Saturday, December 25, 2010

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

XLII - December 2010

November seemed to zoom past -- one day I was admiring the leaf color and hoping that the Halloween pumpkin would still be good for a Thanksgiving decoration . . . the next thing I knew I was washing dishes after the feast and making turkey sandwiches with the leftovers. 

They say that as one ages, time seems to speed up. The explanation for this is elegantly simple:when one is young, say six years old, (and assuming one doesn't have much memory of the first few years of life) a year is maybe a third or fourth of all one's experience.

Whereas at the age of -- oh, say sixty-seven -- a year is just a small fraction of one's personal history and therefore seems to pass all the more quickly.

Makes sense to me.
And then there's the dichotomy between real time and fictional time. I spend much of my real time immersed in fictional time -- whether in the book I'm proofreading (UNDER THE SKIN set in May and June of 2007 and  May of 1887 ) or the book I'm planning (many different times) or the various books I'm reading (also many different times.)

It's a wonder I even know what year it is.
Last month we said goodbye to Molly -- our old girl. It seems odd to be reduced to three dogs after many years of five or six but I have to admit the house is staying slightly cleaner (Molly was a champion shedder) and it's a bit easier to maneuver around without tripping over a dog or two.
I'm passing along this nice idea -- remembering my childhood visits to the book department of Maas  Department store in Tampa to buy the latest Nancy Drew.  I don't have a handy child but may just treat my inner child to one of the lovely children's books that are out there. 

And of course, books are great holiday gifts. I always look forward to spending Christmas afternoon with a wonderful new book.

Speaking of books

Deana said - Books I've recently read and loved: Eliot Pattison has a series going of a Chinese official banished and imprisoned in Tibet. I've read the first two of the three he's written, "The Skull Mantra" and "Water Touching Stone." Probably even more interesting than the mysteries Inspector Shan Tao Yun solves is all the stuff I learned about modern-day Tibet's tragic occupation by China and also many interesting insights into Tibetan Buddhism.

 I've been asked by the coordinators of this event to share the above press release with you. Unfortunately, if I make it large enough to read, it won't fit on the page. But I'm happy to say I've been asked to be the guest speaker at The Friends of the Mountains Branch Library’s first Books & Bites Series event on Thursday, January 27 at noon. 

It will be at the historic Esmeralda Inn on Route 74 just outside the village of Chimney Rock. A generous portion of the twenty five dollar cost for the luncheon is being contributed to the library.

Tickets ($25) are available by phone (828-625-0456), in person at The Mountains Branch Library on Bills Creek Road in Lake Lure, or by check made out to: The Friends of the Mountains Branch Library, and mailed to: Mountains Branch Library, 150 Bills Creek Rd., Lake Lure, NC 28746.

 Though I realize not many of you are in the area, especially in January, if you are, I'd love to see you there!

AND in other news, I've been invited to be on the faculty at a week long writing retreat in July at Wildacres.   The website is being renovated and faculty for 2011 isn't up yet but you can get an idea of the offerings and the beautiful facility HERE.  I know some of you have said you'd like to take one of my classes if only you lived in the area. Well, here's a chance for a lovely vacation and a class...

And now to get ready for Christmas. . .

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Sunday, October 31, 2010

XLI - November 2010

It was a beautiful, busy month here in the mountains. We dug potatoes . . . 
And we got started milking again (a process now almost entirely handled by Justin and Claui who are also dealing with making the butter, yoghurt, and (eventually) cheese.  . . .

And I was on the road, here, there and yon, promoting  The Day of Small Things. Libraries, bookstores, women's groups -- even an orchard on the Blue Ridge Parkway. Heck, if a tractor pull had invited me, I'd have gone. 

The yonmost (if that isn't a word, it should be) was Bouchercon in San Francisco. What an amazing city! I wish I'd had time to see more of it but the convention was the deal. I was on a panel and went to other panels and presentations of various kinds, as well as catching up with old friends and meeting new ones.
And, of course, there was the meeting with Herself. She was non-committal about a sixth Elizabeth Goodweather (as you know, the fifth -- Under the Skin -- will be out next year.) Instead, she encouraged me to come up with another Marshall County standalone and we discussed several ideas.  

I've been happy to hear from readers who loved the Birdie story -- some even liked it better than the Elizabeth books. With any luck, I can do both,

So I'm trying to get my thoughts together to send Herself my ideas and, perhaps because of Halloween, those thoughts have turned to the graveyard where that grave with a playhouse atop it used to be. I see two dolls at a table with a tea set. Mildewed and dusty, spiderwebs stretch between them . . .  What a springboard for a story!  Ideas are swirling like spirits on Halloween night . . .

Maybe by December I'll have something more definite to tell you about my next project.

 For now though, let me share this nice bit of news from the Southern Independent Booksellers bestsellers list (mass market paperback) for the week of October 10

1. The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo
- Stieg Larsson
2. 61 Hours - Lee Child
3. The Girl Who Played With Fire - Stieg Larsson
4. To Kill a Mockingbird - Harper Lee
5. Play Dead - Harlan Coben
6. Animal Farm - George Orwell
7. The Day of Small Things - Vicki Lane
8. I, Alex Cross - James Patterson
9. Pursuit of Honor - Vince Flynn
10. Pirate Latitudes - Michael Crichton

Pretty nifty, huh? And it's because of all of you who went out and bought copies from your local independent bookseller! Thank you from the bottom of my heart!

  Notes and Comments
(not many this month -- let us know what books you've enjoyed recently!)

Pat in East TN says - I just finished reading THE KITCHEN HOUSE.  Wonderful book ... probably one of the best I've read in a long time.
Vicki Lane -- played hooky from all those mysteries waiting to be read and really enjoyed Geraldine Brooks's March - a story based on the father in Little Women. It also gives an interesting view of the saintly Marmee.  Highly recommended, especially for all of you who loved Little Women -- you'll catch the echoes.

 As always, I took a  lot of pictures last month . . .

   Here's a slideshow. Click to enlarge.

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Thursday, September 30, 2010

XL -- October 2010

First of all -- my heartfelt thanks to all of you who've bought a copy of  the new book.  I did beg a bit last month -- so unbecoming --  and I do appreciate the response. Blessings on you!

September was a busy month -- canning tomatoes and putting other garden stuff in the freezer. Another writing class began; I posted my thousandth post on my blog . . .
 The copy edit of next year's Elizabeth book, Under the Skin, came back. I responded to the edits and returned it to New York, on the same day that The Day of Small Things hit the book stores.
And on that same day, Marigold had her calf and now, after a long hiatus, our family has a milk cow again!

 Here's a slide show with highlights from our busy month.

Notes and Comments 

Judy Shaw says : Interesting comment from Carol Fletcher re Susan Wittig Albert. Vicki, you and Susan have so much in common. On top of both being teriffic writers with such true-to-life characters; you garden and do similar other crafts. I just wish you both could publish lots more books! :) 
I suggest that you all take a look at ROOM by Emma Donoghue. I really, really loved this book.

Jon Michael Riley Just finished two very different books: Jaber Crow by Wendell Berry and Paddy Clarke Ha, Ha, Ha by Roddy Doyle. Berry's writing is lovely and the wandering memoir-like story kept me wondering where the hell it was going. It is more like a long meditation of what "modern life" can do to people and communities.

With Roddy Doyle, there is no waiting around. The reader is plunged into the story. 
Elaine in Hawaii is thinking about SIX OF ONE by Rita Mae Brown. One of your writers mentioned her, which reminded me of this book, which I dearly loved. I have it somewhere... And another thing...I forgot to tell you that the Mark Hebden book I was reading (PEL IS PUZZLED) had a fair amount of humor but the plot was a little...loose, maybe. If you decide to try a Pel, read PEL AND THE STAGHOUND. Been a while since I read it but it made me smile out loud.
Phyllis asks Are you familiar with Tom Godleski?  He fronts the band "Buncombe Turnpike."  I think they've played the Big Pine VFD a time or two.  We saw them this past weekend, and I just thought you would find him to be an interesting guy.  He's mentioned having family from Anderson Branch, has written songs about Madison County (one is about a fight at Barnard), and has written a play which will be staged at SART next month.  (Click on "bios" for more about Tom.)
Pat in east TN has been catching up on my reading  between getting garden goodies put up and now starting to clean up my summer garden.  "A Dog's Purpose" is a fantastic book ... sure makes you look at your furry friends in a different way.  I'm now reading "No Mercy" by Lori Armstrong ... I'm finding her to be a good writer, catching my interesting within the first couple of pages, actually in the prologue!  Although it seems like I've been going through my wish list like mad, there are always new books to add!  Ha ... I guess I could have a worse vice...

NCmountainwoman says Thank you for pointing out "Room." Absent a recommendation from someone like you there's no way I would have picked up a book written in the first person of a five-year-old child. And held captive in a shed yet.

I found the book to be absolutely fascinating and like you, I simply read it until I was done. So compelling and well written. Thanks again for recommending it.

 And Pat in east TN chimes in Just wanted to tell you that I finished ROOM this morning.  Great read and I thank you for recommending it ... it's kind of like THE HELP, a book that I never would have picked out on my own, but on the recommendation of a friend I gave it a try.  I admit I had my doubts about ROOM, but I instantly fell in love with Jack and Ma, and Jack doing the talking made it truly a treasure.  IMO, if it had been Ma talking, or just a story of their lives, it sure wouldn't have been the same.  I have told several friends about it .. word needs to get out about this book.  If I hadn't been so busy with this/that I would have read through it sooner, but I had many things to do this week and I simply can't stay up half the night reading, never could. . .
I'm reading Secret Graces now .. just into the first several pages, but already I know it's a good one just like Tender Graces was. 

Let us know what you're reading!

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Wednesday, September 1, 2010

XXXIX -- September 2010

The wait has been incredibly long. But now it's almost over.

Miss Birdie's book will be out at the end of the month -- Tuesday the 28th to be exact. It will be in many bookstores -- but not necessarily in all of them. If you're thinking of purchasing a copy (and oh! how I hope you are,) it might be a good idea to call your friendly local bookseller and pre-order. Of course you can do the same thing on line but I know that many of you, like me, are big supporters of local bookstores and especially independent booksellers.

The sales of the new book in the month after its release are probably the main thing that the publishers -- and especially the publishers' accountants -- look at to see if this is an author who is going to make money for the publisher -- if this is an author worth retaining.

Yes, I'm talking about myself here. I'm out of contract after Under the Skin ( which will be  published, I've just learned, October 25 of next year -- another long, long wait, alas.) So I can only hope that sales of The Day of Small Things will be brisk enough that Herself will be inclined to offer me another contract and I can get going on another book. 

Thus, once again  I'm asking for your support.  I hope you'll consider buying a copy for yourself or for a gift -- or if finances are really tight, ask your library to order a copy. That helps me too. As I said, it's the October sales (of new books, not used) that the number crunchers at Random House will be  looking at. 

I think it's a good book. You all are on this list because you like Elizabeth -- I think you'll find a lot to like in Birdie's book as well.
Recommended Reading

 Marsh C. says: just read “She-Rain” by Michael Cogdill. Very good story, excellent (although somewhat flowery) writing. He’s from Weaverville (NC) and grew up around here.

Elaine S. in Hawaii tells me: I've been reading old books lately and have discovered that Mark Hebden's Pel series has been reprinted. O Frabjous Day! Inspector Pel is a dour, pessimistic French policeman, who, in spite of his outlook on life, manages to think through the debris of the crimes in his locale to come up with the perpetrators. And he is very funny doing it. Sardonic wit prevails. I am reading PEL IS PUZZLED, wherein poor Pel discovers, to his great disappointment, that the English are not the cretins he has always believed, that they are kind, smart, and, alors! they can create marvelous meals!   

Mary Maupin says: I just read Gates of Africa, by Anthony Sattin, about the English African Society, who sponsored explorer Mungo Park and others, with orders to find Timbuctu and the origin and end of the NIger River.  This eventually opened up Africa coloniztoin by the British (depressing in some ways, good in others--always shades of gray).  I'm also reading Paul Theroux travel books and novels.

Carol in Fletcher tells me: I am in the middle of reading Together Alone by Susan Wittig Albert, and read her latest Herbal Holly Blues . Love her writing series set in Texas. Together Alone is a bio about her life, and a history of the area of Texas hill country she and her husband Bill have been living in for 20 some years.

  Carol also likes Rita Mae Brown and Sneaky Pie series, I had just read her Cat of the Century right after Holly Blues last month. All hers are good too!

Here's a fun link for all you book lovers.

August was incredibly busy - harvesting and putting up garden produce and chickens as well. Our experiment with raising free range broiler chickens has gone so well that we have 25 more chicks arriving this week.  We also accomplished a massive cleanup and clean out at our rental house and have two charming tenants moving in soon.

At last the air is a bit cooler and a lot drier. The humming birds seem to be moving on -- the feeders that a few weeks ago required refilling three times a day, have only a few customers now.  The turkey poults are almost as large as their mothers; the garden is winding down. Goldenrod and purple ironweed are beginning to paint the fields in autumn color and the air is full of the constant chirr of insects.

School buses are on the roads; my freezer is almost full, and I'm looking forward to fall and the excitement of a new book.  

Do let me know what you're reading and remember,  there's a FAQ section over HERE that gets added to weekly. Is there something about my books or writing in general you'd like to know?  I welcome questions...

Have a great September!

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Saturday, July 31, 2010

XXXVIII - August 2010

I'd almost begun to despair of ever hearing from my editor about UNDER THE SKIN. Finally my agent asked Herself what was up.

What do you mean, says Herself? Didn't Vicki get my email?  

So then Herself goes on to say  that she loved it and thinks it's the best thing I've ever written. . . says she was totally enmeshed in it . . . says the characterizations were rich and fresh and the novel-within-the-novel was strong and instantly compelling. Says she hated for the book to end. 

Well, okay, then!

Now I'm waiting for the edited manuscript to arrive so I can address a few quibbles Herself had about one plot line and give the whole thing another good proof reading.  

Meanwhile, aside from enduring the hottest summer on record, I've been working in the yard and the garden and thinking about what my next writing project might be . . . something in Cherokee, reuniting Rosemary with an old friend? Might be a possibility.

Or another standalone  . . . about a very special place hidden deep in the mountains of Marshall County . . . or . . . or . . .

I'm out of contract with this just handed in manuscript and will have to come up with something enthralling to tempt Herself to offer me another contract. The publishing climate isn't great these days and publishers are ending series with less than stellar sales right and left. 

Much will depend I suspect, on how The Day of Small Things sells.
 Recommended Reading

Mary Maupin says: "I'm reading "Cutting for Stone", by Abraham Verghese.  It's an engaging story and well-written.  Put it on your next year's reading list, when you have time to read something other than the books being delivered to your door, required reading."

Deb Dandolino writes: My reading lately has given me a lot of pleasure from some of the books. Interred With Their Bones and Haunt Me Still are two great books by Jennifer Lee Carrel. The first book is set around a search for a lost play that Shakespeare wrote. The second one posits the question - did Shakespeare base his Macbeth witches on actual witches and could the real witches have given Shakespeare information about actual spells. Both of the books had me up way past my bedtime.

Another series that I have loved is the one from Elizabeth Kane Buzzelli,
The first is Dead Dancing Women which revolves around older women who have
been seen dancing around a fire (gasp! ;-)) and such and are now being
killed.  If you haven't read it, do - I think you would like it.  The other
two books are Dead Floating Lovers and Dead Sleeping Shaman.  There is
another planned for fall but Elizabeth didn't give me the title.
Last, but definitely not least, is The Crossing Places and The Janus Stone
by Elly Griffiths.  Both have to do with archaeology in the marshes of
Norfolk, UK.  The first one starts out a little slowly but, if you
persevere, you'll find a great book.
Pat in TN has this to share: 
Just wanted to tell you that I am completely and utterly in love with my Kindle!  I was a little apprehensive at first, but it's not that complicated and is oh so easy on the eyes when reading.  I whipped through my first book on it, "Requiem by Fire", by Wayne Caldwell, (Great book!) and am now reading a 'real book' that was on my TBR pile.  What a world of difference ... I do find my eyes getting more tired reading this book ... who'd a thought!?!?!  I have 3 more books on my TBR pile, so am going to alternate between them and the Kindle and then I'll go Kindle all the way.  
I also ordered "The Secret Garden" on my Kindle this morning ... couldn't believe that it's one of their free books!  I have never read it and after your raving about it and almost everyone commenting on it, I thought I'd better give it a try. 
And Janie Matthews says: I'm still reading "Inherit the Land: Miss Maggie's Will Meets Jim Crow.  We've had different house guests for 3 weeks, so I haven't had much time to read.

We've been enjoying watching the humming birds and also two turkey hens and their poults who are daily visitors at our bird feeder.

Yesterday I went to a threshing demonstration -- more about that over on my daily blog!

A slide show of some of July's highlights!

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Thursday, July 1, 2010

XXXVII - July 2010

A few days ago I heard from Herself -- no, nothing about Under the Skin; I'm still in the dark about Herself's reaction thereto.

But she had excellent news -- a wonderful blurb for The Day of Small Things from Deborah Crombie, New York Times Best-Selling author of the Duncan Kincaide/Gemma James mysteries! This is what Deb had to say:

"Vicki Lane is one of the best American novelists writing today.  In The Day of Small Things, she has once again rendered a lyrical, evocative, and haunting portrait of life in the Appalachians, both past and present. And in Birdie, she has given us a character who will steal your heart and stay with you for a long time to come. 

I loved this book--The Day of Small Things will definitely make my short list for 2010."
Oh my! Oh Deb! I feel faint!
Blurbs, as you probably know, go on the cover of the book to entice the reader.  I've been fortunate in getting nice blurbs from kind authors hut it's still difficult to ask. In Deb's case, however, she had let me know that she'd read and enjoyed my previous books so it was easy.
With Deb's kind words to energize me, I've begun to think about the promotion of the book. Yes, the publishers assign me a publicist but they expect me to do a fair amount on my own.  This newsletter is one of those things. And now I've set up a blog/site dedicated to 
The Day of Small Things.

It won't be a regularly updated blog -- more of a website for the book which I can update as needed. It will have reviews and blurbs as they come in; there is a page for the media with photos and bios; there is an excerpt from the book and a page of Frequently Asked Questions (please, ask me a question and I'll answer it there!)

Eventually I'll add photos pertaining to the book and whatever else seems useful -- questions for book clubs perhaps.  You're invited to give it a look and make suggestions. Here's a link and there'll always be one in the side bar. Do let me know what you think!

Notes and Observations

Pat in East TN says: 
I'm still reading quite a bit and gave in and ordered myself a Kindle the other day.  Many folks have been after me to get one and when they dropped the price significantly, I couldn't resist ... ha, there goes my berry picking money!  It should come tomorrow and I'm excited.  There are still some books that I will want to buy, just to have, but most of everyday reading will go on the Kindle. 

I do believe I've learned something new in the past week.  Two yellow jacket nests that were built above ground!  When I saw these round paper nests I thought instantly of hornets, which I totally dislike after being stung a couple of times by those suckers, BUT these are definitely yellow jackets.  Have you ever heard to this?  In all my years I do not recall seeing an above the ground nest.  Food must be lacking in the woods as our local wildlife abounds in my yard and the hayfield next door.  We hadn't seen any for quite a while and now it seems their all coming in to graze and raid my bird feeders.  I don't mind sharing as long as no damage is done. 
Follow this link for recommendations on books set in western NC or written by authors from the area.

In other news -- I've bitten the (financial) bullet and signed up for Bouchercon (the big mystery convention in October.) It's in San Francisco -- a place I've never been -- and the expense is significant. But with a new book out, it seems like the thing to do.  I'll hope to find that some folks on the west coast have heard of Elizabeth Goodweather. . .

Here on the farm, blackberries are ripening,  as are squash and cucumbers. The weeds are thriving;the dogs and cats are shedding; friends and family are visiting. I'm trying to make up for all I haven't been doing while finishing Under the Skin. And I'm reading a whole lots of mysteries, as I mentioned in a previous post.

Please do visit my blog/site for The Day of Small Things and tell me what it needs -- or ask a question that isn't in the FAQ. There are links to the other pages just under the header photo.
And here's a slide show from the past month. Have a wonderful July!

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Monday, May 31, 2010

XXXVI - June 2010

Finally! On May 15 I sent in my completed Under the Skin - the fifth Elizabeth book.  I have not heard anything yet -- other than the fact that Herself received it. And I have no idea how long it will take Herself to get to it and even less idea what she's going to think about it.  I suspect she'll have some changes she wants me to make.

In  the original version of Art's Blood, Herself felt that the killer was too obvious and suggested a change. She was right -- she pretty much always is. And she wanted a fairly substantial rewrite of The Day of Small Things (still scheduled for a September 28 release.) 

So who knows what she may feels needs doing or undoing in this my sixth book? Not me. I just know it'll be better after I've responded to her suggestions.

I spoke to a large book club this month and a man asked if I didn't resent having to make changes -- if I didn't feel my artistic vision was being tampered with by my editor. (That's not exactly what he said but that was how I interpreted his question.)

And I replied, as  I always do -- for I get this question often, that I'm not writing great literature and that I see myself more as a craftsman and a storyteller than an artist.  And besides, even artists generally have teachers whose opinions they learn from. 

So I'm bracing myself for a learning experience any day now.  In the meantime, I've been working in the garden, repotting all my potted plants (some of which are huge and most of which were in dire need of this attention. I'm starting to catch up on some long overdue housecleaning; I'm working through those boxes of mysteries I told you about last month. 

And I watched a movie -- the first in a long time -- the newest Pride and Prejudice. Oh, it's been glorious to catch up on my own life after being totally consumed in Elizabeth's for so long!

Notes and Queries
Elaine in Hawaii says: I tried a Maisie Dobbs, didn't like it. I never like heros/heroines who are never wrong, except for, oddly, Nero Wolfe. The latest Christopher Fowler that I have, The Victoria Vanishes, is really, really good. Lots of English history taught here, not to mention the laughs.
Deana the Queena in Burnesville, NC tells me:  I recently read a heap of the Hamish McBeth mystery series by M.C. Beaton. They're very light, but give some glimpses into the world of the Scottish Highlands and have good characters.

Mary, here in my neck of the woods writes: I read "Girl with the Dragon Tattoo"--and now you can't even tell me if you read or liked it. RATS!  I didn't think it was so wonderfully written, but it was so much fun reading!  I'm now reading the second one, "Girl who Played with Fire".  Don't think I'll read the 3rd one--they're getting a little too predictable.  98 lb. girl does major bodily harm, just in the nick of time, to 380 lb. man who can't feel pain.
Pat in East TN asks:
Sooooo, what are you going to do with ALL your free time?  HA, I only say that because folks always ask me, "What do you do all the time, aren't you bored?"  I could honestly smack them silly as there aren't enough hours in the day it seems, but so it goes.  We got so very much appreciated rain last night ... 1/2 inch in about 1/2 an hour!   We are dry, dry, dry here ... as of the other day 4+ inches behind for the year.  My poor berries, all varieties of them, are in such need of water at this time, and we were ready to haul out the hoses, but Mother Nature came to our rescue, + her water is much better then ours.  Potato bugs have invaded overnight AND on my tomato plants too, especially the Roma's!  Eeeeek!  Sooo, I'm out there with my soup can of kerosene picking those little buggers off.  They just about did the Roma's in, but I think/hope all but one will recover. 
Other then that it's just been this/that work outside and a ton of company lately.  I've been reading some.  Dr. Bass from UT-Knoxville/The Body Farm has a new book out, and I'm a huge fan of his, so I literally flew through that one.  Now I'm reading CAUGHT by Harlan Corben.  I did see that in the box of books you are to read ... JMO, but this one is blowing me away!  Enough said! 
Pat's garden is way ahead of ours but I can report that mine is looking pretty good in spite of a late start.  May 15 is the standard date around here before which one risks frost so as soon as the book was off to New York, I was in the garden setting out maters and peppers and all such tender plants.

The next step is to tackle the shrubbery -- all of which needs pruning and weeding.  Probably a lot like that book I just sent off. 

 Here's a slide show from May -- does it seem like all I do is look at flowers?

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Friday, April 30, 2010

May 2010 -- XXXV

May already! I'm this close (holding thumb and forefinger very close, indeed) to being ready to send Under the Skin to my long-suffering editor. About four short chapters to go on what seems to have been an endless journey. 

Undoubtedly there'll be revisions -- there always are. And they always make the work stronger.  But I shall heave such a sigh of relief when this one is done!

And  then I have some reading to do.  Actually, I'm already reading -- at breakfast and lunch, a few minutes before dinner, just before bed . . .

I'm one of a committee of eight to choose five nominees for best novel (in the mystery field) of 2010.  The eventual winner will be voted by the members of Mystery Writers of America -- kind of like the Motion Picture Academy and the Oscars.

So far I've received over a hundred books -- by the end of the year there'll probably be over 500.

But the sad thing is, I'm not allowed to tell you all about them. All the members of the committee signed pledges not to discuss the books they read (except among themselves) -- not now, not ever.

So for the rest of this year, I'm not posting about what I'm reading.


After the long winter, Spring has been gorgeous. So far (fingers crossed) there's not been a killing freeze. Peas and lettuce are up; potatoes are planted; chickens are laying; and the pastures are growing lush and green. 

There's a lot of pruning and cleanup to be done around the yard -- the winter was hard on the shrubbery. Places that used to be shady are sunny -- and vice versa. A garden is always a work in progress and I'm looking forward to seizing some slim margin of control over bits of it. There's been a lot of benign neglect on my part while Mother Nature moves ahead with her own plans. 

The whole idea of a garden is Man (or Woman) trying to impose order on freedom-loving Nature -- one may win a battle but the war is never over and those same battles must constantly be re-fought.

Once more into the breach, dear friends!

Here's a walk through our April -- complete with Easter party and pre-party pictures.

Notes and Queries
Pat in East TN writes:

I just finished reading LUCIA, LUCIA by Adriana Trigiani.  I really enjoyed her Big Stone Gap series ... this was quite a change from that, but a really good story.  Now I'm ready to start THE STORYTELLER by Margaret Coel.  I've heard a lot about her books, and, as it goes, this has been sitting on my shelves for quite some time!    
Eleanor says:
  I loved The Irresistible Henry House, just out, by Lisa Grunwald. 
Barb says:
I've been a fan since reading Signs In The Blood and Arts Blood. I am currently reading Old Wounds. I have to tell you that I absolutely LOVED the part where Elizabeth was trying to use the cell phone that she had recently acquired and was having so much trouble with it.I could definitely relate to her experience!
   Also,I do have one question.I was wondering why Laurel and Rosemary refer to Elizabeth as Mum and not Mom. Just curious as to why you chose a British reference to their mother.
Re cell phone -- I wrote that, as you might guess, shortly after getting my first cell phone. I still don't use one much -- it stays in the car for emergencies.

Why Mum?  Well, I guess because my older son ( who is, like me, an Anglophile) started calling me Mum at some time and I liked the sound of it. He'd begun with Ma when he was very young  and then switched to Mom at some point. It became Mum when he was in his teens. (My younger son still calls me Mom. ) 

Janie in Morganton sent me this picture and 'recipe.' --Our associate pastor, Betty Henson, grew up in the mountains north of Boone, and she dyed the Easter egg in this photograph with onion skins. 
Here are her directions: Take the thin brown skin off onions and soak them in water for a couple of hours. Then wrap them around an uncooked egg and cover with aluminum foil. Bake in a 250 oven for hour. Eggs used to be colored this way in the ashes of a fireplace and the  skins tied on with string. Each egg is an one of a kind creation and is colored in shades and designs of brown.
Too late for Easter this year -- but still sounds fun!

Even though I can't discuss my reading, I hope that you'll share your favorites! Or questions, recipes, household hints, love potions, funny stories . . .