Tuesday, August 4, 2015

A Summer's Day

You know summer’s well advanced when you start seeing ads for the State Fair.  So here's a summer poem with the word “fair” all over it:

Shall I compare thee to a summer's day?
Thou art more lovely and more temperate.
Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May,
And summer's lease hath all too short a date.
Sometime too hot the eye of heaven shines,
And often is his gold complexion dimmed;
And every fair from fair sometime declines,
By chance, or nature's changing course untrimmed.
But thy eternal summer shall not fade
Nor lose possession of that fair thou ow'st;
Nor shall death brag thou wand'rest in his shade,
When in eternal lines to time thou grow'st,
So long as men can breathe or eyes can see,
So long lives this, and this gives life to thee.
                            - William Shakespeare

I had an appointment with my opthamologist yesterday, to have my eyes dilated and checked – I’ve had a number of procedures done on them (Lasik, cataract, glaucoma) so have to see an eye doctor a couple or several times a year.  This time he also decided to fire a laser into my right eye to clear up a clouded plastic lens.  But that’s not the exciting part.

The exciting part is that we suffered two (!) collisions, one on the way there and one on the way back.  Neither was our fault.  The first one was on the way, when a huge pickup truck rear-ended us as we came up to an intersection where the light was just turning green.  The cars ahead of us were moving, we were moving, and the driver of the pickup underestimated our speed and socked us in the rear hard enough to leave an apple-sized dent in our rear bumper.  We pulled into a parking lot, him behind us, he apologized, and we exchanged insurance information.  I had an instant headache that quickly cleared up.  The second one happened as we were leaving the clinic.  Ellen pulled out of the lot to stop at a shallow angle behind a car at the end of a row waiting for the light.  For some reason, she began to back up, didn’t see us, and bumped into our front bumper.  Left just a scratch, she apologized, we didn’t even exchange insurance information.  But we were super-alert on the way home, looking for yet more trouble, which didn’t happen.  Strange day, strange day.

I’m collecting information on Baptist funerals because I’m about to bury one of my victims in Knit Your Own Murder.  I don’t think I’ve ever been to a Baptist funeral and I’m a little distressed to learn that the individual churches are pretty much able to set up their own customs – but within, I’m sure, the culture of the Baptist faith, which I’m not familiar with.  See?  Kind of slippery to invent the customs of a fictional church within a culture I didn’t grow up with.  But I have three cousins who are Baptists and they’re proving helpful.  Good thing I really, really like doing research, but kind of sad I let this slide until so close to my deadline.

There’s more religion than usual in this novel – I’m also sending Betsy and Connor to an Easter vigil service – and I hope that doesn’t bother my readers.  It’s just the way this story is unwinding.  What do you think?

Friday, July 31, 2015

This Week

This week has felt like one long day of me sitting at my computer powering through the rest of SEAMS LIKE MURDER. But I typed the last rewritten line a little while ago. The very last part of the ending of my books always comes as a surprise to me. It seems like the characters always take over and just do something. This time was no different. Now, I just have to add the patterns and recipes. I will hit send tomorrow and it will get there before the August 1 deadline.

This is always the bittersweet time. I want to send it off, but it is hard to say good bye to it. Even though I will be getting it back with notes from my editor. This will be a new editor, so I’m not sure what to expect.

I made it to the Knit and Crochet Show last Saturday in San Diego. I signed some books, saw some friends and of course bought some yarn. My whole family drove down. They went out to lunch while I spent time at the yarn show. Afterwards we drove to Coronado island. It was very touristy, but festive. The Hotel Del Coronado was built in 1888 and I think was the first hotel on the west coast to have electricity. I kind of remember that Edison flipped the switch that turned it on.

I love old places like that. It was fun looking in the gift shop that has been open since 1888. There was a table with some DVD’s and books. I didn’t realize it, but “Some Like It Hot” was filmed there and they had DVD’s of it for sale. There was also a stack of the book “Somewhere in Time” by Richard Matheson. A lot of people know the movie made from it that starred Christopher Reeves and Jane Seymour. The movie takes place on Mackinac Island, but the book actually takes place at the Del Coronado Hotel.

I love things about time travel and started to read the first few pages of the book. I got caught up in it right away because it starts out right around where I live, so I recognized the streets. I ended up buying the book and starting to read it that night. It seemed so strange to read about a character going to the Del Coronado hotel when I had just been there seeing the exact things the author was describing.

I had to set it aside to finish my writing, but after tomorrow I can get back to it. I think I am out of words for now.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Protagonists, Talents, and a Violin Named Clare.

Hi all!  Please welcome the wonderful Marni Graff to Killer Hobbies today!  Like Kate, Marni's protagonist loves dogs. Unlike Kate, she has true musical talent.  She plays a violin named Clare.  Why Clare?  Read on to find out.

Tracy Weber

When I designed the ‘bible’ for the protagonist of the Trudy Genova Manhattan Mystery Series, I knew I wanted nurse Trudy to have interests outside her medical consulting job at a movie studio, working on medical scenes filmed in New York City. She’s a dog lover who regularly walks in Riverside Park near her apartment to play with the dogs.

And since I’m a music lover, Trudy is one, too, but I went a step further: for her solace, I gave her the hobby of playing the violin.

Do I play the violin? Nope, the piano, a stringed instrument, too. But I love listening to violin music, and I have three close friends who are all violinists who gave me great descriptions of the kind of wood Trudy’s violin would be made of and how she should care for it.

I also had Trudy name her violin: Clare. Why Clare? Because that’s the name she wishes she’d been named by her German mom and Italian dad, instead of Gertrude Sofia Genova. Hence Trudy—because if your name was Gertrude, wouldn’t you rather be called Trudy?

I’m a huge fan of any musician who can play the violin like an extension of his or her arms, and of the amazing melodies they coax from what could otherwise sound like a screeching mouse caught in a door! Itzah Perlaman playing the theme from “Schindler’s List” is a favorite and it’s haunting melody is one I have Trudy trying to master in a scene where she describes her backstory and the mystery revolving around her father’s death. That mystery won’t be solved in the first novel, DEATH USNCRIPTED, premiering this month, but it will be addressed in a future novel.

In this debut, Trudy is working with womanizing actor Griff Kennedy, teaching him how to fake a heart attack. During taping he points his finger dramatically to Trudy just as he collapses, only this time the actor isn’t playing dead. With suspicion lighting on Trudy, she snoops and pokes her nose into the murder investigation to clear her name, frustrating NYPD Detective Ned O’Malley—whose family are regulars just down the street from Trudy’s studio at Lincoln Center. And Ned is a Perlman fan, too, which Trudy has yet to discover …

Marni Graff is the award-winning author of The Nora Tierney Mysteries set in England. Her first Trudy Genova Manhattan Mystery, Death Unscripted, is based on Graff’s own favorite nursing job, working for a movie studio as a medical consultant. Available at Bridle Path Press (www.bridlepathpress.com) and on Amazon this July.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Back from RWA National

As I figured last week I'm a bit late posting this today.  My return flight yesterday was delayed, which didn't help.  The reason? Well, for one thing it was too hot in Chicago to fill the plane with enough gasoline to get to California, so we had to stop and refill the gas in Kansas City.  Go figure.

Anyway, I had a great time in my travels.  For one thing, the end of my trip was a stop to visit my son, d-i-l and two grandsons, which was Icing on the Cake--which you know is also the name of the bakery for humans in my Barkery & Biscuits Mysteries.

The first part of my trip was the Romance Writers of America National Conference in New York City.  It was a great conference--if you don't count the hotel I stayed in with two friends with whom I was on a panel.  It was an overflow hotel since the main conference hotel was filled, and it was awful.  First, they were redecorating the main level and it was a mess and hard to get around.  Then, there were hardly any lights in my room, which made nighttimes difficult.  There were a couple of bugs--termites?--that may have been permanent fixtures on the bathroom floor.  There weren't enough towel racks.  I could go on, but I won't.

Instead, I'll tell you some of the fun parts of the conference--networking, for one thing.  Also, I wound up with some additional insight on what to do with my website.   I spoke with my Harlequin editor and attended Meet and Greets for the two lines I write for, and got additional ideas for what comes next.  I met with my agent.  I learned more about the changing publishing industry. 

And I of course attended the always-fun Harlequin party!

Next year RWA National is in San Diego, much closer to my LA home.  Will I be there?

What do you think?