hope all is well where you are. More soon...


Sunday, March 25, 2007

Home again home again, jiggety jig

I'm back. I'm alive, and my children are too.

And yesterday, I had a great signing at Barnes and Noble up in Round Rock (here are a few photos Melissa, who baked muffins -- muffins! -- and brought them to the signing, sent me). Lots of people showed up, we sold out of Murder on the Rocks in the first twenty minutes, and had only one book left when it was all said and done.

The first is with Frank Campbell, who's the incredibly friendly and wonderful Community Relations Manager -- then there's one of Melissa, the muffins, a Cozy Chicks bag, and me, and the gorgeous teenager in the third is Grace (M's daughter). Next time, I promise to try to have action shots, incidentally.

I have a few other photos, too, including one of a delightful little girl named Shelby Jo, but my camera is acting up, so I'll just be thankful that Melissa was on the ball.

At any rate, we did survive San Diego, even though I bashed my head on a helicopter the last day and it still hurts. We got in late Friday night, which could be why I look a bit peaked in the photos. I got up Saturday morning to write, which didn't help -- but I added back in some of those words I'd cut, so I'm a very happy writer now. (As predicted, no writing got done last week.)

Here in Austin, it's bright green and balmy, and spring is in full glory; the bluebonnets are an indigo carpet, with splashes of orange Indian Paintbrush tossed in here and there, the wisteria is perfuming everything, and the spiderwort (weird name, pretty plant) is everywhere. I love Austin in the spring -- in fact, as much as I enjoyed San Diego, coming home was almost the best part. I love it here, I do. Except maybe in August. And July. And September, come to think of it...

Anyway, as I traipsed around the lake today, I was thinking about how Natalie Goldberg once wrote that different cities are her 'angels'. I think Austin is definitely mine. My spiritual center seems to be the trail around Town Lake -- if I'm feeling at all out of kilter, a three-mile-walk will put things back on course. Oh, and the cliff swallows are back -- they leave every October, then come back in March to build their little mud-jug nests under the MoPac bridge. And a Carolina Wren family is nesting in a tin bucket on a shelf outside our sliding glass door; when I peeked into it last night to see if there were any eggs, a rather rumpled looking mommy bird darted out. I don't know who was more startled!

I'm off now, for a party to celebrate my hubby's accomplishments (he was just offered partnership at the architecture firm he works at and recently finished the grueling AIA certification gauntlet), and plan to drink many margaritas.

How's everyone out there?

How's the writing going? (Or not going, as the case may be?)

And also, out of sheer curiosity, what cities are your angels? And why?

Ta for now... it's good to be back!

Friday, March 23, 2007

The carriage has turned into a pumpkin

It's midnight, and we just got back from Disneyland, and unless Tinkerbell shows up and hits me with a good dose of fairy dust, the blogging will have to wait.

A good time was had by all, and I'll tell you all about Mr. Snofeles and the Ruby Princess tomorrow.

Staggering off to bed now.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Animals and the Caramel-Apple-Thingie

So, today was the zoo. Which is marvelous. I know it's all about animals, but I couldn't help but drool over the plants -- that papery purple flower I was talking about is statice, I think... and did you know aloes bloom? There are whole gardens of them. And nasturtiums everywhere, cascading down hills in bursts of yellow, orange, and occasionally crimson...

(Can you tell I was almost a botanist instead of a novelist?)

Anyway, not only is the place gorgeous, but it's huge. If you go to the monkey area, pack lots of snacks, because there's a good chance you'll never make it out. I'll bet every night they find dozens of people in there, trapped in aviaries, or doing endless circles around the orangutans. The panda bears were a standout, by the way, although how they eat that bamboo (it looks like they're gumming machetes) is beyond me. They have carnivore-style teeth, evidently, and their ancestors were meat-eaters; I'm dying to know which enterprising bear decided that eating tough, sharp, twenty-foot-tall grass was the way to go. There's no accounting for taste, I guess. Mind you, I like bamboo, too, but I prefer mine stir-fried with lumps of chicken. Oh, well.

It must have been a bear kind of day for me, because the other creature that leaps to mind was a cute polar bear, who was frolicking in the water and slam-dunking a rubber ball. Of course, I was very happy to have a couple of inches of glass between it and me -- I imagine they're much less cute on a glacier when you're by yourself and there isn't a zookeeper and a kiosk selling taco salads right next door. But today it was cute, even though my feet hurt.

And to think tomorrow is Disneyland.

Anyway, even though the rest of the MacInerney clan is out eating Italian, Abby and I are staying at the hotel tonight; I thought Abby was warding off a migraine until a perusal of the room service menu resulted in a request for dessert. (Then she asked if I thought it was okay if she went swimming.)

Migraine or no migraine, she's getting chicken fingers, and is parked in front of the Cartoon Network, which I have mixed feelings about, but am thankful we don't have at home. And the bar is open for another forty minutes, with free drinks. They gave me something that tastes like caramel apples tonight; I'm calling it the "Caramel Apple Thingie," but whatever it is, it's quite tasty, and I'm about to go down and get another one. Then I'll read one of the library books I carted with me; my choices for the evening are Lucky Star and Honeymoon with my Brother, both of which are supposed to be funny; have no idea how good either is, but will report back if one is a winner.

Toddling down for another caramel apple thingie now. Will report on Disneyland and my childhood Mickey Mouse Ears trauma tomorrow...

Monday, March 19, 2007

San Diego... first impressions

So we made it to the Embassy Suites, right across from Seaport Village, and it's hard to believe that just hours ago we were in Austin. (I think we saw the Grand Canyon on the way here, which was kind of cool -- and I always forget how much desert there is out there.)

Anyway, highlights of the day include a long discussion of the emergency procedures card in the airplane with my son ("I hope we land in the mountains so we can use the emergency exits!"), followed by consumption of six bags of Doritos and some kind of crunchy mixed dried fruit.

We landed -- not in the mountains, to my relief and Ian's disappointment -- and after a brief but stressful ride from the airport (they have Birds of Paradise just growing on street corners here, and also that kind of dry papery purple flower you buy at the florist -- cool!), we arrived at Embassy Suites. Which has a little river running through the lobby (and a long snake of people bellying up to the bar for free booze) but no free internet access. So this is a rather pricey blog entry, but what the hey.

Anyway, in the little river downstairs, there are monster koi, turtles, and a bird-poop-spattered turtle house. The sign calls it "Turtle Town" -- it's a little stone enclosure with an arched entry and a heat lamp -- but Ian looked at it and said, "Look! It's Turtle Church!" Thank God we've made some progress with our haphazard approach to his religious upbringing. At least he thinks reptiles have churches, too.

We ate dinner on the harbor (I had Mahi Mahi on wilted greenery), and now I'm in my room blogging and listening to the sounds of 40s music from a party on the aircraft carrier across the street, punctuated by Ian rushing in and saying, "There's a trolley!" every time one jingles by. Which is approximately every five minutes. I hope he doesn't figure out how to fall out the window.

He's now doing flips on my bed, so I'm going to retire before my laptop crashes to the floor. Which would be most annoying, particularly since I just paid for 4 days of Internet access. In the event that he falls asleep before I do, I'll be back to read all those fabulous comments.

Oh -- one more thing -- it's so jarring seeing the Mexican tiles and style here -- I associate that with inland Texas, not coastal California. But I guess that would explain the name: San Diego.

Tomorrow is zoo day. I'll check back if we make it through without being eaten by lions.

Ta for now!

And one more thing... I do have my camera, but no iPhoto, so I'll post my pics when I get home.

Friday, March 16, 2007

Almost made them all up

So I'm at 25475 words now, thank the writing gods (just wrote another thousand or so)... if I write both days this weekend, I may be back to 30K -- which is where I was several days ago -- by Monday, just in time to take a week off. (We're going to San Diego next week, and I imagine not a lot of writing will get done. I will, however, get to see Michele Scott! And a lot of animals. And Disneyland.)

Anyway, I'm so relieved at the way the writing has gone, I just had to share.

Have a great Friday night!

Where phobias come from

So to reward my son for not making me sling him over my shoulder like a sack of potatoes in order to get him into the car this morning, I took him to Schlotzky's this afternoon, and then to Town Lake to feed the ducks.

As I was sitting on a rock watching the ducks fight over stale pizza crusts, I overheard an older woman explaining to her grandson why he should not play ring-around-the-cypress tree right at the water's edge. Here's how it went:

Grandma: "Honey, you should stay away from there."

Little boy: "Why?"

Grandma (in a sugary, high-pitched voice): "Really, sweetheart. I think it's time to go."

Little boy: "Why can't I go around the tree first?"

Grandma: "Because if you fell in, I wouldn't be able to get you out before you drowned."

Yes, that's right. Drowned. (The water, incidentally, was about a foot deep.)

I'd love to be a fly on the wall at the poor kid's first swimming lesson.

Anyway, I've got to get another few hundred words in and check the laundry...

Happy Friday, everyone!

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Three thousand words later

I find myself without the energy to write two blog entries. So for today's installment, please go here.

And if you've ever tried Weetabix, please tell me if it tastes as awful as it looks. I'm curious, but not curious enough to drop a couple of bucks on it.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

The Austin American-Statesman article

is up, and you can read it here.

Whew. Am off to make more burnt offerings to the culinary gods. (In other words, I'm going to start dinner.)

On the writing front, I met with my friend Kimberly Sandman this morning and bashed out another 1200 words, which brings me back up to 20K. Now I have to go write 300 more... of course, after I read all of your lovely comments.

And Laura, you are SO far ahead of me. If you feel like writing a few chapters on werewolves and lighthouses just to break up the monotony, drop me a line.... ;)

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Why I don't have TV

So I only had a few minutes to exercise today, which meant instead of walking, I hopped on an exercise bike at the Y. Which has 4 close-captioned TVs to stare at while you're pedaling away.

On TV two, MSNBC was doing a hard-hitting ten minute report.... on American Idol.

That's right. American Idol.

So I switched over to the tube on the left, which turned out to be one of those Christian channels, featuring a forty-ish woman recounting a quiet evening at home with her ex-husband. Apparently on the spur of the moment, right after watching the Simpsons or something, he decided they both needed to die. So he dragged her to the kitchen, stabbed her a few times, let the gas in the burner run for a while, and then lit a match.

Which is horrifying.

But as I'm pedaling away, watching the woman talk, she says, "As I was lying there on the kitchen floor, I knew Jesus had heard my prayers, because suddenly I felt a warmth all through my body."

And all I could think was, gee. It could be Jesus. Or it could be because you were ON FIRE.

I can't tell you anything about the American Idol update -- something about a sexual harassment suit, I think -- but I am pleased to report that the woman in the second story survived and is happily remarried. (Hubby one turned out to be a paranoid schizophrenic and is now in an institution.)

Overall, it's probably a good thing I don't have TV, because I'd spend my days surfing channels and making catty remarks. And not writing. Speaking of writing, evidently my little story about Natalie will in fact appear in the May issue of Portland Magazine. And tomorrow I'll try to post a link to the Statesman, which is running a feature on yours truly. So overall it's a publicitastic week.

On the downside, I axed 10,000 words from Wolf 2 today because I didn't like them. I added another 2,000, but I'm still running a bit behind. (Like at 18,000 words instead of 28,000 words.) Fortunately, if I work a few weekends, I'll be caught up in no time -- besides, I'm feeling much better about the book now, and I may be able to use some of the cut scenes later. And I've decided to put in some calf-roping! Do you know anything about calf-roping? I don't, but I hope to soon!

How's your writing going? Even if you wrote nothing, your daily net count still beats mine. :)

Monday, March 12, 2007

RSS etc.

So, despite my substantial technical ignorance, I think I've managed to get both RSS and e-mail subscription options going (a few of you have asked about it). You can find it over in the links section. Gosh, I hope I did it right. The downside of this, of course, is that I'm going to have to stop editing my posts six times a day (I always read them after they've published and find things to tweak).

If you try one or both of these, please let me know how it goes. If it works, I'll add it to the Cozy Chicks blog, too.

Oh -- I wrote some flash fiction today, about Natalie and Emmeline. With luck, it will be in Portland Magazine this May. And here's the article from the Picayune.

Ian's better, by the way, and tomorrow I get to write with my friend Kimberly. More soon...


Not flu after all... and thickening plots

So Ian's better, but still not at the camp I scheduled for him this week. Unfortunately, that throws my schedule off; but that may be a good thing, as I had a few plot 'ahas' yesterday that I probably need to go back and work in. Plus, I'm having fun reading about lighthouses.

Still, regarding my little plot issues; you'd think this whole book-writing thing would become easier, wouldn't you? I guess it does, but there's still a disturbing element of uncertainty in each book. On the other hand, I guess that's why I'm a bookwriter and not an accountant. Although there's a certain amount of uncertainty in my accounting, too... ;)

And my poor other half has been cursed by the tire gods. Yesterday, he got three flats on his bike; today, he woke up to discover his car had a flat tire. And he has to drive to Houston. I can hear the tire wrenches on the driveway as I type.

I hear the five-yr-old stirring, so I'm off for now... hope everyone else has escaped this affliction (which, incidentally, is NOT flu, thankfully).

Oh, and because I am constitutionally incapable of saying 'no', I signed up for another blog the other day. It will go live soon, and I'll let you know the details.

Karen (who is off to go looking for her misplaced common sense)

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Flu and writer's block

Unfortunately, despite the vaccination, I am afraid our little boy has come down with the dreaded flu; even on Motrin, his fever was at 104 this afternoon. Scary. It promises to be a long night, filled with every-three-hour temperature checks and medicine doses. I should have known it was coming; after all, it is spring break. ;)

Before I was aware of the high fever situation, though, my sweet husband kicked me out of the house this morning to go write, and I'm glad he did; I was feeling a bit stuck, which always makes me nervous, but by sitting through it and doing a lot of staring into space (and writing in fits and starts), it finally started flowing again. It's funny; no matter how many times I work through these things, it always comes as a surprise when I sit there and bang my head against the wall and it eventually shakes free. (The writing, I mean, not my head.) My word count is a hair over 26,000 right now, which puts me at approximately 1/3 complete. Which is a good thing, since my dance card is looking rather full right now.

I also spent some time at the allergist's office Friday putting together a calendar for getting the books I'm under contract for finished comfortably. (Thank God I had the laptop with me, or I'd have been forced to read tabloids for forty minutes instead. Hmm. Perhaps I'll leave the laptop home next time.)

Anyway, assuming I did the math right (must recheck this, come to think of it), I was pleased to discover that even writing 4,000 words a week, with a week off for spring break, I will still finish with time to spare. I'll put in a more aggressive weekly goal, but I like having that "minimum" there to make sure that even with a few chaotic, potentially disease-ridden weeks tossed in there -- and, heaven forbid, some rewriting -- I'll still finish with some time to spare. And I won't have to chain myself to a desk to do it. Unless, of course, we get hit by some four-week flu virus or I break both arms and can't type. But that would never happen. Right?

Right? (Please let me be right. Please.)

Anyway, enough of the morbid thoughts, and back to the topic at hand. Okay, I've forgotten the topic at hand. But I will report that this afternoon, to celebrate blasting through another mini-writer's-block, I stopped by the library, where I picked up A Year with the Caliph, a book about a woman who moved to Casablanca (which I subsequently discovered I already own), a book on lighthouses (I'm looking for a good lighthouse story -- if you know of any, please tell me) and a book called Get Out of Your Own Way, which is supposed to help people "reach their full potential," etc. I don't know why I read these books, but I do. Hope springs eternal, I guess? I picked this particular one up because, like most writers, I seem to be my own biggest obstacle some days. I'll let you know how it goes.

I'm off to check on my little boy's temperature again. I hope you all escape the flu, and that you had productive and glorious days!

Oh -- and for some reason, there's a june bug colony on our front yard. The buzzing is so loud it sounds like you're standing next to a bee hive. Very strange -- there are hundreds of them, but only in my yard. I wonder why?

very sleepy

and computer hijacked by word-whomp-playing friend this evening. Just now reclaimed it, in fact.

I did write today, though, about 1500 words. And briefly lost my keys. And learned that Episcopal churches don't generally feature minarets. (Which I think I knew, come to think of it, since minarets are usually for mosques.)

Having accomplished all that, I'm going to bed now.

More tomorrow.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Another visit to the Gray Whale Inn

I just got off the phone with my agent, Jessica, and am thrilled to announce that I will be returning to the Gray Whale Inn in the next few months!

Although I have no idea what the title of the third book will be yet, I do know it will be out next summer. (As in 2008, not 2007 -- I'm fast, but I'm not that fast.) I'm already playing around with what will happen -- I think there will be light recipes (including the infamous lemon berry souffle muffin recipe) in it, and possibly a lighthouse element. I love lighthouses. Why are they so magical? So mysterious and alluring and lonely...

Anyway, I'll stop nattering on about lighthouses now, since it's time to pick up Mr. "You-Don't-Make-the-Rules-of-Me." :)

But I'm very excited, and am once again googling plane fares. Research is a very important element of writing, after all... as is copious lobster consumption. Stimulates the brain cells.

Ta for now (I only wrote 800 words or so, and will have to do a two-fer later)...

By the way -- if you have any ideas of what you might like to happen, please let me know; I'm always trolling for interesting plot twists.

K (who's dreaming about blueberries and sea glass already)

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Why can I not operate a hairdryer?

So I got my hair cut today, and as always, Judy spent about fifteen minutes with a hairdryer, and I came out with a perfect hairstyle that will last approximately 24 hours.

At which point I will wash my hair and attempt to replicate her results.

Which is why most days I wear my hair back in a clip.

What is it with stylists and hair dryers? I know they've had tons of training, but there seems to be an element of magic in there, too. I have watched as Judy wields the brush and dryer. I have attempted to learn. I have repeatedly tried to use the same techniques at home. With the result that my head always winds up looking like a haystack that had a close shave with a tornado.

Perhaps it's because I declined to spend $140 on a dryer that Judy said would 'change my life' and instead dropped $19.99 on a Target special. But whatever it is, my hair looks fabulous today, and I'm going to enjoy it.

Tomorrow I can put it back in a barrette.

Oh -- and due to hair and other appointments, I have written a whopping 400 words today. And I'm serving lunch at my daughter's school tomorrow. Not good.


P.S. This morning, when I told my friend (who happens to be a photojournalist) that I was going to get my hair cut, he blinked at me and said "Didn't the editor come yesterday?" When I told him that yes, she had, he pointed out that most people would get the haircut prior to the visit from a photographer. But honestly. Who has time for hair when you're waging battle with your oven?

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Muffined Out

Here are the stats for the last 24 hours:

Hours of sleep: 4
Muffins baked: 90
Calories consumed: approximately 200,000, possibly more
Words written: 0

As you may have surmised, delightful food editor (and food stylist extraordinaire) Kitty Crider and her photographer Amber came over today. I am pleased to report that the ceiling did not in fact cave in; the truth is, everything went great, at least from my perspective. Once I was sure my strata wasn't going to bottom out and that my muffins weren't going to implode, it was fun; Kitty has so much energy she makes me look lethargic. And that's saying something.

Best of all, my recalcitrant lemon berry souffle muffin recipe came around. I finally found a fix at 11 p.m. last night. After 72 rather spectacular failures, two bags of frozen raspberries, and two pints of fresh raspberries. I plan on taking the less-photogenic batches to a food bank tomorrow.

I'd write more, but I'm so stuffed with muffins and strata and coffeecake I'm finding it hard to move.

Melissa, the article will be in next Wednesday's Statesman.

Would love to know if someone somewhere got something written today. It would give me hope. Waddling off to bed now...

Monday, March 05, 2007

It's National Procrastination Week!

For those of you who noticed I didn't post yesterday, it's in celebration of National Procrastination Week, an event I heard about on KUT this morning. Okay, so obviously that's not really the truth, but it could be. And I did write my 1500 words today, by the way, but since the Statesman will be at my house tomorrow, I don't have high hopes for Tuesday's word production.

Oh -- and I must tell you, this morning I saw a pick-up truck advertising a business I never in a million years would have thought of: "Bookkeeping for Truckers."


Can you say niche marketing?

Anyway, the real reason I didn't blog yesterday is that before church, I saw a raccoon sleeping in a pile of leaves outside my kitchen window. We went out and took a few shots (with the camera, not a rifle); when we got back a few hours later, he was still there.

He's absolutely adorable, but was having a hard time moving, and was very shaky. We called Wildlife Rescue, and with the help of a have-a-heart trap my mother-in-law lent us and a can of tuna, we lured him in, and I drove him up to the wildlife rehabilitator's house in Round Rock yesterday afternoon. Unfortunately, she diagnosed him with distemper. The survival rate is only 5%, which makes me sad. I'm keeping my fingers crossed; but if nothing else, at least we made his last few days a little more comfortable, I hope.

Of course, Round Rock is close to IKEA, so I had to stop there, too, and now we have lots of new rag rugs and table runners, a new salad bowl, and a ton of Swedish cheese and jams.

I am SUCH a sucker.

But back to the raccoon; I'm going to call the lovely woman who took him (her name is Karen, too) later this week for an update on our cute little masked bandit. Send your good thoughts his way! (And my way, too, please, so I don't burn my muffins in front of God and everyone tomorrow.)

I saw your great comments, by the way, and will be back after I pick Ian up from school. And bake a batch of muffins...

Saturday, March 03, 2007

A good day

Today was a lot of fun! I signed at my home B&N, which is always a treat. Of course I saw lots of friends, writing and otherwise (including my barista pals Tom, Larry and Lamar, who moseyed over and bought books). And as I always do at these events, I even got to make some new ones! The picture at right is of Jo Virgil, Community Relations Manager extraordinaire, and yours truly, by the way.

Didn't get a whole lot done writingwise, but it's Saturday, so that's okay. I did, however, realize that I'm going to have to redo a scene I wrote last week -- and thanks to my hubby Eric, I think I know what to do to fix it.

While I was at the store, I did pick up two more books in Robin Hobb's excellent fantasy series; although sometimes I have a hard time getting past the covers of fantasy novels (I know, I know, you're not supposed to judge a book by its cover, but all those maidens with sultry eyes and barely concealed bosoms do get a little old), I've been trying to read more of it, since some of the work I'm doing involves what's called 'world-building'. And it's always helpful to see how other writers do things.

But it's a happy coincidence that I picked up one of Ms. Hobb's Tawny Man books a couple of months ago, because her characters are moving and absolutely convincing. She's a powerful writer, and her characterizations are so strong I think of them as real. I made the mistake of reading the last trilogy of the series first, but I'm going back to the beginning now, and she's beguiled me again (although I can see the progression in her writing).

But they're books I'm relishing, and I will be sad to read the last of them. Hope she's writing more; but they're doorstoppers.

It's fun reading widely and keeping an open mind; you never know what you'll encounter next!

Friday, March 02, 2007


My favorite quote of today was from my 7-year-old daughter, as she put a 1.5-pound block of chocolate into my shopping basket at Central Market:

"But mom, dark chocolate helps prevent cancer! We have to buy it!"

I admire the sentiment, but I've got to wonder... where do these little tidbits come from?

We compromised on a Dairy Milk bar (one of the big ones), of which I consumed about 2/3.

It's been a long, chauffeur-filled, edit-filled day. I finally tackled the very last (for now) edits on Howling at the Moon; i.e. making sure everything I did worked, fixing the fact that one of my characters was surprised by the same information two chapters in a row, adding another steamy 700 words, and fixing it so that the chapters are of relatively equal length. Sort of. Well, closer than they were, anyway.

Which is time consuming, especially when you're using the "find" feature and have to retype "chapter" every time you're looking for the next chapter heading. (I had replaced "Camry" with "BMW" earlier in the day, and every time I pulled up the find and replace tool, it still said "Camry," so I had to retype "chapter" every single time. No idea why, but with 40-plus chapters, it got a bit annoying. Note to self: complain to Microsoft.)

So I'm sending it off on Monday, and I'm sure I will have more edits once Charlotte (my editor) goes through it, but at least I can focus on the second book again. Which will be lovely, and far preferable to changing previous work, which always results in continuity problems. And chapter length issues.

My dear friend Lindsey was supposed to be coming in tonight from New York, but I found out her flight is canceled, so I'm a bit disappointed. I was looking forward to her company at my signing tomorrow; I haven't seen her for like six years. (I even washed the sheets for her!)

And for some reason, I am convinced that my ceiling will fall in while the reporter from the Statesman is at my house. Or that my coffee cake will implode. Or that any number of catastrophic events will occur.

At any rate, somebody is yelling in the hall, so I'm off. How was YOUR day?

Thursday, March 01, 2007

What a day!

Good things come in threes, I suppose. First the Agatha, last week. (It's still sinking in, by the way.)

And then I had an interview with Dane Anderson of the Westlake Picayune this morning; they're doing a feature in next week's paper. When I got home from that, the fabulous food editor Kitty Crider of the Austin American-Statesman sent me an e-mail; they'll be doing a feature in the Food and Life section of the paper. Which means they'll be taking photos of me. In my kitchen. Which thankfully now has tiles instead of ripped-up wallboard as a back splash. Because if it didn't, I'd be canvassing everyone in Austin to let me call their home my own for the day. I can see it now. "Of course this is my kitchen, Kitty. I just can't remember where I hid the flour!"

I'm going to try and write now.

But I have one more thing to say: Laura, when I wrote my first book, I averaged significantly less than 1,000 words a day, and that was a real accomplishment. These days, it comes easier -- but I've written over 1,500 pages of fiction, which helps. But any word count at all -- even 100 words -- is something to be proud of. Any words are good words. :) Hemingway considered 500 words a good day.

Just keep the faith!