Monday, December 21, 2009

One-armed photos, blizzards, Bingo and Christ is born!

How do you like that title? They are all relevant, I promise.

Is is truly only four days until Christmas? The older I get the more I'm amazed at how quickly time appears to pass. I do know time doesn't actually go faster, though to millions of children across the world this week will creep as slowly as traffic in a blizzard.

Speaking of blizzards, my sympathies to all who've suffered because of the massive snow storm that crippled the nation this last weekend. I have never flown during this part of the year (though if I ever want to see Christmas in New England and New York--a personal wish of mine--I'm going to have to brave it someday) so I can only imagine the nightmare. The worse weather I've experienced was a thunderstorm in Houston that caused our plane divert to San Antonio. We sat on the tarmac for seven hours. Lucky for us the plane was only half full, I'd brought lots of snacks and books and there were about fifteen passengers on board who were flight attendants in training! Once we got to Houston, it was a nightmare. We were on our way to Washington DC. We'd left the OC at 7 am and eventually arrived in DC at 2 am. Though we were exhausted, it was incredible flying into an Reagan International Airport with the Capitol and other buildings lit up. I'll never forget the sight. So, those of you who are still in the midst of it, take heart. You'll have exciting stories to tell someday of the Great Blizzard of 2009. You were there! (Take photos!)

We will be having an intimate Christmas this year. It will be me, Allen, my dad and my friend, Katsy Chappell (I based a character on her in my new book so you'll read about her fictional counterpart in May). Katsy's an actress and stand-up comic so I'm sure we'll have a great time. (She's been in hundreds of productions, but one of her most famous parts is playing the best friend to Jamie Lee Curtis' character in "True Lies"). And, of course, Mr. Boo will be there. I'd invite Katsy's kitty, Bingo, but not sure she and Boo would have the proper, peace-filled Christmas spirit (at least I know Boo wouldn't--he doesn't like cats, though doesn't seem to know exactly why). So I'm sending a gift home to Bingo.

Whatever you all have planned for Christmas and Hanukkah, I hope you will make some wonderful memories (don't forget to take pictures!). I'm in the process of scrapbooking my forty years of Christmas photos and have gotten them (finally!) divided by decades. What it's brought home to me is how we often take too many pictures of the same things. I wish I had photos of the first apartments Allen and I lived in, the gifts we gave each other (and those we received), the food we made (I do have a photo of desserts the one year my sister and I made 18 different kinds), even what our favorite shopping center decorations looked like (so many have been torn down). So, be creative in your photographs. Think about what you might want to see about these days twenty years from now. It truly is history you are recording.

And don't forget those one-armed photos! When I had a Christmas dinner with my friends, Beebs and Millee, we took photos of ourselves that turned out darn good! And when Allen and I went to a Bill Engvall show in Las Vegas, rather than pay $35.00 for one of their photos, we did it ourselves. It took a few times, but turned out great (I may post these later when I can find someone to show me how to do it). So, don't forget those one-armed photos! The person with the longest arm is usually the best option :)

And, for me, I'm most grateful that God was gracious and loving enough to send His Son to the world so that we might have eternal life. Hallelujah, Christ is born!

With fondness and the hope that you all have a prosperous and healthy 2010,

Earlene p.s. See, I did get all the elements of my title in this post!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Deep Breaths Need to be Taken

Less than twenty-four hours until T-day! I know a lot of you are probably frantically rushing around making that special cornbread-sausage dressing, pumpkin chiffon pie and green bean casserole (How does that Rachael Ray chick actually get all this done in an hour? Oh, that's right, she has helpers). If I could I'd drop by your house and offer to peel potatoes. Really, I would. Now, take a deep breath...there, feel better? Think of those great turkey sandwiches you'll get to eat on Friday! I like mine with white bread, Miracle Whip (lots of it as my thighs can attest) with a side of BBQ potato chips (leftover dressing is good too).

But, no leftovers for me this year. It's going to be a quiet Thanksgiving with just me, Allen and my dad. We're taking Daddy to a restaurant because even a couple of hours at my house can make him nervous these days. He doesn't like to get too far away from his assisted living home. He loves going out to eat though. Then Allen and I will head home where I have to work! Yep, on Thanksgiving. The copy edited manuscript arrived (via computer) and it's due by December first. Then I'll be able to really get back to writing Spider Web (which is already behind--story of my life since 1992). The next time I'll see State Fair it'll be a bound galley (that's the one they send out to bookstores and reviewers).

There's not much else to report which is why I haven't blogged. I write. I rewrite. I deal with promotion stuff. I clean house (well, not that often). I walk my dog (or take him to daycare) I eat (way too often--a bag of marshmallows has been my downfall today). Over the next four days when I'm not writing I'm going to attempt to scrapbook my Christmas photos. All of them. Since I'm not planning on decorating much this year, I decided that would be a good project. I have managed to cull most of them out of my 36 (or more) years of photos. It was surprising and sad how few I have of my and Allen's first five or six years of marriage. Or the three years we dated. We were poor, grant you that, but why didn't we take at least a roll of twelve for each Christmas? Answer: We were young, lived in the moment and it didn't occur to us we'd want a record of those moments later in life. (Or that we'd ever be old!) If today's generation is too photographed, I'd say my generation didn't take enough of our early years. Ah, well, that's what memories are for, right?

Hope you make (and take photos of!) lots of wonderful Thanksgiving memories. I'm most thankful for your support all these years.

Happy Turkey (and all the trimmings) Trails, Earlene

Monday, October 26, 2009

Kindles, Facebook and The Saddlemaker's Wife Sequel

One of the things that's great about this newsletter/blog is I can answer questions that people send me. Here are three that have come up more than once. If you have a question, please email me and I'll answer it when I can!

Why aren't you on Facebook?

To be honest, time. I know lots of people who belong to Facebook and from what I can gather, it takes a bit of work to keep up on your Facebook page. I can barely get my books written, my filing done, my dog brushed and my husband fed. I just can't add one more thing to my life. For now, this blog will have to do in keeping people up on what I'm doing. The time I suspect I'd end up spending on Facebook, I'd probably be better off organizing my forty years of photos!

Do you have a Kindle? Do you like it? What do you think about e-books?

I initially wasn't thrilled about e-books. I love the feel and smell and look of "real" books. When my agent and my webmaster both bought Kindles and LOVED them, well, I began to think about buying one.

Both my agent and webmaster are women who love books and reading. So I bought a Kindle. (And, yes, it was before the price went down, which annoys me, but that's life). I'll never like e-books as well as physical ones. But it does have its place, I think. I admit getting a book you want to read in 60 seconds is quite amazing and for traveling, well, I have forty books on my Kindle and it weighs about the same as a paperback book. You can't beat that with a stick. Will it be good for authors? I'm not sure as I'm not real clear how we get paid for the books downloaded (which, from what I hear, is only about 3 or 4% sold at this point).

I don't think we can avoid the fact it is likely the future of books. I suspect it won't overtake "real" books for a while, but this next generation is being raised on reading things on screens, so I'm guessing it won't bother them as much as me. But, I still buy my favorite authors in hardback real books. I've found I mostly buy paperbacks and non-fiction on e-book. I don't know why that is.

Are you really going to write the sequel to The Saddlemaker's Wife?

Yes, I signed another two book contract that will start after State Fair. I'm working on another Benni Harper book right now (Spider Web). When I finish that (my publisher wanted two Benni books in a row), then I'll write the sequel to The Saddlemaker's Wife.

Do I know what it will be about? Well, when you read TSW prologue you know that Ruby eventually comes back to Cardinal. What you don't know is what happened, how long it took and what her relationship is with the people there. That is, of course, what the sequel will be about. At the end of TSW she is going to Nashville to help her sick brother. That seems a logical place for the sequel to start, but I can't promise that is what will happen...because I don't know what will happen until I write it! How's that for being vague?

I'm off to Manhattan (Kansas, that is!). Allen, unfortunately, has to stay home and tend to the homefires (and the dog). If you're in Manhattan on Friday, I'll be talking and signing books at the Manhattan Public Library at 3:30. Come see me in the Little Apple!

Happy Trails, Earlene

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

State Fair on its way!

I finished the final rewrite of STATE FAIR on Wednesday.  Back in the day (in the 90's and early 2ooo's) I actually printed out my manuscript, wrapped it up with big ole rubber bands and sent it FedEx to my editor.  She'd write her comments on it, then send it back.  Same with copy editor (editor who checks English, spelling, repetition, etc).  On the day I'd send the first draft (first draft that I let editor see--actually by that time I've rewritten it a few times) I'd drive to FedEx, then take myself to lunch to celebrate, maybe go shopping.  Now, I send the manuscript via attachment on my computer and hit send.  Somehow, it's not the same thing.  Kind of a letdown.  But, you can't stop progress.  It does allow me to work on it up to the last minute that it's due!  

So, it's off.  What happens after this is my editor, Kate, reads it again.  Then it's handed off to a copy-editor and then back to me.  I can make some changes at this point (though I haven't learned the program on how to do that yet), then it's off to typeset.  After typeset it comes back to me one more time.  At this point I can only make tiny changes as it's expensive to make huge changes. Then all the other things that publishers do to ready a book for readers takes place. Sales, marketing, art department, publicity...all of them are doing their thing.  I'm told I will be going on a book tour this year, though I don't know where yet.  Also, the cover is done and I'll be posting it soon on my website, so stay tuned.  It's a real knockout.  I just love it.  I'm planning a couple of neat contests with cool prizes.  They'll be on the website soon.  I just have to pull all that stuff together, send it to Tina and then, in between her REAL job of teaching middle school English, she'll put it on the website.

Right now, I'm enjoying the few days off from writing (though I confess, I wrote the first two sentences of SPIDER WEB today).  This weekend I'm going to the Snaffle Bit Futurity in Reno, Nevada, with my friend, Bunny Brown.  A weekend of horses, ranchers and all things western. My kind of holiday!  Who knows, it might be a great setting for a fictional murder...

Happy Trails, Earlene

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Back Onshore

I'm back from my New England quilting "Cruise for a Cure." A great time was had by all (I hope! I certainly had a wonderful time). Am desperately trying to finish rewrite of "State Fair" which is due September 24. But here are some highlights of my time at sea with a hugely talented and fun bunch of quilters!

1. LAX - Never Again. I'm a native South Cal girl. I should have known better. Sticking with the Duke (aka John Wayne airport)

2. Baltimore, MD - hot, muggy, beautiful National aquarium (loved the jellyfish exhibit), Lewis African-American museum very moving, delicious Greek dinner at The Black Olive with friends, Sue and Paul, and oh, those Berger cookies!

3. Cruise ship - floating city with shopping mall--Vegas buffet, two pools, a Ben & Jerry's ice cream shop, Seattle's Best coffee and fresh towels every day folded in the shapes of monkeys, lobsters, gekkos and puppies--what's not to like?

4. Portland, ME - day with Tina and Tom who drove in from New Hampsire--lighthouse tour, first time at Tim Horton's (Canadians will understand), fresh lobster roll--Yum!

5. Bar Harbor, ME - still hot and sticky, cute town, bought sea glass necklace from artist in the park and a quilt wallhanging of a moose, another lobster roll bites the dust

6. Saint John, New Brunswick - exciting Farmer's Market, cool and lovely park where we met a family with a corgi named Tully (had to stop and fawn)--missing Boo! Lobster roll numero tres (sensing a trend)

7. Halifax, Nova Scotia - bus tour of town with tea at historical Halifax Club (me), tall ship adventure (Allen), still hot and over-the-top muggy (thank you, Hurricane Bill), but view of city from Citadel is incredible (no lobster roll today--I felt bereft)

8. Various days at sea - gave some talks, answered some questions, signed some books - loved hanging out in the "Singing in the Rain" lounge outside the conference rooms where quilters took classes. Example of exchange--Me to quilters, "Aren't you done with that quilt yet?" Quilters to me, "Aren't you done with that book yet?" (Touche--I tried to work on "State Fair" but kept falling asleep--not because it's boring, but because the ship's library chairs were so comfortable!)

9. Boston--Allen and I took two hour tour of city highlights ending up in Quincy Marketplace--lobster roll number four (more than a obsession!)

Once we returned to Baltimore it was a quick trip to the airport, but a long trip back home. We stepped across our threshold at 11 p.m. Picked up Mr. Boo the next day. He was hysterically happy (so were we!) He spent first day home methodically sleeping in all his special spots around the house. Allen and I sat down at the table and waited for dinner to be served. When we finally realized the cruise was over, I ordered us a pizza. Real life resumed. Still waiting for lobster roll number five.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Off to Antarctica...

Why do I always pack as if I am going to someplace where there are no drugstores? Honestly, the ship will have band-aids (though maybe not SpongeBob ones like I have). I dread the night before a trip. I always wonder why I just don't book a red-eye. I want to get on the road NOW! (Oh, I remember why I don't. You arrive at something like six a.m. in the morning, too early to check into your hotel so you are bleary-eyed and wandering the streets of a strange city). I will heave a big sigh of relief when we finally are in our stateroom and don't have to unpack for 9 days.

One thing I'm really excited about is seeing my friends, Tina and Tom Davis (aka beloved webmasters) in Portland! We'll get to spend the whole day together and since Tina and I don't get to see each other often, we're both jazzed. So, who knows, I may get the opening scene to my next book! (She's given me three already...) I'll let you know...

Happy Trails (and Ocean Waves), Earlene

Monday, August 3, 2009

Panic in Vacation Park

So, about two weeks ago I was thinking about my upcoming vacation (sort of half work-half vacation as I'm a speaker on a quilter's cruise through New England and Nova Scotia)when it suddenly occurred to me--I need to lose twenty pounds! Dang. Don't you hate that? Honestly, I've known about this cruise for two years and actually have been thinking about losing the twenty pounds for that whole two years. If intentions and contemplation gets a person points (Weight Watchers!) then I'd look like Gywenth Paltrow. At any rate, my solution was that I wasn't going to eat anything sweet for twenty days. Then I'd (hopefully) lose a few pounds and be ready for those buffets. It lasted exactly...a day and a half (and last night I bought ice cream). I blame the ice cream on my friend Jo-Ann Mapson, who called me and described in detail the Dove bars she'd just bought. Luckily, my clothes are all stretchy, so I'll just have to try to make myself use the gym on the ship (yeah, that's gonna happen).

Anyway, I'm looking forward to the cruise, though I'll miss my Boo-dog (The Big Dog--aka Allen--is going with me). I know it's going to be a blast because, after all, it's quilters! How can it not be fun? Other than fretting about my weight (which, I admit, I don't do for long) all is well. I talked to my editor about "State Fair" and there's a bit of rewriting to do (the ending needs work--not surprised there as I kind of rushed it). I'll even probably work on it while I'm on the ship. For those who asked, "State Fair" comes out in May 2010. They are working on the cover right now and as soon as I see it, I'll post it on the website. Hope you are all having a wonderful summer!

Happy Trails, Earlene

p.s. Even if I didn't lose that weight, I have achieved one healthy goal. I'm down to one or two sodas a week. I now drink ice tea (not a misspelling, that's how Southerners say it). I miss my sodas, but I'm sure my kidneys are happier.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

AKA Weekly Newsletter

Hey all,

Thanks to all of you (about 900 so far) who have signed up for my blog. That's only a fraction of the mailing list I've acquired over the years of having a website, so I may have to send another newsletter in a month to remind people that I won't be sending any more website newsletters.

I think some people might be intimidated by the word "blog." Maybe they think that I'll be invading their mailbox every day with my rambling thoughts. Trust me, there's no way I can write a blog every day. I attempted it on my last book tour and, between you and me, found it extremely difficult. So, just to clarify--this blog will be more of a once-a-week newsletter (often less because, really, my life isn't that exciting). I'll keep you updated on my latest book and tell you if I'm going to be speaking anywhere in your area. There will be the occasional corgi news (Mr. Boo is relaxing on his big footstool at the front window with his head on the ledge--if you were walking by you'd think he was a huge dog with very long legs).

So, just wanted to say "howdy" to all the new (old) followers and assure you I won't harass your e-mailbox too often. Tomorrow I'm supposed to have a conversation with my editor about "State Fair" so I'll be able to start a little of the rewrite before Allen and I leave for our New England "Quilt for a Cure" cruise. Allen's already getting a little nervous. This is the longest he'll have ever been away from Boo since our puppy (five years old now!) came home with us.

Hope you all have a nice, relaxing Sunday. I'm going to clean out the family desk, then go to the office supply store to buy things to organize everything. Except for Target, I don't think there's any more fun place than an office supply store!

Happy Trails, Earlene

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Back to Normal

That sounds like a title to a book! Maybe it was. Seems like I read a book where the town's name was Normal. At any rate, I had a great time with my youngest sister, Debra (six years younger, though that doesn't matter much when you're both hitting menopause) and her youngest daughter, Sam (known now as Boo's new favorite ball thrower and back scratcher). Olvera Street was a blast for my sister and me, brought back childhood memories (and we had some dynamite taquitos and gucamole). Hollywood was hot and dirty and (as always for first time visitors) a bit disappointing to Sam, I think. Hasn't been much glamour there since the 40's. We walked the sidewalks covered with stars and pushed our way through a still thick group of fans to see Michael Jackson's flower-strewn star (Farrah Fawcett's and Ed McMahon's stars were sadly bare). Took a photo of the Hollywood sign and cruised Venice Beach boardwalk. Less crazy street performers than used to be--sign of the hard economic times?

We were glad to drive back to the OC where it was cooler and less crowded (it always feels incredibly crowded in OC until I go to New York or Los Angeles). Went to the beach a couple of times (four miles from my house). Okay, first time I've done that in years. I just don't go and lay out on the beach with towel, hat, umbrella, drinks and snacks much anymore. I forgot how relaxing it is! We watched the Junior Lifeguards of Newport Beach practice whatever it is they practice. We gawked at the board skimmers and their antics right in front of our chairs. Sam and I rode the Ferris wheel on Balboa, first time she'd been on one. All of this is recorded on her phone, of course. How different is it for kids now! We used to have our little Kodak Instamatics whose film we'd take to the drugstore months later (when we had the money to develop the pictures). Hopefully Sam had a wonderful California experience. I sure had fun having her here. And my sister and I are still recuperating from too many late night talks. We're already scheming about when they can come back.

I'm still waiting to hear from my editor about State Fair. She's overloaded with work so wasn't able to read it as quickly as she wanted. And she's knee deep in conventions. So my rewrite will likely be after I get back from the Quilt for a Cure cruise I'm going on in August. I'll be speaking and signing books. Right now I'm trying to figure out clothes to wear in hot, muggy weather.
It got a little muggy when Debra was here, but, like a true East Coast person, she just laughed at our idea of muggy. Weather wimps, that's us here on the West Coast.

I just read in Harper's Index (Harper's magazine) that "Estimated percentage of all existing blogs that have not been updated in four months:94". Ha, I guess I'm doing better than the average. Frankly, I'm impressed when people can think of something to say every day (or week). I hope I don't get to the point where I'm telling you all what I'm cleaning today... I promised at the beginning of these blogs they wouldn't be long and rambling...I've certainly blown that promise! Mea culpa!

Happy Summertime Trails! Earlene

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Cleaning House

Those metaphoric words really can mean so much, can't they? Except it is literally what I've been doing this last week. Nothing like having company to make you look under your kitchen and bathroom sinks and think--I really need to clean this out. My visitors are my baby sister, Debra (who fifteen-some-odd years ago deserted the West Coast and became a Yankee--a Connecticut Yankee!) and her youngest daughter, Sam, who is 13. They are coming for a week's visit and we'll be doing the tourist thing. In Southern California that's the beach, shopping, Hollywood, shopping, In-N-Out Hamburgers, shopping, Balboa bars, shopping, In-N-Out again, shopping... Seriously, we hit In-N-Out on our way from the airport because my sister craves them so much.

No word on State Fair yet. My editor is still reading it, but she knows I'm having visitors for a week and can't start the rewrite until after the fifteenth, so that works great for both of us. I haven't even peeked at the manuscript since I've sent it off because I've found it's better to let it set for awhile and reread it with fresh eyes. I have sent my editor photos of State Fair quilt patterns (there are actually four different ones) and many photos I've taken at various county fairs, including the Mid-State Fair in Paso Robles. She'll take them to the cover conference to help spark ideas for the cover. It'll be interesting to see what the cover ends up looking like. I'll post it on the website as soon as they send it to me.

Hope you all had a wonderful 4th of July. Lucky for us Boo isn't fazed by fireworks probably because he hears them every night coming from Disneyland (we're 10 miles away, but on clear nights they sound like they are only a mile away).

Just wanted to say hi and wish you all a wonderful July! Earlene

Saturday, June 27, 2009

New Blog "Spot!"

Hey everyone!

Tina (beloved webmaster) has set up a new blog for me through Google (is Google supposed to be capitalized when it's being used as a noun?) At any rate, this is a quick test to see if all is working on it. The thing that is great about this blog is I'll be able to see if anyone is actually reading it! Before I sort of felt like a "voice in the wilderness."

So, I'm taking a break for a few weeks while waiting for my editor, agent, webmaster and a couple of friends read the first (or rather second) draft of State Fair. The timing has been great because my baby sister, Debra, and her 13-year-old daughter, Sam, are coming for visit for a week. We'll play, do the tourist thing (Sam wants to see Hollywood and the beach, of course--they are from Connecticut) and when they leave, I'll be back to working on State Fair. Once I send it back again (they usually give me about two weeks to work on it), then I'll be ready to start the next Benni book. It's been nice just hanging out trying to get my life organized again. My office is a total mess and needs to be "weeded" desperately.

Just a quick note about my three days in Kingman, Arizona. I've been to many, many speaking engagements in the last 17 years, but I have to tell you, the folks in Kingman are right there in the top ten in hospitality. Debbie, my local escort (and sister-in-law to my dear friend, Christine, who was with me) was a wonderful tour guide. The town of Kingman is right on Route 66 and has a lot of fun things to do. The Kingman Quilt Guild co-hosted one of my talks and made me a gorgeous quilt with all my book covers represented. I'll get mi esposo to take a photo of it and put it on the website (today he's putting together a pergola for our patio and I don't want to distract him!). All I can say is Kingman Rocks! Thanks to everyone there who made the Book Festival such a success.

Off to clean my office now...or at least take a crack at it. More later! Happy Trails, Earlene

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Where in the world...

is Earlene Fowler? I’m right here! (I stole that from an old computer game kids used to check out of the library when I worked there in 1992–Where in the World is Carmen San Diego?)

I’ve been working hard at finishing up State Fair. It’s due on Monday, June 15, so I’m down to the wire. My original due date was May 1, but I had to ask for an extension. So June 15 is truly a drop dead day! (And that’s exactly what I feel like doing right now).

So, except for a wonderful long weekend where I spoke at the Kingman, Arizona Book Festival, I’ve had my nose to mu computer. I went through my normal panic when I finished the first draft (last Saturday at 8:19 p.m. to be exact). I always hate my first drafts. But I’ve been rewriting this week and am feeling better about it. It really is about layering, going back through and clarifying what I meant, changing a word here, a sentence there. My books are always so clear in my head. It never reads as good on the page as it does in my head (kind of like how I look better in my bathroom mirror than in the pictures people take of me).

Right now I’m watching “Tattoo Highway” on A & E. They are in Albuquerque. For some reason I love all those reality shows about the tattoo culture even though I don’t have one. I wonder if anyone has ever gotten a quilt tattoo? If I got a tattoo it would probably be a combination of a pen, a quilt pattern and maybe a cross.

Okay, just wanted to say howdy and let those of you who follow my blog that I’m doing okay. (Yes, I know I’m the worse blogger on earth–forget about me every twittering or tweeting!) Back to work tomorrow on the rewrite. I’m on page 200 (of a 436 page manuscript).

Happy Trails! Earlene

Thursday, April 9, 2009

New Contract--More Books

Hey, my loyal blog readers! You are being rewarded for reading my blog because you are hearing it here first. As of ten minutes ago, my publisher and I came to an agreement for me to write two more books–another Benni Harper mystery and the sequel to The Saddlemaker’s Wife. I’m very excited about both books. The title for the Benni Harper book will be Spider Web. It is scheduled to come out in May 2011 (don’t forget, the Benni book I’m working on now–State Fair–will come out in May 2010). That means you’ll get two Benni books in a row. The sequel to The Saddlemaker’s Wife (no title yet, but no, it won’t be The Saddlemaker’s Sister, Cousin, Husband or Mother) will likely come out in 2013 because I’m taking 18 months to write it. Wow, 2013 sounds like something out of a science fiction novel, doesn’t it? Anyway, wanted you all to be the first to know. Tina will send out a newsletter (as soon as I get it written–probably today), but you heard it here first!

Happy Trails, Earlene

p.s. Many readers have written to lament with me the passing of Mother’s cookies. But, one reader wrote and told me that Kellogg’s has bought the rights to the recipes for Mother’s cookies and may produce some of the favorites. I hope it’s the iced animal cookies! (Another reader wrote to tell me she and her friend only like the white ones…we should get together since I only like the pink ones…)

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Searching for Mother's

Book promoting is hard on writers…both physically and emotionally. We’re doing the one thing that most of us feel uncomfortable with, going out in public and explaining to you what we do in private. Some (somewhat sick, I think) writers cope with this by lots of exercise, sessions with their therapists or eating healthy. I and the writers I love, whine to our friends (when they aren’t avoiding us), watch daytime TV (thank you, ladies of the View) and eat our favorite junk foods. Yes, we should be working on our next book or our pecs or grouting the tile in our unfinished bathrooms. Instead, we eat cookies and candies and fried tacos. Please, no lectures. We do what we need to survive. So, during my tour I scoured the grocery stores for Mother’s iced animal cookies and I was dismayed to find them…nowhere! I tried the Keebler ones (too stingy on the multi-colored candy dots), the Nabisco ones (better, but still no blue ribbon) and continued to look for Mother’s. I rarely eat them and when I do, only the pink ones (I have no idea why–yes,I know the white ones taste exactly the same). But when I want them, I want them. Yesterday, at Vons, the fourth grocery store I searched, I finally asked a clerk. Apparently, Mother’s cookies went out of business! I had no idea and I mourn their passing. Another part of my childhood has disappeared. Mama always bought Mother’s cookies because they were cheap and we loved them. I haven’t googled yet to find out the details, so am taking the clerk’s word for it. But let’s give a shout out to Mother’s. I wish I could have supported you more, but if I had, I would have triple chins instead of a double one. I’ll always remember you with joy.
Happy Trails (of cookie crumbs…), Earlene

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Love Mercy Tour -- Home

I know I sort of left you all hanging. After my signing in Fresno, I spent the day and night with my friend, Bunny Brown, in Riverdale. (Yes, she’s the “Bunny” in Broken Dishes!) We went up to a place on her ranch called Section 9 (near Coalinga) where we watched some of her horses, cattle and her five cattle dogs frolic in the gorgeous green hills. I swear, the dogs and horses acted positively drunk on the incredible air. There were about 20 of us there for a birthday party for her friend, Bonnie. I took photos of the dogs and horses and will post some of them soon on my website. Then I drove home! Boy, was I happy to sleep in my own bed. This was actually a short tour for me. I’m used to doing more like 15 cities in 16 days, sometimes flying cross country. So, despite my whining, this was a snap. It sure felt good to come home. Allen and Boo were glad to see me (though Boo was mad for a few hours, my punishment for being gone) I rested on Monday, then intended to start writing on Tuesday…then Allen got sick. So, there you go. It’s hard for me to work with someone in the house (especially someone hacking and coughing). But, he’s doing okay now (just a touch of the flu). I signed in Pasadena on Saturday; Garden Grove today. Tomorrow, it’s back to working on State Fair (though I’m starting to get a scratchy throat…) My deepest thanks to all of you who have taken the time to come to my signings and buy books. During these hard times, I so appreciate the support. Lots of creamers getting won at the signings. After my last signing (March 28), I’ll post the website winners.

Happy Trails, Earlene

Friday, March 6, 2009

Love Mercy Tour -- Fresno, CA

Sisters, sisters, everywhere! Last night I had a bunch (bevy? barrage?) of Beta Sigma Phi Sisters come to my signing in Bakersfield. Tonight I had a pre-signing meal with the San Joaquin Sisters in Crime, then after my signing, dessert with more Beta Sigma Phi Sisters. Sisters rule! And, to be honest, every person who loves my books feels like a sister to me, like someone who is traveling with me as I wander through the lives of Benni, Gabe, Dove, Hud, Ruby, Lucas, Love, Mel and Rett. When we all get together and talk about San Celina or Cardinal or Morro Bay, they feel like a real places (well, Morro Bay is a real place!) It still amazes me how one person–a writer–can put words, sentences and paragraphs down on a blank page and other people–readers–can create a world in their heads, one that is something like the one I invent, but not exactly. That’s the thing I try to teach young people about books, how it is the only art form where they can create along with the writer. It is such a personal relationship, the one between writers and readers (I know how you all feel because I’ve been a reader much longer than I’ve been a writer). I think that’s why it feels like we know each other when we meet. I’ll be going home on Sunday after spending tomorrow at my friend Bunny Brown’s ranch in Riverdale (yes, she’s the inspiration for the Bunny in Broken Dishes). This has been a short driving tour for me and I still have my local signings to do, but I’ve traveled to some of my favorite parts of California. Places I not only love because of their physical beauty (I had to stop and take a picture of the almond tree blossoms outside of Traver because they were so gorgeous), but even more because of the people. I appreciate your loyalty and support more than I can say. So, what was today like? I left Bakersfield and drove up Highway 99 with a fuel and food stop in the town of Traver. There’s a wonderful cheese and nut store there (the name eludes me because it’s so late and the bag of stuff I bought there is out in my car). I bought Allen some almonds and cashews, but don’t tell him…it’s a surprise. I also had a delicious tri-tip sandwich made the way it’s supposed to be made…on a open grill with an oakwood fire. I put salsa on it (like a native knows to do) and ate it with a large Coke. Best meal I’ve had on this trip! Can’t beat it. I’ll write again soon, but Sunday I’ll be home and Monday back to work on State Fair. This has been a short tour, but so much fun for me. Still have some local signings so come on out if you have time!

Happy Trails, Earlene

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Love Mercy Tour -- Bakersfield, CA

Wow, I forgot how beautiful this part of California is in March! On Highway 46 from Paso Robles (where I signed stock at an adorable new quilt shop–Wine Country Quilts) things are green and blooming and absolutely gorgeous. At one point on the drive there was a flock of mama sheep and lambs on one side of me and an orchard of pink-white almond blossoms on the other. I listened to Willie Nelson’s “Stardust” CD, which seemed entirely appropriate for this drive. I checked into my hotel and was able to relax some before my signing tonight. So, I was feeling pretty good–watched a little television, read the USA Today, the San Luis Obispo Tribune, looked through the room service menu (always important, though I suspected I would just drive through Taco Bell after my signing). Then I started getting ready. So, I’m brushing my teeth and (truly, I have no idea how this happened) toothpaste squirted up into my left eye. I mean, really, what’s with that? Have you ever gotten toothpaste in your eye? It hurts! And it makes it red. Ay-yi-yi. So I washed it out and, luckily, I had some Murine (because I travel with a whole drugstore in my luggage). But it took a few minutes for it to stop hurting. I just thought that was weird. So, my signing was fanstastic, as it always is in Bakersfield. There’s something about the Central Valley that just feels like home to me. I think it’s because, like me, many of the people who live here had parents and grandparents who were from the South and the Midwest, who were sharecroppers or migrant workers like my grandparents. I know that my readers in the Central Valley are gonna “get” the character of Love Mercy Johnson. She’s a special to me and I really want people to take her into their hearts. I suspect the Valley people will. If you have never been to California, if you ever do visit, try not to leave the Central Valley out of your travel plans. You just can’t completely “know” California if you don’t visit this place. And make sure to go to Dewar’s for some of their famous taffy. It is not like anything you have ever eaten. I never come here without spending forty or fifty dollars there buying it for my friends and family. Oh, I finished the recorded book ”The God of Animals” (it’s in the car and I cannot remember the author’s name–yeah, ironic). You have to read this book. It was such lovely writing and such a heart-wrenching story. It’s very serious, but I just loved it. And the last scene ruined my mascara. So, off to bed now. Fresno, tomorrow!

Happy Trails, Earlene p.s. Though the room service menu looked good, I did go to Taco Bell. I just wanted to get comfortable and not wait for my food. My publisher loves me–I’m such a cheap date!

Love Mercy Tour -- San Luis Obispo, CA

It took me two hours yesterday morning to drive 67 miles. Yeah, that’s Southern California traffic. It rained and South Cals are like a bunch of turkeys when it rains. We stand outside with our beaks open, not certain what that water falling from the sky is. So I left my house at 6:20 am and arrived in San Luis Obispo about 12:30 pm because of a horrible accident outside Calabasas. That gave me a half hour to grab a green burrito at Taco Bell (I asked for extra green sauce and they gave me NO green sauce…ah, well…) and get to my signing in Morro Bay. The minute I arrived at the Cotton Patch it was worth it, of course, because I had fans waiting. It was a quick, fun two hours, complete with chocolate cupcakes the store provided in honor of Love Mercy. Then back in the car and back to San Luis Obispo. (My Subaru Outback already looks like I’ve spent two weeks in it rather than one day–I pack like I’m going on a five-month trip to the Alaska back country). At the Novel Experience, I spent another two hours signing books and talking to old friends and new. Some readers here in “San Celina” have come to my signings since my first book came out in 1994. We all agreed we looked the same, especially when we take off our glasses. Then dinner with three friends (hamburger with smoked mozzerella cheese–yum!) and to my hotel. I was so tired I knew I couldn’t write on the blog so I waited until this morning. (Good thing because I almost didn’t get connected–I had to call the desk and they had to walk me through it–honestly, is there a bigger techno-boob than me? I don’t think so). Before going to bed, called hubby Allen, got update on the Boo-meister (he’s doing fine, but he doesn’t understand when I travel, he waits by the back door for me, then finally gives up–yeah, makes me tear up to think about it). Today I’m off to Bakersfield, but first to sign stock at a new quilt shop in Paso Robles–Winecountry Quilts. If I miss a night (or day) on this blog, trust me, it’s because I can’t figure out how to get on the Internet. Free breakfast down in the lobby so I think I might check it out. I have had my first cup of coffee and the cup protector said this–”Because sometimes you need a cup of coffee to go downstairs to get a cup of coffee.” Oh, yeah, these people get it. That could my life motto.

Happy Trails, Earlene p.s. I tried to proof read this, but I’m afraid to touch any other button for fear that I’ll lose this posting. So, if there’s any weird mistakes, blame it on the fact I’ve only had one cup of coffee…

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Love Mercy Tour -- This blog will drive me nuts!

Okay, I finally learned how to use the spell check, but then somehow these little boxes came on my blog and I thought they’d go away when I hit publish…and they didn’t! I would email Tina and ask her why, but it’s very late and I need to go to bed. Maybe we can fix it later. Anyway, eventually I’m gonna learn how to work this dang blog!

Not So Happy Trails right now, Earlene

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Love Mercy Tour -- Scottsdale, AZ

Okay, I swear I checked and rechecked this blog SO many times! Tried the spellcheck…LOST another blog. Then I checked it again and, because I have to get to sleep because I’m driving home tomorrow, finally published it. Of course, I reread it one more time and realized I misspelled Scottsdale (and there’s a few commas and misspelled words too). What can I say? Mea culpa and sorry ’bout that. Honestly, I’m the type of person who has trouble when the sliding glass door comes off its runner, so this technical, bloggy, Internetty stuff…well, it just don’t come that easy to me. But I’m trying!

Happy Trails (and good night!), Earlene

Love Mercy Tour -- Scottsdale, AZ

Okay, I swear I checked and rechecked this blog SO many times! Tried the spellcheck…LOST another blog. Then I checked it again and, because I have to get to sleep because I’m driving home tomorrow, finally published it. Of course, I reread it one more time and realized I misspelled Scottsdale (and there’s a few commas and misspelled words too). What can I say? Mea culpa and sorry ’bout that. Honestly, I’m the type of person who has trouble when the sliding glass door comes off its runner, so this technical, bloggy, Internetty stuff…well, it just don’t come that easy to me. But I’m trying!

Happy Trails (and good night!), Earlene

Monday, February 9, 2009

Mystery Solved

A cyber-Moonpie to Sue from Oregon, Joan from Georgia and Bonnie from Northern California for finding the mystery quote in Seven Sisters (page 200 in hardcover, page 199 in paperback). You all are the best! Thanks from Connie and me. Here’s the exact passage.

Oh, honeybun, Dove’s voice sang in my head. What does it matter where your old bones are when your soul is dancing with Jesus?

Right now, it’s raining in Southern California (miracle!) and I’m watching The View. A lot of people don’t like that show because the ladies all talk at the same time. That’s exactly what I like about it because it reminds me of when I get together with my three sisters or my friends. I usually watch the first half hour then I get back to work. State Fair (my next Benni book) is set in summer when it’s 100 degrees in Paso Robles. Kind of hard for me to imagine right now! Maybe I’ll make some hot chocolate to get back in the mood…

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Challenge for Diehard Fans

I need your help! I received an email from a fan of mine whose best friend just died. A quotation by Dove has been running through her brain and she has searched and searched, but cannot find it. So she wrote me. But, I’ll be honest with you all, I don’t remember my work that well (my brain is usually focused on the book I’m currently writing as well as the one I’m promoting). So, I figured (well, I know) that some of you remember my work better than I do. Or some of you might have recently read the book where the quotation is written. Connie thinks it might be in Seven Sisters, but she looked through it page by page and could find it. The quotation has the words “dancing with Jesus” in it. You know, I do remember writing it…but I just don’t know where it is! Thanks, Earlene p.s. If you know it, please send it to my email address on my website.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Shopping Thoughts

I was having a bad writing day so I went to South Coast Plaza. This is what came to my mind as I was eating my Wahoo’s Fish tacos…

Who are these women who shop in 4-inch heels? Are their legs made of wood?

I love little old ladies (not so far removed in age from me) who wear shiny gold flats.

Is is me or is the size XL smaller than it used to be?

Nordstrom’s has the best bathrooms, by far, of any store I’ve even shopped at. Just wanted to say thank you.

I solemnly promise to never wear anything with the word “Juicy” written on it.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

First Entry

I read somewhere that there are 100 million blogs. Ay-yi-yi. I know you’re all busy. So am I. So I’ll keep my blog short. And, hopefully, interesting. I’ll use it to answer questions, update you about the progress of my current book and maybe comment on something totally irrelevant to the important incidents troubling our world (like who decided to close the Krispy Kreme that was so close to me–whoever you are, you have broken my heart). They will never be more than a paragraph. This is the first one.