Showing posts from September, 2008

Coffee and Crime

Mystery Lovers Bookshop on occasion hold Coffee and Crime Breakfasts with visiting authors. I love to attend these even though I have to get up early to make the hour (or hour and a half if there’s traffic) drive to Oakmont. Usually my Saturday mornings are pretty tied up, so I was thrilled to learn that Alafair Burke was coming on a weekend that I was free.

I had “met” Alafair online before, but not in person. I’m ashamed to say that I have not read any of her books, although they’ve been on my to-be-bought list for a very long time.

Now I own two of them, her first, JUDGMENT CALLS and her current release, ANGEL’S TIP.

And I can say I’ve met her in person. We both arrived early, so I had a chance to chat with her before the crowds moved in. We’re both going to Bouchercon (9 days and counting!), so perhaps we’ll bump into each other again there.

After breakfast, Alafair gave a wonderful talk about growing up in a community with a serial killer on the loose (the BTK strangler) and how it m…


Somehow in the course of my hectic days, I’ve managed to write 106 pages of my shitty first draft.

It should be finished by now. Finished, polished, and shipped to my agent.

However, I am working on the conference. I am attending Pennwriters meetings. I am teaching yoga classes. I am taking Mom to doctors’ and dentists’ appointments or to shop for groceries.

Other small items on my to-do list: Organize the drawer full of receipts that has gotten way out of hand. Clean the house. Weed the flower bed. Pay bills.

Instead, what do I find myself doing? Playing on Facebook.

Just what I need. Yet another distraction. I already maintain a website (not really. I have a wonderful webmaster for that), a blog, a page at CrimeSpace. I contribute to the Working Stiffs blog and attempt to follow a few others. Keyword there: ATTEMPT.

So when I was invited to join Facebook, I should have deleted the email and never looked back. Instead, I’m hooked. I do turn down most offers to accept new applications (more…

Along for the Ride: Part 2

I'm over at Working Stiffs today with the second installment of my experience riding along with the Pittsburgh Police...including a link to video of what I ALMOST got to be a part of.

Countdown to Bouchercon-16 days

Sixteen days until I leave for Baltimore, Maryland and Bouchercon.

Not that I’m counting or anything.

I spent one night away from home this weekend as my friend Lisa Curry and I drove to Rustic (with a capital “R”) Brookville, PA for a Pennwriters Board of Directors Meeting. We make this trip once a year. This will likely be Lisa’s last since she is stepping down from her role as treasurer soon. The motel in Brookville is even more Rustic than the town. But Pennwriters foots the bill, so I don’t complain. Much.

I suspect the room I’ve reserved at the Lord Baltimore Radisson will be a little less Rustic and a little more luxurious. Actually, I’m counting on it.

This time, my traveling buddy will be Joyce Tremel. We’re both starving artist types so we’re sharing expenses.

I’m beginning to get excited about the event. I’ve signed up for the Sisters in Crime luncheon as well as a Ghost Tour of Fells Point. There is a huge temptation to try to do EVERYTHING. To get as much bang for my buck as I…

Stop and Smell the Coffee

Our electricity finally came back on yesterday afternoon.

Sometimes we get so busy that the universe slaps us along the head to make us slow down and smell the coffee. I’m grateful this time the slap was a power outage. In the past, it’s been an injury or illness.

During the outage, instead of eating in front of my computer, I started eating outside on the front porch swing. Instead of staring mindlessly at the TV, I read an entire book in just a couple of days. (MAD MOUSE by Chris Grabenstein…excellent!)

However, now that power is back on, I’ve reverted to my hectic life and then some. I’ve caught up on most of my email. I’ve submitted my reports to the Pennwriters Board of Directors for this weekend’s board meeting. I’ve printed copies of my Chapter Seven to take to my critique group meeting.

I signed up for an online mystery writing course. It started this week. So I’m behind on my homework before I even begin.

I may have an appreciation for the lesson of slowing down, but I’m afraid it…


I'm currently without electrical power at home. Our phone line is down, too. Or was. They were working on it when I left home this morning. I have little hope for getting power restored before tomorrow afternoon, if then. I'm in "marathon" mode. We are running our generator for water and to keep the freezer and refrigerator cold. We have the camper and its propane for hot water and the stove and oven. I feel like my life is held together by duct tape.

This is all because of the winds of Hurricane Ike that hit Pennsylvania Sunday night. Plus, we sent all our electric repairmen to Texas to help down there. I'm not begrudging those poor folks a bit. But could we have a few repair guys back?

I'm sitting in a dentist office waiting room, catching a stray wi-fi signal. So until we get our power (and Internet) back up and running OR until my next trip to town, you won't be hearig from me.

Hey, at least our houses and windows survived. We're in better shape tha…

Job Requirements for the Writer

The first thing you must have if you are planning on becoming a writer is at least one alternate source of income. And health insurance. The second thing you must have is a thick skin with regards to rejection.

The reason for both of these requirements is the same. You get published very little compared to your submissions. And when you do get published, it doesn’t necessarily pay much or anything.

The third job requirement is a love of writing. If you don’t love it, you won’t be in this business very long.

I’ve had a depressingly long dry spell. Not writing-wise. Publishing-wise. I hit the 100 word mark this week in my first draft of the new novel. I did a little dance of joy and celebration. The words are coming easier now that I know who the characters are, what motivates them, as well as where the story is going.

However, it has been two years (give or take) since my last publication. Longer since I received the acceptance letter for those stories. I did have one acceptance during …

Doing Double Duty

I'm pulling double duty today. Double blog duty, that is. It's Wednesday, so I'm over at Working Stiffs. Today I blog about my ride-along with the Pittsburgh Police last Friday.

Also, my friend and critique buddy, Donnell Ann Bell invited me to guest blog on the Five Scribes. Over there, I write about Yoga, Mediation, and Murder and how my two careers converge.

Please pop over to both blogs and join the fun.

Partying and Walking

Friday night was a bit of a family reunion. My Sisters in Crime family, that is. The publication of Rebecca Drake’s third thriller, A Dead Place, was celebrated at Mystery Lovers Bookshop with a gathering of “Siblings” including a number of long-lost “Sisters.”

Nancy Martin was there, back on two feet again. New mom Kristine Coblitz took advantage of a Get Out of Jail Free card to come mingle. Meryl Neiman brought her kids. A lot of our regular gang was there, too: President Martha Reed, Lila Shaara, Tory Butterworth, Sandy Stephen, Mike Crawmer, Gina Sestak, my Pennwriters roomie, Brenda Roger, as well as my future Bouchercon roomie, Joyce Tremel.

Here’s a picture of Mary Alice Gorman introducing Rebecca:

And here’s a shot of some of the Sisters chatting:

Saturday morning, I had to be up and out before dawn for a 5K walk benefiting the Montour Trail. I figured A.) it would be a good thing to support the trail since we use it so much and B.) it would be a good practice in preparation fo…

Vacation Pictures

We didn’t spend our entire vacation in the camper with Skye. During her extended catnaps, we hit the trails of Presque Isle. Most of the really great pictures remain only in my mind because I wasn’t quick enough. I missed the small flock of young turkeys that crossed our path. I missed the tiny pine squirrel carrying a walnut that was half again as big as he was. I just hope that wasn’t some sign of how severe our winter is going to be.

We took the free pontoon boat ride, as we do every year. Even with my camera in hand, I missed the swimming squirrel. It cruised along the base of one of the steel piers. I spotted it, but didn’t realize what I was looking at until it climbed the pier and, soggy bushy tail and all, bolted into the weeds.

However, I did get some photos. The turtles sunning on a log hung around long enough for me to fire off several shots of them.

This is the Perry Monument from Misery Bay.

Later, we took a side trip on the bikes to look at the houseboat village.

But the high…

Working Stiffs Wednesday

I’m over at Working Stiffs today with all the low-down on the 2009 Pennwriters Conference.

Camping Kitty: Part Four

Skye has graduated to full-fledged camping kitty.

The trip to Erie wasn’t without incident. We made in about five miles down the road before we realized that we had no trailer brakes. We turned around and came back to our beloved mechanic’s garage. Skye and I moved from the truck cab to the camper while the guys worked on the truck, hitch, and trailer to isolate the problem. I sat and read the newspaper while Skye prowled the camper and puzzled over where her house went. At home, when she looked out the camper door, she could see our house. Now there was a sidewalk, a garage…and a dog. Not good.

Also, not my idea of camping. And at that point, I was pretty convinced it was as close as we were going to get.

Then Skye and I were evicted so the guys could take the rig for a test ride. With Skye in her carrier, I moved inside the mechanic’s “lounge.” We sat and watched TV.

Through it all, Skye was remarkably well behaved.

Finally, we got the all-clear and climbed back into the truck with th…