Saturday, August 23, 2014

A Signing at Quarter Moon Books

I'll be back at one of my favorite bookstores on God's green earth for another signing.

Quarter Moon Books

If you're anywhere around Topsail Island, NC, please mark your calendars for September 25th, from 6-8 p.m.

Lori Fisher has owned and operated Quarter Moon since 1995.

She has a delicious assortment of books, a gift selection with readers in mind, clothing to die for, exclusive Topsail Island jewelry and a coffee bar to top it all off.

It's the perfect beach bookshop - one we all dream about finding.  And they love writers.

Hope to see some of you there!

Friday, August 22, 2014

I Want to Meet Tom Robbins

I have been a fan of Tom Robbins forever. 


 And he's coming to Boone! 

 Am I excited? Well, yes. Yes, I am! 

 And I'm trying to win a contest. Appalachian State University is having the contest through Instagram. They've asked people to submit photos tagged #takeatripwithtom Submit a clever photo and on September 9th the judges will decide the winning entry. 

 The winner gets to meet Tom Robbins, wins an autographed copy of his new book "Tibetan Peach Pie: A True Account of an Imaginative Life," and a spot on the front row at his speaking engagement here in Boone. 

The number of comments each photo has will be a contributing factor for winning. 


 If you're have an Instagram app, I would very much appreciate you scooting over to to #takeatripwithtom and leaving a comment. 

 If you're wondering what I'm dressed up as - well, I'm not sure. I just wanted a picture as wild and wacky and off the wall as some of Tom Robbins writing, so I pulled out the Halloween costume box and decided to go with fairy wings and clown hat with a magic wand. I am ready to Take A Trip with Tom!

“It’s better to be absolutely ridiculous than absolutely boring.”

so said Marilyn Monroe.  I agree.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Writing Book #2 - Harder or Easier Than Writing Book #1?

I don't know about anybody else, but writing Book #2 turned out to be painfully hard for me. 

 I had no idea. 

 When I finished "Whimsey: A Novel," I was exhausted. 

 Then came that roller coaster ride that reviews bring. 

 I was not prepared for this. 

 Those first few negative reviews hurt, of course. The snarky reviews? Whoa! What's with that?! 

 If I were to say now that they don't still hurt, a year and a half later, well - I'd be lying. But, they don't hurt as bad as they did. 

 And, as I've said time and time before about books - they're not all written for the same audience and not everyone is supposed to fall in love with every book they pick up. 

 The fact that so many people discovered and fell in love with Whimsey makes the others seem more insignificant than they felt originally. 

 I started writing the second Whimsey pretty quickly after publishing the first, but it just wasn't working. It was, basically, sounding pretty much exactly like the first one, just focusing on a different character. Not good. How much back story is too much? With not enough, will I lose new readers wondering what the hell I'm nattering about? 

 So, I moved away from it and started working on an entirely different novel. One that's a bit darker and one that I think I'm going to love. 


 My mind and my heart kept wandering back to Whimsey. 

 So much so, that I found myself with my toes in the sand and my eyes on that gorgeous Whimsey sky where it meets the ocean and you can't tell where one ends and the other begins. Vibrant shades of blue, green, turquoise, indigo, azure, sapphires and emeralds topped with frothy white suds that mirror the clouds.

 And now, I've moved back. 

 I'm sitting on Aunt Zoe's front porch and I'm seeing things a little more clearly. Drinking a cup of coffee, scratching some words and seeing some scenes. Feeling a little mix of nostalgia about being back and hoping I find this refuge to be as magical as it was the first time around. 

 I'm wondering how Earlene's doing and can't wait to see her again, and wondering if Willie Nelson will find his way back or if he's completely forgotten about the gal who knew all the words to all his songs, but could never seem to find her shoes . . . 

 Anyone out there want to chime in and let me know if writing Book #2 was this terrifying for you? And if so, how'd you handle it?

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Margaret Maron Writes Of Cameos and Courtesies

Of Cameos and Courtesies

        As most of you know, writers will occasionally use the name of a real person in their books and gives them lines to say and scenes to play.  These are known in the business as cameos and I do it all the time.  I've donated many cameos to charity auctions and I'm proud to say they have raised several thousand dollars over the years.

        Sometimes though, it's simply to surprise a friend.

        In Winter's Child, for instance, I gave the name of a friend's daughter to a nurse. The daughter happens to be a real nurse.  My friend said she was reading it in bed late one night and when she came to her daughter's name, she let out such a shriek of delight that she woke her poor husband.  And then she got up, found her phone and woke her daughter. Her reaction was everything I'd hoped it would be.

        Too often though, if it's the name of a mystery friend, I don't get to surprise that friend because someone will read a review copy the minute it's available and immediately email congratulations to the person I'd mentioned, not realizing that they've licked a little red off the candy. The "cameo" misses that moment of surprise.

        In Designated Daughters, my current book, I stuck in the names of four such friends. Two were told before they read it, one got to be surprised, the fourth hasn't yet read the book and no one's yet told her.

        So please, if you read a new book and recognize the name of a mutual friend, do them a favor and don't tell.  You're allowed one innocent question:  "Have you read such-and-such a book yet?  I think you'd enjoy it." Then sit back and wait for them to tell you, okay?

        And of course, you'd never, never go to an author reading and commit the cardinal sin of asking a spoiler question, right?

        One of my friends went to hear a non-mystery author who had written a best seller. The room was jammed with readers who'd just bought the 400-page book. The author had talked in generalities and read a passage that made everyone so concerned for the main character that they couldn't wait to go home and read it.  And then the first question from the audience was "Did you know from the beginning that you were going to let him get killed at the end?"

        Talk about letting the air out of everyone's balloon!

        It's fun to be in the know, to know things others don't know, but please hold it in. Later you can say, "I was dying to tell you, but I didn't want to spoil it."

        They will thank you for it.

Note: to those of you leaving comments. Please don't be concerned that your comment doesn't show up right away.  I have enabled the "comment moderation" feature, so all comments must now go through me before being published.  Don't worry - it won't take too long, but it is no longer immediate.


Thursday, August 14, 2014

Road Trip!

Donald and I love a road trip.

But NOBODY loves a road trip more than Harley!

We're rarely in a big hurry for anything, so we're able to enjoy the beauty of the trip and all it has to offer along the way.

We see tons of wonderful barn quilts between Boone and Asheville, but catching one is sometimes a challenge

Before we got to our hotel in Asheville, Donald spotted a couple of signs for The Sourwood Festival in Black Mountain, so we pulled over and spent a perfect afternoon just strolling and enjoying the delights of a small town festival.

Harley met lots of dogs.

and made friends with lots of little people.

And he even met a sweet pig named Margaret.

There was lots of good food.

And we ran into old friends.  This is Jim Rice of Old Turtle Man Jewelry.  He makes gorgeous pieces, and I had the pleasure of taking a jewelry making class from him at ASU  a few years back.

I thought about several pals when we spotted this dachshund bench - Mary Jane Maffini, Alice Duncan and Tammy Coia

There were pretty little girls in pretty dresses.

And cute little boys with dogs wearing tutus.

And I had some Mountain Fairy Hair highlights added to my hair.

and watched the world go by - - - 

We were all a little tired by the time we got to the hotel.

But before too long, we were also pretty hungry.

So we hit one of our all-time favorite pizza spots

We love this hotel and it's where we always stay when we go to Asheville.  It's the Holiday Inn on Tunnel Road.  It's an older hotel.  One that remembers what guest services is all about.  And they love dogs.  It's lushly landscaped and there are wooded trails for the dogs and for the kids, with swing sets along the way.  There are bookcases full of used books scattered around the hotel - just one of the little touches to make you feel comfortable during your stay.  It's not the place for anyone wanting a luxury hotel, but it suits us to a "T."

And they serve a terrific breakfast righ here in their funky little bar/restaurant call Big Owl's.  (i know, i know - too much, right?  Wrong!  Excellent food, sourced locally).  But, yes there are a lot of owls.  But you know me - I do love owls.

Now, I may not want all those guys sitting around my house - but here, they make me smile.

After breakfast, we took a ride.

and prompty got lost.

and never did find The Bat Cave.

But.  We did find our way to one of the most wonderful camera shops I've ever been in .  
If you're a camera buff, do NOT miss Ball Photo Supply while you're in Asheville.

That was fun!

Then it was time to go back to the hotel for some rest and relaxation time.

Then time to head downtown.

First stop.  The Chocolate Fetish.  Heaven on earth.

Next up.  Malaprop's Books and Cafe, where I'm going to join some other self-published/small press writers for a reading and signing event.

Sheri Wren Haymore, Court McCracken, Malaprop's Virginia MicKinley, Sue Wasserman, and Art Ramsay

Worried that no one would show up.

But they did!  And they were delightful!

Especially Asheville peeps Sallie Bissell, Celia Miles and Nan Dillingham.  (Thanks, guys!!)

and the best husband, best friend, partner and all round sweetest man on God's green earth.  Donald Barley, who even made a video of the event.

Neither of us can ever resist taking a picture of this sculpture in front of Malaprop's.  It's one of many scattered about the city as part of the Urban Trail.  It's name is Shopping Daze.


And then back to the hotel and a late night bowl of corn chowder at Big Owl's.  yum.

I think this little  fellow went to bed without us.

And now, after a good night's sleep, it's time to head home, but we can't do that without our usual stop at the Harley-Davidson place.

This little stop makes Don Barley a happy boy.

I, however, am a little less enthusiastic (especially seeing as how I am less than "camera ready")

And we happened across this little place on our way home.  All God's Creatures . . . .

Mr. Llama did not want his picture taken.

And he still did not want his picture taken

And another stop on the way home is Tom Johnson RV and Camping Center.  We love checking out campers and motor homes.  Doing some research in hopes of having one of these in our future when Donald retires.  

THIS is the one I wanted  to come home with . . . .

And now -

There's no place like home.

Right, Harley?