new word: vibrissae

January 17, 2009 | 5 Comments

Here is Barkis in watchdog mode. Can you spot his vibrissae? Reminder–the quickest way I know of to share an image is Piccdrop. Real quick! Drop me an image! Put the URL in comments.

Soapbox: I’m sorry to say that some owners or groomers pluck or even remove their dog’s vibrissae for cosmetic reasons. That’s just wrong. And mean. Please don’t do it. While you’re at it, leave his ears alone, too!

Since you asked…

January 15, 2009 | 7 Comments

A few random Qs from my publisher… What's your fave?

What is your favorite flower?

Magenta cyclamen. In the dead of winter, I can always find a few secretly blooming in my garden.

What are you reading now?
Identical Strangers by Elyse Schein and Paula Bernstein. It’s a memoir by twins who were separated at birth and adopted by strangers, and never found out until they met for the first time as adults.
Who is your favorite Harlequin author?
That is SO not fair, because my favorites change along with my moods. When I have a rotten cold in the middle of winter, it’s tea and toast and Betty Neels. For a feel-good girlfriend book, I love Debbie Macomber, but when I need a sexy cowboy, it’s Linda Lael Miller all the way. If I’m in the mood for an alpha male, Nora Roberts or Linda Howard fills the bill. Jennifer Greene for a good cry. If I have a hankering for military guys, it’s Merline Lovelace and Suzanne Brockmann…see what I mean? I could go on like this all day. 
How many books have you written?
30-ish. I stopped counting after thirty because it was making me feel old.
What is your favorite vacation spot?
Right here, right now. It’s a boring answer, but I’m really lucky to live where I do. There’s a pristine beach about ten yards from my window, a dead-on view of Mount Rainier, sailboats, kayaks and motorboats on the premises, a pool and deck, a big garden twined with pathways, a primeval rain forest 1/2 mile down the road, a cafe in the neighborhood with great lattes and pizza, a vintage movie house within walking distance and all the fishing, birding and beachcombing, sitting and reading and dreaming you could want. Provided I’m doing a good job with my deadlines, every day feels like a vacation.
Before becoming a writer, what did you do?
Wrote and illustrated long, angsty unrhymed poems, skied in the Matterhorn, rode the Orient Express, played center on my field hockey team, spoke French, played the cello, drank pastis in a cafe in Trieste with dangerous people, sneaked into a Rolling Stones concert, flirted with my master’s thesis advisor, taught Euclidean geometry, Calculus and long division, stole my sister’s boyfriend and married him, became a vegetarian, learned to dance the Cotton-Eyed Joe, made the first cut of the Teacher in Space program, taught myself Fair Isle knitting and counted cross stitch, faux finished every wall of the house, campaigned for John Anderson, ignored my mother’s advice, gave birth without anaesthesia, read Georgette Heyer’s complete oeuvre, gave my hair to Locks of Love, rode a bicycle down the volcano Haleakala, sang in a church choir, told my sister sorry about the guy and had a laugh, became an adult literacy volunteer, lived in a tract home in the ”burbs and read romance novels aloud while nursing an infant, because I was trying to teach myself the craft while bonding with the infant. Then I sold my first book, and everything changed…
Do you have a new book coming out?
Always. My latest is Fireside. I’ll have several historical reissues this year, and then Lakeshore Christmas in October.
What is your favorite food?
Pizza with melanzane (eggplant), served in a tiny cafe in Amalfi with a view of the sea and a glass of San Pelligrino, shared with the abovementioned laughing husband.
Do you have any pets?
Barkis the Wonderdog, a young Doberman with floppy ears and a stubby tail and a desperate need to be petted at all times.
What is your favorite romantic movie?
It’s a tie– “Harold and Maude” and “Last of the Mohicans” (the Daniel Day-Lewis version). Runners up: “Terminator” and “Speed.” Really.
This year is Harlequin’s 60th Anniversary. Do you have any special message you’d like to pass on?
Girl, you are lookin’ hot for a sixty-year-old! Keep doing what you’re doing. It’s working well for you.
Your turn! How would you answer? Click “comments” and post there!
What’s your fave?

Calling all writers!

January 12, 2009 | 2 Comments

Hey, local writers! Real quick–go look at the winter class offerings from Field’s End. This is a place that will help your writing dreams come true, with small classes, skilled instructors and fascin

bringing you bad books since 1967
bringing you bad books since 1967

ating topics. This winter, you can write a play, try your hand at writing about food, travel and the arts, or explore writing for children.

Trivia quiz–one of the winter classes is taught by the first “poster child” of Field’s End–a writer who started off as a student in one of the classes, and went on to be a hugely successful, multipublished writer. Can you guess which one?

Hurry! Registration closes this week!

today’s mailbag…en francais

January 11, 2009 | 3 Comments

illustration magnifique, non?
illustration magnifique, non?

I used to speak such fluent French! I used to think and dream in French. But–dommage–those brain cells are rusty with disuse.

Which is why I love seeing notes like this in my in-box! “Quel est votre prochain livre traduit en francais? Merci de votre réponse.”

And here is my réponse:  
On peut trouver une liste ici:
Merci & bonne annee!

I love my foreign publishers! And Amazon!

in the news

January 08, 2009 | 3 Comments

This very small but very interconnected town is crawling with writers. There are enough of us that we made the local paper’s year-end roundup. It’s incredibly nice to live in a place where the work one does is valued.


Here’s the excerpt about island writers:

Written on the island

Steadily documenting the work of Bainbridge authors over the course of a year is pure pleasure for a reader and writer. Seeing them compiled into a single “year in review” entry is jaw dropping.

Whether your drool is awe- or envy-inspired, wipe it off and get to the library or bookstore.

Fiction ran the gamut, from juicy to literary. Kristin Hannah glowed with “Firefly Lane,” Susan Wiggs gave us “Just Breathe,” and Carol Cassella provided the remedy with “Oxygen.” Meanwhile, Judith Reynolds Brown celebrated a “Turkish Wedding,” Anthony Flacco came out of the woodwork with “The Hidden Man,” Jonathan Evison explored familial (dys)function in “All About Lulu,” and David Guterson took us into the backwoods while examining the duality of manhood in “The Other.”

In verse, MacArthur Award winning poet Linda Bierds published “Flight: New and Selected Poems.”

History and biography scored. Mary Woodward published “In Defense of Our Neighbors: The Walt and Milly Woodward Story.”

Ann Gowen Combs and her brother, Geoffrey Gowen, documented another island legend and father with “Sunrise to Sunrise: Vincent Gowen’s Memoirs.” Michael Lisagor turned his “Romancing the Buddha” into a one-man stage play.

Gary White turned 30 years’ worth of passionate research into “The Hall Brothers Shipbuilders.” Wilkes Elementary School teacher Warren Read explored his family’s history of racism in “The Lyncher in Me.” And Richard LeMieux documented his years of homelessness in “Breakfast at Sally’s.”

(These last two, while not technically island residents, made the “island” cut by virtue of proximity as well as worth.)

In photography and how-to, a pair of Kathleens, O’Brien and Smith, published “The Green Home Primer,” a design-focused guide to creating an environmentally sound domicile. Michael Diehl made churn visually fascinating with “Crossings: On the Ferries of Puget Sound.” And two women with a taste for the island raised funds for the Kitsap Humane Society with “Flavors of Bainbridge.”

Other nonfiction included “Evangelical vs. Liberal” by James Wellman and “Understanding Your Child’s Puzzling Behavior” by clinical psychologist Steven Curtis.

Which leads us to the kids. Suzanne Selfors followed last year’s “To Catch a Mermaid” with the young adult novel “Saving Juliet,” later adapted for the stage at BPA.

First-time author Andrea von Botefuhr gave us “The Land of Smaerd.” Julie Hall presented “A Hot Planet Needs Cool Kids,” while science/how-to fave Lynn Brunelle tackled shoe-tying with “The Zoo’s Shoes.”

Finally, George Shannon gets mention this year for “Rabbit’s Gift.” Though published in 2007, the charming winter-themed picture book, resonant on so many levels, earned a 2008 Washington State Book Award for children’s fiction.


January 07, 2009 | 1 Comment

I totally love the sound of this. My friend Jen is leading a virtual retreat next weekend – January 16th-19th. Here’s the link to get all the skinny: and after signing up, you’ll get this page:
Jennifer is one of the most inspiring people I know. Do something nice for yourself and check it out. You deserve it. 🙂
a lovely way to spend the weekend
a lovely way to spend the weekend

three more reasons to curl up with a good book tonight

January 06, 2009 | 8 Comments

I swear, people, I am the kiss of death when it comes to TV shows. The grim reaper of prime time. The minute I get interested in a program, it gets canceled. I no sooner get into a show than they give it the ax. It almost never fails. Latest ratings roadkill: Pushing Daisies, Eli Stone, Dirty Sexy Money.

Anna Friel as Chuck on Pushing Daisies
Anna Friel as Chuck on Pushing Daisies

It ticks me off because I found these shows engaging, with lovely touches of originality and heart. How can you not love a show with characters named Olive Snook? And Chuck’s wardrobe on Pushing Daisies–don’t get me started!

Eli had me the moment I saw him carrying around his dead father’s ashes in a “Chock Full o’ Nuts” coffee can. I could relate to him because as a writer, I pay close attention to the voices inside my head.

And Dirty Sexy Money…It’s just very frank. The title says it all. Don’t look for the Waltons here. Sigh. Don’t look for it at all, because according to sources, it’s history.

There is an up side! Turning off the TV leaves more time to read. And a book can never be canceled. Overdue at the library, yes. Canceled, no.

new word: lenticular

January 06, 2009 | 8 Comments

New to me, anyway. Here is a shot of lenticular clouds, taken by Jay from my beach. More here.

lenticular clouds over Mt Rainier
lenticular clouds over Mt Rainier