Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Camp NoFun

Back in the closing decade of the last century -- which is to say in the 90s -- our young nieces used to visit for a week or two every summer.  We called it Camp NoFun and it was meant to give us a chance to get to get to  know each other better and to introduce the girls to country living -- baking bread, picking blackberries, gathering eggs, learning to sew -- all that good stuff.  There was still lots of time to do other  things like playing dressup in my old skirts . . .

...and the ever popular trick of dyeing Queen Anne's Lace by sticking the cut stems in a container of water and food coloring.

Of course, the flower is quite pretty in its natural state. But it's irresistible fun to watch osmosis at work.
It works within a few hours -- except when it doesn't. The stem I put in the red dye keeled over rather than osmose. So did its replacement.

Note to self: Avoid red food coloring.

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Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Good Things -- and a Request

More glorious rain! Sunday's rain ended with a fine rainbow but last night's rain was after dark. There was a fine light show in the east as we sat on the porch drinking coffee and enjoying the cool air.
The turkeys are becoming regulars -- in the early morning we are likely to hear a soft chirping  just outside the back door as the two mamas lead their babies along the bank behind the house, on the way to the bird feeder. 
I mentioned yesterday that I was newly energized to begin work on the promotion aspect of the next book.  To that end, I'm setting up another blog just for The Day of Small Things. 

It won't be a blog like this; instead I see it as more like a small website -- which I can update as needed. At present I have a media page with bios and a photo and another page with an excerpt from the book.

I'd like to add a Frequently Asked Questions pageI have one already on my website but it's about five years old so I'd like some fresh questions.

Which is where you all come in -- all questions gratefully received. Is there anything you would would like to know about me or my writing?

I'll post a link to this new site in a few days, after I've ironed out a few of the kinks and after I've set up the FAQ page. And then I'll take suggestions for more additions.
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Monday, June 28, 2010

A Hint of Excitement . . .

I've been enjoying this break from writing (no, still no word from my editor about UNDER THE SKIN) and it's been pleasant to wake in the morning with nothing on my mind beyond working in the garden, planting some more day lilies, and checking on the Japanese iris.
But then I received a few bound galleys of The Day of Small Things. These bound galleys replace the ARCs (advance reading copies) the publishers used to send out to reviewers. I assume it's a cost cutting measure; I think it's limited to mass market paperbacks such as mine.
Frankly, I've been feeling like the red-headed stepchild ever since I heard there wouldn't be ARCs and haven't been thinking much about the book's release. But when I saw again the words that I'd struggled with for so long, a tiny surge of pride and optimism ran through me and suddenly I was back in gear.
In a sudden burst of energy, I emailed the various booksellers who've hosted me in the past and began the process of setting up events for my book's release. And, taking a deep breath, I signed up for  Bouchercon, the big mystery convention which is in San Francisco this October, just a few weeks after The Day of Small Things hits the shelves. It was the attendees of this convention who nominated In a Dark Season for an Anthony last year so I can hope that this book will have a decent reception there.

I'm really proud of this book and want to do everything possible to ensure its success. The way a book sells in the first month or six weeks after its release is something publishers pay a lot of attention to --- so, I'll give it my best shot.

There'll still be time to watch the figs ripen. . .
  ... and to keep an eye on that gang of turkeys.

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Sunday, June 27, 2010

The Rain Came

Click on picture below for slide show with commentary.  Happy Sunday! 

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Saturday, June 26, 2010

A Popular Hangout

Yesterday afternoon I looked out the bedroom window and saw two turkey hens scratching around beneath the bird feeder. It had been quite a while since they'd visited and I was happy to see they were still around.
A closer look showed what they'd been up to -- each had  a bunch of poults with her.
One  led her brood off as soon as she saw me at the window,  the babies scurrying after her through the tall grass. 

The other hen continued to excavate for birdseed, stopping now and again to keep an eye on me. I counted at least 14 poults in all and there may well have been more.

 A little later, I looked out to see if the turkeys were still there.  No, they weren't . . .
 But Ali Ali and a reckless young raccoon were.
 I'm in a tight spot now! says the reckless young raccoon.
 Gotta get out of this place . . .
 Luckily, Ali Ali allowed himself to be called away and put inside . . .
And the reckless young raccoon scuttled for the safety of the nearest tall tree.
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Friday, June 25, 2010

The Voice in the Whirlwind

Then the LORD answered Job out of the whirlwind, and said, 
Who is this that darkeneth counsel by words without knowledge? 
Gird up now thy loins like a man; for I will demand of thee, and answer thou me. 

Where wast thou when I laid the foundations of the earth? declare, if thou hast understanding. 
Who hath laid the measures thereof, if thou knowest? or who hath stretched the line upon it? Whereupon are the foundations thereof fastened? or who laid the corner stone thereof; 
When the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy?

  Or who shut up the sea with doors, when it brake forth, as if it had issued out of the womb?
When I made the cloud the garment thereof, and thick darkness a swaddling band for it,
And brake up for it my decreed place, and set bars and doors, 
And said, Hitherto shalt thou come, but no further: and here shall thy proud waves be stayed?
Hast thou commanded the morning since thy days; and caused the dayspring to know his place; 
That it might take hold of the ends of the earth, that the wicked might be shaken out of it? ...
Hast thou entered into the springs of the sea? or hast thou walked in the search of the depth? Have the gates of death been opened unto thee? or hast thou seen the doors of the shadow of death? 
Hast thou perceived the breadth of the earth? declare if thou knowest it all.

... Who hath divided a watercourse for the overflowing of waters, or a way for the lightning of thunder; 
To cause it to rain on the earth, where no man is; on the wilderness, wherein there is no man;
To satisfy the desolate and waste ground; and to cause the bud of the tender herb to spring forth? 
Hath the rain a father? or who hath begotten the drops of dew?

. . . Knowest thou the ordinances of heaven? canst thou set the dominion thereof in the earth?  Canst thou lift up thy voice to the clouds, that abundance of waters may cover thee?
Canst thou send lightnings, that they may go and say unto thee, Here we are? 
Who hath put wisdom in the inward parts? or who hath given understanding to the heart? Who can number the clouds in wisdom? or who can stay the bottles of heaven . . .

These pictures are some that came around on the Internet, supposedly of the skies just before Hurricane Katrina. I don't know who took them or even if they're authentic. 

But, oh my, they are awe-inspiring and at once brought to mind words from the Book of Job -- one of the Bible's most troubling stories with some of its most glorious language.

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Thursday, June 24, 2010

What were YOU Doing in the 80s?

 Dig out your neon, your teased dos, your pointy shoes and your vinyl! We're going back to the 80s! 

That was on the invitation from Poetikat to do an 80s Retro Blog Post today.

I gotta say -- my 80s weren't like that. We were in full back-to-the-land mode -- milking, gardening, raising a crop of tobacco every year, and making use of child labor.  The two young uns below are my son Ethan and my nephew Andrew. They are helping to pull tobacco plants from the seed bed for us to set out in the field. It would be sometime in June.  This picture and the next are probably circa 1979 but we were still doing this in the 80s.

And this below is a letter from me to my grandparents (whom I called 'Ba' and 'Hudy') back in Tampa, telling them something about our life and how we harvest the tobacco.

And this last picture would be in August or September. The harvested tobacco is on the truck, ready to be hung in the barn. Justin is helping by picking up loose tobacco leaves.

Nope, no neon, no teased dos (John's hair is naturally curly), and absolutely no pointy shoes. We did have vinyl records back at the house.

And I did love our 80s.
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Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Book Club ... with Poultry

These charming folks invited me to their book club last night.  I have to say, this is a lovely way to meet with a group (as long as it's of a manageable size.) 

We ate dinner ( two different lasagnas-- one with zucchini slices instead of pasta -- both delicious, a fancy salad with grapes and sugared nuts, and brownies and a marvelous lemony polenta cake with fruit and whipped cream.)

And while we ate, we talked about Signs in the Blood -- and I told them about the original ending to the Little Sylvie story, as well as how the story came to be.

This is fun for me -- I usually know the answers to the questions. And it was more like a group of friends having dinner than me Giving a Talk. 

And for an added fillip, there were baby ducks. And chickens. And dogs and cats. I really felt right at home.
These are baby Runner Ducks -- ducks kept for eggs, not for eating. They stand very erect and look like a covey of bowling pins as they wobble along after their mamas -- who happen to be two hens, one of whom brooded the eggs.

The neat thing is that this is a house in a wooded suburban development. Kim and her husband have a chicken house and a chicken tractor as well as lots of herbs and tomatoes growing in places where you might expect to see traditional landscaping.

I think Elizabeth Goodweather would feel at home too.
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