Chiseled in Stone

Sunday! It’s raining and gray outside this morning; I’m not sure (because I haven’t looked) what that means for today’s parades (Femme Fatale, Carrollton, and King Arthur–which is over fifty floats and loaded down with gay men, most of whom I know so I always get buried with beads), but I will take a look later. This morning i need to get some work done, and I need to make it to the gym for the start of week three of my workouts–which means today is three sets rather than two of everything. However, I decided it only made sense to cut the treadmill/cardio part of my workouts during parade season; it only makes sense, you know–as I am doing a lot of standing and jumping and walking during the parades. We only went to the night parades yesterday–Sparta and Pygmalion–because Paul was sleeping during the day (it’s festival crunch time, and he stays up really late working) and yes, I could have gone by myself–but it’s not as much fun without him. If the parades are–heaven forbid–rained out, then I will have a lot of free time to get things done, rather than trying to get them done before and after the parades.

Instead of parades yesterday afternoon, I spent most of the day writing some and finishing rereading Mary Higgins Clark’s Where Are the Children? It really is a hard book to put down, which was, of course, Mrs. Clark’s biggest strength as a writer–that, and her ability to tap into women’s biggest fears. I’m writing a rather lengthy post about the book already–so I won’t discuss it too much here. And if the parades are cancelled, I’ll probably get that finished today.

So, I intend to spend this morning prepping for the gym and answering emails, then when I get home from the gym I’ll get cleaned up and write some before the parades get here–if they are, indeed, coming; they might just be delayed. There aren’t any evening parades today, so of course they can all have their scheduled departures pushed back; they may also abandon the marching bands and walking crews to roll in the rain. I don’t know if we have the physical stamina to stand in the rain for four hours–neither one of us can risk getting sick at this point–but then again, there are overhanging balconies at the corner, so who knows? I guess I’ll judge how bad the weather is when I am walking to the gym this morning.

I also now have to make the all-important decision on what to read next. I think I’m going to take a break from books that I have to read and read something just for the fun of it, and I think I’m going to choose a cozy by a writer I’ve not read before. When I said I wanted to diversify my reading–and started, last year, doing so by reading more authors of color–I didn’t just mean reading books by authors marginalized by race or sexuality; I also meant books outside of what I generally read. I don’t read a lot of cozies, and I’m not exactly sure why that is; I’ve read Donna Andrews, Elaine Viets, Leslie Budewitz and others, but I am now questioning whether or not those actually qualified as cozies? I generally get cozies in the gift bags given out at conferences, and I do buy them from time to time–I support women writers, and I do feel like cozies are treated as somewhat less than by the crime  genre in general–and I also feel like it’s time to change that perception, and give cozies their due. I have an interesting looking one on hand from Ali Brandon, Double Booked for Murder, and I think that’s what I am going to read next. My cozy reading is woefully less than what it should be, and I want to start making up for that lost time. After that, I’ll probably move on back to the books I need to read and one of my reading projects, whether it’s the Reread Project or the Diversity Project (I am thinking Mary Stewart’s The Moonspinners is way overdue for a reread), or even, perhaps, some Cornell Woolrich.

Woolrich is one of those pulpy writers from the mid-twentieth century who wrote a lot of books and short stories, but was also a miserable alcoholic and a gay man who lived with his mother most of his life. He wrote the story Hitchcock adapted as Rear Window, and wrote several other important noir-esque pulpy novels. I had started reading The Night Has a Thousand Eyes a few years ago, but got sidetracked by something else–probably reading for an award–and never got back to it, which is a shame; I greatly enjoyed it, and I find Woolrich to be an interesting character. I wish I had the time and the energy and the wherewithal to devote more to writing nonfiction; I think a biography of Woolrich would make for interesting reading (I also have always wanted to do one of John D. MacDonald, but again–would I ever have the time to read his–or Woolrich’s, for that matter–entire canon? Not entirely likely; maybe once I’ve retired from the day job and have days to fill with writing and reading and research); I am also curious because it seems most writers from that time period–including Faulkner, Hemingway, and Fitzgerald–all had drinking problems; as did Woolrich. I’m not surprised a gay man living in those times lapsed into alcoholism–it’s a wonder more gay men of my generation don’t have lingering addiction problems.

I’m still dealing with my creative ADD problem, alas; being aware that it’s going on and happening doesn’t make it easier to control. I just realized yesterday–as I was writing notes in my journal about another short story idea (“Die a Little Death”) that I’d also completely forgotten about “Never Kiss a Stranger”; which is still yet another long story (novella?) I am in process with, along with “Festival of the Redeemer,” and still another I’ve not pulled out and worked on in over a year. It’s absolutely insane how many works I currently have in some kind of progress, which means ninety-five percent of them will most likely never be finished or see print. (Well over a hundred short stories or novellas; I have at least four novel manuscripts in some sort of progress; and fragments of at least five other novels–and none of this is counting essays in progress, either…yeah, it’s unlikely that I will ever finish all of this. And still I persist. Just like I will never read all the novels I want to read, I will never finish writing everything I want to write. Sigh.)

All right, I’m going to go read for a little while before I brave the rain to go to the gym. Have a lovely Sunday, everyone.

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I Love Music

I’ve always supported women crime writers, and I’ve always read them. From the women who wrote the children’s mysteries for Scholastic (Mary C. Jane and Phyllis A. Whitney, to name two) through the Agatha Christie canon (which essentially includes every subgenre of mystery to come, from serial killers to cozies to spy novels to romantic suspense to Gothic to locked rooms to private eyes to amateur sleuths to unreliable narrators–you get the picture. An argument can be made that And Then There Were None was the original Friday the 13th; a group of people stranded somewhere being targeted by a killer, who goes through them all systematically), moving on eventually to Victoria Holt and Charlotte Armstrong and Dorothy Eden and Mary Stewart, who in turn were followed by Grafton, Paretsky, and Muller…terrific stories and series and stand alones by such terrific writers as Nancy Pickard, Lia Matera, S. J. Rozan, Laura Lippman…the list of women crime writers I love is insanely lengthy, and there isn’t any way that I could possibly, successfully, sit down and make a list of them all without forgetting so many, many others who don’t deserve to be forgotten or left off.

Women are currently some of the top writers in our field–Megan Abbott,  Alison Gaylin, Lori Rader-Day, Jamie Mason, Lisa Unger, Catriona McPherson, Wendy Corsi Staub, Carol Goodman, Gillian Flynn, Lori Roy, Alafair Burke…again, the list could go on forever and I would always manage to forget someone. There’s not, after all, enough time for me to ever read everything I want to read, and there’s fantastic new work being published all the time. And I am finding new to me writers all the time, that I greatly enjoy.

The reason I am even bringing this up is twofold; recently, there was an article in The Writer that acted like women crime writers essentially don’t exist (I don’t think, ultimately, the piece was mean-spirited or this was actually deliberate; the problem was the author of the piece used the angle that there were no women being written accurately, with nuance, in crime fiction today; she simply failed to qualify her thesis by adding by men. Had she done this, her piece–about how Lee Child and Paul Doiron have evolved and are now writing complex, believable women characters–probably would have been applauded rather than the subject of some outrage), and then, yesterday, Sisters in Crime president Sherry Harris wrote a blistering response to the almost non-stop mockage the cozy mysteries–which are kind of the backbone of our genre–are almost always subject to from the non-cozy writers in our genre.

I personally have never understood why some writers are so condescending and rude about any genre, to be honest. Romance novels aren’t for me, really, but I certainly am not contemptuous of romance novels, or the genre as a whole. Writing, and getting published, and maintaining a career as a writer, is fucking hard; I would daresay that writing romance novels would be incredibly difficult. There are the constraints of the formula and the required HEA (happily ever after) ending; you try to make a formula fresh and new and interesting to readers who read dozens of novels a year and are looking for something fresh, that will move them, will keep them reading, and leave them wanting more of your work.

I’ll wait.

Yeah, that’s what I thought.

I hear cozies dismissed and not taken seriously all the time. ALL. THE. TIME. And I don’t understand it. Sure, there are terrible cozies. There are also terrible noirs, terrible private eye novels, terrible police procedurals, terrible psychological thrillers, etc.; not every book in every style of mystery–or writing, for that matter–is good, and not every one is bad. And cozies are, quite frankly, incredibly hard to write. They have to be light, they have to be funny (and no matter how easy it looks–writing funny is fucking hard), and there have to be a lot of suspects and clues and red herrings and so forth. Cozies are also often stories about communities–whether it’s the people who work at a spice shop in Seattle’s Pike Place Market (Leslie Budewitz) or the extended friends-and-family of the Langslow clan in Caerphilly, Virginia (Donna Andrews) or those who live in an art deco Fort Lauderdale apartment complex that used to be a motel (Elaine Viets)–and again, this is incredibly difficult to do, let alone do every goddamned year, managing to keep the stories and characters fresh and new, as well as juggling the need for a plot against the need to include the regular cast members the readers have come to love over the years.

For example, there are characters in the Scotty universe that have kind of dropped away as the years and the series have progressed; every time I write a new Scotty I think, I really need to include David in here somehow and yet it never seems to work. (David was Scotty’s best friend in the first three books; a character I genuinely liked and loved writing about…but in the after-Katrina books, having to juggle Scotty’s two partners and his family grew ever more difficult and David just kind of fell to the wayside.)

I digress.

I always say that cozies aren’t given the respect they deserve for the same reason romance novels aren’t, either; they are seen as books by women about women for women, and therefore couldn’t possibly be as important as the testosterone driven he-man crime novels men write. Even the non-cozy crime novels written by women don’t get the same respect as those by men–its the reason why Sisters in Crime exists, the Malice Domestic conference, and the Agatha Awards.

And let’s face it. Scotty might be a licensed private eye, but his adventures are more cozy than hard-boiled.

And on that note, tis back to the spice mines.

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Hollywood Nights

I used to be obsessed with Hollywood when I was younger.

That should have been the tip-off to my family, right? My obsession with old films, the Oscars, and superstar actresses of the past? I lived for awards season; read tons of books about Hollywood history and the making of movies and biographies/memoirs of stars; I read People and Us magazines (Us was a biweekly years ago). I wrote about movie stars in Murder in the Rue Ursulines, and my first Phyllis A. Whitney novel that wasn’t a y/a that I read, about a haunted Hollywood legend (Listen for the Whisperer) remains my favorite of hers to this day. I’m not sure when I stopped being interested in celebrities and gossip about them, and the entertainment industry; but while the interest has somewhat waned (I often skip the Oscars now), I do still enjoy reading fiction set in or around the industry.

So, it’s strange that it took me so long–and that it also took the Diversity Project–for me to finally sit down with Kellye Garrett’s terrific debut novel, Hollywood Homicide.

hollywood homicide

He stared at my resume like it was an SAT question. One of the hard ones where you just bubbled in C and kept it moving. After a minute–I counted, since there was nothing else to do–he finally looked up and smiled. “So, Dayna Anderson…”

He got my name right. The interview was off to a pretty good start. “So what in your previous experience would make you a good fit for this position?”

He smiled again, this time readjusting the Joey, Manager, Ask me about our large jugs! name tage that was prominently placed on his uniform. Since I was sitting in the Twin Peaks coffee shop interviewing to be a bikini barista, said uniform happened to be a Speedo. I pegged him for twenty-two, tops. And it wasn’t just because he didn’t have a centimeter of hair anywhere on his body. I made a mental note to get the name of his waxer.

And so opens Kellye Garrett’s terrific debut novel, which I hope is the first of a long series I will be able to continue to enjoy over the years (the second, Hollywood Ending, was published last year before the publisher, Midnight Ink, announced that it was shutting down, thus orphaning many a terrific crime writer: SOMEONE ELSE NEEDS TO PICK UP THIS SERIES).

Dayna, our main character, is a retired actress with no source of income and running out of cash pretty darned quick. To compound her financial problems (spoiler: she doesn’t get the bikini barista job) her parents are underwater on their house payments and she needs to come up some cash to prevent them from being evicted. One night while out on the town with friends they are almost hit by another car…and as they continue driving, find out that someone has been killed by a hit-and-run driver. As the financial woes continue to compound, Dayna decides to solve the crime in order to win the offered reward  and bail her parents out.

Far-fetched? Maybe. But it’s not the worst premise for an investigation for the first book in a series where the main character is not a professional investigator (cop, PI, reporter, lawyer), and it’s actually much more of a clever take than the standard trope of “stumbling over a dead body/I have to solve this crime because everyone thinks I’m the killer,” which most authors use* (holds up hand–GUILTY AS CHARGED).

And the supporting cast is as interesting and fun as Dayna herself; we don’t get a lot of background on any of them, really–Garrett is guilty of playing her cards close to her vest, as it were–which gives her the opportunity to delve into them all more deeply in the future volumes I hope are coming for us all. The plot twists and turns and winds up very very far from the hit-and-run accident the book opens with…and every step of the way I was rooting for Dayna. She’s likable, has a great sense of humor (not only is she funny but she also has a sense of humor about herself, and about Hollywood as well), and then there’s that love interest–a friend from back home who is just now breaking big on television.

SO MUCH FUN.

COnstant Reader, get thee hither to the book merchant with credit or debit card in hand.

*This isn’t a bad thing, by the way–most authors who do use this trope are incredibly creative and smart in how they use it; the point I am making is I greatly appreciated the originality of Kellye’s methodology of getting her amateur sleuth involved.

A Different Corner

Very tired today; a late night of bar testing got me home late last night, and so my sleep–always an issue–was not good last night. The end result is that I am very foggy and tired today, with a lot of spice to mine.

Heavy heaving sigh.

But I am very pleased to report that I finished reading Nadine Nettman’s Uncorking a Lie last night, and might I add that my Bouchercon homework is ever so much more fun than any homework I’ve ever had previously in my life?

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PAIRING SUGGESTION:

CREMANT DE LOIRE–LOIRE VALLEY, FRANCE

A sparkling wine made primarily from the Chenin Blanc grape, ideal for beginnings.

When bottles of wine are sold for large amounts of money, they end up in the news. Sometimes it;s because the bottle was rare and other times the final price was noteworthy or even extreme. Yet the seller is never really emphasized in the articles. It’s always the buyer.

The buyer, who paid thousands and thousands of dollars for a bottle of wine, often with the notion to safely tuck it away in a cellar where it might not be moved again. I understand saving special bottles for long periods of time, but to know that a wine would never be released from the bottle, never get to live out its purpose of being enjoyed and savored, always gave me a tinge of sadness.

This time I knew the buyer well. Paul Rafferty was a longtime customer of Trentino and although he had an extensive collection of unique bottles kept safely in his wine cellar, he was also known for occasionally opening rare wines, sometimes at the restaurant where I had the honor of uncorking the bottle and releasing the story.

I never deny the fact that I am, for all intents and purposes, a peasant. There are a lot of things about manners and etiquette, for example, that I neither know nor understand. My family has very poor, rural Southern roots; it was in my parents’ generation that the cycle of poverty was broken and our family moved from blue-collar/working class to comfortably middle class. I am always worried I am committing some social faux pas because I simply don’t know any better; I simply stick to the basic manners of being polite when a guest but there’s always that niggling doubt in the back of my mind that I am going to do something that makes my host or hostess think to themselves oh yes, I always forget Greg is white trash. Smart, but still white trash.

Wine is one of the things I don’t understand or get; something I don’t know a lot about. I am always afraid to order wine with dinner or in a bar setting because I don’t know what I’m looking for; for many years I simply differentiated between wines as “red” or “white”; I still get thrown every once in a while by all the many different varieties that fall under each color–and then, of course, there’s rose. Sigh.

Uncorking a Lie is a terrific traditional mystery, in that the main character, through whose point-of-view we see the story, is not a professional investigator of any type but a sommelier at Trentino, a nice restaurant in San Francisco. Katie has recently passed her certification exam and is studying for her Master Sommelier certification. She is invited to a special dinner at Paul Rafferty’s mansion in Sonoma where he plans on opening and serving a bottle he bought at auction for nineteen thousand dollars; once the bottle is opened Katie realizes that the bottle is, actually, a counterfeit. She informs Paul’s assistant–and less than an hour later the assistant is dead. Paul asks her to get to the bottom of the counterfeit bottle of wine, and now we are off to the races.

This was a very fun read with a likable main character; and even though I don’t know much about wine, Nettman’s discussions about wine were not only not over my head, but made me even more interested in learning more about wine.

Look forward to reading more in this series!

How Am I Supposed To Live Without You?

I got up at five yesterday morning for the NO/AIDS Walk; which I worked for five hours. I also worked Saturday, so I gloriously have today off, and don’t have to go in until later tomorrow. I intend to go to the storage unit and retrieve some copies of the first two Scotty books, Bourbon Street Blues and Jackson Square Jazz, because I don’t have any copies in the Lost Apartment, and every once in a while people ask for copies, or I might be able to sell some, or something. In either case, it sucks not having copies on hand. I am a little worried they may be buried in the back of the unit, but I also need to start getting rid of the stuff stored in there anyway. I’m not going to get rid of it all, but obviously, there are things in there I don’t need to keep.

After I came home yesterday I was delighted to watch the Saints win, and we also finished watching Atypical, which is really a charming and funny show you can binge-watch on Netflix, and we also started watching Harlan Coben’s The Five, which is also very well done and interesting.

I also finished reading Linda Joffe Hull’s Eternally 21.

eternally 21

I didn’t think things could get much more for worse than the night my husband came home looking like his usual tall, dark, and handsome self but wearing a very unusual shade of  I’m-really-sorry-but-I-lost-everything-in-a-Ponzi-scheme. Suffice it to say, the news was shocking, distressing, mortifying, terrifying, and any number of other disaster-relating –ings. Given my husband happens to be Channel Three’s wealth-management guru, it was also potentially career ending.

After all, who would watch his show, Frank Finance, if Frank “Finance” Michaels was broke?

I needed to help make ends meet, but there was no out-of-the-way bar where I could cocktail waitress in guaranteed anonymity. Not one where I was sure my husband’s face wouldn’t appear on the corner TV. Beside, Frank had to let his personal assistant go, so I stepped in at a salary of hopefully we’ll be able to keep the house.

Under strict gag orders about our financial bind and obligated to keep up the appearance of what was suddenly our former lifestyle, I did was any resourceful, close to middle-age, stay-at-home mom with a computer would do–after I finished crying and had consumed all the Rocky Road, Doritos, and Girl Scout cookies in the house: Welcome to http://www.mrsfrugalicious.com, the website devoted to all things savings!

Four months had passed since I posted those words and I, Mrs. Frugalicious, AKA Mrs. Frank Finance, AKA Maddie Michaels–still felt a little thrill.

Okay, a big thrill.

In that remarkably skillful opening, Linda Joffe Hull sets up her series: Maddie Michaels is our erstwhile heroine; she runs a website devoted to tips saving money; and she explains not only who she is, but why she runs that website. This is also an incredibly, incredibly clever opening, and a mini-master class is defining character: because you see exactly how Maddie sees herself–she is a wife and mother and partner first and foremost, a person second. She even lists, towards the end there, how she sees herself, in order–Mrs. Frugalicious, Mrs. Frank Finance, Maddie Michaels. She herself doesn’t even realize how important being Mrs. Frugalicious is to her; it’s a career and persona she has created herself, by herself, for herself; her second most important identity is as the wife of a television personality, and lastly, herself. And as you turn each addictive page, the real story of Eternally 21 isn’t necessarily the murder mystery itself, but the story of a woman who has long subsumed herself in the identity of being supportive wife and loving mother, slowly coming to terms with, and accepting, her own power.

This isn’t to say that the murder mystery–a horrible store manager at the local mall Maddie frequents dies right in front of her–isn’t interesting and compelling, full of twists and turns, with some big surprises at the end I frankly didn’t see coming. It’s very deftly plotted, and of course, the most important part of any amateur sleuth novel is coming up with a believable way for the amateur to get involved in the case, and want to try to solve it.  And as she solves the mystery, struggles to keep her secret identity secret, continues to be the glue holding her family and household together, and pull off keeping her website going, it quickly becomes clear that Maddie Michaels is a force to be reckoned with. Maddie is someone the reader can identify with and root for, and her twin sons are also incredibly likable…and you begin to wonder why, precisely, she puts up with her narcissistic husband.

It’s a lot of fun. Published by Midnight Ink, an excellent press primarily focused on crime fiction–they also publish Jess Lourey and Catriona MacPherson’s terrific stand-alones and R. Jean Reid’s (J. M. Redmann’s pseudonym) new series–the book is compelling and a lot of fun; there are times when I smiled, others when I laughed out loud.

I do look forward to reading more in this series.

 

Always Something There To Remind Me

Monday morning.

I didn’t get as much done as I wanted to this weekend–do I ever?–and now it’s Monday morning. Ah, well, ’tis life, isn’t it? We have friends coming in this week–we’re having brunch Saturday at Commander’s–and I’m not sure what other opportunities we’ll have to see them this week.

I did manage to finish reading Donna Andrews’ latest, Gone Gull, over the course of the weekend, which was fun.

gone gull

“Wow, you could kill someone with that thing! Doesn’t that worry you?”

I counted to ten before looking up from the anvil, where I’d been about to start hammering on an iron rod. I’d only finished heating the iron to the perfect temperature for shaping it. If I was working in my own barn, I’d have ignored Victor Winter’s remarks.

But I wasn’t in my own barn. I was at the Biscuit Mountain Craft Center being paid–quite handsomely–to teach Blacksmithing 101. And however annoying I found Victor, he was a student. If ignored, he’d start muttering again about complaining to management. I didn’t want him doing that. Management was my grandmother Cordelia, owner of the center, and I didn’t think she needed the aggravation today.

So when I’d reached ten I put my hammer down, set the rod safely on the anvil, and pushed up my safety goggles. Then I smiled, and did what I could to turn his question into a teaching moment.

“Yes, Victor,” I began. “You could kill someone with this metal rod–even if it wasn’t heated to its present temperature of approximately a thousand degrees Fahrenheit.”

I love the Meg Langslow series, and eagerly await each new volume (there’s another one coming out in October, The Finch That Stole Christmas, huzzah! The Christmas ones–there are two already–are amongst my favorites).  Meg is, as you can guess from the above opening, a highly skilled and trained blacksmith; if I had any complaint to make about the series, it’s that Meg’s blacksmithing has taken a backseat to all of the many other things she somehow manages to do. This book is also not set in the small college town of Caerphilly, Virginia (I pronounce it carefully, because it makes me laugh), but rather in the Blue Ridge mountains, where Meg’s long lost grandmother (introduced in The Good, the Bad, and the Emus, another favorite) lives. (Although I do miss Caerphilly, but I am hopeful the October release will be set there.) Meg has an enormous family, a wry sense of humor, and is uber-organized, which is why she also ends up running so many, many things–almost all of which result in someone being murdered and Meg having to use her highly honed organization and deduction skills to catch a killer.

The premise of every  cozy series, of course, is that the main character manages to catch the killer before the police do; this is a very difficult thing to pull off, and Andrews does it every single time. The books are witty, and clever, and I don’t think I’ve ever even tried to figure out who the killer is, or solve the crime (which is something I tend to do whenever I read a crime novel) because I am enjoying the ride so much.

Gone Gull is a fine addition to a series that I hope Andrews never grows tired of writing, because I’ll keep buying and reading as long as she does.

Thank You for the Music

I have a late night of bar testing tonight, and as such got to sleep in a bit this morning, which was quite lovely. I am having lunch with a dear friend tomorrow (huzzah!), and I don’t really have any errands to run today before I go in to the office. I could, of course, run a few–there’s always something that needs to be done–but I can make a Costco run this weekend, as well as swing by the grocery store. I also have to pick up my license plate from the dealership, but I think I will also postpone that till next week. Plus I don’t have any deadlines, so I don’t have to worry about getting writing done this weekend so…yes, I can just run errands with a clear conscience this weekend and not worry about “when am I going to get my word count done?”

SO lovely, really. (And I may change my mind and run over to the dealership later today on the way to work….but it’s lovely having options.)

I do have some things around the house I need to get caught up–some cabinets need reorganizing and cleaning out; as do some of my kitchen drawers, and there’s always filing. Carnival is looming on the horizon; Krewe de Vieux is this weekend, and from all the reports I’ve heard and things I’ve seen on-line, with its theme of “The Crass Menagerie” they will be taking on the administration in Washington this year in their vulgar, hilarious and satiric fashion. I was reading some of the the descriptions of some of the floats and themes for the marching groups aloud to Paul last night and he replied, “So, when all of the pictures and videos go viral, the White House will declare war on New Orleans Sunday, won’t they?”

I replied, “I guess it depends on what Saturday Night Live does, really.”

I think, though, this morning I am just going to relax and ease into my late night. Drinking coffee, having some breakfast, and curling up in the easy chair with Lori Rader-Day’s Little Pretty Things does seem like just the right way for the day to get going, doesn’t it?

I’m also still a bit aglow from the weekend. It’s really so lovely to be around other writers and people who love books and love to read. It also recharges the batteries and feeds the creative muscles. Yesterday between clients I jotted down notes for a cozy mystery series I’ve been wanting to write for years, and could never quite wrap my mind around; oddly enough, after a weekend in Alabama I was able to get it all to click together in my head. Whether anything will come of it remains to be seen, but it was a lovely moment as all those clicks popped into place, you know? That’s always nice.

So, my chair and my book are calling to me, so I will leave you now, Constant Reader, with a hunk to get your day off to a great start.