There is a method to my madness. My two cats get three types of treats. Yes, they are spoiled, but let’s move beyond that. Yulie has learned through the years to jump up on their counter, and point to the treat he wants with his nose. Problem solved. But it is Ellie that concerns me. When I put treats down on the floor for her (she can’t jump up onto the counter; too tubby), Ellie turns her back on me and just sits, waiting. I have to put all three treats down before she turns around and chooses one. Sure, she does eat the other selections, but maybe it’s more of an afterthought? Anyway, it occurred to me that if I teach her to call out the treats by name, it could save me a lot of trouble. I started with the brand, Greenies. My reasoning was ‘Temptations’ is a hard a word to say right off the bat. And the word ‘Party Mix’? Forget it. And after all, she is a cat. She needs time to work into this. Every day for about three months, I shook the bags with the treats in them and she came running. Then I repeated the word “Greenies’ again and again. So far, nothing. So I STILL have to put all three down for her to select the one she wants. And then she eats the rest! I mean, really? How dumb can she be?
Tuesday night I had the delight, honor, and good sense to go to Kepler’s Bookstore in Menlo Park for the debut of a new book, The Amorous Heart. There, author Marilyn Yalom, scholar, writer, feminist and all-around-good-gal, was being interviewed by Theresa Donovan Brown, an award winning author of fiction and non-fiction. And another all-around-good-gal. It was a bright evening of entertainment, and the sharing of knowledge, history, comradery, laughs and spirit. Ms. Yalom is my kinda feminist, a woman who studies, observes, reports, enlightens, and enthusiastically supports women without beating up or denigrating men. It can be done. After all, a lot of men are all-around-good-guys. On another note, Ms. Yalom is a mighty fine writer. She imparts her point of view with the assuredness of a writer who not only knows her stuff, but how to put it down on paper with wit, style, clarity, and – dare I say it? – HEART.
It’s on the way! It’s nearly Halloween and Ellie has a new hat and a new job! She’s been hired out as the official Good Will Black Cat Ambassador for HavenMeister Productions (that would be us) for the Halloween season. As she’s not allowed outside, her job is to lounge around the house with her belly hanging out, eat her treats whenever she wants, and play with any toy that amuses her. It’s a hard job, but someone’s got to do it. We were going to give her a cardboard haunted house, but she’s afraid of haunted houses and prefers her pillow, thank you. She is thrilled to be earning 3¢ a week! Her brother, Yulie, who happens to be a Flame Point Siamese is getting into the act. He’s a fun kinda guy. And if you’re looking for a fun, lightweight mystery to read with a few witches in it, try my first Persephone Cole Vintage Mystery, The Dagger Before Me. A 1942 Broadway production of Macbeth has double, double toil and trouble. But Percy Cole, along with her noodle and a WWI German Mauser, is on the case. Happy Halloween, everyone!
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Cindy Sample, the talented writer of the humorous Laurel McKay Mystery Series, and I had a wonderful time on Sept. 9th, talking to the Norcal Sisters in Crime about Everything You’ve Always Wanted to Know About Self-Publishing (but were afraid to ask). Cindy is the taller, elegant one on the left. For an hour and a half, we were led by our moderator and fellow Sister, Marla Cooper, another dazzling writer.
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Another Round Robin Blog Topic. On a subject I recently experienced, so I can really go with this one. Several weeks ago, as I pounded the keyboard toward the finish line of my latest novel, The Culinary Art of Murder, I found the ending wasn’t going to work. Here I was with nearly 80,000 words done, only 5,000 to go, and no “The End” in sight. I had an October delivery deadline. I panicked. I prayed. I wept. I ate chocolate. Nothing. At a loss, I put the manuscript away hoping my sub conscience would find a way. After all, I’d already written eleven books and it hadn’t let me down yet. I let the old ‘sub’ gestate, percolate, and regurgitate. Maybe my inner mind knew what it was doing, even if I didn’t. The scary thought was maybe. More prayers. More weeping. More chocolate. Nothing. So, was I done as a writer? No, I decided. But writing can be an ephemeral thing, as can the rest of life. You can’t always get to the same place in the same way at the same time. And things can turn on a dime. I allowed myself to become distracted. Life helped me out. One of my two cats, Ellie, got sick. As a dutiful mommy, I became preoccupied with getting her well. My musician husband, Norman, had a lot of gigs. I went to see him perform. The weather became oppressively hot. When I wasn’t watering my garden, I stayed inside and watch old movies on TCM, eating more chocolate. Every now and then thoughts of the book would flit into my mind, but I’d beat them back with a mental stick. I didn’t want to think about writing or my book for a week or two. And as a person who…
I’ve been notified that The CEO Came DOA, Book Five of the Alvarez Family Murder Mysteries, won two awards this year from Global Ebook Awards: The Dan Poynter Legacy Award Best Fiction 2017 Global Gold Medal Best Mystery Fiction 2017 I can’t believe it. Seriously. I am so very honored. Thank you to husband, Norm Meister, editor, Baird Nuckolls, and the wonderful beta readers such as Roseanne Pavlescak Dowell, Penny Ehrenkranz, Cindy Sample, Carter Schwonk, and Mary Wollesen! Did I forget anyone? Apologies. Every person helped me turn out a better novel.
I was a guest speaker at a Women’s Book Club in Berkeley recently, a group that has been meeting for thirty plus years. They honored me by reading my noir mystery novel, Death of a Clown and wanted to discuss the novel with me. I brought pictures of my mother (and a couple of me as a baby) during my parents’ stint in the circus. Also a costume Mom wore back in the early 40s! See photo right. If I could have gotten into it, I might have worn it to the event. Well, maybe. It was a lot of fun, sharing with this charming group of readers an insider’s view of circus life, although I was so young I don’t remember much. But I had Mom’s mountainous notes to guide me. By the way, I’m the kid sitting on the elephant’s head.
Recently I finished the the first draft of The Culinary Art of Murder, Book 6 of the Alvarez Family Murder Mysteries. Although I’ve been working on it for months, day in day out, writing, rewriting, I call it the first draft because at long last, the novel has a beginning, a middle and an end. Yes, I tend to write by the seat of my pants – thus called a panster – but what happened several days ago was a first, even for me. I discovered I had no ending. I start a new book when the first chapter is shouting itself in my brain, the characters screaming to be heard. I may let the middle unveil itself, but I know who the killer is, and how the book will wind up. Business as usual with Culinary Art. Or so I thought. As I pounded the keyboard toward the ending, I found the ending I’d envisioned wasn’t going to work. Too forced, too contrived. I panicked, and not just a little. After all, I’d written 78 thousand words. The characters, situations, thoughts, feelings, actions, and clues were finished. Or were they? Where was my plot? My finish line simply vanished. So I put the manuscript away hoping I’d find the way. I prayed, I wept, I ate chocolate. Lo and behold several nights ago or should I say mornings ago, I woke up at 4 AM realizing the end would work if I just changed my approach. So I did. When I figured out what I was doing wrong, the final chapters flowed. Now I’ve printed everything out – all 82K – and will begin the rewrites. Then off to the editor. Then off to my beta readers. After those people tear it apart, I…