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Showing posts from April, 2009

Sweating the Small Stuff

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My dear friend, Paula Matter, is giving me a day off from Working Stiffs, but I still encourage you to check it out. She’s offering sound advice for writing conference attendees and as a past conference coordinator several times over, she knows of what she speaks.

As for me, I’m into the final two weeks of this conference coordinator gig and I’m down to sweating the small stuff. Do we need to purchase another roll of raffle tickets? Do we have everyone’s meal choices in order? (Answer to that one: NO. Come on, folks. Either tell me whether you want chicken, fish or veggie or else you’ll have to eat what we put in front of you!)

One of my tasks for this week has been composing an acknowledgements page for the program. I started it on Monday, but haven’t yet sent it to Carol Silvis, who is putting the thing together. Why? I live in fear of leaving someone out. I have a wonderful team. Some have larger, more visible tasks than others. Some require a huge amount of thanks from me for remind…

Farms and Vacations

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Not long ago, one of the New York publishing professions coming to the Pennwriters Conference asked my advice about choosing a flight. I responded honestly that I am not the person to ask as you’d be hard pressed to find someone less traveled than I. For me, a big trip is making the three hour drive to Lake Erie and Presque Isle.

The reason for this can be traced back to my upbringing. I was born into a family of farmers. We had cows and chickens and dogs and cats to care for. Once a year, my mom would send my grandfather off to my uncle’s house for a week for a vacation. Only recently have I realized the vacation was hers. She was Grandpap’s caregiver just as I care for her now.

But we still had the animals to feed. We could never ALL leave at the same time.

This week, my friends, Mark and Sara, have taken their kids and gone on a family vacation to South Carolina. This is a big deal for them because they have a farm. They also have me, the friendly neighborhood crittersitter.

There are …

Under Control...or Not

Yesterday, for the first time in a year, I was caught up. Every item on the conference to-do list had been crossed off for the week. That’s not to say I’m ready or that there isn’t anything left to do. It just means that there isn’t anything else that needs to be finished THIS WEEK. I’m caught up on registrations. I’ve sent emails with questions to certain parties and am waiting for replies.

When stuff pops up, it doesn’t have to be shoved to the back burner while I focus on getting something else done first.

I admit it. I felt lost.

But not for long. Just because the conference is under control (or is “control” an illusion and a new, wicked disaster is lurking, about to fall on my head?) doesn’t mean the rest of my life is. There are still bills to pay, groceries to buy.

A book to write.

The book is making me gnash my teeth. I’m stuck. I know what happens next, but there seems to be a crevasse between the last scene and the next one…a period of time when things happen, but nothing that mo…

Working Stiffs Wednesday

As I continue to be up to my eyeballs in conference planning, what else am I supposed to blog about at Working Stiffs except--you guessed it--the conference. Today, I share my recent experience with meetings, meetings, meetings, and food, food, food.

Confessions of a Conference Coordinator

Four weeks from today, I will be a free woman. Oh, I’ll be dealing with the typical conference post-mortem. But by that point, there won’t be anything I can do about it other than pass the suggestions on to next year’s coordinator.

There is a certain degree of freedom in knowing that I will never do this again.

For the most part, everything is under control. Or so I thought. Under the category of the light at the end of the tunnel being a train, I’ve had this feeling that I was missing something. That at some point, someone would ask me if I’d done such-and-such and I’d slap myself on the forehead and swear.

Okay, it’s not THAT bad. But I have become aware that one area needs some immediate attention. Thankfully, there is still time.

I should warn everyone…for the next four weeks, most of my posts here are going to revolve around the conference. After all, I expect to be totally immersed in it, so there will be dreadfully little else to write about. I’ll try to focus on the humor to keep …

Spring has Sprung

According to the weather guy, the last time we had a day where temperatures reached the mid seventies was mid October. Six months. No wonder I’ve been crabby.

But today the sun is shining and I’ve broken out the short-sleeves from their winter hibernation. The neighbor is mowing his lawn. Yesterday, I washed my bedspread (sometime during the long winter, Skye had barfed on it) and hung it out to dry. I’d forgotten how much I enjoy the smell of anything dried in the spring air.

Someone should bottle April-fresh, line-dried laundry smell and fresh-cut grass aroma and sell it for perfume. I’d buy it.

The conference has kept me busy all week. Twenty-seven days until it begins. More importantly, twenty-nine until it’s over and I can once again be a full-time, productive writer. My characters are kicking around inside my head, demanding to be heard, and I’ve had to tell them to cool it for the last couple of weeks. They aren’t happy.

I think, however, that I may be in the midst of a brief (eye …

Working Stiffs Wednesday

I'm over at Working Stiffs today with my photo diary of last Thursday's memorial service for Pittsburgh's fallen heroes.

The Week in Review

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It’s been a hectic week. And I suspect there are several more hectic weeks in my near future. Thirty-four days until my conference coordinator duties are over. I was about to celebrate that fact until I realized what it means. No more putting off the unfinished portion of this week’s to-do list until NEXT week. There are only a very few “next” weeks left.

Panic attack!

Breathe. Breathe.

Okay, I’m better.

Here’s a summary of what I’ve been doing.

Last Tuesday, my Sisters in Crime chapter gathered at Mystery Lovers Bookshop along with a couple of book clubs to have dinner with author Harley Jane Kozak to celebrate the release of her latest novel, A Date You Can’t Refuse. It was nice to see Nancy Martin there, having climbed out of Deadline Hell.

As I mentioned on Wednesday’s Working Stiffs, I spent Thursday in Pittsburgh at the memorial service for the fallen heroes of Zone 5. I’ll post a photo documentation of the day THIS Wednesday on Working Stiffs. Suffice it to say it was exhausting and …

Pittsburgh's Darkest Hour

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I'm blogging at Working Stiffs today about my personal reflections on the police officers who lost their life Saturday morning in a quiet Pittsburgh neighborhood.

Life Sentences

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I can’t bring myself to write anything without first acknowledging the horrible events that took place in a quiet Pittsburgh neighborhood Saturday morning. Two police officers responding to a “routine domestic disturbance call” were gunned down as was a third officer coming to their aid. I will post more extensively about the shootings and how they touched me Wednesday on Working Stiffs.

For now and for here, let me report on a much more pleasant topic.

Friday evening, I battled the traffic (why must they tear up every single stretch of highway I must travel, all at the same time?) to head into Mystery Lovers Bookshop for Laura Lippman’s latest visit.


I am a HUGE fan of Laura’s writing. I want to write like her when I grow up. (Okay, okay, so she and I are the same age. Let’s not get picky.) But I confess, I’ve been known to keep a notebook at my side when I’m reading one of her books so I can jot down some of the wonderful word choices she uses.

What the Dead Know is one of my top all-ti…

The First Ride of Spring

Tuesday evening, I was wasting time on Facebook, having completed my day’s allotment of conference work and pages on my manuscript (like that’s the only time I spend on Facebook—yeah, right!) when my cell phone rang. My friend Sara called to ask what I was doing, was I busy, and had I noticed it was nice outside? Oh, and did I want to go riding?

I shut down my computer, changed into grungy jeans, grabbed a slice of cheese and a can of Slim Fast (since I hadn’t had supper yet), and jumped into my car. Five minutes later, Sara and I met in front of her barn.

We’ve both been itchy to get out on horseback. On the days we’ve had time, it’s been cold or raining. On sunny days, there’s always work to be done. Feeling conspiratorial and not at all guilty, we ignored all our usual evening duties (like fixing supper) and saddled up Admiral and Nikki for a ride.

We have no pictures. We were afraid that in the time it would take to secure a camera to the saddle, a husband might appear and suggest we…

Working Stiffs Wednesday

Over at Working Stiffs today, I'm contemplating my gratitude to teachers, especially one who made me learn something I didn't want to learn...at the time. Typing.

Thank you, Miss Tiano.