Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Just Sayin' Howdy (and asking for your help!)

So...howdy!  Things have been quiet around my house these days.  And that is definitely not a bad thing. I've been cleaning and weeding through possessions (Why do I own twelve nail clippers?  Because it was always the thing I forgot to pack when I was going on book tour every year).  I've also been reading a lot, traveling with friends, writing letters, doing crafts (still scrapbooking our 2005 Alaska cruise!), actually making healthy food for Allen and me.  Just living life, like the rest of you.  Boo had an operation a few months ago when they found a large tumor hooked to his jugular vein.  Fortunately, it wasn't malignant.  It sure was scary for a few days though.

I recently went on a trip with a friend to Lake County, California, where we drove the quilt trail.  There were thirty-eight quilts painted on barns, wineries, bbq restaurant, stores, Lake County Fairgrounds, even a ladder company!  We found all of them but ONE!  It was great fun.  There's nothing like girlfriend vacations. I have a few more planned over the next year. When Allen and I drove back to North Carolina to visit his baby sister last year and we dropped down into Mississippi for a chance to mark things off our bucket lists--Oxford and Jackson, Mississippi for me and Vicksburg Battleground for Allen--it killed me that there were so many other places we had to drive past and not visit.  But Allen only had two weeks vacation.  We're looking forward to the day (God willing, six years) when Allen doesn't have to work 50-60 hours a week and we can experience more of this great country (Niagra Falls, here I come!).  Keep your guest room ready and put on the coffee...I may drop by!

To answer your question (I know you're wondering).  I'm still not writing right now.  I'm really just waiting on God to point me in the direction I'm meant to go.  I have a few characters treading softly inside my head, but nothing concrete yet.  I promise, when I write again, you all will be the first to know.  I still carry a notebook with me and take there is something going on up there!  Just not sure what...

So, how can I use your help?  I received an email from my editor telling me that the paperback for The Road to Cardinal Valley will be coming out in January 2014.  I have a small window of opportunity to correct any mistakes (Dale Evans' horse is named Buttermilk, not Buttercup! Brain hiccup...honestly I did know that).  If you have any corrections, please send them to me via my website email or Facebook by July 8th.  I'm also rereading it to attempt to catch any errors.  But it's often hard to find your own mistakes. Thanks in advance for any help!  (By the way, if anyone knows what page it is where Dale's horse is talked about, please let me know...don't want to miss it twice!)

Hope you all have a wonderful summer filled only with swimming at the beach or lake, numerous barbecues with friends and family, long walks with your dogs, reading delicious books with your cat curled up in your lap and lots and lots of s'mores! (I recently found Moonpie coffee in my local World Market store...not as good as real Moonpies, but definitely less fattening).  Have fun and keep away from mosquitos!

Happy Summertime Trails, Earlene

Monday, December 17, 2012

What Did One Snowman Say to the Other?

"Hey, I smell carrots, too!"

Okay, silly winter joke.  Just read it in Reader's Digest and thought it'd be a great one to pass on (if you follow me on Facebook, you've seen it already).  It's cute, clean and, most importantly, easy to remember!  That's a plus this time of year for most of us who have these magic "to-do" lists that never, ever seem to get shorter.

All is well here in the Fowler household.  Allen and I returned a few weeks ago from a 2 1/2 week road trip to North Carolina (visiting his baby sister who lives on Lake Norman) and to go on a long anticipated trip to Mississippi where we went to Oxford, saw Rowan Oaks, William Faulkner's house, down to Jackson where I toured Eudora Welty's house and to Vicksburg, where we spent a whole day in the battlefield looking at monuments, contemplating the effects of the Civil War.  We drove back up Highway 61 and ate at Abe's Barbecue in Clarksdale, Mississippi.  It is at the crossroads of Highways 61/49 where it is rumored that the "blues was born."  We drove from California and it was a long, fun and something exhausting trip.  You forget how vast and varied our beautiful country is until you hit the road and actually inch across it.  The weather was a bit disappointing as we were hoping (and packed) for colder weather.  It was unseasonably warm throughout our trip to the tune of twenty degrees higher than normal!  We encountered South California weather (70's) everywhere we went.  We finally had to buy some short sleeve T-shirts because it became so warm.  I couldn't resist and bought two Piggly-Wiggly T-shirts (my favorite grocery store simply because it makes me laugh and I like saying "I'm going to the Pig").  Great trip, but we were glad to come home and see Boo.  He vacationed in luxury at the place where he attends daycare two days a week.  But even he was glad to sleep in his own bed.

So, now I'm gearing up for Christmas, which will be a quiet one for me and Allen.  And I'm getting ready for the launch of The Road to Cardinal Valley on December 29th.  All my signings are set so check them out under "appearances" on my website.  Since publishers have cut completely back on promotion for mid-list writers, this is all on my own dime, so I'm only going to signing in Southern California, Central California Coast, Scottsdale, Arizona and a trip to Bishop, California (because the book is set in that area).  If you are craving a signed book, you can contact any of these bookstores or quilt stores and I'm sure they'd be glad to sell you one!  Wish I could travel all around the country and see you all...but those extravagant days are over.  I was initially published (1994) during a "sweet spot" in publishing history, back in the 90's and early 2000's when publishers sent many, many authors on book tour.  Now, unless you are a huge name, they no longer do so. Still, I'm thankful for all the times I spent on the road and met so many of you.  Great, great memories. Someday, I'm going to scrapbook all the photos I took.

If you are so inclined, as of December 29, 2012, The Road to Cardinal Valley, will be for sale and I'd appreciate you buying it in whatever form best suits your needs.  The winners of my last contest for the two signed books and Cardinal Valley totes have been announced.  I'll do another contest soon.  There were 1071 entries so your chances of winning in my contests are pretty good!

I pray that you all have a blessed Christmas, had a wonderful Hanukkah and a safe and healthy New Year. Thank you so much for all your good wishes, your support and your faithfulness through the years.  I count you, my fans and readers, as one of God's greatest blessings in my life.

With love, Earlene

Thursday, September 27, 2012

There's A New Contest in Town...

Just a quick shout out to all my faithful contest!  Free stuff!  Yay!  All you have to do is go to my website homepage and click on the bar that says "contest."  There will be four winners.  I'm giving away two signed hardcover editions of The Saddlemaker's Wife and two special "Lone Pine Cafe, Cardinal, California" tote bags.  Take a chance!  Trust me, you have better odds than if you buy a lottery ticket.

I'm working on the "loose galleys" of The Road to Cardinal Valley.  It's the last time I can make changes before the book comes out.  Next to seeing the cover for the first time, this is my favorite part of the publishing cycle.  It's the first time I see my book actually looks like a book now and not a manuscript.  As I told you earlier, the publication date is December 31, 2012.  The first signing will be at Mystery Ink in Huntington Beach on December 29th.  The rest of my signings will obviously be in January. I'm still arranging signings and will post the information on my website in the next few weeks.

Other than that, I'm here in South California waiting, waiting, waiting for this long heat wave to end.  We had a few days of cooler weather, but another heat wave is expected tomorrow.  Anyone who wants to send some cool, autumn weather our way...we'll take it!  I'm looking forward to drinking hot cocoa and making chili.  Right now, all that sounds good is ice water.  All the Halloween decorations in the stores just looks wrong with all this hot weather!  I even saw a store that already had Christmas stuff out!  Do you think someday advertisers and stores will promote so early that they'll actually be right on time with holidays? (Think about it :))

Happy (and hopefully) cooler trails, Earlene

Friday, August 31, 2012

A Long Hot Summer

How do you like my new blog design?  When I was visiting Tina (beloved webmaster) in Washington, she and I spent a fun hour changing the background and font to give my blog a fresh, new look.  We had a lot of backgrounds to choose from and, for some reason, we both liked the birds.  And the background matched my dog's coloring in the new photo, so there you go.

It's been a long, hot, humid summer here in South California.  Every night Dallas Raines (my favorite weather guy...yes, I think that's his real name) promises cooler weather is coming.  So far, his predictions have not come true.  Then again, compared to many other places in the country (like those in the path of Hurricane Isaac), what I've had to live with isn't that bad.  Still, it's caused me to do everything slower, including this blog.  I can't believe it's almost September!  It was only when people started contacting me about booksignings that I realized the summer was almost over.

I'm in the process of setting up signings for The Road to Cardinal Valley.  The publication date is December 31, 2012, so most of the signings will be in January and February 2013.  Since the whole tour is on my dime now, I cannot go as many places.  I'll be doing my normal Southern California signings (though not as many as, sadly, some bookstores such as Mysteries To Die For in Thousand Oaks, have closed).  I'm also scheduled to do a couple of signings in San Luis Obispo County.  I will likely go to Arizona and, hopefully, Bishop, California (where the book is set).  As soon as the details are set, I'll post them on my website and send out another quick blog.

I'm also having another contest.  I'll be giving away two hardback copies of The Saddlemaker's Wife,
plus some other stuff I'll think up.  Tina and I will get that up within the next week.

So, this has been a weird summer for me, not just because of the weather.  For the first time in twenty years I have not been working on a book.  The Road to Cardinal Valley is the last book I have on contract with Berkley-Penguin and it's been a mutual decision (that is, I didn't ask for a new contract and they didn't beg for one) that I will not be writing another book in the foreseeable future.  To be honest, with publishing in the midst of so many radical changes (e-books taking over, advances to most authors slashed to what they were making twenty years ago, bookstores closing everywhere, less and less people buying fiction), I was ready to take a break.  Even if all of these changes weren't happening, with what has happened in my life these last few years, I probably would have taken a sabbatical anyway.  I've written 19 books in 20 years (counting this latest one and the Benni Harper Quilt Album) and I was ready for my brain to rest, for the well to refill.

Will I ever write again?  Oh, I'm sure I will.  Will I write more Benni Harper books?  I'm not sure.  In some ways, I feel I've said everything I have to say with those characters.  But, I also know that my career is in God's Hands, always has been, so if I'm meant to write more books--either Benni Harper books or other novels, the way will be made for me.  Here is the philosophy I've always lived by concerning my writing career.

"If is shall please God that I write more books, blessed be He.  If it shall not please Him, again, blessed be He.  Perhaps it will be the most wholesome thing for my soul that I lose both fame and skill lest I were to fall into that evil disease vainglory."   C. S.  Lewis

If it's good enough for C. S. Lewis, it's good enough for me!  I'll continue to keep you all updated on what I'm doing through my blog and I'm semi-active on my Facebook pages (I have both a personal one and a fan page--I talk more on my fan page).  Believe me, if I write something, after my agent, you all will be the first to know!

Thanks to all of you for your continued support both with your emails and messages and also through buying my books.  I'll send out another email next week when Tina and I get the contest set up.

Happy Trails (hopefully through cool autumn breezes), Earlene

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

The Road to Cardinal Valley

Just wanted to let you all know that the cover to my newest book, The Road to Cardinal Valley, is now up on my website for your viewing pleasure!  It's very colorful and has a lot going on in it.  That could be the perfect way to describe this book, so the cover is appropriate.  I sent my publisher photos of the area and towns in the Eastern Sierra Nevada part of California.  So I think they took aspects of my fictional town of Cardinal from the real towns of Bishop, Lone Pine, Independence and Big Pine.  One thing on the cover that pleased me the most was they showed the bookstore, The Novel Experience. Those of you familiar with California's Central Coast and the city of San Luis Obispo (aka San Celina) know that The Novel Experience was an actual bookstore.  The name was first used by the mother of my friend, Christine Hill. Her mother owned an antique and collectible bookstore.  She eventually had to close the store due to health problems.  When Christine and Jim bought Bookland (a local bookstore where Christine worked), they changed the name to The Novel Experience.  I signed there from the time my first book came out. Christine and Jim were very generous and open to a scared, new writer and I will never forget their kindness.  Since then, Christine has become one of my dearest, most cherished friends.  Sadly, like so many small independent bookstores, they had to close their doors.  I'm so thrilled their store can "live on" in my books and on this particular cover.  The publication date for this book is December 31st, 2012.  Yeah, I know, weird pub date.  I'll be doing a few signings, though all on the West Coast.  More on that in later posts.

So, I'm in the process of going through my office, purging and weeding books, papers, excess office supplies and way, way too many knick-knacks.  I'm actually switching my guest room and office.  It's liberating to move rooms and furniture, trying to see old things in new ways.  I saw an article in a magazine about redecorating your house by simply moving furniture, pictures and using what you already have.  I'm eying the living room next, though Boo's perch at the window (on a footstool) is sort of the "focal point" of the room.  Hard to change everything without disturbing his spot (which, as dog and cat owners know, you can never do without paying a price).  Anyway, it's fun to try to look at your living space in a different way.  And I have saved way too many emails.  The recycle center will be getting a lot of paper in the next few weeks.

In my next few blogs I'll talk more about the plot of The Road to Cardinal Valley.  I seem to be averaging one blog every two months.  I'll try to up it to one a month, but I'm truly a pathetic blogger.  I've been invited to blog on other writer's sites and I told some I would...once I got around to doing my own blog!  This new world of being in contact every single minute is a bit daunting to me.  I am somewhat staying current on Facebook.  I post a couple of times a week, though I fear what I talk about is a bit inane.  Seriously, I started writing fiction because I didn't have an exciting life!  And if there are too many fun things going on in my life...I find it hard to write.  Maybe I'm just weird.  But, if you like my books, you're the same kind of weird.  We can start a club!

On that final, nutty note, I have a request for you.  My agent asked me to announce (and essentially beg) for people to pre-order my book on Amazon. Apparently, one of the way they decide who to promote is who gets a lot of pre-orders.  So, if you normally order from them (and maybe Barnes & Noble is the same way, I'm not sure), and are so inclined, I'd be grateful.

I'm going to visit Tina (beloved webmaster) in July and we're going to dream up a cool contest to promote this book.  I'm guessing we'll have it up by August.

It's almost summer!  Hope yours will be filled with good friends, good food and, of course, good books!

Happy Trails, Earlene

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

May Daze

Okay, that was the most clever title I could think up.  That seems to be the way my brain is going these days.  Not unusual, I know.  I think that one of the things that we often do when going through major life changes is not giving ourselves grace, letting our minds and bodies learn to accept (for want of a more original term) the "new normal."  So, I'm giving myself some grace and not expecting myself to come up with a fresh and superlative blog title.  I have been in a bit of a daze these last few months.

Speaking of titles, we finally have one for the sequel to The Saddlemaker's Wife.  It will be called The Road to Cardinal Valley.  It was difficult coming up with a title to this book.  My editor, agent and I tried many combinations of words; I searched throughout the book looking for key words and this was a title we all finally agreed on.  It's not my favorite title (hard to beat those quilt patterns), but it does reflect what the book is about.

I thought a lot about how I wanted to begin this book.  If you remember The Saddlemaker's Wife ended with Ruby going to Nashville to help her sick brother.  I started The Road to Cardinal Valley with a prologue from a new character's point-of-view--Ruby's mother.  Then chapter one is from Ruby's point-of-view and she is driving into Cardinal again, this time a year later with her brother at her side.  Though The Saddlemaker's Wife had a criminal suspense element to it, this book is different.  There is no crime except for the emotional ones that people too often inflict on one another.  It will be published under Berklely Prime Crime despite there being no elements of mystery to the plot.  That wasn't my choice, but that of my publisher.  They felt it would make it easier for my readers to find it.  Just wanted to let you all know that.  Writers really have very little say about where and how their books are marketed.  I hope you all enjoy finding out what happened to the characters in The Saddlemaker's Wife.  As the publication date (January 2013) comes closer, I'll write more blogs about the book itself and tell you a little about what inspired the plot.

Right now, I wanted to let you know that the paperback edition of Spider Web will be out in a few days.  It's official publication date is May 4, but you might be able to find it in bookstores now.  I know some of you wait until the paperback comes out to buy it, so I wanted to give you a heads up.
As of right now, I don't have a contract for more Benni Harper books.  That is not to say there will never be another one, but sales are way down and that is the single thing that means anything to publishers.  Ebooks have changed publishing forever and everyone is still waiting for the dust to settle, to see what will eventually happen.  As changes happen, I'll try to keep you informed.  I just read an article today that said sales of dedicated ebook readers are way, way down.  People are buying the tablets instead!  (I admit, I have both a Kindle and a Kindle Fire).  So, it'll be interesting to see what happens.  All I can assure you is that writers will still write and the good ones (mostly) will be published.  How is still up for grabs, I guess.

The rest of my life is going along just fine.  I finished the final, final rewrite of The Road to Cardinal Valley.  They've sent me some preliminary ideas for covers and I've liked them.  As soon as I get the real cover, I'll have Tina put it up on the website.  I've got some trips planned, not promotion trips, but actual, who knows, maybe an idea for a novel will come from one of them.

Hope you all are looking forward to a wonderful summer.  Right now things are in "June gloom" mode here in Orange County.  Every year it gets like this in May and June (cloudy and cool) and every year we are surprised :)  I love this kind of weather which is why Allen and I are thinking about retiring (years from now) in the Pacific Northwest.

Happy Trails,


Friday, February 24, 2012

Happy Trails Until We Meet Again

The weather on the day of Daddy's funeral was perfect up in the high desert. Cool, breezy, blue, blue sky and cotton ball clouds. We were blessed because the weather "over the grade" can be unpredictable as we'd found out many times in the years my parents lived up there.

The memorial started off with two representatives from the Navy. One played Taps on the bugle. Then they both folded the flag and presented it to my older sister, Mary. When I heard the words "from a grateful nation," I cried. He and so many other veterans...we are so grateful for the sacrifices they made.

When Daddy came with us years ago to plan his memorial, we'd agreed we wanted live music. We'd had a wonderful singer at Mama's funeral 19 years ago and it was something we always talked about. The mortuary director (I'm not sure what his position is called, so forgive me if I said it wrong) said there isn't much of a call for live music these days. Also, we were having a graveside service so that made it more difficult. We requested that the musician play the three songs sung at Mama's funeral--The Old Rugged Cross, How Great Thou Art and Amazing Grace. The only person the director knew was a local guitarist whom he said had a beautiful voice. Well, the guy came with his guitar and a small amp and beautiful voice doesn't even come close to it. He was so good and inspired us so much that we ended up singing with him as he sung Daddy to Glory. My cousin, Jimmie Lee Webb, preached Daddy's funeral sermon and many of us stood up and talked about Daddy. We ended the funeral with the song I'll Fly Away. By that time we were all singing loud and clapping. I hope Daddy, Mama and Uncle Jimmie (Jimmie Lee's dad and my mother's youngest brother) could look down from heaven and see us. It was like an old-fashioned revival singing. The only thing that was missing was the potluck "dinner on the grounds."

So, life goes on. I have good days and bad days. It's the same for Allen and my sisters. You all know what it's like to lose someone you love. That old cliche "the new normal" is the reality. My deepest gratitude to all of you who have written me. I've received over five hundred emails and I've read every one of them. Your words of wisdom and support have been so helpful and healing. I am overwhelmed by your kindness and compassion. Thank you.

On a lighter note, my editor and I have finally settled on the title for my new book (sequel to The Saddlemaker's Wife)--The Road to Cardinal Valley. Once you read the book, you'll see why it is a very apt title. The road Ruby McGavin drives into Cardinal on is both physical and emotional.

So, I called this post Happy Trails Until We Meet Again. I meant it to refer to Daddy, but it also can apply to you all. I have a few speaking engagements this year despite not having a new book out (except the paperback for Spider Web which comes out in May). So, check out the appearances section of my website and see if I near you! And until then...Happiest of Trails to all of us!