Tuesday, January 17, 2012

A boy and a dog and thoughts on book clubs

I'm particularly proud of this picture because seven months ago Jacob was scared of Scooby--who is the sweetest dog in the world. But Sophie came into our lives, jumping and nipping with puppy teeth, and Jacob somehow decided Scooby was safer. Now he lies down on the floor with either of them. Sophie climbs all over him, licking, and he just giggles. I was afraid of dogs when I was very young--my parents mistakenly told me a Scottie snapped at me when I was an infant. But then my brother brought home a sweet but wild collie mix named Timmy (female). I loved that dog and have loved so many dogs since--and grieved over more than I care to count. I can't imagine living without a dog. My other grandchildren are comfortable with dogs, ranging from strong affection to mild interest, and I wanted Jacob to be a dog person.
My Sophie experiment was selfish, granted--I wanted one of the "doodle" breeds, but I also wanted Jacob to have a puppy, at least part time, and I wanted a companion for Scooby. Sophie (my private name for her is Wild One) has done her job admirably--Jacob is at ease with all the dogs in the family and Scooby is much livelier.
Tonight I was a guest author at a neighborhood book club. Berkeley, I've discovered, has at least two book clubs plus a number of residents belong to a third one. I"ve spoken to the other two about Skeleton in a Dead Space, but I suspect tonight's was the longest-running group, together since 1982--thirty years. Remarkable. One woman had kept a record of every book they've read--but now she can't find it! I knew everyone but one member, and the evening was lots of fun. Most women who care enough to join a book club are bright, interested, and conversational, though talk often wanders from the book under discussion. Tonight I gave them some insights into writing though not what they expected--I am not a disciplined writer who locks herself in the office for at least four hours every day. Even in retirement, there's too much going on. I write when I can, and I admit circumstances make a huge difference: when I have no interest from a publisher, I'm likely to procrastinate; when I have deadlines, I'm much more dedicated. Right now I'm editing, with a fairly distant deadline, so it doesn't seem urgent; when I start a new manuscript I work more consistently at my writing.
I'm also realizing the term cozy mystery is not in general use, nor are plotter and pantser, so it's always fun to explain those terms. And the idea of self-publishing, an agent hunt, searching for a publisher--all the things part of my daily life--are foreign to these devoted readers. I kind of described stages of my career, from the '80s and '90s when I had an agent to the long dry period and then today, when I am happily settled with a publisher who is interested in building my career and in future books in the Kelly O'Connell series. I'm lucky to have found this publishing home--after writing for thirty-five years. Hope I can write  untl I'm ninety or more!
They cut the water off on my street for water repair at three today. I got two warnings that it would be off until midnight, so I stocked up on water, used almost none of it. And lo and behold, it was on when I got home at 9:30. Guess I'll water plants tomorrow with all that stored-up water.
A busy but good day. Tomorrow, house guests.

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