Monday, June 30, 2008

The bus stopped!

Happily Christo and Natalie and I are no longer standing on the corner watching all the buses go by. Ours has stopped, the door has opened, and we have hopped on.

We have a story!

At least we think we do. And we're giving it a shot. It remains to be seen how long the euphoria lasts. But at least the bus hasn't passed us by. We even have something of a route map. Though I don't put a lot of stock in them as they've been known to mess me up before.

Still it's fun to be underway. Keep your fingers crossed that we have a good trip.

We get to go to Brazil for part of it. That should be exciting. Sadly I'm not going to get to go in person. Not this time.

But I have a friend who lives there, and a son who spent a year working there, and surely there must be some of you out there who would like to chime in with details I can't live without.

Christo's father is a former footballer (soccer player for the Americans among us) from Brazil. I haven't decided where he's from yet. Sao Paulo? Rio? Fortaleza? My son's friend from work was from Fortaleza so he spent time there. My friend lives outside Sao Paulo. I have another friend from Rio.

But Brazil is a big country. Suggestions, anyone?

I'm filling the box for Christo. And while I'm at it, I'm filling a couple of other boxes as well.

Remember George, the physicist who never comes out of the lab? He's on the list, believe it or not. He's actually going to get a book! He even has a heroine. Who knew!

So does Demetrios, his brother. Not the same heroine, I'm happy to report.

Three new heroes. Yikes.

So Christo and Nat and I have to get moving -- otherwise Demetrios and George will be misbehaving. Heroes don't like to stand around. If they have to wait in line for their books, they are inclined to be difficult.

Labels: ,

Friday, June 27, 2008

Standing at the bus stop

That's what I feel like I'm doing.

Me and Christo and Natalie, all of us together -- not quite looking at each other as people at bus stops don't -- while we wait for the bus to come along and pick us up and take us where we need to go.

That would be to The End.

But first we need to have the bus show up, and then we need an open door. The bus had better show up by Monday when I intend to start C&N in earnest. The door had better materialize by then, too.

It feels odd to have a story and no way in. I usually have a first scene in mind long before I ever get to the book. And ordinarily that's good and works well -- except in the case of Flynn and Sara where it worked for about 35 pages and then not only the door vanished, but the bus did, too.

So I'm working at coming up with some scenes that will work for them -- something that will throw them right at each other -- so I can step back and let them carry on from there.

I like them both. They don't much like what they know about each other at the moment. So that's good. A little conflict never hurt anyone.

I hope.

Labels: ,

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

What the Heck???

Kate Walker sent me an email yesterday with photos in it documenting the first encounter between her Maine Coon kitten (now a gorgeous teenager) Flora (aka Princess Flora Flooziebelle) meeting her first hedgehog. She's also just written the account up on her blog.

You may remember the hedgehog family who lives at the bottom of Kate's garden.

I christened them The Hecks after a series of Yorkshire villages we'd passed through the afternoon I arrived for my last visit in Sept 2006. The villages were called Great Heck and Little Heck and there may have been a Lesser Heck and even a Really Big Heck. One wonders what Heck meant in the days when villages got their names.

Anyway, the description seemed to fit the hedgehog family, who turned out for cat crunchies after dark that evening and allowed themselves to be photographed. They looked like a series of nestling Russian dolls -- albeit prickly ones.

As Sir Sidney, Flora's big brother, tends to give hedgehogs a wide berth, and Dylan (aka Dyl the Vil) has nothing good to say about them (not surprising as Dyl rarely has much good to say about most folks, except electricians with big hands -- and Bridget Coady who is His Favorite Person In The World), it was a surprise to see Flora and her new friend.

Apparently she wasn't quite sure what this new amazing creature was -- especially because it was Eating Her Food!

So she got closer, tentatively touched it with a paw, edged a bit closer with her nose (ouch!) and finally just decided it wasn't worth bothering with.

Rolling around on the ground and basking in the sun was far preferable.

It's an amazing world, as Flora is discovering. Glad to see you and Littlest Heck are becoming pals, Flora.

Enjoy your new friend!

Labels: , ,

Sunday, June 22, 2008

The Name Game

I ended up writing about names today over on Tote Bags 'n' Blogs.

It was a topic in the forefront of my mind this past week because I was still aware of Natalie and Christo and how they came to have their names (two of my cousin's grandkids sport those names as a matter of fact, and I thought the name Christo suited my hero, and my cousin's descriptions of Natalie made me think she'd definitely be A Force!)

But after that, I kept thinking because my friend Anne Gracie bullied me into writing up two more ideas for books because she kept saying, "What if --" and "I like that. I think you could get more out of this if you only -- " and so pretty soon, there I was, looking for more names.

They were heroine names because I already had heroes -- two of the Savas brothers, Demetrios and George -- and I needed heroes equally as strong as the men in question.

And, as luck would have it, I got both women's names wrong the first time around. Adriana is right -- but her nickname I thought would be Addie. Turns out it's Annie. She won't answer to Addie. Interesting.

Even weirder is Sylvie -- but I think I owe that to Liz Fielding. She had a Sylvie not long ago and I could see the picture of her Sylvie as being rather like George's heroine. But my fingers knew better. They've been typing Sophy ever chance they get. No question now but that she's a Sophy.

Makes me wonder what my fingers know that I don't.

Labels: , , ,

Friday, June 20, 2008

And the winner is . . .

Kate Walker!

I suspect Gunnar of being bribed, but he insists that I am the one who put the treats on the names. He's only the eater.

And Kate's name was the one on the slip of paper he gobbled his first treat off of.

So, Kate, you are the winner of the signed copy of Tess Gerritsen's The Mephisto Club -- and a definite departure from your normal reading fare it will be.

I'll post it on Monday. Gunnar hopes you enjoy it. And of course, so do I.

Thanks to everyone who participated this week. I appreciate the discussion.

I spent part of the afternoon at the movies enjoying Indiana Jones -- and the other part with the three ideas for future books I sent my editor yesterday.

We are going to discuss them on Monday. So I need to be prepared. It's not often I juggle three book ideas in my head at once. It's not often I even have enough plot to talk about one of them. Let's hope I do on Monday.

So the next guy up might be Christo -- or it might not.

I'll keep you posted.

In the meantime, on Sunday I'm going to be blogging over at Tote Bags 'n' Blogs, so drop in and say hi. I'll come back and make a live link when I've put up my post.


I was wrong!

A closer look at my trade-sized foreign edition has convinced me I erred. It isn't Dutch (it didn't look quite like Dutch somehow, but I knew it wasn't German).

It's Afrikaans.

It was printed in Natal. That's the give-away. At least I think it is. Maybe it's Dutch as spoken in South Africa. I can sort of read it. A little. Very little.

Anyway, I'm thrilled as not all my books get translated into Afrikaans. I hope some readers will enjoy Spence and Sadie's jaunt to Fiji in Afrikaans -- or whatever languages it gets translated into.

I'll be back as soon as Gunnar has determined the winner of Tess Gerritsen's The Mephisto Club.

He's just had breakfast and can't be counted on to do justice to a number of treats so soon after (unlike Mitch and Micah who will snarf them down with nary a qualm). Gunnar is, um, fastidious. And inclined to be grouchy when I impose on him.

So . . . stay tuned.

Oh, and a Japanese edition of The Santorini Bride appeared late yesterday afternoon.

Labels: ,

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Where Have All My Red Dots Gone?

Those of you who drop by here frequently might have occasionally glanced at the sidebar and noticed the ClustrMap which shows the whereabouts of people who drop in here. Or if not the people themselves, at least where their IP address is coming from.

I love seeing those little red dots turn up. Between ClustrMaps and Neoworx I can get a feel for the global scope of my readers and casual visitors. And it's always a thrill to see new dots or discover the flag of a new country.

Neoworx's flags turn up right when the visitor appears. ClustrMaps redraws its maps every time there is a 10% increase in the number of visitors, so there is delayed gratification as the numbers build. Below is last year's map. We've started over on the sidebar.

My 88th country was Albania. Someone from Tirana (waving to Tirana!) turned up last week. And I was eagerly awaiting my red dot on Albania.

But -- alas! -- ClustrMaps did their yearly archive of my map yesterday. And now I have just a few dots again. No dot in Albania. So I hope whoever it was in Albania comes back. And I hope lots more people from lots more countries visit. It's always a thrill.

I know Kate Walker's flag list is well over 100 now -- creeping up toward 150 when last I looked. I have 12 more to go to reach 100. Hmm.

Could we have a concerted effort here, do you think? Write to your friends in Burkina Faso and Chad and Bolivia and Norfolk Island and tell them to drop by. Not to mention all the places that already have flags but whose dots have been archived!

# # #

Tomorrow is the day I'm giving away a signed copy of The Mephisto Club by the brilliant talented personable Tess Gerritsen, who is -- it goes without saying -- a terrific writer who scares me to death in her books.

Maybe if you're into the less terrifying stuff, you won't want to read Tess. But if you have friends who love that 'edge of your seat' 'what's going to happen next' and 'oh God, it's worse than I thought' then they really need to drop by and comment to get in the drawing.

Or better yet, just tell them to go out and buy Tess's books!

# # #

Post script: 89! I just got my 89th flag -- from Colombia!

Ask and you shall receive, I guess. Anyway, welcome, Columbia, whoever you are. So glad you stopped by.

And to add to the international flavor of the day, the postman just brought books -- The Santorini Bride in its Polish edition and a trade-sized paperback of The Boss's Wife For A Week in Dutch (I think. Well, it's almost German but not quite. But I can't see a place of publication. Must go examine it more closely).

In the meantime, who will be country #90?

Labels: , ,

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Titles and Possessives

I think there is a trend in titles (at least in MY titles) toward possessives.

It goes back a long way -- maybe the mid-90s -- when I wrote Finn's Twins, shortly thereafter followed by Fletcher's Baby and Gibson's Girl.

Not to be outdone, the cowboys in my Code of the West series started getting possessive, too.

They went from titles like Cowboys Don't Quit and The Cowboy and the Kid to A Cowboy's Tears and A Cowboy's Secret and A Cowboy's Pursuit.

Not long ago back in Presents, I had Nathan's Child and McGillivray's Mistress as well.

And in October I have a reprint in a book called His Child (with Sharon Kendrick and Catherine Spencer). I don't know which story it is, but presumably the hero has a child (Nathan again? Or maybe my very first Presents, Lightning Storm, which also had a hero with a child, who is old enough, come to think of it, to be a hero now in his own right!).

His Child (whoever he is) will be followed immediately in UK and slightly later in the US by two more possessive heroes.

Antonides' Forbidden Wife (that's Elias's brother PJ's story) will be out in November in UK and January in the US. And then sometime next year we will see Savas' Defiant Mistress, which is what they are intending to call Seb and Neely's book.

This is all news to me.

I don't even try to come up with titles anymore. I just use heroes' names. It's easier. It's just their book.

I suppose the possessive angle makes it his book for marketing, too. And then they add on a couple of buzz words.

Do you think? Or is there more to it than that?

Whatever. It seems to work -- or they say it does. And sales seem to be improving (thank you, all of you). So who am I to quibble with them.

Though I did find admitting to having written something called One-Night Love Child a bit, er, dicey. I'm sorry but I generally still call it Flynn's book.

Flynn's book means something to me. But I realize it's not likely to get anyone to pick it up.

And hard as it is to admit it, Savas' Annoying Roommate doesn't have quite the same ring as Savas' Defiant Mistress, does it?

Labels: ,

Monday, June 16, 2008

What I Did On My Summer Vacation

I worked my tail off.

I'm still trying to read through all the handouts I got in my government documents and law libraries research course at Samford University's Institute for Genealogical and Historical Research.

They asked for comments on the evaluation, and my main comment was: Give us the handouts a week early. Then maybe we'll have time to read them before the class is over.

It was a terrific week. It gave me lots of ideas for future research and exploration. And it even provided me with a few clues to follow up on research I'd already begun and had thought I'd probably exhausted. Turns out there is a lot more there.

And, of course, I determined that Natalie dropped out of law school. Always a plus. Now I just have to figure out why she would have thought it was a good idea to go there in the first place.

And I need to think about more of the back story. Maybe do some writing. Scratch a bit -- like Twyla Tharp in The Creative Habit. And I'm reading a book by Sol Stein called On Writing, which I've had for years and which I've only dipped into a few times. It looks like a good book.

I've got photos to download -- including a lovely one of Tess Gerritsen from her visit here two weeks ago. And I have a signed copy of her book, The Mephisto Club, to give away, which I will be doing on Friday. Make a comment and get in the drawing for Tess's book.

If you can give me a good reason why Nat dropped out of law school, you get two spots in the drawing.

I noticed that Anne Gracie is blogging on Tote Bags 'n' Blogs today about being a serial killer. She's pretty much a softie, so I think you can take that with a grain of salt. But there's a great tribute there to her dad on his birthday as well, and that's absolutely heartfelt. Check it out.

Labels: , ,

Friday, June 13, 2008

on the road

I didnt mean it literally when I said I was over my head earlier this week!

Not under water, at any rate.

But it's getting close to being literally true. We are in Paducah, Kentucky tonight, and we've driven through three torrential downpours today, and sat in a restaurant watching a fourth this evening. If we'd dared go out in it, we'd simply have been pounded into the ground by the sheets of rain or blown away.

At the moment I hear thunder and see lightning and there are way more sirens outside than I want to think about the meaning of. Paducah is a really neat city, and I don't like experiencing it this way. And I don't imagine the folks who live here do either.

Ordinarily we make the trip in one day -- but given the fact that coming south we had to ford a river in Illiois that was crossing Interstate 57, we thought a running start would be good so we didn't have to deal with floods in the dark.

That may have been a good move. Or not.

But I have been told that the dogs are well and the house is above water, so I guess we are in better shape than many.

Our eldest son, who lives much closer to the high water than we do, is keeping us posted. We're hoping for blue skies and light breezes and sunshine for everyone.

And for the record, yes, Natalie did drop out of law school. I'm getting my groove back.


Monday, June 09, 2008

over my head

I'm taking a course in using law libraries and government document repositories in genealogical and historical research.

I'm drowning.

And you're reading a woman who grew up in libraries and who worked in one for five years at university.

But I don't have a clue.

Fortunately I have good teachers who are doing their best to make sure I get clues and are working me to a frazzle with lots of "problems" to solve and stuff to find -- and the means to find it, if only I can figure out how.

I had an aha! moment at the very end of this afternoon's class on using computer search engines like LexisNexis and Readex and several others. It made me fall in love with Readex because I actully found one of the people I was looking for using it. But I'm supposed to figure out how to use books as well.

That's going to be more than a week's worth of work, believe me.

I think maybe Natalie dropped out of law school. That's about as much inspiration as Im capable of at the moment.

Oh, and I think I terrify one of my professors who is afraid he might turn up in a book someday.

Labels: ,

Friday, June 06, 2008

On the move!

I don't know where I ever found time to write books. It seems like I'm never home.

Saturday I'm leaving to attend Samford University's Institute of Genealogical and Historical Research for the third year in a row. I'm taking a course in Government Documents and Law Libraries.

Lest you think this is all very dusty and boring, let me tell you what it really is -- it's about people. It's about stories.

I was thinking the other day about the "theme" of my blog, because while it's largely about writing and writing-related stuff (yes, Hugh-in-a-towel is writing related. How could you think otherwise?), it's also about other things that interest me -- like genealogy and local history, about travel and books and films, about dogs and grandchildren.

And I got to thinking what they all had in common -- and basically, it's story.

Genealogy and local history are means of learning about peoples' stories, who they were, what they did, why they did it. All the things plot-challenged people like me love to learn about.

Travel brings me into the sphere of other people, teaches me about their lives, their culture, their stories. Books and films, of course, do exactly the same thing.

Dogs -- well, dogs are stories in and of themselves. And grandchildren are both the continuation of my own story as well as stories unto themselves.

All of it is grist for the mill. I never know what's going to spark off an idea. It will be interesting to see if Christo and Natalie get any new bits this week while I'm gone.

Speaking of ideas and bits, last night I had the pleasure of meeting fantastic medical thriller writer, Tess Gerritsen, for the first time. Her books are fantastic (and give me the creeps), and it was great fun to listen to her talk about how she gets her ideas for stories.

Not the same stories I get, that's for sure. But the gut level instinct that says, Yes, I have to write about this -- that's the same. I was comforted, too, when she said she didn't plan her books but just wrote and discovered what happened.

I have a signed copy of her Mephisto Club that I'll be giving away next week when I get back. If you want to be thrilled and scared by a very fine writer, drop in and comment sometime this week. I'll put your name in the hat.

Labels: ,

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Celebrating a First Book!

Several years ago I ran into a writer on the eharlequin site called Anna of Cumberland. She was bright and sparkling and witty and had a wonderful voice.

When I first 'met' her, Anne Louise Lucia (aka Anna of Cumberland) was writing a book. And then she'd written a book. And then she was trying to sell the book. And then she sold it!

It was called McAllister's Wife. Is there a better title than that? Surely not.

Still her publisher changed it. I'm not sure when the title got changed (I'm sure Anna had nothing to do with it because, of course, she wouldn't tamper with a great name like McAllister), but now it's called Run Among Thorns, by Anna Louise Lucia.

And it just came out onto the shelves on June 1st!

I have my copy on order -- due to arrive tomorrow according to the tracking records -- and I'm dying to read it because I love simply reading Anna's blog. And I am soooo looking forward to a whole book by her.

I'm counting her continuing to have her wonderful voice, but now she'll be providing me with story and suspense and excellent characters (McAllister, of course, among them).

Sight unseen I'm recommending it. But I'm not the only one.

Kate Walker loved her book. Romantic Times gave it a 4 1/2 review. Harriet Klausner thought the suspense and characters and writing were all terrific.

I have no doubt that all this praise is well-deserved. And it couldn't happen to a nicer person.

Besides being a terrific writer, Anna is a terrific person.

She and her husband took my husband and me around Millom (of Cumberland) looking for dead relatives a couple of years back. I'd casually mentioned an interest in going there, and Anna, who went there frequently in her day job, offered to show us around. She did her homework, scoured the graveyard, looked up people in the register, and marched us all over downtown Millom in search of places my ancestors had once lived.

It was fitting to discover that one of them grew up in a place on Lapstone Road that is now called Greetings and is a bookshop! I hope they stock dear Anna's book and sell piles and piles of copies.

My copy of Run Among Thorns is going with me to Birmingham this coming week t0 be my solace when things get tough in government docs and law libraries. It will make a change!


Monday, June 02, 2008

Catching Up

I have been to Missouri -- and back.

I'm about to head off on Saturday to spend a week in Birmingham, Alabama at Samford University's Institute of Genealogical and Historical Research.

In the meantime I've gone a hundred odd miles in each direction to visit the 100 year old cousin and celebrated her birthday in grand style .

Perhaps "catching up" is not the right term. I feel like I'm still driving. And driving. And I have another 1000 miles to go later this week.

But it's been good -- and I will share some of the art gallery opening with you when I finally drag my camera out of my bags and can upload the photos.

I'm very glad that I had the chance to go, to visit old friends and make new ones. It's a little bit amazing how peoples' lives intersect and move apart and at a much later date, intersect again. It's rather like a tapestry, warp and woof and all that sort of thing. Though heaven forbid I should actually see any pattern to it.

Makes me think, though -- about ideas and where they come from, about characters' pasts and present and future. About the influences that occurred many years ago that may serendipitously come back to touch them when they least expect it.

I'm discussing this with Christo at the moment. And with Natalie. I'm still looking for Natalie. Anyone got any good pics?

Christo and Natalie are talking to me about the past. It's funny about that. Some of the things Christo talks about are things a very early hero of mine, Jake Brosnan in Lightning Storm, talked about. I think it's because a guy I knew used to think about those things. I don't know him anymore. Have no idea where he is, but his influence is still here.

I don't see much of the future yet. Maybe a couple of scenes. Not sure how they're going to play out. Maybe Christo and Jake's far distant source will tell me if I think about it long enough.

Good thing I don't have to come up with a notion of the whole story in the next week or two. Maybe by the time I get back from Alabama I'll have an idea.

In the meantime I need to do quarterly taxes and clean my house and post something about the art retrospective and celebrate the publication of the first novel of a wonderful British writer who very kindly hauled me all over Millom a couple of years back.

I'll be back tomorrow to do that.

While I'm doing that, see if you can find some pix of Natalie, will you? Think of it as your contribution to Christo's future happiness. And mine.