Sunday, August 29, 2010

No phone, no email... Ah, the life of a hermit!

Have I ever mentioned how much I don't care for talking on the phone? Oh sure, there are exceptions - my family, Rene, required business calls, etc., but - other than talking to someone in person - I *much* prefer email over any other form of communication.

I think I'm jaded from all those years of answering telemarketing calls. Thank heavens for Do-Not-Call lists. Caller ID is great, too, although there's still that problem with the dratted ringing phone. It always interrupts my train of thought. I know I can turn off the ringer, but I just can't bring myself to do so when my kids aren't in the house.

Anyway, I really prefer email. A lot.

Which is why it's going to be so hard to give it up. Yep, I'm giving up email. Seriously.
Don't panic, it's only temporary.

Starting Wednesday, September 1, 2010, I'm signing off. Going cold turkey. I'm stepping away from my email and I'm not looking back (well, not much anyway).

Why? Because I have two major projects to work on and the Internet is my single biggest time-sink. Other than sleeping. Hmm.... or maybe not.

Will I monitor email? Sure. A little. How can I not? But I won't be reading/responding to every single one that comes in, despite the aching temptation to do so. I'm going to focus on work, and put horse-blinders on my easily distracted head. Did you see the movie "Up"? Remember the dogs? "Squirrel!!" That's me.

My friend, Sheila Connolly will be standing in for me at Mystery Lovers' Kitchen for a while, so please visit there and make her feel welcome. She's got a new book coming out in October - FUNDRAISING THE DEAD. I read it and it's great.

I still intend to write my blog post for Killer Characters this month, so please stop by there on the 18th. Heck, stop by there every day. It's a great little blog. This month I might invite Bruce and Scott to visit and chat about Grace. Not sure. What do you think?

But back to Ollie: Even though Buffalo West Wing comes out January 4th, there's still book #5 to write (no title yet) and that's due in less than 3 months! Yikes!!!

Wish me luck. The quicker I get momentum going on my writing projects the sooner I'll be back.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Money well spent

Update on the crashed computer...

The local repair shop was able to get me back up and running in almost no time at all. New hard drive, all data restored. Full delivered price? $190. Money very well spent. Since bringing the "baby" home, I've had to restore my Carbonite back up program. I wasn't sure it would recognize the new hard drive. But that seemed to go pretty smoothly too.

All in all. Not too bad. And if I can keep this desktop limping along for a while I'll be in good shape.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Happy Anniversary! And no missing socks!


My husband and I celebrated our anniversary this past weekend. It was a bittersweet weekend because we spent most of it moving our daughter into her college dorm. Not my favorite thing to do and when we had to leave the campus at the "Family Farewell," I was not a happy camper.

We managed to turn things around a little bit. We had some errands to run afterward and that kept us busy. We'd had lunch on campus so we weren't eager to go out to eat, but we found a lot to take our minds off of leaving our baby alone in the real world. For the record, she seems to be doing great.

But, in thinking about our anniversary, I wanted to share an amazing factoid with you today. After 27 years of marriage not once - never once - have we ever lost one of my husband's socks. My socks, yes. Our kids', yes. But my husband's socks match up every single time we do the laundry and pull them from the dryer.

Pretty amazing, isn't it?

He claims it's because he's careful about placing his clothing in the laundry hampers and that he always ensures his socks go in in pairs. That's probably the secret. Our daughters and I tend to drop our clothes into puddles on the floor and step over them several times before grabbing the piles and dumping them off to be washed. Socks will try to escape, you know. We've lost many, many favorites over the years due to their daring attempts to be free. But my husband's socks apparently subscribe to the buddy system. I suppose it's possible that we've lost them in pairs - if so, we'd never know. But all this time, and not a single escapee.

Hmm... maybe my husband should find part-time work as a prison guard. What do you think?

Thursday, August 19, 2010

She is Kaput!

My old reliable desktop bit the dust this afternoon. I was in the middle of my final revision when it froze. Not just a normal, run of the mill freeze-up, this one is starting to look like a permanent condition.

I should have known. I'm on my second keyboard with this machine, and although I haven't yet worn holes in the keys on this one, it's close. The tower has been wheezing a little lately and the Internet takes forever to react.

So... I may be leaving PCs for good. If I need to replace it, I'll move to Mac.

Now... have you noticed how calm I am about all this? Not only do I back up by sending my manuscript to my Mac every night, I purchased Carbonite Backup for that machine almost a year ago. Have never needed it until now. Because I "send" my manuscript to myself each night, I always have a current copy. But today, when I froze up, it was mid-revision. If not for Carbonite, I would have lost about four hours of work.

Although they can't do a full upload to a Mac from a PC, I was able to go in and pull out a couple of files I needed. Wonderful. Easy. Had my file here in under three minutes. I should be able to do that as necessary. I'll have to figure out a way to move the bulk of the documents elsewhere before long. But not today.

My final major revision (of Murder Most Civil) is done. Just in time to start my minor revisions...

THANK YOU, CARBONITE!!!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Meet Frances!

Frances is visiting Killer Characters today. Please stop by and make her feel welcome. Of course, knowing Frances, she'll make herself feel welcome...


Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Be a Cozy Book Booster!

As you probably know, I'm part of the Killer Characters blog.

The 25 of us who make up KillerCharacters.com have been talking among ourselves about what we hear from our readers. We've discovered that there are many, many readers out there who are disappointed when their favorite authors stop writing a series.

I can assure you that in most cases, this is not the author's choice. It's the publisher's. And it's because that author's numbers aren't there. They don't warrant renewing a series.

I've been very, very fortunate so far. As you know, Berkley renewed the contract for the White House Chef series and (so far) it looks like there will be at least six. I'm hopeful they extend that further, but it's a little too early to tell.

It's also too early to tell how Grace Under Pressure is doing, but it did make the BN Mystery List and also (even better!) BN's overall Mass Market List. I'm pretty darned excited about that.

This is all a long way to say that if you like a series -- and I'm not just talking about mine here, but about all those books you love -- then you can support the authors by becoming a Book Booster. It isn't difficult and you may already be a booster and you don't realize it.

A really great description of Book Boostering can be found on KillerCharacters.com on THIS page.

Before you pop over there to read it, let me just thank you for mentioning Ollie, Grace, and me on your blogs, in your Tweets, and on Facebook. Thanks for signing up for my newsletter, and thanks for posting reviews on BN, Amazon, and other review sites. And thanks in advance for sharing this with other readers who might be interested.

All your support makes a bigger difference than you may realize!


All Better!

After a trip to the doc's yesterday and a lot of delays by Walgreen's getting me my Neosporin eye drops, I'm on the road to recovery.

Unfortunately, all the work I'd intended to do yesterday is still waiting for me today. Aargh!

Tomorrow one of my characters blogs on Killer Characters. And this week I blog Friday on Mystery Lovers' Kitchen.

Tune in today - my regular day - for a special post from Cleo Coyle! Chocolate Chip Cobbler and a chance to win a latte cup!

Monday, August 16, 2010

Ack!! Pinkeye!

I woke up with pinkeye this morning. Ugh.
Haven't had this in years. Decades, maybe. I think I had this just once before. No idea where it came from. No one in the house has it and I haven't really had any contact with others... We all had dinner out on Saturday. The waiters didn't seem to have any issues. Who knows?

It's too early to call the doctor's office, so I did a little checking online for home remedies. Pretty much exactly what one would expect.

I'm extremely pleased that tonight's book discussion with a group from Wisconsin will be via Skype (figured it out. Pretty easy!) so that I don't share this new experience with anyone.

Ugh, ugh, ugh!


Thursday, August 12, 2010

SKYPEing

I'm planning my first SKYPE attempt soon. I downloaded the software but haven't had a chance to try it out yet. If worse comes to worse, I can rely on the old-fashioned telephone, but I'm hoping this will work.

Here's my question and if you know the answer, please pop in and tell me...

Now that it's all downloaded, the SKYPE folks are talking about using credits. Okay, fair enough. But I thought domestic SKYPE calls were free.

Before I load up on credits, can someone set me straight? I know the answer is probably on the site somewhere, but I haven't been able to find it. Of course, I have been known to miss things that are right under my nose...


Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Proofing...

As many of you know, I read my manuscripts aloud before I turn them in. Sometimes I even read them aloud twice. Yeah, it gets tedious, but the typos and word confusions and continuity errors I catch make it worth it. I'm reading Murder Most Civil aloud today, but this is the first time I've done so with my kids around.

Most of the time they're out and about with their friends, of course, but I'm used to quiet mornings with them sleeping late. Not so much this year. They've been getting up early and hanging out in the room adjacent to my "cave" which makes me very self-conscious about reading my book out loud. I've been getting up earlier each day, but so have they!

Now, is it their fault that I join them in playing with the Wii Fit Plus? Nope. Is it their fault I amble into the kitchen for a snack break every 45 minutes? Nope. But it is really different this time. Prior summers had a different rhythm and it's taking me until now (pretty darned late) to get used to this one.

Next week my youngest heads off to college :::sniff::: and that means the house will be a bit more quiet. But we aren't empty nesters yet. I'm totally okay with this. I love having my kids around. But to whip this manuscript into shape I might have to get creative. I wonder if there are quiet rooms at the library (with doors) I can use.

This manuscript is due September 1st and then I have to really step up the pace on the next one, due December 1st. If I'm slow on responding to emails, or if I'm lax on popping in here, you'll know why.

Next year - 2011 - will be different. I plan to get both books done *before* summer.

Yep. I will.


Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Chef for a Night at Tin Fish


Today I'm blogging about my big night at Tin Fish in Tinley Park, Illinois. I won the chance to be Chef for a Night! Pretty exciting stuff. I wasn't sure I'd be able to take advantage of my prize because we've been on the go so much this summer, but the stars aligned ... Curt was working late and I'd gotten through the first revision of Murder Most Civil (tentative title). I called Tin Fish the day before to see if I could get in - even on such short notice - and they were able to accommodate me!

I know that's a fairly unflattering pic, but I wanted to get one of me in my smock. The kitchen staff was running and busy, so I took it myself. Umm.. ugh! LOL

Check out the story and (better) pictures at Mystery Lovers' Kitchen today!

Monday, August 09, 2010

Podcast post

Rick Kogan (WGN-AM) is a *fabulous* interviewer. Such a nice man, so generous and fun. My publicist, Dana Kaye, set this up and I had a wonderful time yesterday down at the studio. My interview ended at 7:30 AM and Curt and I thought we might stay down there until places opened. We walked up to Oak Street Beach, then down to Ohio Street Beach, then back over to Michigan and it was still before 9:00. We weren't hungry, so we opted to skip breakfast (which would have taken about an hour), so we just went home. Good thing because we had a ton of stuff to do here including repair work on the garage floor, and pulling weeds.

But I'm getting off topic.

The Sunday Papers show now offers podcats!!!

Here's a link to my interview yesterday if anyone is interested:


I just love that Rick Kogan!!

Tuesday, August 03, 2010

Listen in on August 8th!

Hey, guess what?
I will be a guest on Rick Kogan's morning show on Sunday, August 8th! Yep, to talk about GRACE UNDER PRESSURE, and the White House Chef books, too. I don't have the precise time I'll be on the radio, but it will be during his WGN-AM "Sunday Papers" segment.

More as we get closer!!