The last few weeks before Labor Day...

Friday, August 21, 2009

Hello everyone--

Well, here we are, coming to the last few golden weeks of summer. I'm not sure why, but it makes me think of the great week I spent with my family in Mexico at our reunion. I don't think I ever posted a photo of me with with brother and sister, who are totally cool. So here they are. Don't tell them I sent their picture worldwide. :)

I have to say that this is a time of year that always makes me feel a little nostalgic for motherhood. My son and I always had so many things to accomplish in these last few weeks; we spent so much time together, shopping and planning and getting ready for the start of school. We had some of our best conversations in the car, driving to the mall or having lunch in some crappy little food court restaurant. Now, of course, he's off on his own, getting ready for the start of his senior year of college. Man, how time flies. And one of his best friends, a girl who lives just across the street (in the way small towns measure distance), stopped by the house yesterday to tell us that she's leaving for her first year of college. She was all smiles and hope and nerves. It really makes you think of the milestones in life, the beginnings. It made me think, too, that we all should keep reaching for beginnings in our lives, even if we're mired in the middle. A new project, a new hobby, even a new way of looking at an old pursuit. That's my midyear resolution: tackled something new. Any ideas? Have you tried something new and found out that you have an unexpected talent or aptitude? I like to think I have a painter trapped inside, just dying to get out. :)

As you all know, one of the new things I'm doing these days is reconsidering the website. In the last year, I've learned a lot from all of you, about blogging and the website and becoming a community of women who have a surprising amount in common. I think there's a way to take all of that energy and turn it into something even more powerful and important. I just have to figure out how to take my grandiose ideas and translate them into internet-friendly possibilities. And I'm getting there. My webmaster and I are incorporating as many of your great suggestions as possible. So thanks, fireflies, for your input. As always, you are smart and generous and helpful.

Next week I'm going to finally have advance reading copies of Winter Garden! Pretty exciting, huh? So I guess we need to gear up for another contest for a giveaway. Any ideas?

Finally, I wanted to let you all know that I'm off to Honolulu over Labor Day weekend to speak at the Hawaii Writer's Conference, which looks like a humdinger of a gathering. Norah Jones is doing a private charity concert for the attendees! That's some kind of conference. I'll take pictures and post---this might even mean that I'll actually have make up on. :)

Talk to you all soon. I hope you enjoy these last precious weeks of summer and to those of you who are still school shopping (and probably dreading it), I'll just say try and enjoy it while you can. The school years fly past...



Rebecca Wells is coming to visit us...

Monday, August 10, 2009

Hey ya'all!

Who remembers reading Divine Secrets of the Ya Ya Sisterhood or Little Altars Everywhere? I sure do. It was a long time ago, maybe ten years, but it made a big impact on me. I still remember the joy of discovering author Rebecca Well's original, heartwarming, funny Southern voice. And you know what? She's just as fun and warm and funny in person. I'm really excited to tell ya'll (that's me doing my southern accent), that she's going to be doing a guest blog here with us. Now as you all know, I've never done this before, and with my technical expertise, it may be a little difficult, but we all know that Kim will ultimately figure it out.

I don't know exactly when Rebecca will be visiting, but it will be soon. She's going to tell us about her new book, The Crowning Glory of Calla Lily Ponder, which is another great read. You'll just fall in love with Calla Lily. :) If you have any questions you'd like to ask Rebecca, start posting them now and I'll get her to answer as many as she can.

On more ordinary news, I came to the halfway point of the first draft of my new book--and for those of you who like statistics, that means 58,000 words and roughly 300 pages. Yes, my first drafts tend to be a bit long winded. Just ask Kim. At some point I'll cut character movments and drop 30 pages. Anyway, in celebration of getting so much of the story put to paper, I guess i went a little crazy and starting going to the movies. I saw Funny People, which I loved (even though the humor is very crude), Cheri, which I really, really liked, and Julie and Julia, which I absolutely loved. In fact, I believe that J & J is directly responsible for me gaining weight. No, I didn't eat a ton of popcorn and candy at the movies--I cooked Julia Child's recipes. I dare you to leave that movie and not want to cook. :) I made her boeuf bourguignon.

It sounds easy, but I can assure you, it was not. It was an ALL DAY cooking affair. Chopping, slicing, browning, drying (did you know beef needs to be hand dried before browning?), boiling, peeling, stirring. It was an extremely complicated recipe. In fact, only once before have I made something so time consuming and labor intensive, and that was a French recipe also--cassoulet. Anyway, I worked my way through the seventy-some steps of Julia's BB and ended up with a fantastically delicious, absolutely gorgeous dish. Ben and I adored it so much that the next night I tried another of her recipes--chicken in a port wine cream reduction with mushroom. Yummy again.

And now, enough Julia child for me or I won't fit into any of my clothes. But maybe I'll find a new recipe for Thanksgiving...

I'm also working on some new ideas for the website. To celebrate the launch of Winter Garden in February and True colors in paperback in Jan. Anything in particular you guys would like to see? I'm going to have a special book club page, with photos of the great clubs to whom I speak. What else would you like? I'm also going to do something special with a new friend of mine, Trish May, but that's a surprise so I'll tell you more later.

Also--I've been meaning to show you all the new trade paperback editions of two of my favorite older books. Between Sisters and On Mystic Lake. Not surprisingly, I am having technical difficulties and can't seem to load Mystic. I'll try again later. But here's Between Sisters. What do you think?


Are you kidding me????

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

I am seriously irritated by the Paula Abdul thing. As you all know, I am a fan of American Idol, as are millions of like-minded people. And I cannot believe that in this day and age, we still are facing such grotesque proof that men are paid more than women, and that sniping comments about talent are somehow valuable than nurturing it. I'm not saying that Ryan and Simon don't deserve the huge paydays--they do. But so does Paula. She started out with the show at the beginning, for gosh sakes. It infuriates me! I don't know you about you all, but I will think seriously about watching the show this fall...


drum roll please...

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Hello from the scorchingly hot Pacific Northwest. Now, there's a sentence one doesn't hear too often. :)

I don't have a ton of news this week. It's been so hot around the country that I think everything and everyone has slowed down, and that includes writers and publishers. But I have finally seen a not-quite-finished version of the cover for my new book, Winter Garden, and I couldn't wait to share it with you guys. You're absolutely the first people outside of New York to see it, and I look forward to your thoughts!
I think it's stunning, but in the end, its really what you think that matters. You can see from the cover image that this is a new setting for me. I have spent a lot of time writing about beachfront-type places around the Northwest. I am, as you all know, a sand and surf and mai tai girl, but in Winter Garden I've moved east a bit, to the central part of Washington state. Its a stark, fertile countryside, dominated by towering, snowcapped mountains, wide slow moving rivers and acres and acres of fruit trees. The Wenatchee valley, to be precise. When you hear about our famous Washington apples, this is where most of them are grown.
There are a lot of things that are new and different in this story, actually. It isn't set only in the northwest. Winter Garden has a big story to tell, one that spans decades and continents. The story moves from Washington state to Alaska to Africa to Russia. (You didn't think I'd go all the way to Africa and not tell you about it in a book, did you?) At it's core, it's a story of two estranged sisters and the promise they make to their dying father. To fulfill this promise, they will have to try to get to know their cold, distant mother. It is a promise that will lead them into the dark, unexpected landscape of their mother's unknown past.
In starting this novel, I began with a single question: Can a woman ever really know herself if she doesn't know her mother's secrets? What would you do if you found out that your mother had had a whole other life, about which you knew nothing...
Anyway, I'm sure that's enough scoop for now. The book won't even be out until February, but I wanted you all to have the first peek.
And now a little bit about the F word.
It was worth signing on to Facebook just to use that sentence. :) But really, I have to admit that I'm getting the hang of it a bit more and it's kind of cool. I see a few of my firefly friends on the fansite, and I want to thank you so much for buzzing over. It's great to see a friendly name posting. We had an interesting discussion over there, which I wanted to pose to you, too.
What are your favorite tearjerker novels? Here are a few of mine: The Thorn Birds, Shogun, Gone With The Wind, Prince of Tides, Terms of Endearment, Lonesome Dove, Hot Shot, and Katherine.
Keep checking in. I have some big things planned for the website next month--a cool new addition, and as always, it'll start with the blog. And a promotion dedicated to the fireflies...
Oh, one more thing. Soon, I'm going to bring you a guest blog from a wonderful writer who also happens to be a totally cool chick--Jacquelyn Mitchard. She's going to come around this month and tell you all a little about her new book, No Time To Wave Goodbye, which is the long anticipated sequel to her bestseller, The Deep End of the Ocean. I've read NTTWG and I can tell you that you're in for a treat. If you have any specific questions for Jackie, let me know and I'll pass them along.
aloha and keep cool---