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Showing posts from April, 2008

Vacation Countdown

Six days until we leave for Williamburg. I am soooo looking forward to this vacation. For me getting away usually comes in one of two forms: camping which includes the uncomfortable bed in our tag-along trailer and cooking and washing dishes. OR a hotel at some sort of writing or yoga event. Nice, but a working vacation is still work.

So the idea of staying in a hotel, eating out, and just having fun has a lot of appeal at the moment.

I know myself too well, though. I know that by this weekend I’ll be dealing with homesickness. I’ve written about that phenomenon here before: I get homesick BEFORE I leave home. Not so much WHILE I’m gone. But I dread leaving my kitty. When we had Sammie, I knew all about her separation anxiety and I suffered from it, too. Now I have Skye who came to me from a shelter after being abandoned and who has bonded to me as if with Superglue. I suspect she’s going to be traumatized by my absence. Never mind that I have arranged for my friend, Sara, to come and …

Biking and Reading

Hubby and I took advantage of the beautiful spring weather to head to Ohiopyle yesterday for a bike ride.

I am one of those people who ALWAYS complain about the weather. It’s either too cold or too hot or too something. But I’ve had nothing to complain about this spring. We’ve had some exquisite weather and yesterday was pretty close to perfect for biking on the Great Allegheny Passage.

On our way home, we stopped at Panera Bread in Uniontown for a meeting of the newest Pennwriters’ group. It was a nice casual afternoon of chatting with writers in various phases of their careers, from beginners to published and everywhere in between.

Which brings me to today. So much for the exquisite spring weather. Today, it’s cold and gray and rainy. Just in time for the Festival of Mystery. I suppose on the upside, it’s good weather to come inside and visit with the authors and buy books. I have a wad of cash saved up for the occasion. Granted, my to-be-read shelf overfloweth already, but one can …

Odds and Ends

I’ve been sitting here trying to decide what to write about today. There’s been a little of this going on and a little of that. Enough to keep me hopping, but no one thing really jumps out as a blog topic. So I thought I’d give you a sampling of everything.

I met with my critique group yesterday and they gave the thumbs-up to my re-write of Chapter One. So except for a few minor fixes, I can focus on tinkering with Chapter Two now. My goal, by the way, is to have the first three chapters done before we leave for Williamsburg.

Mom is doing well. We go back to the surgeon for another post-op check on Tuesday and he will likely once again give her the go-ahead to use her cane. I confess to being a little gun shy about this. Last time he OK’d her using the cane, one week later, she dislocated again. Of course, things are different this time. Or at least I keep telling myself that.

My recovery from gum graft surgery went much easier this time around. I was feeling better after a week instead…

Working Stiffs gone to the dogs

I'm over at Working Stiffs today with my weekly report on Citizens' Police Academy. (Whatever am I going to write about when CPA is over???) This week, we watched the police canine trainees in action. Come on over and read about it.

Reliving my Childhood

My earliest childhood memories are of life on my grandparents’ farm. There were cows and pigs and chickens. Gradually, as my grandparents got older and started getting out of the farming business, the pigs disappeared. The cattle no longer belonged to my family. Instead, we leased the pasture to neighbors who grazed their cattle on it. The chickens stayed. I remember feeding them and gathering eggs well into my adolescence.

I loved the farm, but there were a few things I did not enjoy so much. Such as being “attacked” by the chickens. In actuality, I was late doing my chores and the hens were simply flying out of their roosts toward me as I entered the chicken coop with their dinner. But the dust and feathers and the smell stuck with me.

I also have less than pleasant memories of being awakened early in the morning to my mother’s shouts of “the cows are out.” They may not have been our cows, but we still had to herd them back. In case you don’t know anything about cattle, let me just c…

Intentional Outtakes

I spent several hours yesterday writing stuff that no one will ever read.

Considering that I have two manuscripts collecting rejection slips in New York it could be argued that I spend ALL my time writing stuff that no one will ever read, but I don’t want to go there.

Let me put it differently. Even my critique groups and first readers won’t read the pages I wrote yesterday. They’re for my eyes only.

Monday and Tuesday, I worked on Chapters One and Two and reached the point where the body has been discovered. So now I need to know what exactly my detectives find. What condition is the body in? Why is it found where it is? What evidence is on and around the body?

The only way I can know that is to write the murder scene. It’s a scene that happens OFF camera. I know who committed the murder and why, but I didn’t know the circumstances. After three hours of writing about the events leading up to the murder as well as the act itself, I do now.

Today, I need to work on the timeline of when t…

Wednesdays at Working Stiffs

I am up to Chapter two of the new book. The body has been discovered. Now I’m stuck on a small detail. How did the victim die? I know who did it and why. I just don’t know how. So my goal for this morning is to brainstorm and figure this out. It may turn out to be another case of writing a scene that never makes it into the book, just so I know what went on off camera.

Regarding my gum surgery, I woke up this morning with a very sore mouth, but the nerves seem to have settled down a bit now. I get my stitches out Friday. Thank heavens. They’re driving me nuts. But it’s a very short drive.

Come on over to Working Stiffs. It’s Wednesday, which means it’s my day to blog over there about my experience at this week’s Citizens’ Police Academy. We had the guys come in from the SWAT team and it was really cool. I got to handle a Bushmaster M-4 assault rifle. Very cool.

Recovery Weekend

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I have survived yet another gum graft surgery. This time has gone easier than last time, so far. I qualify that with the memory that last time I felt worse on days four and five than I did on days one, two, and three. And I haven’t tried to eat anything yet this morning. Perhaps knocking on wood is in order.

I’ve been steadfastly following doctor’s orders to take it easy. Friday I slept most of the day. When I wasn’t sleeping, I was reading. I finished Nancy Martin’s MURDER MELTS IN YOUR MOUTH. While it wasn’t quite as funny as Nancy’s previous Blackbird Sisters Mysteries, the complications came so fast and furious that I hardly missed the humor. Now the big question remains WILL THERE BE AN EIGHTH BLACKBIRD SISTER MYSTERY? She did wrap up the ending rather neatly…

On Saturday, I did some laundry between napping and reading. I breezed through John J. Lamb’s THE CRAFTY TEDDY in that one day. John’s Teddy Bear Collector’s Mysteries are what I’d have to call cozy police procedurals with a…

Pre Gum Graft Binge

The good thing about an appendectomy is that once you have one, you never have to have another one. The good thing about a gum graft is…well…there isn’t any.

I had one last year. It was nasty. And it was only the first of seven (or more) that I will need over the next few years. Tomorrow, I will be having my second one.

I’ve noticed that this blog gets a fair amount of hits from people Googling information on gum grafts. So if you’re reading this because you’re hoping to find out how bad they are or that they aren’t as bad as you’ve been led to believe, let me just tell you THEY’RE WORSE.

I won’t go into graphic detail. Suffice it to say, I will be spending the weekend stoned on Vicodin.

But I’m trying to make the best of it. Since I won’t be eating much for the next week or two (my refrigerator is stocked with tapioca and cottage cheese), I’m spending today binging. I had pizza for supper last night and finished the last of it today for lunch. As I write this, I’m savoring a Sarris Pe…

Citizens' Police Academy: Drivers Test!

Are you a good driver? Do you know the rules of the road? Today over at Working Stiffs, I report on Week #7 of my Citizens' Police Academy experience and offer a quiz on driving laws we should all know. How good a driver are you? Come over and take the quiz. It might just be an enlightening experience.

Firearms 101

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Yesterday, after months of preparation, I played host for Pennwriters’ Firearms 101 for Writers Workshop. The workshop was a joint effort between Pennwriters’ Area 3, of which I am the representative, and Area 1, which is represented by Catherine McLean. Catherine took care of all the sweet treats and hot beverages, budgeting and registration. I took care of the presenters, lunch orders, and bottled water. And I delegated the presenters portion of the assignment to my hubby.

For the last few months, I’ve been watching him prepare for his own presentation at the workshop. He built an atlatl and ordered darts (spears) for it. He borrowed swords from his sister and brother-in-law. He read and made notes of historical interest. I’ve never seen him study so hard.

The workshop’s first presenter was 79 year-old Max Kremin, who I suspect may become the basis for several characters in several novels in the not-so-distant future. I also suspect he’s already been used in that status previously, …

Laura Lippman and the Invisible Woman

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Last night Laura Lippman made her annual excursion to Mystery Lovers Bookshop in Oakmont PA. And, for the third year in row, I attended.

Anytime someone asks me who my favorite author is I can fire off the top two with no problem. The rest of the list may vary from month to month, but my top two favorites are ALWAYS Laura Lippman and Lisa Scottoline. I refuse to rate them first and second. It’s just too close to call.

Laura’s new book Another Thing to Fall is her tenth Tess Monaghan novel. During her talk, she discussed invisible people. In her stand alone What the Dead Know from last year, the story revolved around a character who had intentionally disappeared and stayed invisible for years. The cop investigating the case was amazed at how easy it had been for her. In Another Thing to Fall, one of the characters is a sixty year-old woman taking Tess’s class on private investigation who can do a stake out right in front of the subject being watched and not be seen. She can tail anyone…

The Mystery of Yoga

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I’ve always felt that my “day job” of teaching yoga (which actually happens in the evening) and my mystery writing career are diametrically opposed. But I’m finding a common bond between them. Last night as I was teaching my class, I heard myself describing the pose. I had to paint a picture with my words to communicate how I wanted the students to place their hands, extend their spines, rotate the ribcage, etc. I was in the pose at the time and expressing all the little nuances of sensation. That’s when it occurred to me that I do the same thing with my writing. Only instead of being inside my own body, sharing the experience, when I’m writing, I’m in the character’s body. Or head.

I’ve also noticed that my writing brain has seeped into my class planning. I have started looking at planning a class like plotting a novel. Opening, middle, end. I plant clues of what’s to come. I build the suspense. I try to have everything come together at the end of the class and make sense. For example…

CrimeSpace

As if I needed one more distraction to keep me from writing (or exercising), I have just set up a page on CrimeSpace. It’s pretty sparse as it’s definitely a work in progress, but I managed to come up with a photo to use on it until I can get something better. Hubby suggested I use one that was taken close to 30 years ago, but we both agreed anybody who saw me now would immediately say, “Boy, she looks BAD.”

Anyhow, I decided to add the picture here, too.

Anyhow, I’m over at Working Stiffs again today with my weekly report from Citizens’ Police Academy. Come over and check it out.

2008 Derringer Nominees

I didn’t make the list this year (sigh), but I’m thrilled by some of the names who did. Here are the nominees for the 2008 Derringer Awards:

The nominees for Best Story 0 to 1000 words are:

--Keri Clark, "Saved" (Mysterical-E, Fall 2007)
--BV Lawson, "Dreaming of a Spite Christmas" (Mouth Full of Bullets, Winter 2007)
--Jillian Berg, "A Woman Scorned" (Mouth Full of Bullets, Autumn 2007)
--Keri Clark, "Your New Fan" (Mouth Full of Bullets, Winter 2007)
--Patricia Abbott, "My Hero" (D Z Allen's Muzzle Flash, 2007)

The nominees for Best Story 1001 to 4000 words are:

--Beverle Graves Myers, "Brimstone P.I." (Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine, May 2007)
--Hugh Lessig, "We All Come From Splattertown" (Thuglit, Issue 17, July 2007)
--Rick Noetzel, "Joyride" (Shred of Evidence, Dec., 2007)
--Jack Hardway, "Handful of Stars" (Mouth Full of Bullets, Issue 5, Autumn 2007)
--John Weagly, "In the Shadows of Wri…