Friday, September 30, 2011

Banned books--and a bit of nostalgia

Although many have posted and written about this week being Banned Books Week, I feel I can't let it go by without mention. A fellow mystery writer posted today that she made it a practice to buy one book on the list each year and this year she bought The Hunger Games. My twelve-year-old granddaughter, a voracious reader, read that for goodness' sake. Shelf Awareness, the daily online column for booksellers that is a wonderful font of information, posted a list of the books most recently banned, with the comment that "You'd think it was a list of books for a reading group with interesting, eclectic taste." We all know Mark Twain's books have been banned many times, but here are the surprises to me: Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen, Anne Frank: The  Diary of a Young Girl, Snow Falling on Cedars by David Guterson (a book that enthralled me), Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson, Song of Solomon by Toni Morrison. Okay, maybe I'm not too surprised that Morrison is on the list, and not surprised at all that Brave New World  by Aldous Huxley and The Catcher in the Rye by J. D. Salinger are also on the list, though both are classics. I'd be proud if my granddaughter read these books and talked to me about them.
Another list I read had to do with banned books made into movies: American Psycho, Lolita, A Clockwork Orange, Lord of the Flies and The Handmaid's Tale.
I wish I understaood more about who has the authority to bann these books--and are they banned locally or nationwide. Surely no one can tell an entire nation not to read Mark Twain!
My own brushes with censorship have been mild. My first young-adult novel, After Pa Was Shot, published way back in 1978, is set in East Texas around the turn of the 19th-20th centuries and is narrated by a 14-year-old girl. At that time, not all Jewish immigrants from Europe landed at Ellis Island. A good number entered the United States at Galveston, and many, often itinerant salesman, drifted north through the small towns of East Texas. In the novel, my narrator, Ellsbeth, becomes friends with a young Jewish girl of just such family background. In talking about the town's prejudice against the family, I used the word "kike," certainly not one I would use myself today, but it passed what to me is the tried and true test: it was appropriate to time and place.
A schoolteacher friend of mine said if her superintendent read the book, it would be banned from their library because of the word "kike." I couldn't believe it. I guess, however, the superintendent never got around to reading it for as far as I know the book is still on school shelves.
In the '90s, I wrote a young-adult book about horse-racing, Callie Shaw, Stableboy. I wanted to call it The Devil Amongst Us, because Callie's aunt cautions her that if horse racing comes to North Texas, "the devil will be amongst us." The book is based on the Arlington Downs Race Track, a major attration in the 1930s in the Dallas/Fort Worth area. The publisher flatly refused to use the title, saying no school library would purchase it. Practicality won, and we went with the fairly ordinary title instead of the one I thought had some flair. Censorship can get down to the nitty-picky.
My bit of nostalgia: my dad used to play the piano in the evenings. Neither he nor I could carry a tune in the proverbial bucket, but we had a wonderful time singing to his playing. His signature piece was "Red Wing," and I can still hear him singing, "Oh, the moon shines tonight on pretty Red Wing." I got to thinking today about other songs, and two popped up from long buried memory, "I dream of Jeannie with the long brown hair," and "Beautiful dreamer, wake unto me." Anyone remember those? Then I thought of "On the Banks of Bonnie Loch Lomond," and its line of "Oh, ye take the high road, and I'll take the low road/And I'll be in Scotland afore ye." A flood of wonderful memories.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

The Broken Middle

There's been a lot of talk on one of the Sisters in Cime listservs about plotters and pantsers. Plotters outline books carefully, in detail, before they begin to write. Some have elaborate wall charts, with sticky notes that can be moved to show a scene belongs here, not there. Some even use computer programs tailored for that purpose. When I first started writing fiction for young adults, I always knew I'd have twelve chapters, so I'd number from one to twelve on a legal pad and jot down what happened in each chapter--just a brief note. I remember once driving somewhere with a friend and working on such an outline. When she said, "In Chapter whatever, such and such can happen," I said, "Hush, Joyce, it's my book."
These days I'm a pantser. I write by the seat of my pants. I have a general idea and a few notes of what's going to happen and how it's going to end, but I have no idea how I'm going to get from the beginning to that end that's in my mind--and may change by the time I get there. My general technique is to get that first line or two on the computer screen and see what happens. Often I go through that process each time I sit down to write--worry about what to say next, type a line or two, and I'm off, usually surprising myself at the directions things take. It's an instinct thing--and it can lead to problems.
It took me five years or more and many rewrites to get Skeleton in a Dead Space to the point that it was publishable; I maybe worked on the sequel, No Neighborhood for Old Women, for two years. Late last month I wrote the first chapter of the third, untitled book and then set it aside partly because I didn't know what to do next and partly because I had other things to do and no idea when--or if--the publisher wanted this third book.
But then, wham! There came a schedule. No Neighborhood for Old Women is under contract, in the hands of the editor, and will be out in April. And the third, untitled book is due in final form at the editor March 15, to be publishedin August. I began to write like a madwoman until one day it occurred to me I was so obsessed with word count that I wasn't paying attention to where the story was goiing.  So, not quite dead center--30,000 words into what should be about a 70,000-word novel--I am stuck.
My solution: something I usually do much earlier in the process and that is reread what I've got. This time I didn't take time and I may regret it, but now I'm rereading--slowly and carefully.
I did get a boost last night from dinner with a friend who is a historic preservationist. Since my protagonist is a realtor who specializes in rennovating historic properties, she needs to be knowledgeable about what you can and cannot do with such buildings, and my friend Carol gave me valuable information that will help me along.
But like so many writers, I'm feel the novel is broken in the middle. And this week I haven't had a full day at home to work on it. Wish me luck, please.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

How the other half lives--sort of

Every once in a while it's fun to mingle with those who enjoy more luxuries snd privilege in life than most of us. Today, Betty and I took a longtime friend to lunch in Dallas. We chose Rise, an upscale restaurant specializing in souffles--savory souffles for entrees, wonderful dessert entrees. Rumor is that you never know who might be sitting at the table next to you, and I know of one person who confirmed a sighting of George and Laura Bush but then, they show up at Mexican hole-in -the-wall dives too. But I did not recognize anyone famous today--I did see a lot of carefully casual young women with manes of blonde hair, and I saw one woman order something to drink that came out of a large bottle that carbonated it as she refilled her glass--no idea what it was but it looked quite sophisticated.
I'm partial to souffles. My mom used to make them for Sunday supper, and I loved her spinach souffle--in fact, I finally found a recipe that I think approximates it and hope to make it soon. The classic story in the family is that my brother hated it as much as I loved it and remembers to this day having to sit at the dining table and stare at his souffle until he took three bites. Years later, Mom said to me, "Wasn't that an awful thing to do to a child?" I didn't order a souffle for an entree today, figuring it was more food than I needed.
The decor at Rise is French cluttered, with shelves filled with cookbooks (presumably Rise's and for sale) and crockery and small gift items, tables with colorful cloths and napkins, painted rattan chairs, and a marvelous chandelier of wine bottles. We elected to sit inside--too hot for the patio.
We each had the large Rise salad which, thank goodness, came in a small size--Betty and Mary Lu had it with a delicately smoked, still warm, sliced chicken; I never turn down smoked salmon and had that version though this was not the thinly sliced smoked salmon you think of as an appetizer--it was meaty, a filet, with a light smokey taste. The salads were brightened with chopped pecans, a bit of cheese (blue? if so very mild) and julienned Granny Smith apples, the latter a wonderful touch. For dessert we split a pumpkin souffle--as Betty said, tasted like the best pumpkin pie you ever ate but much lighter.
We arrived early and wandered into a frame shop that had art supplies for children--and a sale. I managed to get two Christmas presents, which made mef feel so accomplished you'd think I'd done all my Christmas shopping.
I was relieved of babysitting duties today, so back home I took care of odds and ends at my desk, had a good nap, and am now headed back to the Grill for a meatloaf dinner with neighbors. But then when I get home I intend to write my daily minimum of a thousand words. To get myself started, I pulled up the manuscript and wrote a few lines, so I could plunge in after dinner.
My days seemed filled with everything but writing this week, but I am managing to get a bit in every day. Someone asked me last night what my writing schedule is, and I nearly laughed aloud. Life, I explained, keeps getting in the way.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Are book signings dead?

You hear a lot of people, including booksellers, say that the traditional signing is dead, unless maybe you're Jimmy Carter or someone equally famous. I remember when he signed in Fort Worth and there were crowds around the block waiting in line. But like all authors I've had plenty of experience sitting at a table watching people walk by while studiously avoiding eye contact. I remember once sharing a signing table with a western writer who would shout out to people, "Hey, you there, you're wearing blue jeans. I bet you read westerns." I considered crawling under the table.
But let me tell you about a couple of wildly successful (in my terms) signings I had this weekend. My mystery, Skeleton in a Dead Space, hot off the press, is set in a well-known neighborhood in Fort Worth. Many residents of Fairmount patronize the Old Neighborhood Grill frequently, as do I, and the Grill is mentioned often in the novel.One press considering my novel said I had to get written permission from the owner of any business mentioned--gosh, glad I didn't end up there--but I mentioned that to Peter, owner of the Grill, and he jokingly signed his name in the air. But when I told him that the novel really was going to be published, by Turquoise Morning Press, he said, "You know, we've had some successful signings here." And so it was a done deal. Peter would provide the space; everything else was up to me. Since I'm with a small publisher, I had to buy the books (at discount, of course). I sent email invitations to a long list of people, I got a cash bank, and I prepared to handle the sales--actually my granddaughter and daughter did that for me.
I had a most unusual signing Saturday: seven o'clock in the morning. But Peter said  he had a lot of readers who come in early on Saturday morning with their books. So at seven my oldest son, two of my granddaughers, and I were at the Grill. Colin had gone out really early that morning and bought a beautiful bouquet, which drew attention to the table. A bit later my other son, my daughter and her husband, and two more grandchildren drifted in. It became a family party, which was great--the kids greeted some people they'd known all their lives and I got to introduce them to some who'd heard me talk about them a lot but never met them.
It's hard to get book publicity in the local paper, but that morning they published a nice feature on the bottom of the front page of the Living & Lifestyle section. Several people came because they had read the paper; some regulars at the grill bought books to take home to their wives; some people I'd never seen bought books because they saw the display. And many of my friends came. By ten o'clock, I had sold twenty-five books, and we wrapped it up.
Peter and I agreed that two signings would be good, the second Monday evening at 5:30. I didn't expect it to be as busy as Saturday morning but Jordan hustled me out the door to get there early--and there was a crowd waiting. For almost an hour, I signed books frantically, people stood in line--lots of friends, several people I'd never met before, a few from groups I'm scheduled to speak to. It was absolutely amazing. By a little before 8:00 I sold the last book I had--holding one back for myself. Between the two signings and a few independent sales, I sold 75 books if my math adds up right, and I think it does.
The Grill was a perfect place--people could come, get their book, and leave, or, as many did, come and stay to order a meal. Some were Grill regulars but others were new to the place I'm sure. So it benefited Peter--he picked up some new customers, drew some people in for meals--and it certainly benefited me.  Not every author may be so lucky as to have a good relationship with a local cafe, but this worked for me.
And it didn't turn off the local booksellers. I talked to the CMR at our nearby Barnes & Noble today, and he confessed he forgot about our conversation until he saw a small ad I took in the neighborhood newspaper about the signings at the Grill. Now he's looking into a signing at B&N. And tonight one woman said her book group in the Fairmount neighborhood is interested in reading it. I asked if they'd like me to come talk, and she was amazed. "Would you?" I assured her I'd love to and she took down my contact information. It's all like ripples spreading in a pond.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Counting My Blessings

Pictures are Sophie, resting from her strenuous play and in the second giving Jordan some love. Third is a not good picture of me at the signing, but it shows the lovely bouquet.
This morning I sat on a comfortable patio couch watching three dogs play and listening to kids around the corner playing on a jungle gym. It dawned on me I should be in church, but I figured this was as good a way of counting my blessings and giving thanks as any. In fact, I spent the whole weekend counting my blessings.
Friday night both my sons came into town with their daughters, so I spent the weekend with three of my children (spouses all off doing other things) and four of my grandchildren. We missed the missing, and Jacob particularly missed his boy cousins, but he managed nicely being the only boy. We had dinner Friday night at The Star Cafe on West Exchange in Fort Worth, a family favorite owned by dear friends. Ate way too much--why do I order a bacon cheeseburger? Stayed up too late too. Had a great time.
Saturday morning Colin, Morgan, Edie and I were at the Old Neighborhood Grill at 7:10 (ten minutes late) for me to sign copies of Skeleton in a Dead Space. Would you believe there were already people there for the book? Jamie, Maddie, Jordan and Christian and Jacob all drifted in a bit later. Old friends came by, regulars at the Grill stopped--at least two men said they were buying for their wives--and several people came because they read a wonderful piece on the book (and me) in the morning paper. All in all it was a successful signing, both in terms of sales and of hugs gotten and given. Many people who came know my family, but I was proud to introduce them to the ones that have just heard me talk endlessly about them. And of course we all ate huge breakfasts.
I came home and sort of decompressed while the kids went to the Log Cabin Village--which was closed. By 12:30 we were all on the road to Frisco where we had a late lunch--Mexican food--and went to a third-grade football game where granddaughter Edie is a cheerleader. I am frankly appalled at kids that little playing football with all the protective gear but it was fun to watch Edie and the quarters were blessedly short. Home to Jamie's for a catch-as-catch-can supper and early to bed.
This morning Colin and Jamie left at something like 5 a.m. to do a sprint triathlon and the rest of us stumbled around. But I did spend most of the morning on the porch, with a book, watching dogs and kids. Sophie was the middle guy, between a chocolate lab (the sweetest, best behaved dog I have ever known) and a 5 lb. Morkie (maltese/yorkie) which made Sophie look huge and heavy-handed when she swatted her with a paw. My eyes got heavy and I finally turned off the Kindle and napped on the porch, only to have Jordan ask, "What are you doing?" and tell me she and Maddie, my oldest granddaughter, were fixing lunch. Soon after lunch and the return of the racers--neither of whom was happy with his performance--we were on the way home.
Jacob and I pretty much walked around each other the rest of the day--his folks had a reception to go to, and I had work to do. But he played with a new set of toys (garage sale this morning) and watched TV while I worked at my computer and took a nap. Only woke me once to explain that his two toys were on a trip and to love the dogs who also slept peacefully in my room. He really is, most of the time, an easy, sweet child.
So tonight I'm left with all those good memories of hugs and kisses and great grandchildren and caring children, and I am truly counting my blessings. It was a wonderful weekend--sure, the highlight was the book signing, but the cumulative experience was full of joyful contentment. I am indeed blessed.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Researching Fairmount

My Kelly O'Connell mysteries are set in Fairmount, a national historic district just blocks from my house. The photos above shows a typical row of houses and a restaurant on Magnolia Avenue (photos by Polly Hooper). Because I cut through the back streets all the time and eat in the neighborhood's restaurants, I'd tell you I know it well. But this morning I had a few questions in my mind, so I drove through Fairmount, paying particular attentiont to small businesses that line Magnolia Avenue, the major street that marks the neighborhood's northern boundary. And yes, I noticed new things, had new ideas. Then I came home and did some online research on Fairmount, national historic districts in general, and the League of Neighborhood Associations in Fort Worth. Learned some interesting things: at one square mile, Fairmount is the largest national historic district in the Southwest; listing on the National Registry of Historic Districts does not empower that registry to enforce restrictiosn, nor does listing on the state registry. Such power is handled locally. The Fairmount Neighborhood Association has guidelines but no rules; it encourages retaining original wooden windows and doors, columns and chimneys, for instance, and discourages painting brick not previously painted, use of metal or vinyl siding, and enclosing porches. Of course you can find some of those things done throughout the neighborhood, but in general folks abide by the guidelines. They're proud of their neighborhood.
All this works well for my plot in the current work-in-progress where a developer wants to put a big-box shopping center on Magnolia Avenue--you can imagine Kelly's reaction to that!
I'm 23,000 words into the first draft, have to turn in the completed final draft, at about 70,000 words, by March 15. That will be here sooner than I know.
Highlight of my day: giving the puppy a bath with Jacob's help. We both ended up giggling and sopping wet, while the poor puppy kept trying to climb out of the tub. She had gotten muddy this morning because the sprinkler system had been on earlier and left the ground wet. We toweled her off and tried to brush her, but as Jacob said, "This isn't working." Then he took her outside to play, emptied the outside water dish, and made more mud for her to roll in. Swell.
An evening of writing lies ahead: I'm looking forward to it.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

All those pubs draw me back to Scotland

Colin and me at the Cawdor pub; Megan and me at the clearly labeled St. Michael's Inn, and the pub at Dores in the small inset. (I thought that's the right picture--turns out it's not and I don't know how to get rid of it; on fact, I'm not sure what it is. The picture of the Dores Inn is below.)
Many of us in Texas joke these days about where we'll move if Governor Perry is elected president. A Canadian friend is keepig her citizenship, just in case, and my oldest kids are hearing the call of the Carribbean where they once lived. I have always said I'd move to Scotland, but lately that has become an active daydream: to live in a small village, read, write, meet people at the local pub. Some of my kids urge me to do it, and Colin suggested six months here and six months there--which of course presents insurmountable problems with dogs and my house, as well as probably insurmountable expenses.I once said I had a specific town in mind but now I'm waffling. Dores would be appropriate because it's the site of the MacBain Clan Memorial Park. But I really saw nothing of Dores except the pub, where the people were very friendly. Then there's St. Michael's--again I like the pub and I have an impression of cobbled streets with houses very close together--I may be wrong. Cawdor was nice, with Cawdor castle not far away--but then again I only saw the pub, and while the food was great I didn't get a great sense of sociability. Either Dores or Cawdor would be close enough to Culloden to do some research and more and more the idea of a Scottish novel, multi-generational, is  forming in the back of my mind. As I read back over this, it sounds like all I did was go to the pubs--but that truly is all I saw of many villages, that and the local castle. I've ruled out Portree on the Isle of Skye--too cold and wet and windy and tourist-y. Of course, my six=moth say would be from May to November--or maybe April to October.
One good friend who loves Scotland said the idea sounded great, but she didn't think she could be away from her kids and grandkids that long. I'm not at all sure I could either, but they say they'd come to visit. There are all kinds of other reasons this is an impractical pipe dream--not only family, house, and dogs but I've never been an adventurous person, the kind who sets off on her own for faraway places. I hate to travel alone, and I hate too much solitude. I value highly the warm circle of friends and acquaintances I have here. And finally I don't know about going off like that my age--I was never agile, but I have surely gotten less so lately. My health is good, but what if something happened? See, the cautious side of me comes out.
My daughter-in-law Lisa says, "Jude, you only live once. Go for it!" I wish I had that spirit.

It's not a dream I've completely let go of yet. The Lord moves in mysterious ways--my mom told me that.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Puppy teeth triumph again

Last night I was writing up a storm and didn't have the TV on. Somewhere in the evening I got a notice that the connection to the internet had been broken and I'd be notified when it was restored. Okay, I missed a few emails--no big deal. And I couldn't get Facebook but I just figured the TCU server was down.
This morning I wandered into the kitchen and turned on the TV--I'm a TODAY show junkie and really like to get the 7 a.m. news. Instead I got a screen that told me service was disconnected and gave me a list of things to check, including the connection to the master modem. Tried the office TV and got a snow screen--and then I remembered that I'd caught Sophie chewing on a cord (yet again) when I put her up for the night. I'd wrapped the frayed cord with electrical tape, treated it with Tabasco and thought all was well--apparently not!
Called U-Verse, which involves listening to this automated man who insists on running a few tests, etc., and takes up about ten to fifteen minutes before he turns you over to a tech. The first tech, probably in the Philippines--hard to understand for my less than efficient ears, tried to be helpful and after about forty-five minutes said he'd send a new modem which I would get the next moring. Then he put me on hold for an order number, kept checking, and after anothr 30 minutes said he'd call back and leave the number. He never did, and I hope he forgot because a modem wasn't what I needed. I looked again--the modem still had power, but one of the cords connected to it was the frayed one. So I had another delightful conversation with that automated guy who does all that clicking and checking. The second tech said I should just go to Radio Shack and get a new coaxial cord--save the $55 minimum servce call charge. Hot diggety! I was ready to throw on clothes and go--but I couldn't separate the cord from the modem, and when I followed it, it's one that goes behind all four sections of my bookcase and finally outside the outer wall. Back to the automated guy--this time when I got a tech I said, "I can tell you what I need. I need a service call." Of course she insisted on going through their usual rigamarole of questions but finally said they had openings for this afternoon, between noon and four. She did assure me it would all be taken care of for me at no charge--at least I think and hope that's what she said. I resigned myself to waiting until four, but it was a good excuse to scoot out of a meeting at 11:30. At 11:50, the service man knocked on the door. He said, "Give me ten minutes, and you'll be back in business." It took him in truth about 25 minutes, but he was so pleasant and helpful. We checked each TV in the house, the internet, etc. and everything worked fine. He spliced the cord below the frayed part and then said my connection was old-fashioned and he'd give me the newer model. Bonus: he gave me a sheet with his name and number on it and that of his boss, said next time to call him. If he couldn't talk me through the problem on the phone, I could call his boss and ask to have him sent out. Goodbye, automated man.
I've already had a neighbor request the magic number, but I figure that isn't fair to Danny--that's his name. He'd be inundated with unhappy Berkeley residents, many of whom have been complaining about U-Verse.
You read about people who abstain from TV or give up their computers for a week. Not me! I was in despair this morning at the thought of a whole day without anything to do. Oh, yeah, I could read and work on my novel--that part of my computer worked fine--but it all felt helpless. I even forgot a couple of times that the phone did still work. And I was so happy this afternoon to have it all back. I think I've secured it from the puppy teeth now, and I'm taking much more precautions so my arms don't get bitten any  more.
Hope to be back on track tomorrow.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

The glory of an empty day--and dreams of Scotland

This morning the day loomed before me, nicely empty. I got Jacob off to a soccer game by 7:45 and then piddled. Did go pick up my car and trade in the loaner that I didn't like. Then ran to Central Market, mostly to buy chocolate, and CVS pharmacy because I had a terrific discount card--bought a year's worth of allergy medicine! But I was home by just after ten, with the day all mine. I wrote 2600 words--please get used to this word count because it's going to appear every day, well at least on the days I feel good enough about it to report. Had a wonderful leftover piece of meatloaf for lunch plus cucumber slices splashed with red wine vinegar and sprinkled lightly with black pepper--try it sometime. Really refreshing.
Worked again in the afternoon, some writing, some reading of a heavy book I'm to review, paid a few bills, etc. And then a nice long nap, so nice that once again I lay in bed dozing until Jordan and Jacob barged into the bedroom, and Jacob demanded that I get up.
He and I had a lovely evening--went for dinner with good friend and surrogate daughter Sue Boggs and her kids--Alex, 15, and Hunter, 12. When they moved in next door to me, Hunter was in kindergarten and Alex in third grade. Now they've grown into real conversationalists and interesting people. They were patiently amused by chatterbox Jacob, who seemed to spin story after story out of his vivid imagination. I told him if he didn't say, "I don't like that" and had good table manners, I'd give him ice cream with chocolate sauce when we got home. True to form, after I poured chocolate sauce on his ice cream, he said, "I wanted vanilla." I left him eating--or not eating--the ice cream with chocolate.
An anonymous commenter on this blog--I know who it is--says he's getting irritated by my car and he only has to read about it. Well, tonight I'm irritated too. Jacob and I decided to put the top down (since it's just been fixed) on the way to dinner--but I couldn't get it unlatched. Sigh. Another trip to VW. I am indeed getting tired of this, but I like my bug so much bettr than the loaner Jetta. I'm sticking with it.
I've been joking about moving to Scotland if a certain candidate is elected president (anonymous: you know who I mean). Now I know I'm not adventuresome enough to do that, but sometimes the idea has appeal. Colin said today they would come visit and suggested I spend six months there and six months here. Could I afford that? And what about my dogs? But still I have this idyllic vision of living in a small town and taking my meals in a pub where I'd meet friendly people. I guess it will remain a pipe dream--or the stuff of a novel. I think I know the town--and the pub--of my choice.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Some good writing, a long nap, rain and homemade pizza

Today was a holiday, even for me--no school for FWISD students, which frees me to my old schedule of working in the early afternoon and napping in the late. I wrote almost 2000 words and felt good about what I'd done--as opposed to yesterday, though last night I reread all that I had so far and it didn't seem that bad to me for a first draft. But I worked away this afternoon, and the ideas seemed to flow. Love that feeling. I took a late, long nap and then lay in bed, daydreaming--sometimes great plot ideas come to me when I do that. But I realized I smelled rain--my greenhouse window vents in the kitchen were open and sure enough,  the streets were wet. As I write it's raining pretty steadily--what a blessing. Yes, it's humid, but who cares.
Tonight I did something I haven't done in years--made homemade pizza. I'm not particularly a pizza fan, having overdosed on it in high school when we used to eat it cold for breakfast the morning aftre a party. When my kids were little I would spread dough in a jelly roll pan and section off parts, so each child could put on favorite toppings. But now when the kids suggest ordering pizza--or as Jamie often does, going to the pizza parlor which has sentimental value from high school--I either pack a sandwich or eat what passes for a salad. Make pizza nowadays? Never.
But Jacob announced he had a special recipe. You put it (I had to ask what and was told chicken) in the oven for 20 minute,s take it out, put pepper on it, and you have pizza chicken (piece of chicken?). I promised him we'd make pizza tonight, so today I pulled a sauce recipe off the web and let it  simmer so long I burned it--luckily it didn't taste but once again I'm scrubbing and soaking. Bought a Boboli 8" crust, cooked some lean ground beef with salt, pepper and garlic powder. Had Jacob spoon on the sauce, then sprinkle the ground meat, and top with shredded mozarella. I despise buying shredded cheese but it's a lot cheaper.
Result was pretty good--knife and fork pizza because it was piled so high with ingredients. We ate maybe a third, so Christian has good leftovers. Trouble is Jacob doesn't really like ground meat so he didn't eat much.
Now I've got everyone to bed except Sophie--and I'm dreading taking her out for her evening excursion in the rain. Hope I have to get used to that.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Grandsons and sports

Kegan, four-and-a-half, had his first Little League practice, and as the picture shows, he was deadly serious about it. He's a bit small for his age but he makes up for it in determination. His dad says he was really dialed in to what he was doing while the other kids were goofing off.  That's okay--I remember the days his dad used to stand and watch a soccer ball roll by him. But good for Kegan.
And Jacob got his soccer outfit yesterday. Nothing would do but he put it on immediately when he came in from school.
And this is how Jacob starts his school day Sophie insists on going out to the porch even before they arrive. Not sure how I'll explain to her that there is no school tomorrow. That's sort of how my days go--dogs and puppies and Jacob. This morning it was errands; tomorrow morning the grocery store plus I have to take my car in--the top is not going back down as it should. I never seem to get a block of time to write, but I did manage 1400 words this afternoon and may get another bit done tonight. The novel hasn't quite taken off in my mind yet, but the idea is to get that first draft down on paper.
A lovely day--high of 82--made it hard not to sneak out to the front porch with a book. I have a rather "deep" book to review: True Confessions: Feminist Professors Tell Stories Out of School. Got to dig into it.
And to think I worried about retirement, afraid I'd wake up in the morning and wonder what I could do with my day! I am now a big fan of retirement and wondering how I ever found time to work.
Ooops. Just ended the day with a water disaster. I was at the dining table in the back room, three feet from the back door, keeping an eye on Jacob and Sophie in the back yard--but not close enough. He turned the hose on her, then brought a muddy, sopping wet puppy in the house. Confession: I lost my temper. Jacob said I hurt his feelings. Well, forgive me, but I had to towel the puppy (who is still damp) and mop the floor. Now all is quiet--Jacob and family have gone home, Scooby's in his bed, and Sophie is definitely winding down, poor damp thing. Some days I'm more ready for sleep than others.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Back to work

A fuzzy picture of Sophie patiently waiting for her morning hug from Jacob as he goes to school. She devils me to take her outside when she realizes it's about time. When Jacob hugs her, he gets the most blissful look on his face. Tonight he and I had a theological discussion. I told him Wywy had died and he asked if she (he, it) was in heaven. I said, "Well, cat heaven." He launched into an explanation of how God is invisible to us but in heaven you can see him so Wywy can see him and then he decided that she's up there playing with Pecos, the dog my neighbors Jay and Susan lost a few months ago. The simple faith of a child is a most comforting thing.
Today I got the tentative (I guess it's tentative--it's a bit scary) publication schedule for my next novels. Skeleton in a Dead Space is the first Kelly O'Connell mystery; the second, No Neighborhood for Old Women, is written, under contract, and as of tonight, in the hands of the editor. It will be released in April. The third novel, however, is untitled and essentially unwritten--I have about 5,000 words which only leaves me at least 65,000 to go. It's scheduled for release in August, which means I have to put my shoulder to the wheel, nose to the grindstone, and all those other cliches. Life keeps getting in the way but I really have to buckle down now, and I couldn't be happier about it. I went back to the third novel this morning and did get caught up in it. I'm working on carving myself big blocks of time to work. All of this is pretty exciting for me, and I feel fortunate.
Megan read Skeleton and I asked if she recognized her nieces. She said, "Oh, I recognized a whole lot of stuff." When my mentor Fred first read it, I said something about it being in some ways autobiographical, and he said he would never have asked but he wondered. So there, dear reader, it's for you to figure out what came from my life and what didn't. By the second novel, Kelly has definitely established her own life and there's no autobiography--except my two darling granddaughters.
Feels good to have goals and deadlines and be working.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Many kinds of grief

Last week I grieved from a distance with friends who had lost loved ones: a close friend I see fairly often unexpectedly lost her younger brother, with whom she was not close--that kind of grief brings its own special difficulties. My high school best friend lost her husband of over 50 years to cancer. I see few marriages that look, from the outside, to be truly happy but theirs was one. In the last months I've marveled at the grace and faith with which they faced this next step in their journey together. They have a large family, and my friend will have children and grandchildren around to comfort her. Still I wish I could have hugged both these friends.
Yesterday I grieved with the nation over the enormous loss of life in a senseless, brutal attack on America ten years ago. Like so many others, I went to church and prayed and I watched the memorial at Ground Zero. My heart goes out to those who lost loved ones so suddenly and tragically, but in a way I felt a sense of triumph for America yesterday. I think Vice President Joe Biden said it best when, at the Pentagon ceremony, he said something to the effect that they thought they would bring us to our knees but they underestimated America. We were unified, and we drew strength from each other. I only hope that it does not take another national tragedy to unite us in these contentious times of political disarray.
Today my grief was personal. In a recent post I talked about the decline in my 19-year-old cat's health. After an episode yesterday, today was the day to put him to sleep. My son Jamie came from Frisco--Wywy had been his cat, and he said, "Mom, you should not have to do this alone, and I want to see Wywy." He did something I never would have had the nerve to: he asked the vet to make a house call. Dr. Minterley from University Animal Hopsital came to the house willingly and was kind, gentle, and compassionate.  Jamie and I shed a few tears and hugged but we know it was right. Wywy was struggling for each breath. RIP Wynona Judley, the cat with gender problems. We never could decide all those years whether to say "he" or "she," but he was a wonderful cat--fluffy and gorgeous and affectionate. I'll not get another cat. None could replace Wywy.
I know that there's no comparison between the death of a pet, no matter how well loved, and the death of a family member or the extraordinary death toll of 9/11, but it has its own special grief in the fact that, at least in this case, I had to decide to end a life, a decision made with much help from Jamie. As frail as he was, Wywy slept in his usual place last night--pressed against my feet. My feet will be lonely and cold tonight, and there's a void in the house. This is the first time in thirty years I haven't had a cat in the house.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Kitchen mistakes--and successes

Tonight I decided to do some heavy duty cooking--make potato salad for tomorrow night, fix a lamb patty and beets and greens for my dinner. Central Market sells lamb patties that have mint and feta mixed in--delicious, but one patty is huge. I halve them and freeze, and sometimes even a half is too much. But tonight I ate the whole thing--I mean, the whole half. The beets on the other hand were a problem--not exactly a disaster, but...My habit it to boil them, then slide off the outer peel, slice, and reheat with the greens, which cook down quickly. Well, I boiled those beets and boiled them and boiled them some more and still couldn't stick a fork in them. Finally decided I'd let them simmer while I ate lamb and leftover summer squash casserole. When I finally went back to them, they peeled and sliced easily--at last.
Made a potato salad with lemon juice and oil, no mayo. The Bookish Frogs, a group of friends of TCU Press, had a potluck supper recently and my friend Sue Winter brought this--I loved it. Some of my friends don't like mayonnaise (which I consider a travesty, but there's no accounting for friends) and some are gluten free--this would be perfect for them. So now I have a head start on tomorrow's dinner, beets to nibble on all week--I may pickle some--and have had a good dinner.
Sophie and I marked a milestone of sorts today: I began to leave her out without being out there every minute. Freed both of us. I do small chores, then go back to check. Since I keep a leash on her--only way I can catch her until I can teach her to come, which she isn't inclined to learn yet--I have to check frequently to make sure she isn't hung up on something, but so far she's been fine. This morning I sat at the back room table reading the paper while she and Scooby played. I left the door open, and when Scoob tired of her he came in. I tried the same thing this evening, just before dark--but he came in right away, as if to say, "Enough is enough." Sophie has also--knock on wood since it's only nine--had an accident-free day. I think this makes four days. It may come from my not watching like a hawk to see if she pees and poops. Sort of the same principle that I'm doing better on my weight now that I'm not so focused on it.
Wywy is still with us. Sunned himself by the back door this afternoon and then yowled like he wanted food. In my excitement to get him food, I left the door open and panicked for fear he'd gone outside. But he moves so slowly I figured I'd find him if he did, and this evening, while I haven't seen him, I've noticed that he's eaten some, so I guess he's safely in his closet in the house.
Whew! In the midst of all that I actually did some work editing a young-adult manuscript, by another author, for my publisher. Got all mixed up with "Search and replace" in Word but the managing editor was able to guide me through it. I get along pretty well with Word, but someitmes it seems determined to make my life difficult. This time, if I center the chapter title, it goes back and centers the last lines of the previous chapter; if I fix that, it left justifies the chapter title. Go figure! And I searched for and replaced double spaces--many people still double space after a period as we were taught years ago in school, but it doesn't work today with new printing technology. Today it deleted two spaces from all the first-line indents--fixing that line by line would have taken forever and the thought had me tearing my hair, but that's what the editor showed me how to fix.

Friday, September 09, 2011

The Nine Lives of Cats

My cat has apparently used up another of his nine lives. I thought he was dying. Wynona (wrong name for a male cat, but please don't ask) was 19 last spring, probably in May, so he's had a long and happy life. I've had him since Jamie brought him home at about three months of age. Jamie had found him, a kitten, abandoned on a country road, and kept him all summer. He grew into a beautiful long-haired domestic, with a good touch of Maine coon in him. One friend, a cat lover, called him the world's most gorgeous cat. Beautiful as he was, he also has been a sweet, affectionate creature, craving love--not a mean bone in his body except the time he was enraged at another cat and bit me when I tried to pick him up. I made three long trips to ER from that experience, but it's another story.
Wynona is not in good health. He has kidney disease and a diaphragmatic hernia, which means his intestines are up in his chest cavity, stressing his heart and lungs. Last week, I had to have him shaved--he was covered with mats, some so large and close to his skin that they must have pulled and caused pain. After he was shaved, he looked like one of those skinny old men who needs suspenders to hold up his pants.
I guess it was the shaving that did it, though he seemed all right the first few days. But about three days ago I couldn't find him. He didn't come out to eat, didn't sleep on my bed and demand to be fed at 3 a.m. He didn't eat, and he barely used his litter box. By yesterday, I thought when I came home in the afternoon I'd have to start searching closets for a dead cat. Instead he was by the back door. He still wouldn't eat, and he yowled a bit but then he went back to his hiding place and stayed there.
Last night he slept on my bed again and I woke and took him to eat about two a.m., carrying him on my shoulder, but he ate nothing. This morning he showed some interest in food but again refused to eat. But when Jacob and I came home from school he was sunning himself by the back door, and he ate just a bit. I've been putting food and water by the closet where he hides, and the food disappears. I do have to be watchful to be sure the dogs don't get it, but they haven't.
Wywy has already used up two lives with similar behavior--once when I subjected him to the indignity of a flea dip and, more recently, when I brought the puppy home. I don't suppose he has all six or seven lives left, but I am now waiting to see what happens. Signs are encouraging. I didn't rush to call the vet because in my mind Wywy (his nickname) has signed a DNR or I've signed it for him. One of these times, probably sooner than later, it will be real. But I don't want to make the decision for him. So I'm waiting and watching. Cross your fingers for Wywy--and me, please.

Thursday, September 08, 2011

Y'all come to a party

I spent my morning sending out batches of emails with this pasted in them. It's my blog for tonight at the end of a hectic day when I didn't get much if anything else done--except my class met tonight and was fun and informative as usual.

 Come help me celebrate publication of
my first contemporary mystery

set in Fort Worth’s Fairmount neighborhood

                                  Book signings    

7:00 a.m. Saturday, September 24

5:30 p.m. Monday, September 26

The Old Neighborhood Grill

1633 Park Place Avenue

Fort Worth

Can’t make the signings?

Skeleton in a Dead Space may be ordered from

Turquoise Morning Press,

Wednesday, September 07, 2011

Writer's Block

Every writer suffers from it sometime--the almost desperate feeling that you have no idea where this project, be it novel, short story, non-fiction, even corporate report, is going, no idea how to push forward on it. The classic wisdom says "Write through it."
I've been stymed on the new novel I started.Wrote what I thought was a pretty good first chapter and then lost steam. I dealt with it by ignoring it. I could keep myself most busy with blogging, writing guest blogs, emails (suddenly people got long answers from me), Facebook, and reading. I thought about the novel a bit, with guilt, but kept busy. Last weekend I forced myself back to it, but Saturday was a day when I'd worked so hard by nine in the morning I was ready for a nap. Instead Jacob and I headed for Central Market and then met his folks at Smashburger's for a cheeseburger. End result: I was tired and full, and I was so sleepy when I sat down at the computer that I coiuld barely think. Still, I remembered "write through it" and I wrote. Later, after a nap, I realized that I had been just puting words on paper. They were lifeless and didn't get the story anywhere. Too much telling and explaining.
Sunday I started over and found some scenes flowed nicely--I was dealing with the delemma which with I had opened the novel, but I sure couldn't keep that ball in the air for another 60,000 words or more. Truth was, I had one idea but not a novel in mind.
Some of you may remember I dream vividly and frequently and usually remember those dreams. Last night I dreamt that I was a neighborhood activist. Some people wanted to move a development into a historic neighborhood and I was fighting it. Bad guys were threatening me, and in a bit of over-the-top drama planned to kidnap and murder me. I was out in the street, appealing for neighbors to help but none did., none believed me. Well, I don't think things will get that extreme in my novel, though maybe close. But there was my idea for Plot B.
Kelly, my protagonist (do read Skeleton in a Dead Space), is a realtor who rennovates Craftsman houses and is passionately dedicated to preserving historic neighborhoods. So what could be better than a developer who wants to put a big-box store on the lovingly restored main street of her neighborhood.  That's as far as I'm going with a spoiler.
Unfortunately today, what with car repairs--trips to the dealership and a body shop--plus a lunch date, then Jacob after school, and a dinner date, I haven't had time to develop the idea more in my mind. Still it's firmly fixed there and I hope to work on it in the next couple days--if not, over the weekend. I'm feeling good about writing again tonight. And all those distractions--dogs and cat, Jacob, friends--I wouldn't trade for them.

Monday, September 05, 2011

This 'n that

Half the population of North Texas is on Facebook commenting on how wonderful the weather is today, and I'm among them. When I took the puppy out at seven this morning, I was almost a bit chilly--and it was great. A breeze, good temperatures, a great day. I've opened the vents over my greenhouse windows in the kitchen--always a sign of good weather to me. And this pleasant temperature will stay for at least a week. But many parts of Texas are in real trouble. Until about five years ago, I thought southern California had an exclusive on wildfires. It never dawned on me that they'd make their way to Texas. In recent  years, fires have popped up all over the state. Possum Kingdom has suffered twice this year, and there's that terrible fire in East Texas that killed a woman and her baby. But now, the worst of all is the fire in Central Texas, so bad that our governor even came back to the state and said,sagely, "These things pop up with no warning." No kidding? (I liked the Facebook message that said, "Welcome back, Governor. We hardly missed you.") But it's a terrible fire, too close to Austin. Over 400 homes destroyed and it's not, last I heard, at all contained. There's a big push to rescue horses and cattle, and a lot of people from all over the state are working night and day to fight this monster. Pray for them.
You know those young girls who take razor blades to their arms and mutilate themselves? Well, no one will ever mistake me for a young girl, but they might think I've been busy with the razor blade. Puppy teeth are sharp and make deep if small cuts that bleed freely and heal slowly. Somehow when bitten I manage to wipe my arm on whatever T-shirt I'm wearing--last night there were blood speckles and one big smear on my MacBain Clan T-shirt. Can't have that. I've developed a foolproof (I think) removal method, combining hints from my ex-husband and my mom. Soak the garment in cold water; let it hang dry and treat the stain with hydrogen peroxide and then spray it with Spray 'n Wash or some similar product. I've had really good  luck.
At lunch today a friend told me that mysterious charges, not hers, had appeared on both her debit and credit cards. The banks took care of them efficiently, but since she still had the cards in her possession it was puzzling. I'd been about ready to put a big charge on my credit card, so I came home and checked my account--there were all kinds of charges on my account, most of them little, to places I never go: Target, Macy's, Tom Thumb, five small ones to the grocery where I shop but I go once a week and run up a whopping bill. I called, gave the Citicard folks the account number on my card (mind you, it's a new card since I lost my wallet a couple of weeks ago and I haven't comitted the new number to memory), and my zip code. They were puzzled: the computer brought up a totally different account. They asked the cardholder's name and I was about to give my name when I looked: Betty Boles. My friend Betty and I had dinner last Wed. and apparently switched cards. I was still waiting for my new debit card, so that's why I used the credit card--usually I never do. She on the other hand uses hers all the time. I asked her to look, and she said, "Sure enough. Judy Alter." I could have waited till we had dinner Wed. but she flew over to the house to trade cards. In the meantime I printed out the charges, added them up, and figured she'd charged $351.11 to my card! I'm glad I looked before I charged $670 to her account.

Saturday, September 03, 2011

Tell me it's a holiday

By nine in the morning today, I was exhuasted--and I'd only been up an hour and a half. But there were the dogs to tend to, in shifts of course, because if the little dog is out with the big one, she forgets what she's supposed to be doing outside. The cat came out of hiding wanting to be fed. There were porch plants to water (that's not a small chore), the bed to make--never did get to the laundry. And then there was Jacob, who wanted his waffle NOW. When he wanted a second, he banged on the table and pointed to his empty plate, I told him I didn't speak that language. Finally, he got his second waffle, after an appropriate, "Please may I have..." and I got a cup of coffee and the newspaper.
Jacob is a wonderful help with the dogs. He loves on Scooby, who needs it a lot, and he plays with Sophie endlessly. She thinks he means fun. When I had her outside this morning Jacob wandered out, barely awake, and she covered him with wet, sloppy kisses. But there are lapses in judgment--forgetting to close a door so the dog I was keeping inside goes out, emptying their water bowl (I know not why), then making a huge muddy mess when I asked him to refill it. Well, he's only five.
Animal trauma: I had to have the cat shaved. He was one big mat. On his rear end and back the fur was matted like a carpet, close to his skin. His stomach was a succession of huge mats, and he even had small ones hanging under his chin so you couldn't scratch in his favorite spot. They asked if I cared how he looked or just wanted him to be comfortable--the mats pulled and hurt him, I know. I said no, I didn't care how he looked, but I was unprepared for the creature I let out of the cat carrier. Like a long-legged rat with a bushy tail and big head. He hid all night and still is hiding most of the day but he emerges occasionally to eat. He has the thin body of an old man, which only makes sense--he is really old. I hope he's grateful, but I suspect he's embarrassed.
This evening, Jacob's gone home, Sophie is playing at my feet, Scooby is outside, and the cat is in his hiding place, wherever that is. Peace and quiet. After a looooong nap--two hours--I'm feeling a bit better about the world. It was about to get me earlier in the day.
Jacob and I did go to Central Market and then to Smashburger's to meet his parents.What a delicious burger! Honest, I don't let myself eat burgers very often, but this was great.
Jacob has the baby thing all figured out. We were talking about apartments--he said he'd like to live in one, and I said houses were so much nicer. But I pointed out that his mom and dad lived in an apartment before he was born.
That, he said decisively, is what they should do. Move to an apartment and then move to a house, and then they'd have another baby. Great logic, from one who wants a baby sister though I guess he'd settle for a baby brother.
Nice day--good kind of tired. Writing? Yeah, I did a little this afternoon but I was so sleepy I could hardly keep my eyes open. I'll reread tonight and see if it made any sense. I doub it. Tomorrow.
Meantime, life is good.

Friday, September 02, 2011

Where's your cave?

There's been a lot on the Guppies (Going to be Published) listserv about writers' caves, along with a suggestion we all photograph ours and send them in. So here's mine. This room used to be a bedroom off the living room, and my office was in the bedroom adjacent to mine. It was dark and I had no view, but I just thought it was a logcal space. Megan called one Sunday morning and said, "Mom, I remodeled your house for you." My immediate response was, "Thank you very much but I like it the way it is." But when she told me her plan, it began to make sense. Move my office to the front room, replace the conventional, off-center door with French doors, and make a real guest room  with a queen bed, out of what had been my office (I think in part she had an ulterior motive having to do with her family's visits home). Several thousand dollars later, I had done it and become "one of ours now" to Lewis and Jim Bundock, who take care of my house to this day--everything from installing a new lock on the front door to changing those light bulbs I can't reach. They have keys, know my animals, and often come and go when I almost don't realize it.
Meantime I have this wonderful--if not neat--office off the living room. On cool days, I can open the doors and feel the heat of the fireplace. If I have a party, the open doors had a sense of space to what isn't really a very big living room. Granted, I do have to straighten my desk (usually not a major problem) and try to straighten the bookshelves. With the arrival of the puppy, I have cleaned up my office out of necessity. No more papers stored in great piles under the credenza--I had so much old stuff that I even found a huge stack of that tractor-fed printer paper we used to use with dot matrix printers. With the perforated edges off, it makes perfect drawing paper for Jacob, who is no longer happy with my recycled manuscript sheets with, as he says, "words on one side." He wants plain paper. Boy, do I have a supply now.
Looking forward from my desk, I see the living room, but behind me are two large windows onto the driveway. Handy for checking weather, watching squirrels, and giving me a sense of the outdoors. (I always like to have lots of windows and couldn't live in a house without windows over the kitchen sink.) There are two windows next to me, but they have permanent plantation shutters halfway up--still I can open them up and see what's happening on the street.
Sophie is spending much of her puppyhood in the office, and she seems to like it. Right now, Jacob is in here with her, jabbering away, playing with her--he's already exhausted her outside. But the floor is always littered with puppy toys and--shhh, don't tell dog trainers--I've traken to feeding her in here so that I can work.
In fact, when home alone, I feed me at my desk. I truly live at it and have withdrawal if I don't get some desk time each day. Thanks, Megan, that was maybe the best idea you ever had--except maybe marrying B.

Thursday, September 01, 2011

Friends at Last

My dogs are friends at last, which really means that Scooby, the Aussie above, has decided to accept Sophie. He's twelve years old and has regarded her puppy enthusiasm--and yes, intrusion into his well ordered life--as an annoyance at the least. He'll now play and romp with her for about ten minutes before he gets fed up and goes inside. I leave the door open for his escape. She runs at him, jumps and attacks from all sides. He'll start to chase her, and she's off like the wind. Of course, he can't catch her--neither can I, which is why I leave a leash on her all the time. She gets so excited she tears from one end of the yard to the other and back, running in great wide, sweeping circles, while Scooby barks at her. I don't leave them alone yet--in fact, I don't leave her outside alone. Just not quite ready for that, and I'm afraid Scooby might lose patience. I do sometimes admonish him to be gentle.
Sophie has grown long and leggy, like a teenager, and I've decided that may be where she is in her development. She's rebellious, and one form its taking is to regress in her housebreaking. The vet says not to make a big deal of it, but I'm a little worried about when if ever she'll be trained. Apparrently regression is not unsual. But having had one accident free day, I'm dismayed by four accidents today.  Sometimes I think she's got some stubborn terrier in her, though I don't know much about the poodle half of her. Are poodles stubborn? All I know is they're smart, and she surely is that. One thing she is very good about is crate training--she resists going into the crate but goes when I force the issue gently, and she never utters a sound once she's in there. Tonight she spent the evening in her crate because my class met here.
The class remains a delight. They can tell the most amazing stories--some of which make me feel naive or sheltered or at the least not adventuresome. One woman who says she can't come back in the next session hinted at some things she'd seen and done when young, and we all clamored for her to come back. We want to hear those stories!
I've gotten back to my work-in-progress and it feels good. In fact, I'm a bit resentful of the time other things take. Maybe this weekend I can spend more time at it and really make some progress. No title but I do have a general idea of where the story is going. Fred, my mentor, read the first chapter and said, as he always does, "Slow down!"
The print copy of Skeleton in a Dead Space is still not up on Amazon but should be in a day or two. The publisher has gotten copies and has sent my comp copies to me. Can't wait.
I'm feeling like an author today, a feeling I don't always enjoy.