Archive for May, 2011


What’cha Reading?

Posted under Reading Tuesdays 5 Comments

I’m off to the bookstore tomorrow to find something new to read. I think I already know what I’m going to buy, but I’m still open to suggestions.

So, what are you reading at the moment? Would you recommend it?



Posted under odds and ends No Comments

 Wishing everyone a wonderful Memorial Day. 

And let us never forget the men and women who have died for our freedom.



Kickin’ Off Summer

Posted under Bits & Pieces Fridays 5 Comments

Memorial Day Weekend is just hours away and I’m already thinking about summer. Which, of course, means summer-themed questions. 🙂

1) Favorite summer-time food?

2) Favorite outdoor game?

3) Favorite thing to do in the summer?

4) Plans for the weekend?



Research Trip

Posted under Writing Thursdays 10 Comments

As many of you know, I’ve been spending the last few weeks finishing up Book # 6 for the Southern Sewing Circle Series. I spent a lot of hours in front of the computer and ate way too much junk food. But, I’m happy to report,  it all paid off. On Monday morning, just before I took off for a speaking engagement in Harrisburg, PA, I hit “send.”  Woo Hoo!!

Now that the book is off my to-do list at the moment, I will spend the next week or so getting caught up on life (cleaning, reading, getting back to daily blog writing, marketing stuff, etc). I may even sneak in a few hours in an outdoor lounge chair just so I can look less deathly. Ahhh…  And then, come June 6th, I’m back at the keyboard…this time starting work on Book #1 in my upcoming Amish Mystery Series (written as Laura Bradford). 

Although I won’t be writing over this next week-and-a-half, I’ll be doing a lot of pre-writing in my brain. This is when I start to flesh out the plot, and get a true handle on the characters. Additionally, since this is a brand new series, I need to do my research. Which, in this case, involves Amish life.

So, as part of that reserach, I took advantage of being in Harrisburg the other night and decided to visit Lancaster County (where the Amish Series will take place). While there, my Special Guy and I took in an Amish village, learning lots of really interesting facts…some of which I’ll share with you now.

The Amish may decorate their homes if the decoration is functional. For example, the plates on the shelf in this photograph are used for meals. The hurricane lamp is used for lighting. And the black and pink item hanging below the shelf is comprised of pockets…for scissors and other helpful items.

In the picture on the right, you can see the kind of hats worn by Amish men. What’s interesting is that if you look closely, the hat on top has a crease around the very top, while the one below it is flat. Unmarried men wear the hat with the crease along the top edge,  married men wear the one without a crease.

Likewise, unmarried Amish who are old enough to drive buggies, tend to use the open-top style as seen here on the left.

 Married Amish and their families ride  in buggies that look like the one here on the right. Yep,that’s me, peeking out!

Unmarried Amish men shave their beards. Married Amish men do not.

Amish children receive their education in a single-room school. They remain in school until they’ve completed the eighth grade. In this picture you can see the way the desks go from youngest to oldest with the littlest children/desks in the front of the room.

Amish students in Lancaster County learn Pennsylvania Dutch (a form of German) and English. They refer to non-Amish as “English” because of our language.

The Amish do not pose for pictures. If you see a picture of Amish on a postcard or a calendar, it was taken by someone with a zoom lens. They also do not have mirrors scattered around their homes. They feel both practices encourage vanity and that they are boastful.

I could go on and on about the things I learned during my research trip, but I’ll save those for another time. Besides I’m churning much of what I learned so that it can be used in the writing process.

Any questions?



Stepping Out Of My Comfort Zone

Posted under That's Life Wednesdays 4 Comments

“It is by chance that we met, by choice that we became friends.”
                                                                                          ~Author unknown

Eighteen months ago, while vacationing in St. Thomas, I stepped outside my comfort zone and approached a total stranger on the other side of the pool. And while that might be nothing out of the ordinary for some folks, it was unusual for someone like me who tends to be a little on the shy side.

So why did I do it? Well, for a couple of reasons. She looked nice. She was reading a cozy mystery. And she was enjoying the book so much she was smiling and laughing. Fortunately for me, she was open to having a stranger say hello and seemed happy to talk books with a fellow book lover.

Since that brief conversation, we’ve talked via email many times. While reading one of my blogs one day, she learned about my M.S. and made (along with some women from her church’s prayer shawl minstry) a beautiful shawl for me. She also told me about a project her group does from time to time and it became the basis for the group project the ladies of Sweet Briar will be working on in book # 5 (due out November 1st).  

Anyway, Monday night, I drove down to Harrisburg, PA  to meet her prayer shawl group and give a talk about my writing.  The event was a fundraiser for their ministry. From the moment I arrived, I had a wonderful time with my friend and her group. They were welcoming and friendly–the kind of people that everyone wants to know. We heard a presentation on the work their group does (wonderful) and then it was my turn to talk.   When it was all done, Lynn D. presented me with the sweetest bouquet ever. You see, after reading my blogs and visiting my Facebook page over the past year, she’s figured out the kinds of things I like (note the Charleston Chews, the Kiss flowers, and the placards depicting the covers of every one of my books thus far). And she put all of that together in a few thank you gifts (including one of those VERY cool writer t-shirts I’ve always wanted) that were completely unnecessary but so very inkeeping with who she is…a wonderfully sweet person I never would have met had I not left my comfort zone.

When I got home last night, I showed the bouquet and the other treats to my kids. My oldest stepson asked me about Lynn. I explained to him how we met and how blessed I am to be able to call her my friend. He asked if she was also a fan. I said yes, but that it’s a mutual thing now…she enjoys my books, I enjoy the friendship we have made. He cracks a smile and says, “I’m a fan of your fans.”  Awww….

So here’s a question for all of you. Have you ever stepped outside your comfort zone and found that it blessed you in ways you never could have expected?



Pullin’ At The Roots

Posted under Bits & Pieces Fridays 5 Comments

I’m back. Deadline is Monday. And when I’m not actively writing and eating candy corn, I’m pulling my hair at its roots.

Soooo, today’s Bits & Pieces is about stress (but in a fun way)…

1) What’s your stress food of choice?

2) What’s your best anti-stress activity of choice?

3) Were you a do-your-homework-way-ahead kind of kid or more of a night-before type? And now?

4) Do you give yourself a carrot to get through deadlines or other stressers? Does the carrot tend to have a theme (food, activity, etc)?



Postcards From The Road (Part 2)

Posted under Reading Tuesdays 2 Comments

One of my favorite parts of traveling for book events is trying some of the native food to that area.

This time, it was eastern North Carolina barbecue for the Lethal Ladies (Kate Carlisle, Hannah Dennison and me). My favorite part was the hushpuppies.

The waitress was awesome at this place. And the hushpuppies were de-licious! Yum!

If we go back again one day, this will be a must-stop restaurant for us.

Here we are in front of the sign outside the restaurant. We took this because I had a very hard time saying the name of this place.



Postcard From the Road

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I’m not much of a “thing” girl. But one thing I’d love to own one day would be an old fashioned typewriter. In the meantime, I have to take a chance to touch one when I can…

This typewriter is on display at Flyleaf Books in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. The Lethal Ladies (an author group comprised of Kate Carlisle, Hannah Dennison, and me) did a luncheon event at this fabulous bookstore on Friday afternoon.




It’s In Your Hands

Posted under Bits & Pieces Fridays 7 Comments

So glad it’s Friday, aren’t you?

Anyway, let’s get straight to today’s Bits & Pieces…

1) First concert you ever saw?

2) Roller skate or ice skate?

3) What one song immediately transports you back to high school?

4) If you had a groupie-mentality, which band would you follow around the country?

5) What’s one domestic chore you don’t mind doing? And what’s your least favorite?

Have fun!



Imagination Or Something More?

Posted under Writing Thursdays 6 Comments

No matter how many talks you give/events you attend as a writer, there’s always one or two questions you get everywhere you go. One of those is the one that asks whether an author’s main character is modeled after him/her. The answer, of course, varies upon the writer.

The reason I bring this up today,  is because of a conversation I had with My Special Guy on the way home from seeing SOMETHING BORROWED on the big screen. He asked me whether I thought the character of Ethan (a friend of the main character) was modeled after the author, Emily Giffin. As a writer, myself, I found the possibility interesting in light of the fact that Ethan was a) a male and b) a side character.

So then I started thinking about whether writers create characters they wish were real. Meaning, do they breathe life into a friend they wish they had or make a character (main or side, it doesn’t matter) face a fear that the author has as well.

Hmmm…  Interesting question, isn’t it?

Being the curious person I am, I decided to take my question to a few of my favorite authors. I posed the question like this… 

Q: In your books…do you find that you dabble in a little wish fulfillment or fear-slaying via your characters?  Meaning, is there a character in your book who is the friend you always wished you had?  Or does your main character (or any other character for that matter) tackle a subject you, yourself, have always feared and, therefore, have opted to work out/experience through the safety of fiction?
And here are a few of the great answers I got back:
From Andrew Grant, author of DIE TWICE:   “Do I dabble with wish fulfilment through my characters?  Definitely.  In my case it’s not so much creating friends or working through fears, though.  For me, writing fiction is an opportunity to ‘virtually’ right the wrongs we can’t do anything about in reality.  So, in a nutshell, I come up with characters that broadly represent the kind of people (though not specific individuals!) I loathe – the selfish, the corrupt, the bullying, the vain, the arrogant – and have my hero kick their asses both verbally, through the kind of put-downs you never think of in everyday life till it’s too late, and physically, through the kind of behaviour that would land you in jail!
From JD Rhoades, author of LAWYERS, GUNS AND MONEY“Well, Jack Keller is a guy with serious rage issues, tony Wolf is deeply paranoid (for good reasons). Max Chase is a guy who kills people, but only the ones who, in his judgment, need it, and Andy Cole is a womanizing lawyer with a drinking problem. So yeah, I guess I do externalize my demons a bit, and there’s probably an element of wish fulfillment when my characters struggle to the light.” 

From Kate Carlisle, author of MURDER UNDER COVER: “I can safely say I’ve never dabbled in wish fulfillment or vicarious conquering of my own fears in terms of my characters’ behavior. However, I certainly have a need to see that justice is served. I think that’s important. But I think that’s more of an implicit promise to the reader rather than my own need fulfilled.  I hope that answers your question. Oh, wait. There is one bit of wish fulfillment my protagonist Brooklyn fulfills for me, and that is her ability to attract the attention of the very gorgeous British security expert, Derek Stone :).”      

From Judy Merrill Larsen, author of ALL THE NUMBERS“I definitely explore my dreams and demons through my characters.  Since my writing is often motivated by ‘What if?’ or ‘Then what?’ kinds of questions, I’m able to put my characters through situations I’ve wondered about (and usually more likely it’s what I’m terrified of!) and see how they do.  I try really hard to have all my characters flawed in some way, and so, for example, when Ellen loses her son in my first novel, ALL THE NUMBERS, I forced myself to go rough that horror with her, and while she initially nearly drowns in her grief, she ultimately is able to figure out a new life for herself and her surviving son.  But it’s not always pretty.  It was incredibly gratifying and humbling to have parents who had lost children reach out to me after reading my book and tell me I’d gotten it exactly right. 

I think there’s a part of me in almost all my characters.  And also, a part of each of them I’d like to have in me.”

A part of each of them I’d like to have in me…  Well said, Judy. Well said.

Interesting stuff, huh? A huge thank you to Andrew, JD, Kate, and Judy for humoring my curiosity!

Thoughts? Comments? Observations? Anyone?