Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Mount to the Sky!

As dry leaves that before the wild hurricane fly,
When they meet with an obstacle, mount to the sky . . .

I was put strongly in mind of that couplet from Clement Moore’s “A Visit From St. Nicholas” on Monday when out driving.  There was a mild hurricane blowing as a cold front came into town and dry leaves from the trees and streets went whipping by in a colorful blizzard.  And sure enough, when they came to a tall fence or a house, whoop! They soared upward.  There’s something exciting about being out in a strong wind, and  my heart was full of pleasant excitement as I drove around.

In the afternoon three of us went to see “The Martian.”  I really liked it; my husband, the one with the PhD in nuclear physics and an ardent amateur cosmologist, saw many scientific false steps in it - though none gratuitous or really stupid - but allowed that it was, even so, a good movie.  What I liked was the “never say die” attitude of the stranded astronaut and his rescuers.  Good stuff.  Take your older kids to see it – though be warned, there’s some bad language.

I got my office cleaned up yesterday, too - hurrah!  I found an old table lamp on the give-away table in our underground parking garage a week or two ago.  I took the shade off it and put on as a replacement the Thai peasant hat I bought from a postcard vendor in Bangkok – well, not from her; it was her son, who came running up to me with it when I indicated I wasn’t interested in postcards, but the hat she was wearing, until I saw how raggedy it was.  He had gotten somewhere a brand new one.  I had seen lots of Thais wearing the hat and they looked so exotic and beautiful with their little faces peering from under it, so I had to buy one.  It was big and clumsy to bring home, but I managed – and I’ve been looking for something to do with it because, not having a sweet little face, I look ridiculous wearing it.  The base of the lamp is wrapped in narrow strips of rattan, and that’s what the hat is made of, too, so they go well together.  When the lamp is lit, you can see the underlayment of the hat is made of very narrow strips of rattan making a criss-cross pattern.  The lamp is now in my office, sitting on a low chest of drawers I keep needlework stuff in, under a very large color print I bought in Bangkok, of a scene from the Legend of the White Monkey.  The picture is surmounted by a length of magnificent hand-woven silk also bought in Thailand.  The effect is cozy and pleasant, as well as evocative of that grand travel adventure of some years back.  And, of course, the adventure helped greatly with the plot of Thai Die.

So here are two photos, one of the “cozy” effect of just the lit lamp; and another that shows the amazing White Monkey gathering his friends into his mouth to protect them from an approaching enemy.  (When I saw it in an art gallery, I thought it was depicting a demon gathering damned souls into his mouth – a good theme for a mystery author who prefers the guilty to be deservedly revealed and punished in her books.)

Friday, October 9, 2015

Welcoming the Monarchs

The Yarn Retreat book I’m writing now, GONE WITH THE WOOL, takes place at exactly this time of year in the fictitious town of Cadbury by the Sea, California. Cadbury is loosely based on Pacific Grove - also known at Butterfly Town U.S.A. It has that extra moniker because every year right about now thousands of Monarch Butterflies flock there and settle into a stand of trees to spend the winter.

I am using the return of the Monarch’s as a theme in the book and I’ve created a whole week of events that go on the same time as Casey Feldstein’s yarn retreat. And I had Casey arrange for the retreaters to enjoy the butterfly celebration.

After I was already making my plans for the events, I checked to see what Pacific Grove really did to mark the return of the butterflies. Frankly, I was kind of surprised that it seemed to be just a parade of a lot of little kids in Monarch wings.

My created events are so much more elaborate. I have a court of butterfly princesses trying to show off why they should be chosen queen. There is the release of sky lanterns to beckon back the butterflies, a play that dramatizes the lives of the butterflies, a visit to their sanctuary, a street fair and finally a big parade where the queen is announced.

I’d really like to go to my events. I can just picture watching the sky lanterns float into the sky – bits of light as they sail off over the ocean. In case anyone doesn’t know what a sky lantern is – basically it is a cylinder of special paper on a metal frame. Kind of like an upside down lampshade. Something like a folded up paper towel is dipped into fuel like liquid candle wax and attached to the piece of metal across the bottom. Then the fuel is ignited which heats the air and the lantern takes off like a hot air balloon.

I have been to the real Monarch Sanctuary and have seen trees that look like they are covered with leaves until you see that the so-called leaves are moving and are really the underside of thousands of butterfly wings. As the air warms, the Monarchs leave their perches and swirl around showing off their striking orange and black wings.

My celebration has a Lord of the Butterflies presiding over the play, a crochet a Monarch make and take event, face painting by a murder suspect and an exciting parade full of surprises.

When the book comes out next July maybe the Pacific Grove people will see it and want to adopt some of my ideas - well, maybe not the face painting by a murder suspect. If they do, I’ll be there.

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Mystery Writers of America Workshop: A Pictorial Review

Check out my monthly post at Inkspot, the blog for authors of Midnight Ink.  I published a photo review of a recent workshop I attended called "The Art of Character Development." I really did take the class, I swear!  But was it before or after the Zombie slot machine ate my brains?  You'll have to read it to find out.  Check it out, and please share!


Wednesday, October 7, 2015

New Superstition Mystery

It's October!  The seventh, to be precise.   

That means tomorrow is the official publication date for my second Superstition Mystery, KNOCK ON WOOD.   

I blogged last week about blogging, including my upcoming Great Escapes Blog Tour which, not especially coincidentally, also starts tomorrow.  The first post there about KNOCK ON WOOD will be a review from Lisa K's Book Reviews.  I'm also being interviewed by Omnimystery tomorrow, but not as part of the blog tour.

Before that--yes, tonight!--I'll be chatting on Writerspace about my new release and whatever other topics arise.  Online chats seem to veer in different directions, which is usually fun.  Come join me there at 9PM Eastern time--which means 6PM my time here in L.A.

And, yes, I'll be doing more to introduce the world to KNOCK ON WOOD, and I'm knocking on wood that it's all successful.  I'll be at the Burbank Library on October 17 for the Local Authors Showcase, and at an event at the North Hollywood Lit Crawl on October 21, and doing more online stuff, too. 

I'm sure I've said it before, but when I started writing and publishing I thought that was all there was to it.  But that was before social media was so strong.  I'm actually having fun online and otherwise getting out there and talking about my books. 

In case you're wondering, and because I'm supposed to blog about pets here on Killer Hobbies, I'm delighted to say there are animals in the Superstition Mysteries, including Rory's lucky black and white dog Pluckie, as well as other dogs... and, yes, black cats.  

I of course consider my own dogs lucky, whether or not a tricolor Cavalier (black, white and red) or a Blenheim (red and white) fits within any superstition.   

Anyway, as a result of the activities I've mentioned and more, and also because I'm writing Superstition Mysteries, my fingers are crossed that I sell some books.  Meantime, I'd better get back to my writing!