Sunday, October 28, 2007

Family Reunion

We just returned from a family reunion held in Barstow. Yep, Barstow CA. As it turned out it was the ideal place, an in-between place for the relatives who live in Vegas, southern, central and coastal CA. We did have one grandson who drove all the way from Sacramento.

One of our granddaughters-- a busy one at that--planned it all. She's an amazing young woman with a husband, three kids of their own and two teens they've opened their home two. She helps her husband with their pool-cleaning business, and the youth at our church, and the Wednesday night Awana program, plus does all sorts of things for the school.

The hotel was wonderful. It was a Holiday Inn Express with a free breakfast everyday, cookies, fruit and coffee and tea the rest of the time. We all began to gather after lunch on Friday. When everyone had arrived, there were 42 in all. My sis and my cousin were the matriarchs. What a weird feeling! We had offspring, grandkids, great grands and even a wonderful golden retriever. Yes, that particular hotel accepts dogs.

Melissa (the grandddaughter in charge), planned a western theme. We all had T-shirts with the Wanted, the Mitchell Gang, printed on them. The room where we all gathered was decorated with wanted posters with our baby pictures and others of relatives long gone, wagon wheels and barged wire. We visited and visited, ate wonderful food, the kids swam and had a treasure hunt, there were games for the little kids (youngest 2), and a crazy card game called Estimation that one night had 17 players and 4 decks of cards. (This was a favorite of both my mom and dad.)

We answered questions about the wanted posters, (amazing how few were recognized), had karaoke for awhile, watched a DVD made from old movies and saw our mothers and fathers young and sis, cousin and I when we were kids and including some of our time at Delevan Drive grammar school, took photos and had an all around great time.

We decided we should do the same thing again next year and hopefully the rest of the clan will turn up then. Melissa's great hope was to be reunited with all of her cousins once again--and she certainly was with a lot of them.

Home once again, all I can do is think back over how much fun we all had. The event certainly surpassed everyone's expectations.


Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Romantic Time Reviews

Someone just sent me congratulations for a four star review in Romantic Times for Judgment Fire. I hadn't heard about it so did a Google search and sure enough, there it was, four stars for Judgment Fire. The review is in the magazine but won't be on the website for two months so have no idea what was said.

While there, I noticed Calling the Dead received three stars. What was most interesting to me was the reviewer said that the Indian legends in the book detracted from the story. H'mm. Other reviewers made comments about how much the liked the legends. Another proof how different everyone's opinions are. The reviewer did mention that she liked the way Tempe called back the dead in the story.

One sure way to get a review in Romantic Times is to pay for an ad for your book. Ads are very expensive, but I went in with some other mystery authors for a joint ad which made it more affordable. RT has a large readership. It will be interesting to see if having the ads and the reviews result in more sales.


Friday, October 19, 2007

Giving Talks to Libraries and Service Clubs

One of the facets of being an author is having to promote in order to sell your books, especially when your with a smaller press (and in the case of a mystery author, a press that isn't recognized by Mystery Writers of America).

Independent bookstores are usually willing to have booksignings by authors who aren't so well known--but those bookstores are an endangered species. I will be having a signing at one of my favorite independents, Russo's Book Store in the Marketplace, Ming Ave., Bakersfield, Saturday, November 10th from 1 to 5.

Book fairs are great fun. This weekend I'll be in Springville with a booth at the Apple Festival both days. This is a fun event but exhausting.

My favorite thing to do is giving talks to writers, libraries and service clubs. With writers clubs, I love to give workshops on many different subjects, from craft to getting published--and sometimes I do that at libraries too. Often with libraries and service groups I'll talk about my writing journey (which has been pretty bumpy at times), perserverance and never giving up on your dream, and all of the adventures I've been afforded by being a published author.

Anyone who knows someone out there in California who would like to have me come and give a talk and have my books available for purchase, I'm available. Just email me at .


Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Tough Week

Writing is something I love to do--especially spending time with Deputy Tempe Crabtree and her family. Lately there's been no time for Tempe.

Last week, I was busy everyday with a class for administrators of adult residential facilities. I'm in charge of the training programs for an organization for administrators of licensed facilities and we do this particular class twice a year. Because I have to get up at 5 and don't get home until nearly 6 each day, all I had time and energy for was the required paperwork, snail and email.

On the weekend, I did some catch-up work and watched Netflix. Hubby and I love movies and when we can't get to a theatre, Netflix is second best. Saturday night I slept oddly and pinched a nerve or something in my neck and was in horrible pain all day Sunday. Still taught Sunday School, had three boys, two of them are ADD or something similar, another boy who used to be a problem but has really shaped up, and two girls. Church followed, then we took some family members out to lunch. Only home for a short while when it was time to go to a council meeting at church. Once that was over, I came home and crawled into bed.

Monday when I woke I was okay but--I went to the doc's and got a flu shot and within an hour I had another excruciating pain on the otherside of my neck! After a good night's sleep, it disappeared.

Did grocery shopping, worked on some writing projects that bring in money and took care of some business.

Today, after another writing project, I made airplane reservations for two conferences coming up at the beginning of the year, and a hotel reservation for one--amazing how long that takes. This week I'm doing all the dinner cooking. Last night we had tacos, tonight ravioli. I love to cook, fortunately my daughter-in-law is quite willing to clean up afterwards.

In a few minutes I'm headed to my writing critique group--something I haven't done for awhile.

Tomorrow night, I'm giving a talk on point-of-view to a writer's group in another city.

Saturday and Sunday is the Apple Festival. I'll have a booth as I've done for the last three years.

Hopefully, the following week I'll be able to at least write another chapter and see what kind of trouble Tempe has gotten herself into.


Saturday, October 6, 2007

Looking Back on My Trip

My visit in Alaska was a great adventure. Katina topped it off by taking me to the Anchorage Museum. From there we drove around a bit in search of a moose we never found, but I was able to see the wonderful Native Medical Center and the campus of Alaska University.

The two of us had a fabulous dinner of reindeer sausage, shrimp and steak, and I finally had to tell Katina goodbye when she dropped me off at a hotel near the airport. My plane left at 6 a.m. and I didn't want anyone having to get up so early to take me.

My flights home were tedious--Anchorage to Seattle, Seattle to Portland, Portland to Fresno, arriving home at 5 p.m. I was so happy to see hubby waiting for me. When we finally got back to Springville, I did nothing but go upstairs and jump in bed.

The next day I had all sorts of messages to return, emails to answer, and bills to pay. It's great to be home!


Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Here I am in Wasilla AK

Bouchercon was absolutely wonderful! I met the most interesting people and visited with old friends. After my panel about Ethnic Detectives which I was on with Victoria Heckman, also my roommate, I did an Author Special with one person who was a good friend from the midwest, Boobye Johnson. Great catching up with her.

Most of the other panels I attended were on Forensics of one sort or another. My favorite was a Chief Petty Officer of the Coast Guard who was a real "Guardian" rescue swimmer out of Fairbanks, AK.

For some unknown reason, the person who was supposed to arrange my visit to the schools didn't do it. She also wanted me to drive a rental car which I didn't want to do. One day on the sidewalk, I met a woman who was attending the con. I told her my dilemma and she offered not only to drive me to the home where I was staying in Wasila, but also to the schools if I ever had one to go to. What a God send!

After the closing ceremonies, Pat, my new friend drove me to my hostess's home in Wasila. Katina Steward graciously opened her home to me. I met her and her sister Amber when I was in AK for Left Coast Crime several years ago.

The first night, she had her mom, dad, sister, sister's two boys, and a cousin come over for dinner that first night to meet me. What a grand time we had. Mom is a Native (Eskimo). Though Eskimo is not polictically correct, the Natives seem to call themselves that. Dad is part Cherokee. Mom told me some wonderful stories about growing up in Alaska, a very tough life. Dad owns a pawn shop and some other businesses and Katina has a tool store. Her husband is off working at one of the oil places way far away.

The next day I didn't have a school to go to so Pat took me to the senior center for lunch and then we went to the Iditarod Headquarters and a reindeer farm. (Reindeer are domesticated caribou--and the ones with antlers at Christmas time are pregnant females.)

That evening Katina and I went out to dinner at a Thai Restaurant. Wasilla has everything most cities in the lower 48 have. We've had a great time visiting.

Finally, I got to go to a school. Pat picked up at 6:30 a.m and drove me to Wasila Middle School (6-8th grades). School starts at 7 a.m. All day long I talked about writing to classes from each grade. It was fun but exhausting. Pat picked me up and drove me back to Katina's and we said goodbye.

Again Katina's family came for dinner and we had a great time chatting. Today, I repacked and am just waiting for Katina to get off work. She'll take me to Anchorage tonight to a hotel with a shuttle to the airport as I have a 6 a.m. flight. I've had a great time but I'm definitely ready to go home.

It's about 40 degrees here. Beautiful, the trees have turned color, gold and orange and the snow is covering the huge mountains that surround this valley. Have only seen a snow bunny in the way of animals, lots of beautiful birds, and Katina's sheep dog.

Next post will be after I sort of catch up on my work at home.