Sunday, April 20, 2008

Malice, Earthquakes, Passover, Real Characters, and Sitting Alone at My Table

I have a lot on my mind today. Look out!

1. Malice Album for their auction-- I complete this darling album to be auctioned off at Malice. The money goes to a worthy cause. Camille suggested I do this--and it was a very smart idea, I think. After all, I want folks who read mysteries to know that I really do scrapbook. I feel like the fact I've been at this craft a long time enriches my work. You'll notice this isn't a traditional album. This is made so you can set it on a bookshelf and display your photos. If you get my ezine, you'll read how to make this. (The next ezine should go out in a couple of weeks.) I made this from two cereal boxes.

2. "I Feel the Earth Move"--Yes, I felt that earthquake. Thanks to a lot of you, and to radio, I'm now much smarter about what happened. Key tips: Keep shoes by your bed because of broken glass, go high (not into the basement, duh!), grab a pillow to hold over your head, and expect after-shocks. Turns out that the Midwest is the place in the world where you'd feel the most shaking because we're on a bed of rock.

3. We Worship the Holy Dog Bone--Okay, Passover started last night, and I have a funny family story to tell: I was raised Episcopalian but I have a Jewish home. When we moved to the UK for a year, a lot of our belongings got jumbled up. I remembered to pack the Seder plate ("seder" means "order," and the Last Supper that Jesus celebrated was a seder), the Haggadah (the service book) and the matzo cover (a special linen for holding 3 pieces of unleven bread, and a lamb shank bone representing the Pascal lamb. When we got home, I finally unpacked all our boxes. Took me years. At the bottom of a box, I found a bone. I showed it to my husband. Turns out that somehow we'd mixed up the lamb bone and our dog's chew bone. (Hey, I'm the NON-Jew here! I plead ignorance.) So we'd had the chew bone on our Passover plate. This is proof that God is kind, just and has a sense of the absurd. Otherwise, had He not had a sense of humor He would surely have visited His wrath on us.

4. Uh, They're Real to Me--I was talking with a friend after Jazzercise about my upcoming mystery series. I told her about Kiki Lowenstein, my protagonist, and her friends. I explained about the problems each person in the book has--in that way, Jon Jordan of CrimeSpree Magazine has pointed out that my book isn't a traditional mystery. I like realism. My friend shook her head and said, "The way you talk about these people. It's like they are living, breathing people...not characters in a book." They are real to me! Honest! If they weren't, I couldn't care about them. And if I don't care about them, why should my readers?

5. The Hostess with the Mostess (Maybe)--I volunteered to be a Table Hostess at Malice. In my usual "over-the-top" way, I've been preparing "table favors." In my case that means: bookmarks (with flowers I add by hand), tiny folding albums, butter cookies (a St. Louis favorite), and excerpt booklets. I'm also trying to put my excerpt booklets online so anyone can download them. We'll see! If you know a friend who's coming to Malice, please ask them to look me up. I have this awful fear I'll be sitting at my table ALL alone!


Dee said...

Well, I can tell you for a fact, I'd sit at your table. It's sounds like you're a great hostess. And the woman who didn't believe characters are real, obviously not a reader. Or she's not reading the right kind of books. And I love your album.

Joanna Campbell Slan said...

Oh, Dee--
That's so sweet. You know, I think

I'm having a "kick ball" flashback. Like when I was in 4th grade and didn't get picked? I have this vision of sitting alone at a table!

The woman who was surprised by how real my characters are to me isn't a writer. She said she'd never thought about how we writers relate to our characters. To me, my characters are a place to work through ideas. To live other lives. But I always have to sit back and ponder, "Okay, knowing who this character is, how would he/she react?" In that way, I stay true to the individuals.

The album was very easy to create. If you're signed up here, we'll be sending out my ezine to you.

Just save a couple of cereal boxes.

Terri Thayer said...

Hey, no fair! Your pictures went up. Dang. I'll try again this week.

Your album is beautiful and I'm sure it'll be a big hit. Crime writers love to take pictures of themselves with other famous writers. To have a place to put them after the convention is grand. I'm in awe of your design skill.

Have fun at Malice! I'll be there next year.

Joanna Campbell Slan said...


My design skill is basically trial and error. The teacup was tilted as I moved pieces around and I liked it that way. The 12" x 12" paper (green plaid) turned out to be a "cheat." It was only 11 1/2" x 11 1/2" so it was short on the sides. I had to add paper. Then to "meld" the two papers, I needed a border. I used my scallop scissors and found a short piece of rickrack that also seemed right.

I'm a big believer in trying stuff, not worrying about exact color matches, and playing until I get things to a point that I like.

Oh, and there's never a mistake. God intended me to do something "unplanned."

Camille Minichino said...

I love having my name associated with talented people (why else would I hang around here!) I keep thinking it will rub off.
Great album Joanna ... I'm going to miss Malice in favor of the LA TImes book festival this year, to try something different.
Will be looking forward to a report!