Sheltering in Place – Day after day after day

Today I baked a cake, a banana cake to be exact. With cream cheese frosting. Covered with walnuts. Four hours of my life. Standing on my feet most of that time.  I’m bringing it to my mother-in-law because she likes it when people make cakes for her. The cake on the left is not mine. It comes from a stock photo. Mine is covered with tinfoil sitting on a shelf of the refrigerator, not looking nearly so neat. I don’t seem to be capable of frosting a cake without including the plate, the walls, the counter, and me. Regarding this venture, I felt baking a cake from scratch was a good idea at the time. I should have laid down until the feeling passed. In the middle of the third hour of waiting for the stupid cake to come out of the stupid oven, with a sink full of dirty dishes, pots, and pans, I realized that I like it when people bake cakes for me, too. I’m going to push for that from now on. Somebody bake me a cake. Of course, it won’t be hubby. His idea of baking is going to the store and buying a Just Desserts cupcake. It’s similar to his idea of cooking. Go to the store and buy sandwiches. He may be on to something. Tomorrow we drive up the San Francisco and deliver the cake. I will take copious pictures of it. t may be my from scratch swan song.  

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Sheltering in Place – Day Who Can Remember

Pickled Penning For the past thirty-eight years, I have been a Mrs. Even though I held a job, actually ran a department at Stanford University, hubby was a hotshot performer. Being with a rock and roll band, a jazz duo, and with other musical skills, he outshone me. That left people always asking, “what’s it like to be married to him? It must be heaven to hear his singing all the time.” Occasionally, I would step down from the perceived cloud, sit in the background, smile, ever charming and demure, ever appreciative of his many talents. And if I could help a little with the load-out after the gig, so much the better. Simply put, at times being his wife was pretty much my raison d’être. But through the years it changed. Now I am a published author with fans who actually spend their hard-earned money to buy my books, for which I am unendingly grateful. I am a minor cause célèbre. I use more French words to make it sound grander than it is. But I think you take what you can get in this life. I’ve also noticed there’s a price to be paid for stepping into the spotlight. People feel compelled to tell you every detail of what they don’t like about your books, even if it’s only from their own frame of reference. For instance, my upstairs neighbor, a lovely lady of around 85 years old, read my books, mainly because I gave them to her. I don’t think she would have bought them, otherwise. But it was the neighborly thing to do, doncha know.  She loved them, she said, and passed them on to her daughter. Of course, it would have been nice if she encouraged her daughter to buy them, but as I’ve mentioned, you…

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Sheltering in Place – Day I Have Lost Count

The Life of a Writer Who isn’t Writing et al Get up late. Or whenever. Have coffee. Stare at desk. Sit at desk. Read emails, answer emails, ponder emails, delete emails. Do internet search for wire brushes re: outdoor grill. Feed Ellie the Cat. Brush Ellie the C. Play with E the C. Watch E go under bed for a break from all this. Talk to Hubby. Follow Hubby everywhere. Helpful criticism for Hub on everything he’s doing, because now you have the time. Watch H go on a walk to get a break from all this. Eat Breakfast. Sigh. Now 10:30 am. It’s going to be a loooooong day.

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Sheltering in Place – Day I Have No Idea

They say A Day Without Writing is Like a Day Without Sunshine. Actually, maybe ‘they’ don’t. Maybe nobody else says that but me. I know I’ve been paraphrasing something or other for so long, I can’t even remember what the original phrase is. A Day Without Wine is a Day Too Sober? Hmmmm. Maybe not. In any event, today I did no writing. That’s because yesterday I finished the rewrites given me by the content editor, Baird Nuckolls, for Casting Call for a Corpse. The wonderful image at right is not going to be the book cover. But it was done by friend and artist, Tricia Greenwood, and as the book cover for Casting Call… et al isn’t finished yet, I wanted to include this one in the meantime.   But back to the rewrites. There weren’t that many to do, hallelujah, and I was able to finish them off in two days. I sent the now more polished work off to my line editor, Paula Grundy, who has her work to do. So basically, I wait until the manuscript of Casting Call Blah Blah is returned to me. Maybe two weeks. Maybe even three!! Meanwhile, I could/want to start my new book, but I am at a loss as to what that book should be. I was thinking to start Spring Thaw, Book 2 of the Snow Lake Romantic Suspense Novels. But then, Percy Cole is calling me to write The Mother’s Day Murders, Book 4 of the Persephone Cole Vintage Mysteries.  Then, of course, I could write Book 3, Divorce Can Be Murder of the Love Can Be Murder Mystery Novellas. And let’s not forget….wait. I just forgot. Oh, yes! I could start Book 8 of the Alvarez Family Murder Mysteries, titleless at the moment. But let’s face it,…

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Sheltering in Place – Day Whatever

  I think I’ve been given the right name. Heather. I’m a delicate flower and a blooming idiot, often at the same time. It’s the perfect name for me. But I wonder about a lot of people who have weirder names.   In school, I used to know a kid named Graham. Not such a bad first name. But his last name was Cracker. He was a shy kid. I wonder where he is now?   Ima Hogg was known as “The First Lady of Texas.” Although it was rumored that Hogg had a sister named “Ura Hogg“, she had only brothers.     Moon Unit Zappa is an American actress and author. Moon Unit means a stupid person; an idiot. It’s no wonder she goes by Moon now. She has a brother named Dweezil.     I understand someone recently named their kid Mental Floss. Really? And they got to leave the hospital with this child? I could go on and on but leave you with this written by the Bard.   “What’s in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet” (Quote from Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare)

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Sheltering in Place – Day Something or Other

When it comes to my writing, I have a fire in the belly. Or maybe it’s acid reflux. It’s hard to tell sometimes. All I know is I finished writing Casting Call for a Corpse, Book 7 of the Alvarez Family Murder Mysteries, on Sunday night and now I’m itching to start the next novel.  Of course, Casting Call is not really done yet. A million unfinished bits of business needs to go into making it a “done” work. I can’t help but look forward to a new book, a new set of laughs and problems to give to my readers. Let’s face it. An author is a masochist with delusions of readership. Because isn’t that the end result, readers? Isn’t that what writing a novel is all about? Otherwise, wouldn’t it be a diary or journal? I’m asking a lot of questions for someone who creates questions and then pretends to have the answers. I stack the deck, too. If it’s a question I don’t know the answer to, I veer off to the left. Or right. Sometimes I Google it and try to find whatever the answer is I want to give. That’s the kind of fiction writer I am. Some authors present a reader with a problem and leave them pondering. Aha, they effectively say! There you are! Now deal with it. That’s called shining a light on the truth. I don’t do that. I blast a bulb on the wannabe, wanna do, wanna live. Of course, I try to throw a life lesson in now and again, but happiness is my raison d’etre. So whatever the next book is, it will have a happy ending with the bad guys being punished and the good guys becoming B&BPs (bigger and better people). Because I am a firm…

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Sheltering in Place – Day 77

I am mad at Mailchimp. And don’t try to talk me out of it. Mailchimp! Aaaaaargh! Why oh why must they keep changing things? It’s not that they’re making it easier or better for the user. No, it’s just they seem to like moving stuff from here to there. Why do the people that work at any of these online places think that because they spend 8 + hours a day doing their jobs, I want to do the same thing? No matter what the app or program is – from Instacart to Mailchimp – they want to make you work for their service. Making something intuitive or easy just isn’t fun for them. This way you can devote your total existence to them. Might be an ego thing, folks. I will elucidate. I had not been into Mailchimp for 3 months. I use it to send my newsletters. Monthly is the plan, but it sure didn’t go that way with what’s been going on in the world today. Make no mistake, I STILL pay for their service monthly, whether I use it or not. Yes, I pay for the privilege of getting my blood pressure up over 300. When I went in today, Mailchimp has a totally different interface. I had no idea what was where and couldn’t find anything. Four hours later, I contacted the chat room. That took another 45-minutes. I had given up beforehand trying to figure out how to move an image from left to right. I went into the section devoted to images. Of course, it wasn’t there. I could resize it, fuzzy it, color it, etc., but could I simply move the image from left to right? No! When I finally gave up and contacted them, the chat person told me that particular…

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Sheltering in Place – Day 76

Getting to know a person — even a fictitious one — takes time, thought, energy, trial and error. Sometimes they get pissed off and you don’t know why. Sometimes they laugh when you think they should cry. You thought they’d like bagels in the morning but they don’t. A living, breathing character, even one on paper, has a will of his or her own. It’s maddening. It brings to mind the 3rd book of the Alvarez Family Murder Mysteries, Death Runs in the Family. One of the central characters takes off for Rio de Janeiro, just like that, out of the blue. I mean, excuse me? I thought we were going to stay in Las Vegas. I don’t know anything about Rio de Janeiro. I’ve never been to Rio de Janeiro. I’m sure it’s a terrific place, but come on; I’ve got a novel to write. Then this character has the effrontery to park herself in Ipanema, a fancy-schmancy beachside community, and at a pretty posh place. What now? So I did scads of research, which took me weeks and weeks, cursing the day this character was born, even though I birthed her. Some kids are really ungrateful. Thank Gawd, Lee Alvarez, the protagonist for the Alvarez Family series, has never betrayed me like this…yet. I’m waiting. I’ve written 7 novels with her, but still I need to be careful. Every now and then Lee does something I’m not expecting her to do. She isn’t your typical protagonist and it’s starting to worry me. She’s funny, impulsive, smart, talented, loves dancing, handbags, and a good joke. She knows her own worth, but has moments of self-doubt. She also has a mind of her own. These are all recipes for danger for the wretched author. And I’m not the only author…

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Sheltering in Place ?? Day 75

We live a two-bedroom, two-bath condo, coming in at 1223 sq. feet. I mention this because we have 4 landlines, plus 2 smartphones. This means that at about every two feet, give or take, you are going to fall over a phone. This plethora of phones wasn’t by design, but happenstance. When you shop at Costco, you are going to find exorbitant amounts of anything and everything. So it is with phones. For about a dollar, give or take, you, too, can get your hands on a set of 4 or 5 landlines including the answering machine. I mention all of this because one of our cordless, landline phones has gone missing. We’ve instituted a search and come up with nothing. Where has the little darling gone? What could have happened to it? Did it run away from home? When we ring it, there’s no reply. After a certain amount of days, if it’s not recharged the batteries run down. But before it dies, it comes to life screaming to be reattached to its mother-stand. This can be extremely unnerving the first few times it happens. But this time, nothing. No screaming. No phone. These days when the phones ring, and I reached out from wherever I am, there seems to be no phone but an empty stand. I find we are moving the 3 remaining phones around depending on where we are, which as I mentioned, is about 2 feet apart from one another. Now instead of taking 1 ring to answer the phone, it can take me up to 3! We should have bought the 5-phone set.

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