Sunday, March 1, 2015

Today I'm Playing at Jungle Red


First Sunday of the month - Yay!  

My day to play as "Oh, Kaye!"

I hope you'll drop by Jungle Red for a visit.

I'm chatting about women.  The lovely and the horrid.

And I'd like to hear what you think.

http://www.jungleredwriters.com/

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Anne Cleeland


I have recently discovered Anne Cleeland's New Scotland Yard Mystery Series.


From Booklist: "Chief Inspector Acton of Scotland Yard, a British lord, and his protégée, first-year Detective Constable Kathleen Doyle, an Irish redhead of humble origins, definitely rate readers’ attention. Doyle’s gift for reading people makes her invaluable to the veteran inspector, yet she struggles to keep her coveted entry position and build on her meager education by using multisyllabic words she’s researched and practiced to enlarge her vocabulary and impress Acton. Their growing bond is deftly depicted by Cleeland as Acton quietly offers a loan to Doyle, who is trying to make ends meet. From pride and professionalism, she declines, but the telling incident lingers powerfully for her, just as this entertaining pair will linger in readers’ imaginations, making them want more."


As sometimes happens, I stumbled onto this series by receiving an advance eGalley of the third in the series through netgalley.com.


Before reading it, I read a little about the series and decided to give the first one a try.


I was hooked. Immediately hooked.


And now, after reading all three, I am completely and totally smitten with the series and I can't wait for the fourth one (even though the third one hasn't even been released yet).


The novels are different from anything else being written right now. I have found them to be refreshing and bright.  The characters - lead AND supporting - are all a bit off-center, odd and thoroughly engaging. I enjoy Cleeland's sly wit and her knack for dialogue. This is a series I hope to still be reading years from now.







Monday, February 23, 2015

Ramona DeFelice Long


From Ramona's webpage: 

 "Ramona splits her times as an author, editor, instructor, and all-around literary cheerleader. She lives in Delaware but likes to traipse off to writing conferences, poetry readings, author talks, and the monthly flea market at the firehouse. Her favorite holiday is Thanksgiving. Her favorite food is Crème Brulee. She once had a dog named Marcie and still misses her. "

And she has a wonderful blog, which I've only just discovered.

I love sharing blogs I find fun and interesting just as much as I love sharing books.  As it happens, Ramona is now in the process of sharing books from her own personal library that she has found to be "insightful, intriguing, or illuminating about women."  Check it out - 'tis lovely!!

https://ramonadef.wordpress.com/news-and-musings/

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Pat Browning, rest in peace, my friend





My heart is broken.
I have just learned of Pat Browning's death.
I met Pat at DorothyL, and we became fast friends.
We kept up a correspondence for more years than I can remember, 
exchanging cards, exchanging encouragement, and laughing at the 
craziest things.
I loved Pat Browning.
She was smart and funny and one of the best writers I ever had the 
privilege of reading.
She was a world traveler and could make us feel as though we had 
traveled right along with her whether it was seated at the Captain's 
table on one of her many cruises, or riding along next to her on a 
camel's back.  
She graced us with her presence here often over the years, 
and I was always sure she would be back to share more stories 
with us.  
Always.
Even after moving into the rehab facility in California, I was sure 
she'd be back, and that she would finish the book she was working 
on.
Pat encouraged me in everything I did and stuck by me when 
things didn't go quite as planned.
She was as proud of Whimsey: A Novel as I was.
I will miss her more than I have words.

But, we can still scoot over to her blog and read some of her work and almost feel as though she's still right here with us -
http://pat-browning.blogspot.com/





September 3, 1926 - February 2, 2015

Patricia Lucas Browning was born September 3, 1926 in Weleetka, Oklahoma to Frank and Willa Lucas. She grew up in rural Oklahoma and graduated from Oklahoma A&M College in Stillwater, Oklahoma in 1949. She then taught English and Journalism in Sapulpa and Cleveland, Oklahoma high schools.


Patricia lived in Hanford, California from 1956 to 2005 when she moved to Yukon, Oklahoma until 2013. She then lived in California until her death in Hanford on February 2, 2015.

Browning was married to Leo Cokely from 1957 until his death in 1983. She was married to Clarence Edward Browning from 1986 until his death in 2003.

Browning's professional writing credits go back to the 1990s when she was a stringer for The Fresno Bee while working full time for nearly 20 years in the Hanford law office of Rosson and Pearson. Her globetrotting in the 1970s led her into the travel business, first as a travel agent, then as correspondent for TravelAge West. In March 1986 Browning became Manager of the Hanford Improvement Association. In the 1990s, Browning signed on fulltime as a newspaper reporter and columnist, first at The Selma Enterprise and then at The Hanford Sentinel. Her feature writing won several awards at both newspapers.

She self-published a mystery entitled "Full Circle", which was later re-issued and renamed, "Absinthe of Malice". At the time of her death, she was working on a second book.

Browning is survived by her brother Tom Lucas (Cristal) of Norman, Oklahoma, sister-in-law Jeanelle Lucas of Norman, Oklahoma, sister Beth Ridle (Louis) of Juneau, Alaska, Sister-in-law Ginger Lucas (Frank) of Akron, Pennsylvania, stepsons Gordon Browning (Jane), Jerry Cokely (Barbara) cousins, Tim (Kim) McElhannon of Visalia, CA; and numerous nieces and nephews. Burial will be in Erick, Oklahoma.

Monday, February 9, 2015

Sunday, February 8, 2015

and it continues . . . More about Harper Lee and "Go Set a Watchman"






The speculation regarding the Harper Lee novel, "Go Set a Watchman" continues.

Those who are absolutely sure Ms. Lee is being taken advantage of are sticking to their guns.

In my most humble opinion, I have to say, this makes me sad.

It makes me sad because I honestly feel as though she's being diminished by many who take to heart things they've seen written.

Things like, "she's deaf, blind and frail."

"She's had a stroke."

Failing, I think, to give the benefit of a doubt.

Nelle Harper Lee may very well have had a stroke in 2007, but I'd like to remind folks that not all stroke victims are totally incapacitated after a stroke and are quite able to continue making lucid and valid decisions.

And, there are most certainly degrees of "blind," "deaf," and "frail."

Again - does blind and deaf mean incapable of rational thought and decision?  I don't believe it does.

Frail?  Honey, again - frail?  okay?  HOW frail?  Does frail mean the brain has stopped working?

If I were Harper Lee, truth be told, I'd be damned insulted.

And to believe that she has been cut off from all her friends by this attorney?  Wouldn't the facility in which she's living be aware of this?  Wouldn't they be obligated to look into these allegations?  

And if they're part of this conspiracy, wouldn't all this stuff in the news be enough to alert authorities and family (and yes, she "does" still have family - regardless of those who think she doesn't) enough to investigate these elder abuse charges people are tossing out?

Maybe some of these "friends" who are so worried weren't as close to Ms. Lee as they'd like us to believe.  I mean, that is a possibility, isn't it?  Just as much as the possibility that Ms. Lee is being forced to ignore them all.

Here's the most recent article, which I found to be of interest.  Although, please don't assume I'm trying to change anyone's mind - heaven forbid!  But if you're following the story, I think it might behoove us all to follow, and perhaps open our minds, to both sides of the story.

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/02/09/books/harper-lee-lawyer-offers-more-details-on-discovery-of-go-set-a-watchman.html?emc=edit_na_20150208&nlid=3674496

Before you go saying to me, "but, she said . . . "  Maybe she did, maybe she didn't.  Did she say it to you?  If not, don't bother me with it.  I've read everything you've read, I promise you.  And maybe she did say some of those things.  Have you ever changed your mind about something you once said?  Circumstances have a way of making things look a little different than they once did.  At least, that's my experience.

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Lavina by Mary Marcus






I requested and received an Egalley for this book from netgalley.com.  And I am ever-thankful.  It's one of the most beautifully written books I've read.

Mary Marcus' "Lavina" is a portrait of the shame of the times when Martin Luther King, Jr. was fighting to bring dignity and basic human rights to black citizens.  It's a stirring novel of courage and heartbreak.

Sadly, as reading this perfectly written book, I paused to wonder just how far we've truly come.

I can't recommend it highly enough.  If there were 10 stars available to give at review sites rather than only 5, ten is what I'd give it.





Disclaimer:  an electronic arc of this book was provided by NetGalley.com.  No review was promised and the above is my unbiased opinion.





Thursday, February 5, 2015

In Wilderness: A Novel by Diane Thomas




In 1966 thirty-eight year old Katherine Reid sells her ad agency and her Atlanta home and flees to the North Georgia mountains to die.

Twenty year old Vietnam vet Danny Maclean, damaged, tortured and cunning, spies her arrival.

What happens next is suspenseful, riveting and raw.

Not an easy book to read, and perhaps not for the faint of heart, but it pulled me in from the beginning. Diane Thomas is an extraordinary writer. Her words mold and manipulate the reader’s feelings in a subtle, sure manner. There are passages of exquisite beauty, along with brutal, haunting, harrowing, gorgeous, tender, obsessive, desolate, bold, erotic, heartbreaking, and uplifting. All this – leaving me with a literary novel to be cherished. One that has moved me like few others. One that I will recommend for years to come.




I pulled the following from the Random House webpage:

For readers of Amanda Coplin and Chris Bohjalian, In Wilderness is a suspenseful and literary love story—a daring and original novel about our fierce need for companionship and our enduring will to survive.

In the winter of 1966, Katherine Reid moves to an isolated cabin deep in Georgia’s Appalachian Mountains. There, with little more than a sleeping bag, a tin plate, and a loaded gun, she plans to spend her time in peaceful solitude. But one day, Katherine realizes the woods are not empty, and she is not alone. Someone else is near, observing  her every move. 

Twenty-year-old Vietnam veteran Danny lives not far from Katherine’s cabin, in a once-grand mansion he has dubbed “Gatsby’s house.” Haunted by war and enclosed by walls of moldering books, he becomes fixated on Katherine. What starts as cautious observation grows to obsession. When these two souls collide, the passion that ignites between them is all-consuming—and increasingly dangerous.

Suffused with a stunning sense of character and atmosphere, Diane Thomas’s intimate voice creates an unforgettable depiction of the transformative power of love, how we grieve and hope, and the perilous ways in which we heed and test our hearts.

Advance praise for In Wilderness

“A harrowing exploration of desire and obsession, In Wilderness sends two people into a physical and psychological wilderness that becomes stranger and more terrifying the deeper they go.”—Christina Baker Kline, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Orphan Train 

“Not my usual thing, which makes me say it all the louder: I love, love, love this book—the fearless and unflinching story of two extraordinary, vivid people alone in a vast pristine wilderness, told with genuine suspense and a wonderfully empowering ending.  In Wilderness is altogether spectacular.”—Lee Child, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Personal

“Unforgettable: a mad, haunting, dreamlike story of love, obsession, and wildness . . . Diane Thomas mixes elegant prose with raw emotion.”—William Landay, New York Times bestselling author ofDefending Jacob

In Wilderness is an often harrowing story of a love affair between two damaged people, but it is also a paean to the healing powers of nature. Diane Thomas has written an extraordinary novel filled with both darkness and light.”—Ron Rash, PEN/Faulkner Award finalist and New York Times bestselling author of Serena and The Cove

“Diane Thomas writes like a woman in a fever dream, clashing two wasted, achingly lonely souls together to create sparks that become an all-consuming wildfire. The desolate inner landscapes of Danny and Katherine stand in stark opposition to the beauty of the natural world Thomas so expertly evokes, and I found myself riveted as they stumbled in their broken way toward connection and their own humanity. Heartbreaking, bold, relentless, and intensely erotic, In Wilderness is the work of a true original.”—Joshilyn Jackson, New York Times bestselling author of Someone Else’s Love Story

“The story—the writing—stands out as some of the most original and dynamic work I’ve ever read. In Wilderness is an intensely powerful cat-and-mouse love story as gorgeous and brutal as its Appalachian mountain setting. I devoured every word.”—Carla Buckley, author of The Deepest Secret






Disclaimer:  an electronic arc of this book was provided by NetGalley.com.  No review was promised and the above is my unbiased opinion.

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Harper Lee

From author Mark Childress, posted on his Facebook Page:  

Folks, for those of you who have asked, I am only a slight acquaintance of Harper Lee and not a friend, though she has been kind to me at various junctures in my career. I have not read her new book and have not seen her in years.

I trust my longtime friend and international agent Andrew Nurnberg (I'm his OTHER client from Monroeville), who saw her just a couple weeks ago and reports that she is "feisty and fiery" and delighted about the publication of her "new" old book. Here is a statement he released yesterday:


"There will inevitably be speculation regarding Harper Lee as she has lived a very private life," he said. "She was genuinely surprised at the discovery of the manuscript but delighted by the suggestion to publish what she considers to be the 'parent' to 'Mockingbird.' I met with her last autumn and again over two days in January; she was in great spirits and increasingly excited at the prospect of this novel finally seeing the light of day."

Andrew tells me the novel is "really fine." So I think folks can quit worrying so much.





Meet Nelle Harper Lee's attorney - the woman who found the "new" manuscript - http://blogs.wsj.com/law/2015/02/04/meet-the-lawyer-who-found-harper-lees-new-novel/



I found this interview with an Alabama historian, and friend of Harper Lee's to be quite interesting -- http://www.al.com/entertainment/index.ssf/2015/02/new_harper_lee_book_totally_le.html


Note:  More about this story from the NYT  here:  http://mobile.nytimes.com/2015/02/04/books/harper-lee-author-of-to-kill-a-mockingbird-is-to-publish-a-new-novel.html?referrer&_r=0.  




The below article was copied From BBC News -
http://www.bbc.com/news/entertainment-arts-31118355




I am so excited I can hardly stand it!

I adore Harper Lee and have read everything I have ever been able to find written about her.

This after I was swept off my feet, like millions of others, after reading To Kill a Mockingbird many, many years ago.

I wrote her a fan letter some years back and almost fell over in a swoon when I received a short, elegant note back from her. It's one of my most prized possessions -





But.

There's more to the story.


I also received this note




I'm not sure why I got two notes, and the only thing I can guess, is that Ms. Lee was perhaps answering fan mail and somehow sent me two.  Whatever may have been the reason, I was thrilled. 

And still am.



So.


Reading this bit of news about a new Harper Lee novel being found and published has tickled me to death.

And yes, I do plan on reading "Mockingbird" again before the new Harper Lee is released. How 'bout you?


Harper Lee to publish Mockingbird 'sequel'



To Kill a Mockingbird is among the most beloved novels in history

An unpublished novel by Harper Lee is to finally see the light of day, 60 years after the US author put it aside to write To Kill a Mockingbird.

Go Set a Watchman, which features the character Scout Finch as an adult, will be released on 14 July.

Lee wrote it in the mid-1950s but put it aside on the advice of her editor.

"I thought it a pretty decent effort." said Lee in a statement. "I am humbled and amazed that this will now be published after all these years."

Set in the fictional southern town of Maycomb during the mid-1950s, Go Set a Watchman sees Scout return from New York to visit her father, the lawyer Atticus Finch.

According to the publisher's announcement: "She is forced to grapple with issues both personal and political as she tries to understand her father's attitude toward society, and her own feelings about the place where she was born and spent her childhood."



To Kill a Mockingbird won the Pulitzer Prize in 1961

Lee's editor persuaded her to rework some of the story's flashback sequences as a novel in their own right - and that book became To Kill a Mockingbird.

"I was a first-time writer, so I did as I was told," the author revealed.

The manuscript was discovered last autumn, attached to an original typescript of To Kill a Mockingbird.

"I hadn't realised it [the original book] had survived, so was surprised and delighted when my dear friend and lawyer Tonja Carter discovered it," Lee continued.

"After much thought and hesitation, I shared it with a handful of people I trust and was pleased to hear that they considered it worthy of publication."

Harper Collins plans an initial print run of two million copies.

To Kill a Mockingbird was published in July 1960 and won a Pulitzer Prize. Two years later it was adapted into an Oscar-winning film starring Gregory Peck.

Lee has rarely spoken to the media since the 1960s and is unlikely to do any publicity for her "new" book.

'Extraordinary gift'

In a statement, Harper Collins' Jonathan Burnham called Go Set a Watchman "a remarkable literary event" whose "discovery is an extraordinary gift to the many readers and fans of To Kill a Mockingbird".

He said: "Reading in many ways like a sequel to Harper Lee's classic novel, it is a compelling and ultimately moving narrative about a father and a daughter's relationship, and the life of a small Alabama town living through the racial tensions of the 1950s."

Go Set a Watchman will be published in the UK by William Heinemann, the original UK publisher of To Kill a Mockingbird.

Tom Weldon, of parent company Penguin Random House, said its publication would be "a major event".

"The story of this first book - both parent to To Kill a Mockingbird and rather wonderfully acting as its sequel - is fascinating," he continued.

"Millions of fans around the world will have the chance to reacquaint themselves with Scout, her father Atticus and the prejudices and claustrophobia of that small town in Alabama Harper Lee conjures so brilliantly."


Sunday, February 1, 2015

Talking about Pop-Up Books


Today's my day to play as "Oh, Kaye!" at Jungle Reds, and I'm chatting about pop-up books.  I hope you'll drop by!

http://www.jungleredwriters.com/2015/02/oh-kaye-chats-about-pop-up-books.html




Saturday, January 31, 2015

I have a new webpage


I'm working on building a new webpage. 

This is a whole new adventure for me.

I did a webpage several years ago, it's still active, but it's mostly a photo album.  I wanted a place to "store" old photos of friends and family, and it is still serving that purpose well.  It was an effort in teaching myself as I went along, and it's in old software and well, this new one is a few steps forward from it. Although, this too is an effort in teaching myself as I go along. 

I'm having a bunch of fun with it, but setting it up is a lot of work.  I am far from done.

Actually, I see it as a constant work in progress, depending on what pops into mind.

I hope you'll give it a look, and let me know what you think.  http://www.kayewilkinsonbarley.com/

All suggestions are welcome!

2014 Agatha Nominees Announced

I always look forward to hearing who the nominees are for the annual Agatha Awards

The awards are presented at the Malice Domestic Convention, which is a delightful mystery convention held in Bethesda, MD 

I'm sorry I  won't be attending this year, but I'm not sorry to have to choose who I might vote for!  Wow!  It's always a very tough choice because there are always friends included in the list of nominees.  But this year it seems to be an especially brilliant group (do I say that every year? I think I might say that every year).

My congratulations to all the nominees!!




The 2014 Agatha Nominees are:


Best Contemporary Novel


The Good, The Bad and The Emus by Donna Andrews (Minotaur Books)
A Demon Summer by G.M. Malliet (Minotaur Books)
Truth Be Told by Hank Phillippi Ryan (Forge Books)
The Long Way Home by Louise Penny (Minotaur Books)
Designated Daughters by Margaret Maron (Grand Central Publishing)



Best Historical Novel


Hunting Shadows by Charles Todd (William Morrow)
An Unwilling Accomplice by Charles Todd (William Morrow)
Wouldn't it Be Deadly by D.E. Ireland (Minotaur Books)
Queen of Hearts by Rhys Bowen (Berkley)
Murder in Murray Hill by Victoria Thompson (Berkley)



Best First Novel


Circle of Influence by Annette Dashofy (Henery Press)
Tagged for Death by Sherry Harris (Kensington Publishing)
Finding Sky by Susan O'Brien (Henery Press)
Well Read, Then Dead by Terrie Farley Moran (Berkley Prime Crime)
Murder Strikes a Pose by Tracy Weber (Midnight Ink)



Best Nonfiction


400 Things Cops Know: Street Smart Lessons from a Veteran Patrolman by Adam Plantinga (Quill Driver Books)
Writes of Passage: Adventures on the Writer's Journey by Hank Phillippi Ryan (ed) (Henery Press)
Death Dealer: How Cops and Cadaver Dogs Brought a Killer to Justice by Kate Flora (New Horizon Press)
The Art of the English Murder by Lucy Worsley (Pegasus Books)
The Poisoner: The Life and Crimes of Victorian England's Most Notorious Doctor by Stephen Bates (Overlook Hardcover)



Best Short Story


"The Odds are Against Us" by Art Taylor (EQMM)
"Premonition" (Chesapeake Crimes Homicidal Holidays) by Art Taylor (Wildside Press)
"The Shadow Knows" (Chesapeake Crimes Homicidal Holidays) by Barb Goffman (Wildside Press)
"Just Desserts for Johnny" by Edith Maxwell (Kings River Life Magazine)
"The Blessing Witch" (Best New England Crime Stories 2015: Rogue Wave) by Kathy Lynn Emerson (Level Best Books)



Best Children's/Young Adult


Andi Under Pressure by Amanda Flower (ZonderKidz)
Greenglass House by Kate Milford (Clarion Books)
Uncertain Glory by Lea Wait (Islandport Press)
The Code Buster's Club, Case #4, The Mummy's Curse by Penny Warner (Egmont USA)
Found by Harlen Coben (Putnam Juvenile)


The winners will be announced at the Agatha Awards Banquet on May 2, 2015. Congratulations to all of the nominees!


Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Zen and The Art of Housecleaning





Some of you are aware of my housecleaning efforts the past few weeks.

I love our little house, but truth be told - it had gotten pretty nasty.

Oh, on the surface things looked okay.

But anyone looking closely would notice corners not quite as they should  be.  Baseboards and woodwork not quite as they should be.  Windows . . .  you get the picture.

So I quit just talking and whining about the dirty house and did something about it, and boy howdy, did it need to be done.  

Truth be told - I have just been lazy.  Plain, rotten lazy.

Oh, I have had a dozen excuses -

"Well, I went to the gym today."

"Boy, did I ever get some writing done today."

"I could not put this book down today."

Rationalization is an art.  One I'm pretty good at.

And since I'm no longer working I've found without structure in my life, it is very easy for me to be lazy and particularly easy to rationalize. 

When we were still living in Atlanta and I was working, I would, from time to time, have someone come in to clean.  As I recall, most of those ventures didn't end particularly well.

Since we've been living here I have had help come in a few times, and a couple times I would just have someone come in to do a very serious, very "deep" cleaning.

But, now here's the thing about it.

I was never as happy with anyone else's efforts as I am my own.

And now that I'm retired, I can't afford anyone else's efforts - especially if I'm not going to be happy with those efforts.

So.

Yippee Skippy -  today I finished.

Well.

I thought I had finished until I threw my head back to breathe a thankful "Finally!" and realized there was a ceiling fan over my head that was dangling cobwebs and dust bunnies.  I'm telling you - nasty!

But.  That will just have to wait until I'm finished writing this piece, enjoying a fresh, hot cup of coffee and spending a little time just relaxing.





I actually, when in the mood, enjoy cleaning the house.

Well, okay, not all aspects of housecleaning . . .

But I like watching the sparkle come back into things.

I like getting reacquainted with some of the pieces Donald and I have collected together.  Recalling a  little memory that might come with a particular piece of pottery, or thinking of the friend or family member who gave us that piece of china.  A shopping trip I might have been on with my mom or a girlfriend when I bought that small painting.

Standing back to look at old ironstone pitchers after giving them a bath is rewarding and even a bit comforting.







If I'm not in the mood, things get done in a sloppy, shoddy way and then I'm disgusted with myself.  But, truthfully, if I'm in the mood I can find comfort in the act and there's even some moments of Zen type reflection.

Today, the last task I did was cleaning a baker's rack downstairs.

It's where some crystal and glass pieces live.  Some are old, some are new.  There's some old green depression glass pieces that a neighbor gave my mother many years ago, and she has since passed them along to me.  There are a couple pieces that belonged to my Aunt Belle that she gave me several years ago when we were home for a visit.  The neighbor, Mrs. Parrot, and my much loved Aunt Belle are no longer with us.  So today, while I was giving those pieces a gentle cleaning I was able to spend a little bit of time thinking about them, which was nice.

My mind takes funny turns when involved in a task that is mindless and repetitive like I've been doing.  Skips around like jumping beans.  Probably a natural thought was having Callahan Garrity popping into my mind.  Remember her?

Callahan Garrity was the protagonist in Kathy Hogan Trocheck's mystery series set in Atlanta, GA.  She wrote the series back in the '90s and I loved every book in the series.  Callahan Garrity was a former Atlanta cop, former P.I. turned  housecleaning service owner.  Her House Mouse Cleaning Service employees were an eccentric bunch of women I was crazy about.  Callahan lived with her outspoken, chain smoking mother, Edna Mae, and the series was very southern.  Because I was living in Atlanta at the time, I was familiar with most of the neighborhoods Ms. Trocheck used as settings - in particular the Candler Park area Callahan and Edna lived in.  I lived in Inman Park, which is right next door to Candler Park.  It was, back when I was living there, a fun and funky area of town populated by an artsy crowd.  Ms. Trocheck portrayed it perfectly.

So.  Today, while washing Aunt Belle's crystal jam pot, I started congratulating myself on what an excellent housecleaner I am.  There was only one incident of breakage in which I accidently decapitated a miniature teddy bear, but all in all, I think I've done a bang-up job.




Patting myself on the back and thinking about House Mouse Callahan Garrity, I thought maybe I should look into going back to work.  Start my own housecleaning business.  Hire a couple women to help me.  

And then I thought.

Maybe not.

Maybe I need to just pay closer attention to my own house.

Work just a little harder at keeping it a little cleaner week to week so I don't have to work this hard getting it all sparkly clean ever again.

We'll see.

In the meantime - anyone out there planning on paying us a visit, could you maybe come like right now while things are looking so pretty?








Monday, January 26, 2015

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Cleaning, Writing and a new review



Today I have spent my day ignoring things that need attention in the house.  

Since launching what I'm now calling "The Epic Housecleaning of the Barley Abode," I have cleaned and scrubbed and sorted and tossed until I'm sick to death of it all. 

I have only one room left to do, but today was just not the day.  Maybe tomorrow.

I'm not looking forward to tackling this





and that's just one small part of a room full of books and ornaments, and "stuff."

If I had tackled it today, the job would have been a sloppy one, leaving me feeling the need to do it over, so it's best to just let it rest until I'm back in the mood.  

So, I wrote.

I wrote 1,121 words, which is a great writing day for me.  

The story has been rambling through my mind while I've been doing this massive housecleaning project, and a lot of new things presented themselves.  Including a new character who, hopefully, is going to be really interesting.  Eccentric, secretive, nurturing and very mysterious,

I've worked up to the scene that I've been excited about, only to find it impossible to get it right.  I can picture her in my mind.  I'm picturing the small cabin at the edge of the marsh she lives in.  But getting in on paper is proving to be elusive.

Hopefully, if I walk away from it for awhile after having written some bare bone facts to help me remember where I'm trying to go, things will come.  Fingers crossed that things will come.

So after leaving Olivia on the steps of Bronwyn's front porch, I wandered to amazon to see if there were any new Whimsey reviews and hooray, yes there was!  And, thank the muses, it was an excellent one!

I sent a reviewer by the name of Miss Susie an audio copy of Whimsey and she gave it an excellent review at Audible.com, so I was happily surprised to spot a new one at amazon.  If you're not familiar with Miss Susie, do check her out.  She, like a well-trusted reviewer should be, is well equipped to do the types of reviews people can read and trust rather than just squeal (like me), "Oooh, I love this book!"   She and I seem to share a taste in reading.  

You can find her reviews here:  http://www.misssusiesreading.blogspot.com/


And - here's the lovely review she left for Whimsey.  I really needed this little boost today.  Miss Susie, if you're reading, Thank You!!!

5.0 out of 5 stars I want to live in WhimseyJanuary 14, 2015
This review is from: Whimsey: A Novel (Paperback)
I want to live in Whimsey! This book proves not only can you go home again but that you should. Emma tried to leave Whimsey in the past but when things go wrong in her life and her artistic jewelry line takes the hit , she eventually figures out she needs to find her inner magic again and with some help from her long dead aunt Elizabeth the only place that it can be found is on the island of Whimsey. I loved the scenes with Aunt Elizabeth and the crayon and the story of finding you crimson, we all need this lesson!

I also enjoyed the pixie Earlene, I loved that she made silver glitter fall off of Emma without her even realizing it. Oh who am I kidding I loved every character in this book. The whole ensemble is there for a reason each with their own set of advise to Emma and when she finally decides to listen to all the people and island are trying to tell her things get much better for. I also want to see her jewelry; I want to see these colors the colors of a sunrise on Whimsey with colors no one has a name for.

This book is right up there with Sarah Addison Allen in southern magical realism; in fact I think these two authors should get together because the big grand opening of the gallery needs a caterer and who better than the Waverly sisters!

Susanna Burney narrates this book; her narration is good my only quibble was that sometimes her voices weren’t consistent. But overall I enjoyed her narration she didn’t go full out on a southern accent so it sounded fake she just had a hint of it that made it believable, her characters were good with my one quibble being the exception.

I highly recommend this book to southern fiction lovers, especially fans of Sarah Addison Allen. This book has the same feel good aftereffect that Sarah’s books do. I was surprised to find this is Kaye’s first novel; I look forward to reading anything else she writes!

5 Stars

I received this book from the author for a fair and honest review. Thanks for the pleasure of listening to this delightful story!

FMS Photo a Day - Day 25



Jan. 25 -


"Black and White"





Saturday, January 24, 2015

Louise Penny






Sometimes when I say the words "my friend" when referring to someone who many people know of through their accomplishments, I realize it comes across to many as a name dropping kind of thing. I think though, that people who *really* know me know that I enjoy using those words about people I sincerely care about whether they're a famous author or someone I've known since my childhood and am equally as proud to call friend.


I cherish people I call "friend" and always feel a certain pride when I'm able to say "this is my friend so and so" as I introduce them. Therefore, I'm sure I overuse the phrase. Oh, well. If that's the worst of it, so what?

Louise Penny is a woman I am proud to call my friend.

She's a woman I started getting to know when she had a debut novel, STILL LIFE, hit the scene and made a bit of a splash. I'm not completely sure of the year - 2005, maybe?

I may not remember the exact year, but I very clearly remember telling people she was someone to watch. I very clearly remember telling her she was someone to watch.

So now when I read the winners of major awards and see her name I feel the same sense of pride I felt when I was lucky enough to meet her the first time and just knew that we would become friends. Of course, I had no idea then that she would become quite as famous as she has, but I did know we would be friends.

She is as gracious and as down to earth today as she was back then.

She is amazing in ways most of us would hope to be in the face of tremendously terrifying circumstances.

And, I admire her while I hold her in my heart while she and Michael walk this long road together.

Here's an interview she's graciously shared with us regarding Michael's diagnosis and their life since receiving it.

http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/montreal/louise-penny-speaks-out-about-life-after-her-husband-s-dementia-diagnosis-1.2929638



Friday, January 23, 2015

FMS Photo a Day - Day 23



Jan. 23 -

"Something Far Away"


This is a shot taken by Donald while hiking on Elk Knob near where we live.



Thursday, January 22, 2015

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

FMS Photo a Day



Jan. 20 - Window


This was written on a storefront window in Nashville, TN




Sunday, January 18, 2015

Do you know what today is?

January 18 - - - 

It's Winnie the Pooh Day!




Thursday, January 15, 2015

National Hat Day



Did you know January 15th
 is 
National Hat Day?!  

Yay!!!


The perfect excuse to play with old (and not so old) photos of me and Harley wearing hats.  

I came by my love of hats honestly, it would seem.  The two lovely women in the center photo are my Great Aunt Sadie and my paternal grandmother, Laura.  I do not know who the handsome gentleman between them is, but the gentleman with the mustache is my grandfather, Irvin Wilkinson (better known as Pop-Pop).

A toast to hats!





Wednesday, January 14, 2015

FMS Photo a Day Challenge - Day 14


Jan. 14 - "New"

Starting the new year off with the cleanest house possible (even if it kills me!)  



Sunday, January 4, 2015

First Sunday of the Month



And today's my day to play at Jungle Red as "Oh, Kaye!"  http://www.jungleredwriters.com/

I hope you'll stop by to say "Hey!" as I share some of Neil Gaiman's magical words.


Saturday, January 3, 2015

Another Day in Asheville

One of our favorite "get-aways" is Asheville.  It's only about a two hour trip and the drive is part of the joy.

It's a quiet, peaceful drive with rivers, mountain vistas, national forests and small towns.

With some fun things to warrant a stop along the way.

Sometimes it might be cool barns with beautiful hand painted barn quilts on them that beg to be photographed.
















Photography was actually the reason behind this spur of the moment jaunt.

Any excuse to spend some time at Ball Photo Supply is okay by me, and it just so happens Donald is on the hunt for a tripod for his new camera.




While he looked and asked a lot of questions, I looked also.

Ball Photography fascinates me.

It's like a camera museum/store filled with knowledgeable, creative people who embrace the art of photography.  They still maintain a lab for developing film, still sell film and if you're really lucky you can also happen up on some pretty wonderful old cameras in working order for sale.
















And - even cooler - you can play with them!




Or, step back and admire some old pieces that have been a part of a magical history.





Once we pulled ourselves away from Ball's, we went to visit one of the very best bookstores on God's green earth - Malaprop's Books,  

I cannot walk in the door of Malaprop's without taking a picture of the Shopping Daze sculpture that stands out front.





This was an especially fun trip.

I met a very nice family and had a fun visit.  The lovely Noelle is an avid reader and a writer, so we had a lot to chat about, AND - she asked me to sign a copy of Whimsey for her.  She had no idea, I don't think, that she had me walking on a cloud the rest of the day.





Then I did a little shopping with some Santa money I received from Christmas.  What could be any more fun than shopping in a delightful bookstore that knows exactly what to stock for book lovers?!





Then to top off a perfect day, we stopped at one of our favorite restaurants on our way home. 

The Italian Restaurant in Pineola.







And then, well, we get home to find my next month's supply of food from Nutrisystem on the door step.  

We wondered if they had perhaps spied me eating a wonderful dish of lasagna just a bit earlier?

And then, oh the irony.

Guess what was tucked into the box?

This adorable little bear to congratulate me on losing my first 10 pounds.





Happy New Year, everyone - it's back on Nutrisystem for me.  I can't bear to disappoint this little bear, after all.

Cheers!