Aerobic Exercise – Carolyn

I am aerobic exercise challenged. I hate treadmills. They are boring. If I get absorbed in reading or watching television, I tend to shoot myself out the back. I’m insufficiently coordinated to use one of those elliptical things or the ski thingie.

Unfortunately, I live on a highway. Walking anywhere from my house is courting being squashed flat by a speeding 18-wheeler. Lately it’s been too muddy, too icey or too snowy to walk my pastures. I have a fine bicycle that I do not dare ride on my road either. People do, but they are barking mad and only ride in big groups—generally right down my side of the road. It’s been too cold and icy to ride or drive my horses, and as much as I love my Tai Chi, it’s not generally as aerobic as it might be. Though not always. I work with the Tai Chi straight sword and the Wu style fast set, both of which can leave me sweating like a hog in August and gasping for breath.

Still, I haven’t found any aerobic exercise that I wanted to do. Until I started my ballroom dancing classes. I thought my legs were strong, but they ain’t nearly as strong as I supposed they were. Believe me, an hour of learning salsa left me soaking wet and downright shaky. Add to that rumba and tango and swing and waltz and foxtrot with half a dozen partners, all of whom are young and fit. By the time I dragged myself out to my car to drive home, I was about ready to collapse.

But, boy, was it fun! Not boring. Not solitary. Not repetitive. No pressure to be perfect. The thing about dancing when you’re female is that you get to give up total control to your partner. For somebody like me who tends to be a control freak, that is a joy.

I have read that top executives, big time doctors and lawyers, and people like airline pilots get into S & M because they crave having control wrested from them. I won’t to that far. The first time somebody comes at me with a riding crop, I will deck him and call the cops. Fifty Shades of Grey? Forgeddaboutit.

But dancing is different.

The funny is thing is that I’m pretty good at it for an old, fat lady. I suppose it’s muscle memory from my misspent youth. Being married to a non-dancer for forty-seven years doesn’t seem to have totally wiped my brain circuits.

George used to say that the only way he could march was by sticking close to the base drum. He managed to get through a twenty-year career as an officer without dancing a step. That’s next to impossible. But there are a number of people in my class who are without partners. Some have husbands or wives or significant others who don’t want to dance. Some, like me, have lost partners. And nobody treats me like the most senior of the students or makes allowances for me. I appreciate that.

Now, if I can only find a Zumba gold class…

Group mentality

I’m not here today.

Perhaps this will give you a clue to my location.

SF

Yep. I’m in San Francisco, with 60+ Indie authors taking part in an UnCon.

What is an Uncon, you ask?

Well, it’s not this: RWA

This is my first Uncon, so I can’t say for certain, but my hope is–and from what I heard attendees of previous Uncons say, it’s: practical, hands-on, in the trenches, tried and true, been-there-done-that information shared in an informal, organic group setting. No formal agenda–except for a couple of already-agreed upon industry speakers.

I’m excited and just a tiny bit nervous. I have some specific questions–mostly about how to save time on the PR side of this biz. And how to stay informed without spending three hours each morning reading emails/group posts.

But it’s not all work, of course. I’ll be hanging with my friends in San Francisco, for the weekend. How cool is that? Maybe, if we have time, I’ll take them to one of my favorite spots. We can meditate on our future success as we walk the labyrinth at Grace Catherdral. http://www.gracecathedral.org/visit/labyrinth/

A few years ago standing on the step of Grace Cathedral on Nob Hill.

A few years ago standing on the steps of Grace Cathedral on Nob Hill.

I hope you have a lovely weekend. If the weather is still awful in your part of the world, I hope you can hunker down and curl up with a good book. I’d be happy to recommend my latest, which was released on Monday.

MontanaMaverick-MEDIUM

It’s only available at Amazon for the moment. The reviews are making me very happy. Here’s the link if you’re interested. MAVERICK

See you next week when we prepare to “spring ahead.” Again. Arguh!!!

Deb

 

All that Glitters

Can you believe that February is all but behind us? It’s been a crazy month. Record snowfall in some places, frigid temperatures in areas of the country that rarely get such harsh weather, and all manner of bad weather over most of the country.

While it’s true that here in the greater Seattle area, our weather has been relatively mild, I think we could all use a mood lift. Glitter, anyone?

glitter-makes-better-printable

I love the sparkle and fun glitter adds to anything. Parties, celebrations, nails, shoes and fairy wands–anything.

Here are some fun glittery things, and a few weird uses of the stuff, to brighten your day.

glitter-pic

Does not look fun to wear!

Does not look fun to wear!

A glitter toilet--who'd have thought?

A glitter toilet–who’d have thought?

glitter-nails

A glitter bathtub. Wow!

A glitter bathtub. Wow!

glitterjars

Now I’m feeling all glittery and happy. I hope you are, too!

Until next time, (in March!)
Ann

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Welcoming The Next Family Member! (Tara Taylor Quinn)

MotherByFateThree More Days until the official drop down of book five in the Where Secrets Are Save series!  While this book involves The Lemonade Stand, a unique, resort like women’s shelter on the California coast, it is unrelated to any of the other books.

That said, if you read any of the other stories, you will know one person, peripherally in Mother By Fate.  She is mentioned many times in the previous books.  In my mind she was a major player.  I knew her so well.  I felt that she was fully part of the family.  I relied on her.

And yet, when I sat down to write her story, I discovered that she was a phantom.  I’d mentioned her, but she hadn’t actually been on the page.  Not one appearance!  I couldn’t believe it.  I had no idea what this woman looked like.  How she dressed.  She had no mannerisms.  She’d never spoken!

So…on March 1st, her voice will finally be heard!!  She gets her say.  And she tells her story!

Guess who she is (not just a name) for a chance to win a free e-copy before the book is released!

 

Words from An Executive Editor (Marsha Zinberg)

***ttq here!  Just like a girl never forgets her first kiss, an author never forgets her first sale.  Mine happened in 1992.  But the process began two years before that.  I met then Harlequin Superromance Senior Editor, Marsha Zinberg, at a conference in Scottsdale Arizona.  It was my very first writer’s conference.  I wasn’t a member of anything.  Had never even spoken to another professional writer before.  I arrived just as introductions were being made at a cocktail gathering.  Marsha had just been introduced.  I was there to meet her.  I’d heard she was going to be there and I’d read every single Superromance since the line’s inception.  I intercepted her before she had a chance to sit down.  Over the next two hours Marsha was gracious through her fatigue, classy through my rudeness in breaking every rule of etiquette between writers and editors, and most of all, she was brilliant when it came to books.  She worked with me for two years, helping me to hone my craft.  She bought my first book.  And I have been, and am still, contracted with Superromance, non-stop, ever since.  Marsha knows her stuff!  Today I am thrilled to bring Marsha to you.  So…everyone, please welcome, former Harlequin Executive Editor, Marsha Zinberg!***

MARSHA ZINBERG:

Marsha Zinberg new promoMy romance with stories, books, and the written word began fairly early. I can still see myself at age four, sitting on my knees, gazing morosely out the window at my older brother as he headed off to school. I couldn’t understand his lack of enthusiasm as my mother hustled him out the door. I was so envious. He could read! I was desperate to read, and if I could just go to school, then I’d learn how!

Fast forward to the fourth grade. Every other Tuesday after school, my best friend and I would ride our bikes to the parking lot of the local grocery store, where the Bookmobile was scheduled to stop to serve a newish suburban community not as yet blessed with their own local branch of the library. We were allowed to borrow four books per visit. My friend and I would consult before making our choices, ensuring neither of us had previously read any of them and that they all appealed to us both. Then, once we had devoured our own four, we would swap, because we would go through our allotment sooner than the next scheduled Bookmobile visit. When I reconnected with that friend decades later, she reminded me that one of our main activities together was “eating books!”

I never dropped the habit. I consumed not only fiction but every issue of National Geographic from the time I was about ten or so, nurturing a life-long curiosity about distant lands as well as a thirst for travel that has not abated. I chewed my way through an Honours English degree at the University of Toronto, which in those days included mandatory courses in both Anglo-Saxon and Middle English, and every other possible period of English, American and Canadian literature that existed until I graduated. Not yet satisfied, I went on to complete a Master’s degree, specializing in drama and the novel. Fascination with story structure, the architecture of plot, the genius of character development, has been in my DNA, I think, well before my mother was reading Madeline…over and over…to me.

I didn’t necessarily intend to become an editor, but it happened fairly organically. I had been leading women’s book discussion groups while my children were toddlers, but by the time my son was in kindergarten, I was already casting about for something more permanent when my brother-in-law drew my attention to an ad placed by Harlequin for an assistant editor for their Superromance line. Three years later, I was senior editor. Some of the most challenging and enjoyable projects I worked on in addition to series were the out-of-series continuities I developed with my team, together with the input of many authors I had the pleasure of working with.   As the scope of my duties increased with the executive editor designation, I handled non-fiction, hundreds of reissues, anthologies, mysteries, men’s adventure–well, just about everything. My husband does get a little annoyed when I edit restaurant menus. (doesn’t anyone know how to spell these days??) I do try to restrain myself….

I come from a large family and a wide social circle that takes celebrating milestones seriously. So over the years, between my corporate and private lives, I had found myself composing and delivering speeches quite regularly. And eventually, helping others with their speechwriting dilemmas. Though I resisted for a long time, I began writing speeches professionally several years ago; it has provided me with many memorable moments and the opportunity to meet dozens of fascinating individuals from various corporate, philanthropic and social spheres.

A few months ago, I was asked to help with the tribute to a client’s dear friend for a special birthday celebration. The honoree was a huge Elton John fan, so instead of a speech, I was asked to rewrite the lyrics to four or five Elton John classics, composing mini-stories, descriptions and gentle teases about the birthday girl so that her guests could sing them to her. Can you guess how many times I listened to those songs in order to get the meter and the rhyme just right? It was a challenging assignment, but also great fun!

Just a few weeks ago, as I was driving down the highway one evening on the way to a play, I received a panicked call on my cell from a man who had been asked to deliver the eulogy at a colleague’s funeral. He was concerned because he felt that everything he had to say about the fellow was too risque for a public speech.   I told him I was sure we could work it out. “How much time do we have?” I asked him. “When is the funeral?”

“Oh, he’s not dead yet!” he informed me. His wife thinks it will be anytime now, but I had lunch with him last week and he seemed ok to me!”

I do love the speechwriting business! You just never know what will be thrown at you…..and there’s practically always a tight deadline! So my company, The Write Touch, keeps evolving, as clients ask to me to tackle all sorts of projects stretching across various mediums and markets. In addition to becoming a pseudo-lyricist, I’ve written a short film script, some landing page copy—which corporately is known as strategic messaging, an acceptance speech for a posthumous award presented to the family of an Italian immigrant turned self-made millionaire, several speeches given at the official opening of a new hospital wing, and countless wedding tributes for grooms, dads, brides and other members of the wedding party. And edited….just about everything, restaurant menus included.

Nowadays, after thirty years at Harlequin, several decades’ worth of attendance at the Romance Writers’ of America, Novelists Inc and other writers’ conferences, lots of travel (but never enough!), hundreds of editing projects and scores of speeches under my belt, I feel so blessed to be able to choose the projects I want to work on. My lust for the bon mot makes me happiest with some writing or editing project always on the go. In the last eighteen months, since I’ve left the corporate publishing world to work at my own business, I’ve also de-cluttered my home of thirty-four years, sold it and moved with my husband to a condo, travelled to China, celebrated the fourth, sixth, seventh and ninth birthdays of my grandchildren, and transplanted my garden to my daughter and son-in-law’s backyard. While renovating the condo, I tackled all the writing assignments I just mentioned above, clicking away at odd hours in a temporary office set up in children’s basement.

When I’m not tinkering with words in some form or another, I’m happily on call for my share of grand-parenting duties. One of our favorite activities? We write stories. I help the kids compose their own imaginative sagas, and then I turn them into books.

I guess you can take the girl (or grandmother, in this case!) out of the book biz, but the book biz will never really be out of the girl, because I do miss my formerly consistent diet of novel acquisition, analysis, and editing. And even more, I miss the relationships with so many authors that arose from my publishing duties. Which is why, now that the dust has settled, I’ve decided to renew my ties with the book business by offering my services and experience in a way that suits the needs and rhythm of the current market.

Many established authors I’ve known throughout the years are now taking the opportunity to reacquire rights to books that may have been published many years ago. They have the means and opportunity to republish them, often digitally, but they face the dilemma of feeling that the books need updating, yet the demands of their front-list publishing schedules leave them no time to do that work. That’s where I come in. Heck, I may have even edited that book the first time around, or at least have been familiar with it in its original form! And for newer authors, or those now publishing independently, I can offer my editorial expertise to get their work into the best possible shape for publication.

I’ll also be welcoming potential clients and taking appointments at the RWA tradeshow in New York this summer. I’m so looking forward to seeing many familiar faces and making the acquaintance of new authors who may need my services!

Are you going to be in New York? Please visit The Write Touch at Friday’s trade show. You can also contact me at marsha@writetouch.ca or 416 543 8282 for more information or to set up an appointment. And if not…..well, I’m always happy to hear from authors!   I’d love to chat about how we might work together!

And just to get the discussion started, what do you think: should “old” books be updated, or do references to cell phones as big as an old radio add to the charm? What’s your preference….leave the original pristine, or “refresh” it?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ghost Stories and Ice – Carolyn

I love writing ghost stories. Malice in Memphis, our mystery writers group, is assembling an anthology of ghost stories set in Memphis and West Tennessee locations to follow the one we just put out on mystery short stories—Bluff City Mysteries. That anthology, by the way, is doing pretty well.

I have to admit, I already have half a dozen ghost short stories to submit—not that we’ll use more than two of them at most. I’ve been writing ghost stories the last couple of years. My last two unpublished novels are both ghost stories. I’m hoping to interest a publisher in them. If not, I may go the Epub route simply because I’d like someone to read them, and one hopes, enjoy them. One is about a woman who is infested with ghost horses. The other is about the most haunted castle in Scotland.

I am fascinated by the possibilities of ghosts and their interaction with the living. From all the studying I’ve done—and I’ve done quite a bit—it seems as though the constant is that these leftovers seem to happen in cases of violent and sudden death. I don’t honestly think I believe in ghosts. Certainly not as sentient entities. I think that High Spirits (one of the funniest movies ever made) probably has it right. The ghosts seem to repeat the same few seconds of their deaths over and over again. Like the leftovers on an old television screen when the power switch is turned off. Only when they actually do start to interact with the living does the craziness occur. If you haven’t seen the movie, please rent it and watch it when you’re really down in the dumps.

Almost every place seems to have accumulated its share of ghost stories. Old places, of course, have more possibilities simply because they have been around to collect ghosts longer. But as I recall, Poltergeist was about a new house. The south has more than its share of haunting stories. Some are famous, like the Bell Witch, but most are kept as neat little secrets in families. Our Malice group already has stories to be set in the Memphis zoo, the old ballpark (which burned down many years ago), and several old neighborhoods that have come down in the world. They all have one thing in common—in most cases the ghosts need something or want something that they don’t seem to be able to find. A few simply don’t want to leave the places they were happiest in life and resent people’s attempting to boot them out.

I do like the idea of animal ghosts. A great theologian was once asked whether he believed that our pets live on in the afterlife so that we will be reunited with them. He is supposed to have replied that either they will be there for us to join them, or somehow God will fix it so we don’t mind.

Frankly, I’m not sure how. But then it’s not my problem, thank God.

We have spent the last week fighting ice. In some ways it’s much scarier than snow, as well as being much less attractive. I am using George’s cane when I go out to the barn to feed the horses and pretty much staying off the roads. At least we’re not battling feet of soggy snow like those poor people in the north. And so far, none of it seems to have hurt the jonquils.

Weather/No Whine Here (Pat)

I live in Memphis, a region most often called the mid-south. It’s about 300 miles south of most of the major snow storms that sweep through the mid west.   Snow is rare here.   Ice storms visit us every six or seven or eight years, but they don’t last long.   In the nearly twenty-five years I’ve lived here, I remember two that were prolonged and serioius.

So while we watched, with wonder and sympathy at the plight of our fellow citizens in Boston and upper New York and Chicago this winter, we dwelled in relative comfort.   Until, that is,  Monday morning when we cauaght a wee taste of what the rest of our northern brethren is suffering.    Schools have been closed four of five days this week because of snow,  freezing rain and sleet,   Our temperature dipped to +6 which is  embarrassingly high compared to  North Dakota and Boston and New York and Chicago.  Although it’s nearly a record here, I’m kinda of ashamed to even mention it.

But for us it’s a big deal..   A really big deal.   As I mentioned, schools closed, businesses closed and people stayed home.   The very mention of snow or ice always  sends our residents running to the grocery store in a panic, even though we know it’s going to be gone in two days.    I went my grocery store Sunday morning at the very hint of snow,  By that night, I thought to check and see how groocery stores were doing and discovered that the parking lot was so filled that cars were waiting on a major highway to just get into the very large lot.     I hear that the stores were sold out of practically everything.

So Monday came and so did the promised sleet and ice.  About half an inch.  Schools closed.   Businesses closed.   Government closed down.   Those who dared the road had accidents.   Southerners — evem mid-south southerners — simply do not know how to drive in even minimal ice.

Okay, the ice was bad enough Monday and Tuesday to keep people home.   The sun came out (although the temperatures did not improve)  Wednesday and melted much of the ice but enough remained that schools were closed for the third day..   Come Thursday, some school systems remained close, some opened, but then there was the warning of more ice on Friday.  Everything closed down again.

Today — Saturday –the ice is mostly gone.  I walked my dogs in the nearby park where I take them every morning.    I did so in splendid isolation Thursday and Friday as well.   The usual  dog walkers were nowhere to be seen.    I can only guess that my dogs are more insistent then theirs.   Some paths were still icy as were the walking bridges, but my dogs do not recognize snow or ice or low temperatures when they are in their beloved park.   They won’t go outside in my backyard when there’s ice, but they are only too delighted to walk in the icy park..

And since everything else was closed, I got a lot of work done.   No excuses.

So I have survived well throughout our mini ice,.barely any snow storm.

I am definitely not going to whine about ‘our weather event.’   I just find it very peculiar,

A reminder: “Tempted By A Soldier,” the sequel to “The Soldier’s Promise,” is now availabe through Amazon, Nook and Harlequin.   If you like dogs and admire veterans, you will love these two books. . A third is a work in progress.

Also, my three Scottish trilogies will be available as E-books March 3rd.  You can take a look at them now on Amazon and other platforms.   Two weeks later, my western historicals will be available.

And the Oscar goes to…

Be honest. You’re a little curious about Hollywood’s night of nights, aren’t you?

imgres-1The glam. The fashion. The fashion missteps. The snubs. The gracious winners. Who will give the best thank you speech? Who will forget to mention a spouse and wind up sleeping on the couch? ;-)

Normally, my granddaughters and I go all out on Oscar night. We “bling up,” pull out the fancy dresses and heels (borrowed from me), and set out fancy eats. Here is one of last year’s recipes.

Almond-Crusted Fried Brie
Author:  Deb Salonen (Adapted from Bon Appétit, November 1999)
Recipe type: appetizer
Cuisine: decadent
Prep time:  1 hour 30 mins
Cook time:  15 mins
Total time:  1 hour 45 mins
Serves: 2-4
Fried cheese is far too predictable. Fried brie…now, that’s fancy.
Ingredients
  • 1 small wheel of brie, cut into wedges or quarters
  • 1 cup almonds (you may also use hazelnuts, walnuts, pecans, or a combination)
  • 2 Tbsp. sesame seeds
  • 1 tsp. chopped fresh thyme
  • pinch salt
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 Tbsp. half & half
  • canola oil, for cooking
Instructions
  1. Freeze brie for 30 minutes. Finely chop nuts with sesame seeds, thyme and salt in the bowl of a food processor, then transfer to a shallow bowl. In another bowl, stir together the egg and cream with a fork. Remove cheese from freezer and dip each wedge into egg and then into nuts, turning to coat and pressing the nuts to help them adhere. (You should have a nice thick crust.) Cover with plastic and refrigerate until very cold, at least 45 minutes. (Can be made 6 hours ahead. Keep refrigerated.)
  2. Pour about an inch of oil into a shallow pan or small skillet set over medium-high heat until hot but not smoking. (A piece of bread should sizzle when dipped in.) Working in batches, fry brie a couple pieces at a time until deep golden brown, turning as needed. Transfer to paper towels to drain and serve immediately, while still warm.
I very rarely have a voting favorite going into this because I don’t see a lot of first releases. This year, I’ve only seen one Best Picture nominee: The Grand Budapest Hotel. I can’t imagine why it was nominated. Seriously, I don’t get it. I found it mildly entertaining, but Best Picture? Really? (Maybe all the actors who were in it voted for themselves.)
Of the Best Actor/Actress/Supporting possibilities, I also can only claim one movie, which I dragged my granddaughters to by mistake: Into The Woods. Please, Academy, not Meryl. Not this time.
So, give me some help. Who should we be rooting for? Who will be the best dressed?
Deb

 

Still Learning, After All These Years

The other night, my husband and I saw a most wonderful and unusual film. Mr. Turner has been nominated for three academy awards: cinematography (so deserved!), original music score and costume design.

Mr Turner scene from film

I knew very little about this amazing artist, whose paintings I have  seen in books and museums, and I learned a great deal. Turner’s use of light and his impressionistic style put him a good 60 years ahead of his time.

One of Joseph Mallord William Turner's magnificent paintings

One of Joseph Mallord William Turner’s magnificent paintings

Royal Academy of Arts, London

Royal Academy of Arts, London

On the other hand, this film failed to explain so much, leaving gaping holes. Why was Turner estranged from his mistress and daughters (I only learned she was his mistress and not his wife in an interview I heard AFTER the movie), and why did he tell people he had no children? are just two of a whole host of unanswered questions.

Turner's ex-mistress and daughters

Turner’s ex-mistress and daughters

Did Mr. Turner marry this woman or not?

Did Mr. Turner marry this woman or not?

As a seasoned writer, I am well aware that every story worth reading/seeing/listening to has a beginning, middle and end. But this film started somewhere in the middle and gradually moved on to a not-quite end, without utilizing any of the usual story cues, or answering the when and why and then what that we all depend on. This often left the audience (me!) confused.

Usually, leaving out such crucial information bothers me a great deal, so much that I can’t even finish watching/reading/listening to the so-called story. But this time, I enjoyed this film so much and felt so enriched from the art and the feel of the time and place that I forgave the gaps and holes and unanswered questions. Which surprised the editor in me no end, but there it is.

And I learned that there are exceptions to every rule I know about Story. (Yes, I thought I knew all about exceptions, but I guess I didn’t really “get” it…) And I discovered something new–that at rare times, even without the story cues I’ve come to expect and rely on, some stories are well-worth my attention.

What do you think? Have you seen this film, and if so, did you like it or not?

Until next time,
Ann

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Booksignings – Carolyn

Now that our Malice in Memphis mystery anthology, Bluff City Mysteries, is out in paperback, hard cover and on Kindle and Nook, several of our members who have never been published before are discovering both the joys and miseries of book-signings. First of all, family members tend to expect a free book. And they never talk about the book to their friends and relations. I suspect they don’t realize that writers have to pay their publishers for books. Usually at the booksellers discount, but still, they aren’t free.

We are blessed in having one of our members who is so overworked it’s hard to believe she finds the time to sleep, yet she’s set up book signings for the group. Since there are so many of us who have stories in the anthology, there’s always somebody who can go sign.

And your first book signing is a rush. I love talking to strangers. Like most southern women I want to know about everybody’s jobs, family, likes, dislikes, even sometimes the names of their dogs and cats. Everybody has a story to tell, and every story is grist for a writer’s mill. People enjoy talking about what they do for a living. You never know what someone will volunteer a tidbit that solves a plot problem somewhere in the next twenty chapters of your book.

The down side is the book signing in a grocery store or somewhere else where readers do not necessarily congregate. I can’t tell you how many times someone with a half-filled grocery cart has asked me where to find the popcorn. Since it’s seldom my store, I never know. Most people are wonderful and stop to chat, even if they don’t buy a book.

Then there are the passers-by who stare at us as though we were a new breed of Pangolin, and probably a man-eater at that. They say, “I don’t have time to read.” Or “I used to read, but I’m too busy for that stuff.” (With a sneer) Or, worst of all, “I hate reading.” As Nora Roberts said in a different context, that’s basically telling a writer, “Your baby is ugly.”

They are frazzled. These days most of us are. Although things are changing, they have certainly not actually changed. Men and women still generally have a job—or two in this economy. They come home, do a couple of chores, watch a little television, go to bed and do the same thing over tomorrow. But women still do the bulk of the child rearing and the house holding on top of everything else.

George, who was an electrical and every other kind of engineer, once asked me how to turn on the washing machine. I always said that if I died, he’d remarry as soon as his sock drawer got empty. Women are the multi-taskers. But if they took even five or ten minutes a day to drop into a book, another world, other people’s problems, I think they might feel less frazzled.

We’ve been taught to feel guilty if we take time for ourselves. Personally, I’m selfish. My daughter learned to read before she was three, so she wouldn’t be bored while she waited for adults to do their chores. She used to ride in the grocery cart with her head in a book. She’s grown up to be writer herself.

Every time I sell a book, I am delighted. I hope and pray that once they read it, the readers will be delighted as well. I look for those reviews on Amazon and pray they are complimentary. Bless their hearts.

I’m preaching to the choir here, of course. You wouldn’t be reading this if you didn’t enjoy books. Spread the word. Reading is good for the soul. And smile at your local book-signing author the next time you spot one staring at you with a dopey grin on her face. Trust me, she needs it.

Now that our Malice in Memphis mystery anthology, Bluff City Mysteries, is out in paperback, hard cover and on Kindle and Nook, several of our members who have never been published before are discovering both the joys and miseries of book-signings. First of all, family members tend to expect a free book. I suspect they don’t realize that writers have to pay their publishers for books. Usually at the booksellers discount, but still, they aren’t free.

We are blessed in having one of our members who is so overworked it’s hard to believe she finds the time to sleep, yet she’s set up book signings for the group. Since there are so many of us who have stories in the anthology, there’s always somebody who can go sign.

And your first book signing is a rush. I love talking to strangers. Like most southern women I want to know about everybody’s jobs, family, likes, dislikes, even sometimes the names of their dogs and cats. Everybody has a story to tell, and every story is grist for a writer’s mill. People enjoy talking about what they do for a living. You never know what someone will volunteer a tidbit that solves a plot problem somewhere in the next twenty chapters of your book.

The down side is the book signing in a grocery store or somewhere else where readers do not necessarily congregate. I can’t tell you how many times someone with a half-filled grocery cart has asked me where to find the popcorn. Since it’s seldom my store, I never know. Most people are wonderful and stop to chat, even if they don’t buy a book.

Then there are the passers-by who stare at us as though we were a new breed of Pangolin, and probably a man-eater at that. They say, “I don’t have time to read.” Or “I used to read, but I’m too busy for that stuff.” (With a sneer) Or, worst of all, “I hate reading.” As Nora Roberts said in a different context, that’s basically telling a writer, “Your baby is ugly.”

They are frazzled. These days most of us are. Although things are changing, they have certainly not actually changed. Men and women still generally have a job—or two in this economy. They come home, do a couple of chores, watch a little television, go to bed and do the same thing over tomorrow. But women still do the bulk of the child rearing and the house holding on top of everything else.

George, who was an electrical and every other kind of engineer, once asked me how to turn on the washing machine. I always said that if I died, he’d remarry as soon as his sock drawer got empty. Women are the multi-taskers. But if they took even five or ten minutes a day to drop into a book, another world, other people’s problems, I think they might feel less frazzled.

We’ve been taught to feel guilty if we take time for ourselves. Personally, I’m selfish. My daughter learned to read before she was three, so she wouldn’t be bored while she waited for adults to do their chores. She used to ride in the grocery cart with her head in a book. She’s grown up to be writer herself.

Every time I sell a book, I am delighted. I hope and pray that once they read it, the readers will be delighted as well. I look for those reviews on Amazon and pray they are complimentary. Bless their hearts.

I’m preaching to the choir here, of course. You wouldn’t be reading this if you didn’t enjoy books. Spread the word. Reading is good for the soul. And smile at your local book-signing author the next time you spot one staring at you with a dopey grin on her face. Trust me, she needs it.