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Showing posts from March, 2007

Musings on a Thursday

One more chapter to go! The excitement in my novel is all over. The body count has maxxed out. I just need one last short scene to wrap things up. And hopefully set things up for a third novel. I plan on typing those two wonderful little words (THE END) tomorrow afternoon.

Of course, that’s if I’m not stoned out of my gourd on pain meds. You see, tomorrow morning I get the first of my gum grafts. I’m thrilled beyond words. The surgeon advised me to eat a big breakfast before I come in. Usually, they tell you nothing by mouth after midnight. But I’m only getting Novocain, not a general anesthetic. And I suspect he’s hinting at something. Like maybe I won’t be eating much for the next several days. I may want to lose a pound or two (or fifteen), but fasts make me grouchy. Pain doesn’t help either. You’ve been warned. If you see me coming your way over the next few days, cross to the other side of the street.

Nevertheless, I’m planning on attending Laura Lippman’s booksigning on Sunday at

Patty's Awake!

I have dreamt about posting this entry. And, frankly, in my low moments I feared I never would. But Patty is awake! And counting. And talking. She asked where John was. That part is heartbreaking, but I'm so happy she knows who everyone is. Obviously, we're not telling her the whole truth just yet. There will be time enough for the cold hard reality. For now, we're just...well, Patty's daughter-in-law summed it up well. She said, "We're over the moon." Yep, that pretty much describes it.

Why Don't She Write?

One of my favorite actors, the late Robert Pastorelli (you may remember him as Eldin in Murphy Brown) uttered a line in the film Dances With Wolves that could be asked of a lot of us. As Timmons, the foulest man on earth according to Kevin Costner’s character, he asked, “Why don’t she write?”

Lately, I’ve become aware of a lot of writers and aspiring writers of whom I could ask the same question. One of them gave me an answer recently. She told me she was a perfectionist and nothing she wrote ever met her own expectations. So she became afraid to try.

What she didn’t realize is that all writers live with the fear of writing crap. I know I do. But I’m on page 297 of my first draft. How did I get that far? By acknowledging that most of what I put down right now is going to be crap. And by knowing that there will be a second and third draft in which to fix it! Ah hah!

I’ve always envied those people who can come up with the snappy retort, the clever turn of a phrase at the drop of a hat. Me…

Update-March 20, 2007

Just checking in to report that there isn’t much to report. Patty has been moved out of the neurological ICU and will be discharged to a nursing facility soon, so the kids are trying to make arrangements and find a facility that can handle a case like hers. Otherwise, there has been no change in her condition.

Word Watchers Challenge-March 2007

Two weeks ago I intended on launching another Word Watchers Challenge. Well, we all know how that went. But I’m nothing if not determined. My goal for that month-long challenge was going to be FINISH MY FIRST DRAFT.

You know what? I’m going for it anyway. So to my writing friends out there who are spending more time coming up for reasons not to write than actually writing OR if you need an extra kick in the derriere to meet your goals, here we go.

This is how it works. Set your goal. If you really want to be serious about it, post your goal as a comment. That way the rest of us will hold you accountable. And cheer you on. And cry with you when you don’t meet your goal. And celebrate when you do. I’m setting a deadline of April 2. That’s only two weeks, so don’t overestimate what you can accomplish. Be realistic, but choose something that makes you buckle down and work.

Let me point out that it is not my intention to add stress to your otherwise overwhelmed lives. This is simply a tool to…

Updates all around

About the time we’re ready (MORE than ready) for spring, we get a serious blast of winter. Yesterday rain turned to sleet, then to snow making travel difficult and in places, impossible. One such place was Philadelphia, home of Lisa Scottoline who was stuck at the airport and did not make it to Mystery Lovers Bookshop last night. We knew in advance, so I stayed home and read instead of venturing out into Pittsburgh’s traditional St. Patrick’s Day blizzard. The event has been rescheduled for Friday, April 13. Yes, Friday the thirteenth. Subject for a future blog.

My cousin, Patty remains in a coma. After multiple surgeries, her body has been pieced back together again, a feat that all the king’s horses and all the kings’ men could only dream about. The doctors have made assurances that she will not be a vegetable, but it’s likely that she will have to re-learn everything. And it may be months, maybe a year before we really know the extent of her brain injury.

I do have better news to rep…

New Novels and Sleep Deprivation

Some writers I know tell me they can’t read fiction while they’re writing it. They feel it affects their voice. I sort of understand this. There are certain authors I can’t read while I’m in the middle of writing either. Tom Robbins is one. I love his quirky, off-beat style, but it does leech into my own and creates a mess at re-write time. So I save his stuff for the gaps between writing my own books. Janet Evanovich is another. It’s like when I’m around someone with a southern accent…I don’t mean to, but I start talking that way, too. Well, my protagonist starts talking with Stephanie Plum’s accent when I read Janet while working.

But there are oh-so-many wonderful books and authors out there that serve to feed my strengths when I read them. Three of my absolute favorites have new books out now. I already have my signed copy of Nancy Martin’s A Crazy Little Thing Called Death although I missed her launch party this year. It fell on a night I’m currently teaching yoga. Nancy has been …

Slow Progress

I imagine some of you are sick of hearing about my family. I don’t blame you. My life has developed into a melodrama. But I have family and friends from out of town who check in here to keep tabs on my cousin’s progress. So here’s the plan:

Today I’m posting an update on Patty. Later in the week, I’ll be back to posting about writing or whatever (that’s why I call it “Writing, etc.”). I will then continue to post twice a week, as always, on the usual assortment of “stuff” PLUS I will throw in updates as they occur. Hopefully that will keep everyone informed without my blog turning into a family bulletin board.

Besides, I need to write about something other than tragedy for sanity sake.

Okay, as promised, here is what’s new about Patty.

I took my mom into the hospital this afternoon to see her. This was my second visit with her and Mom’s first. I was a little concerned about how my mom would react, but she was fine. After the initial “shock” of seeing my always-on-the-go cousin confined t…

I ain't afraid of no stinking gum graft

I have to have a gum graft. You have no idea how the prospect of this dandy little surgery thrills me.

If you’re wondering what exactly a gum graft is…well, my gums are receding, exposing the roots. A surgeon will take gum tissue from somewhere in my mouth and sew it over the exposed roots. And if I’m very lucky, it will take.

I had this done years and years ago. The memories of the discomfort have not faded. That one “took” minimally. But now I have to have it done on a different part of my mouth “before it’s too late to save the teeth,” according to my dentist.

I wore braces for four years and suffered through another six years of appliances. After all that, I’d do just about anything to save my teeth. But honestly, the decision—lose my teeth or get a gum graft—gave me pause. I had to think about it. THAT’S how bad this surgery is.

Of course, life has ways of putting things in perspective. In the midst of my whining and moaning about a little dental work, the car crash happened to m…

An Expression of Love Too Late

Too often we go through life with no inkling of the people we’ve touched or the love we inspire from others.

A lot of people loved John Boni.

I spent Thursday at the funeral home watching people pass through, paying their respects to my cousin/neighbor/friend. That evening, the line wound through two rooms in the building, out the front door and down the steps. Someone commented that the entire town was there. I’d say, more like the entire county with some traveling from other areas as well.

Yesterday, we buried John. And when I say “we” I mean one of the biggest gatherings of friends and family I’ve seen. And sadly I’ve seen way too many funerals. Two rooms in the funeral home were filled to capacity with overflow mourners standing in the back of the rooms and in the hallway. John’s son gave a heart-rendering eulogy.

I tried for the sake of my make up to control my tears, but that effort failed two minutes into the service. It was a day of outwardly showing emotion. Appearances be dam…

Too Close to Home

Not a whole lot has changed in my cousin’s condition. She remains unconscious, but responsive to pain stimuli. This is good. She survived a marathon surgery yesterday to repair a small portion of the damage incurred in the crash. Also good. The doctors are optimistic. Very good.

The funeral for her husband is tomorrow and visitation at the funeral home is today. Going through this with my dad just a little over a month ago was hard, but this is going to be excruciating. At least Dad had lived a long full life. John’s was snuffed out much too soon.

I’m becoming something of an expert on writing through crisis. Or sometimes NOT writing through crisis. My daily page count has dropped considerably, but I’m pleased that I’m getting a page or even a paragraph written in stolen moments.

Ordinarily my writing would be an escape…a different world than what my current situation is. But there is something bizarre going on. Last week, before the wreck, I wrote a scene in which my protagonist’s be…

A Family Tragedy

I received a rude and tragic reminder this weekend of how short life can be and how suddenly loved ones can be snatched from us.

I returned home Sunday from a overnight trip to Brookville PA where I attended a Pennwriters Board of Directors meeting to find my husband waiting for me with the news that my cousins had been in a traffic accident.

My cousin Patty was raised by my mom and dad from the age of six months to the age of six years. She is more like a big sister to me than a cousin. We used to play house. She introduced me to rock music and taught me how to do the Twist when I was a little tyke. Plus she and her husband John have lived next door to us for 30 years. John helped build our house. He did all the remodeling jobs on our house and my mom’s house. He used his Bobcat to plow our driveways and I paid him in banana bread. He had a quick and easy laugh.

John was pronounced dead at the scene. Patty was airlifted to a major hospital in Pittsburgh where she is in critical condi…

Jail Birds

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Last night I joined a small group of my fellow Sisters in Crime for a tour of a local police department. This is something I’ve wanted to do for years. For one thing, we all know the police departments on TV are fiction. For another, they’re all big cities. Las Vegas, New York, Miami, San Francisco... This was Shaler Township, outside of Pittsburgh. The real thing.

I’ve taken online courses in Forensics, so I was familiar with the nuts and bolts. But actually seeing a fingerprint lifted was fascinating. And strangely, what interested me almost as much was the nylon canvas bag the detective used to carry his evidence collecting supplies. Not the big black box you see on CSI. More like something you might carry to the gym. Except for the Latex gloves hanging out of the pockets, of course.

We got to see the evidence lockers and some of the stuff headed for court to convict a foolish burglar. What kind of stuff? A chest freezer. Used to tote away other goodies. Unfortunately for the burglar…