Recently had a wonderful interview hosted by writer and literary critic June Gillam. If you’re interested in reading her questions and my answers, visit her blog:
It’s been fun to see kids in my neighborhood so excited to plunge into summer vacation
now that school’s out. I’m sure there were moments of sadness as they signed each other’s yearbooks and promised to stay in touch, but I doubt a single one wanted to linger a moment past that final bell.
Adults with year-round jobs don’t have quite that prospect of freedom, but even so, I still experience that surge of joy when summer officially arrives. There’s so much I look forward to this year: kayaking on Lake Natoma, planning a dream vacation to Japan, and finding a bit of shade to catch up with my books-to-read pile. Then there’s concerts in the park, ice cream, watermelon, family reunions, and fireworks on Independence Day. Bliss!
For the next few days I’m going to draw a deep breath or two and enjoy the advent of summer. Eventually I’ll make a list of all those things I didn’t get around to during the busy winter months, and maybe, during those long, blissful summer days, I’ll actually get around to doing them. Maybe. But I wouldn’t count on it. 🙂
Yesterday I had the privilege of meeting some bright young writers at Marble Valley Academy in El Dorado Hills. At this private school, students are encouraged to create their own hard-bound books of poetry each year, documenting their growing writing skills while building up a library of their own writing that they and their families will always treasure. It was impressive to see not only the literary skills and insights of these young people’s poetry, but the care and artistry they put into decorating their covers, some of which were absolutely beautiful.
As I told these young writers about my own journey to becoming a published writer, it occurred to me how much influence my own teachers had, passing on their love of literature and introducing me to writing techniques that I still use today. It was heartwarming to see this process continues.
This past week was Teacher Appreciation week. To all of you teachers out there I extend a heart-felt thanks for what you do, and how you influence new generations.
Today I discovered a treasure: The McClatchy Library.
The recent Academy Award-nominated movie Lady Bird showed many of Sacramento’s landmarks, and visitors now tour the spots featured in the movie. It’s nice to see people discover what California’s capital city has to offer, and here is one more site for the list: the Ella K. McClatchy Library
I stumbled across this historical jewel box by accident. I was early for an appointment nearby and decided to hunt for a library to kill some time. Libraries are pretty much my favorite places in the world because they are open to the public, free, and offer water fountains, restrooms and, best of all, rooms full of books.
The building was older than most libraries I frequent, and as I walked up the steps my eyes were caught by a historical marker. “Hmmm,” I thought. I can’t resist historical markers, either.
It said the house, which was built in the early 1900s and renovated in 2013, was once inhabited by the McClatchy family, owners of the Sacramento Bee. Two of their daughters donated their home to be used as a library in memory of their mother. As a former newspaper reporter and editor, and fan of the Sacramento Bee, I was intrigued.
Moments later I found myself inside a charmer of a house, lovingly turned into a public library without losing an ounce of the warmth and welcoming feeling of the family home it once was. The dining room, living room, and other rooms are now lined with bookcases with mystery novels, children’s books, magazines and more. There is an intimate computer room. Halfway up the wooden staircase, the landing glowed with light passing through a gorgeous stained glass window, with inviting-looking, green-cushioned window seats. Upstairs, former bedrooms turned into reading rooms furnished with the house’s original sofas, armchairs, and rugs invited visitors to come in, sit down, and stay a while.
The library has not exactly spent all these years unknown to the public. The Sacramento Historical Society and the Newton Booth Neighborhoods Association have honored the Friends of the McClatchy Library for their superb stewardship of this lovely building. I debated whether to post this blog, however, because this quiet weekday afternoon, I got a whole room with a fireplace, comfy couch, and a view over the tree-shaded street all to myself. Selfishly, I didn’t want to share it with anyone else.
But now I have.
While visiting family in Utah I had the thrill of seeing my first two novels in bookstores: Chance’s Bluff and the just-released A Place Called New Hope. It was my first time seeing my books on the shelf beside my favorite writers. Of course I took lots of photographs in Deseret Book and Seagull Book stores to document the occasion.
Soon after, I was lucky enough to attend the Left Coast Crime mystery writers’ convention in Reno, where my friend and fellow-author Michele Drier, president of the Sacramento chapter of Sisters in Crime, spoke on one of the panels. The discussions ranged from writing political thrillers to cozy mysteries to writing in several genres. Best of all, I came home with lots of books for my ever-growing to-read pile!
I may have said this before, and will probably say it again, but one of the greatest pleasures of writing is not just putting down stories on the page, which I love. It is getting to know fellow writers, who, it turns out, are some of the nicest, most generous people on earth. Whether household names or still developing their skills, they are witty, warm, and, surprisingly not at all competitive. When one succeeds, everyone else is thrilled for him or her.
In a way, seems counter-intuitive because many writers, including me, are naturally introverts. In fact, part of what attracted me to being an author was the idea that I could stay at home and play with my imaginary friends without having to go out and make conversation with real people, a thought that used to strike terror into my heart.
So why is it so easy to mingle with other writers?
It must be that we face similar struggles and challenges and share some of the same interests, twisted or otherwise. A writer of cozy mysteries told me that the readers of these sweet stories are surprisingly blood-thirsty, which I suppose is true of the writers as well! Historical writers share fascinating and amazingly specific details of life in the past, that make me try to figure out how I can include them in my stories.
In spite of all the fun, I confess to being a tiny bit relieved when it was time to go home and return to my laptop and plotting–and resting up for the next writers’ convention.
Oh my goodness, I am so swamped! I will write more later, but I do want to note the official publication today of Chance’s Bluff, my first novel published by Sweetwater Books, an imprint of Cedar Fort Publishing. So exciting! This is a day I have looked forward to a long time.
Today also happened to be the date my final edits were due for my next novel, A Place Called New Hope, which comes out in March. There is so much more I want to say, but it will have to wait–no time now.
I hope 2018 is the year that your dreams come true. God bless.
I’m so excited that my novella, Abby Rose’s Christmas, will be included in The Singing Librarian Blog’s Twelve Days of Christmas countdown on Dec. 18. The blog is at https://www.singinglibrarianbooks.com/adults/12-days-of-christmas-count-down-giveaway.
What an incredible year. As always, there have been ups and downs, but I have to say, in many ways this has been one of my best years ever. This Thanksgiving has been a great way to think over my blessings, which I won’t list here, but trust me, it is a long list.
Does that mean there have been no hardships? No. But if there is one thing I like about growing older, it’s that it brings perspective. Once, when things were going badly, I felt that they would always continue that way. Now I see life more as a succession of rolling hills. Things go up, and they go down. And then they go up again. And then they go down again. The Romans had a saying for this: “This too shall pass.” Whether joy or sorrow, eventually it will pass.
Perspective is maybe the greatest blessing of all. It helps me appreciate the things that are important–health, family, love–and pay less attention to the things that aren’t–cobwebs, a cluttered garage, a car that needs to be smogged.
I hope that you and your loved ones enjoyed Thanksgiving, that happiness comes your way, and that you have a wonderful upcoming holiday season. And never forget the things that are truly important.
Here it is, folks, the cover of my first book with Cedar Fort Publishing! I love the tenderness it shows between my main characters, which reflects their relationship in the story. Benjamin Marlowe, a former Civil War captain, is inspired by Walt Whitman (yes the poet shows up in the story) to travel the country while avoiding anything that will hold him down. Yet when he meets Annabelle, an orphaned pioneer girl who has grown up in a hidden valley in the Cascade Mountains, his plans unexpectedly change.
The publication date of “Chance’s Bluff” has just been moved up to December, which means I’ll be busy the next few weeks working on getting reviews and publicity … my least favorite part of being an author. I don’t mind appearances–those are actually pretty fun. It’s organizing my calendar, planning, sending out emails, and all the practical stuff that make me want to procrastinate. Ugh! I need a secretary to do all that for me.
In the meantime, I’m also busy putting final edits on a Christmas novella, “Abby Rose’s Christmas.” The story will be featured December 18 on “Singing Librarian Books” blog’s ‘ “12 Days of Christmas Countdown” Blog, with five free giveaways. I’m excited not only because this is my first Christmas story, but because it features one of my favorite characters, whose story connects those of two of my other novels.
Who is that character, you ask? Why, Abby Rose herself. She’s the high-spirited, red-headed daughter of Tom and Abigail Westerly from The Gardener’s Tale, and the grandmother of Chance McInnes from Chance’s Bluff. Although I barely mention her in those books, she’s a very important character in the lives of those around her. Her fun-loving personality frequently gets Abby Rose into trouble, and that is the case in this romantic and adventurous Christmas tale, where she meets her future husband.
I’ll post more on “Abby Rose’s Christmas” later. For now, it’s back to writing and trying to whip my promotional calendar for “Chance’s Bluff” into shape … a month earlier than expected. Yikes! I feel myself procrastinating already.
If you’re in the Walnut Grove area today and looking for something book-related to do, drop by the library at 14177 Market Street, where I’ll be signing books from 1-5 p.m. with fellow Northern California authors.
You’ll find everything from crime, children’s books and nonfiction to, of course, historicals and clean romances.
More good news: my books will be discounted since I am clearing out my inventory before they are republished by Cedar Fort Publishing (with new covers) starting in January.
Hope to see you there!