Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Where have I been?

Okay, when I got a phone call from my friend, Katsy, asking me if she'd been dropped from my blog list, I knew I'd gone too long between postings. (I assured her she hadn't been). I did promise you all from the beginning I wouldn't bug you too much, so I've kept my promise. I see the last posting was September 15th. I guess it was from that moment that my life went a little bit loony-tunes. I won't go into graphic (boring) detail but it involved:

1) Spider Web being a heck of a book to write and rewrite and rewrite...
2) Allen's vacation--we took all three weeks in October and December
3) Thanksgiving was at my house this year for the first time in I don't know how long (fun, but exhausting)
4) Time-consuming canine skin problems involving baths, creams, vet visits, more baths, etc.
5) And to top it off, during Thanksgiving weekend my sister and I decided to move my dad to another assisted living home, one we felt was much better for him.

I'm happy to say that Spider Web is DONE, really done, and it in typesetting phase right now. We had fun on vacation visiting my niece in Coos Bay, Oregon in October and going to Bishop, California and National Finals Rodeo in Las Vegas, Nevada in December (research for sequel to Saddlemaker's Wife, which I'm getting ready to start). Thanksgiving was fun and the leftover turkey and ham heavenly. Boo's skin is almost back to normal (some kind of allergies) and Daddy's happy in his new home where he has a window that looks out on the front yard and he can see everything that is going on in the neighborhood (our family is notoriously nosy--both parents--so I come by it honestly). He had four doctor appointments in less than a month, but they are all done now. Whew! All that's left is Christmas and that will be a very calm one this year. Thanksgiving was our big hoedown.

I'm so behind on everything that Amazon beat me in posting the cover to Spider Web. Check it out if you have time. It's a very striking cover and I like it a lot. It'll be up on the website soon. I need to write a short blurb about it (next on my "to do" list!). Besides, I wanted to wait until Tina (beloved webmaster) was on Christmas vacation so I didn't overload her with work. There'll also be another contest. I had some more San Celina Police Department hats made so I think I'll give away four of them. I'll send another quick newsletter when we get that set up, so you can enter and maybe win one. I'll try to get it up before the end of the year.

So, that's it. Just wanted to say howdy and let you know I am still here, diligently writing, and trying to live my life. Spider Web is a special book to me. I dedicated part of it to the men and women of our military because one of the plots has to do with Gabe and his service in Vietnam. I send warm Christmas (and late Hanukkah) greetings to all of you who are serving in the military, especially those overseas. Thank you for your dedication, your bravery and your service.

And a Merry Christmas and peaceful, blessed New Year to everyone else. Drive safely and stay warm. If I could, I'd box up some of this unseasonable California sunshine and send it out to all of you stuck in that Arctic freeze. But, don't feel too bad, our sunny weather is ending as of tomorrow night. Between you and me, I'm glad. It's Christmas, for cryin' out loud! A little cool weather is welcome (but you all can keep the black ice).

Happy Trails, Earlene

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Finishing and Beginning Again

Last week I finished the final rewrite of Spider Web. Over Labor Day weekend I dumped about fifty pages and added fifty more because there was a plot point that didn't feel I changed it. The book will now make a second trip my editor as well as to the copy editor. I'll get to read it one more time and make small changes according to the editor's queries (or mistakes I find upon rereading). Then it is off to typeset, printing and finally, publication in May 2011. So, before I "begin again" on my next book, I've been trying to organize my life. Big question--who snuck into my house while I was sleeping and left all this junk? It is amazing the amount of stuff that accumulates while I have my head down writing.

So, before I start the sequel to The Saddlemaker's Wife, I'm trying to weed through books, papers, general junk and make room to work more comfortably. Actually, I find that while I clean I am thinking about the new book, about Ruby, Lucas, Birch, Bobby and Ely, what they might be doing, where to start the book, what new characters might show up. What do I know for sure?

First, that I need to reread it to remind myself of the details (I wrote it in 2005!). One thing I know for sure (almost) is that I'll explore the thread about Ruby's missing mother. That was something that was never answered in the book and has always left me curious (I often don't know myself why I put those small mysteries in my stories). This will be an interesting test of my abilities because I didn't write this book with the intention of writing a sequel. What still amazes me (and confirms the unpredictability of life) is that The Saddlemaker's Wife sold better than any of my books and I didn't plan on a sequel. Love Mercy has had the worst sales and I planned on it being a trilogy, so I had a story line that arched over three books (and will, sadly, likely never be written--sales are everything in publishing, especially these days). But, I trust God that all things will be as they should be. I try to live my writing life according to some very good advice by one of my favorite writers.

"If it 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

I did have some fun over the summer. I flew back East to visit my baby sister, Debra, in Connecticut. She and I drove to Mystic, Connecticut for a girl's weekend away. She ended up getting a cold, but we still had fun, especially laying around our hotel room and talking late into the night. Spent some quality time with my nieces, Sam and Jen. Sam starts high school this year and Jen just graduated college and landed a job at the same college she just graduated she's back at school, but as an adult now. Then I drove to New Hampshire to spend time with Tina (aka beloved webmaster) where we shopped, ate, talked and laughed. One of the fun things we did was go to the Vermont Country Store, a place I'd ordered countless things from over the years. It was fun seeing it in person. The store looks tiny from the front, but goes waaay back! I could have poked around it for two days and not seen everything. It is just like their great catalogs.

All is well in the Fowler household. Allen's still taking his mandolin lessons from Andy Rau (my former banjo teacher--alas, I've not continued my time); Boo is doing good despite a rough six months of stomach and skin issues that are clearing up; Daddy is stable and happy in his assisted living home. I turned fifty-six this year! It's hard to believe that I started the Benni books in 1992. She was 34 and I was 38. She's turning 40 in Spider Web. I remember 40! I can't believe I'm now older than Gabe.

I only have one more speaking engagement this year. I'll be at the Mission Viejo Reader's Festival on September 25th. It looks like it will be a fun day with lots of activities for all ages. Come on out if you have time. More details on my appearances page.

Happy Trails, Earlene

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Come see The Big Laugh (and Katsy!)

This is a quick shout out to anyone who lives in the Central Coast or Central Valley area of California (or anywhere else, for that matter, depending on how far you want to travel).

Come see The Big Laugh Premiere Event on August 28, 2010 at The Paso Robles Event Center, Mid-State Fairgrounds, Paso Robles, California! Five hilarious comics will entertain folks...and one of them is my friend, Katsy Chappell! (She is the person I based the character of Katsy on in State Fair).

I'll be signing books before and after the comedy show. You can read more about it and the other comedians performing on Tickets can also be bought on line or at the door. The doors open at 7:00 p.m. The show starts at 8:00 p.m.

Just a warning, it is billed as an over 21 event, though the producer assured me that the comedy isn't "blue." The only comedian I've actually seen is my friend, Katsy Chappell. I know you're gonna love her!

So, if you need a fun date night on Saturday, August 28, come on out to the fairgrounds, chat with me, see where I set State Fair and meet one of my characters! Be prepared to LAUGH!

Happy Trails, Earlene

Thursday, August 12, 2010

To Angst or not to Angst...

Whenever a new book in my Benni Harper series comes out, I always receive letters about Benni and Gabe's relationship. Because I'm trying to portray a believable relationship and marriage, some of the story lines have Gabe and Benni in conflict, some (i.e. State Fair), have them, mostly, getting along.

So, half the letter writers complain that Benni and Gabe seem to fight all the time and often ask--"Will they ever learn to get along?" The other half moan, "When will you get back to the emotionally complex dilemmas that we love about their relationship?"

You can see my own dilemma.

The truth is that I have never actually planned in advance how their relationship will flow. Like real life (and I've been married 37 years so I know this from personal experience) you just never know what is going to happen between two people--spouses, friends, siblings, parents and children. So much depends on the circumstances we find ourselves in, right? Well, it's pretty much the same thing in writing. Yes, I am in complete some degree. But since my characters do have distinct personalities and histories, all of that comes into play with each book. It's all a chain that makes up their lives. And, of course, what happens to me affects what I write. To those of you who have read Love Mercy, you know that the fact that my own father has Alzheimer's affected how I wrote that book.

So, to angst or not to angst. I really don't know what Benni and Gabe are going to go through until I start the story. What I hope and expect from my readers is to remember that that each book is a part of a whole. A series is really just one long book. In a way, series writers are trying to mimic life. So, behind every corner is a surprise. Kind of like real life. Maybe, that's what makes each book (and day) so unique and precious.

Happy Summertime Trails, Earlene

p.s. One last comment about my last two posts. Some of you wondered why I was so upset about comments about the errors in State Fair. If you read between the lines (and many of you did and mentioned it), it wasn't just the comments about that particular book. My letter represented what I felt about 16 or so years of people's negative comments. The comments about State Fair were the proverbial straw on the camel's back. Nuff said 'bout it now.

p.p.s In Spider Web, which comes out in May 2011, the readers who love the angst between Gabe and Benni will be very happy...I promise!

Friday, July 23, 2010

Nice People - One Gazillion...Mean People - Zero

Wow! I mean...WOW! I have never gotten a response to anything like I did yesterday's blog post. And it was all supportive and positive. You all are the best! Apparently a lot of us are tired of mean people. I cannot thank you all enough for taking the time to write and encourage me. I have read every one of your letters and will continue to read them as they come in. Each is a treasure and will take up permanent residence in my heart and mind. For each of you who took the time to write me, know that you have made a difference. It's like building a brick wall, each brick makes it stronger. Your wall of encouraging words strengthens me and sustains me.

Just a quick note as I think I've confused some people. I will be starting work on the sequel to The Saddlemaker's Wife, but the next book that will come out will be Spider Web (another Benni Harper book--the one I just finished last week). It will come out in May 2011.

I haven't even written the first sentence to TSW sequel yet!

Love y'all to pieces, as Dove would say! Earlene

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Nice People, Mean People and Errors in State Fair

Hey to all you eagle-eyed readers out there!

Okay, I just want to write a post to let you know that I am aware of all the grammatical and other errors in State Fair. I know each book has mistakes (everyone who is involved with making books is human, after all), but this one seems to have more errors than normal. I'm only going by what you all have written me (I don't read the final book when I receive it because I'm always working on the next one and never have the time). I've reported it to my editor and they are going to look into why this particular book had so many problems. It is read by many people along the way, so I'm not quite sure how it happened. But I've been promised that they will be corrected in the paperback edition.

To those of you who have written me and been kind about the errors, thank you. If it bothers you, can you imagine how much it bothers me? But, I've also learned that in the larger scheme of things (i.e. the wars, the economy, child abuse, the oil spill in the Gulf, homelessness, crime, hurricanes and earthquakes, etc, etc) it is a small worry. But I appreciate you not blaming me and instead choosing the high road and telling me how much you like the plot and characters and style of my writing. Your encouragement and support makes the hard days easier and the good days better!

To those of you who have written negative and angry emails about the errors as well as other things you don't like about my books, please, just move on. Fact: I delete mean emails after reading the first negative sentence. If you don't like my books, then please, just don't read them. There's plenty of other great authors out there to read. When I don't like an author, I simply don't read them any longer. But I don't write them and try to make them feel bad about what they've written, because it's their book, not mine. I'm the guest, not the homeowner. And I was raised to be a polite guest. (Frankly, Dove would be ashamed of some of you!)

But, I want to end on a positive note. I have to say that 99% of my letters from fans are positive and encouraging and I am thankful for every one of you. Most of you Dove would throw her arms around and give a big ole hug! And invite you home for butterscotch pie. That's what I wish I could do to everyone who takes the time to encourage me.

Hope summer is treating you kindly. I'm already doing research for my next book (sequel to The Saddlemaker's title yet). The first thing I'm doing is rereading the book so I can remember what happened to Ruby, Lucas, Birch and the rest of the gang in Cardinal!

And my office is ALMOST clean now! Goodwill is getting a lot of extra office supplies. The big question is, where did I get all those extra boxes of staples?

Happy Trails, Earlene

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

The End...and the Beginning...

Yesterday at 4:00 p.m., California time, I finished the first draft of Spider Web. For a writer, finishing a novel (that is, the first draft) is both a monumental and minuscule moment. In reality, I finished writing the second to last chapter because I'd already written the last chapter (In this book's case, the epilogue. Don't ask me what is the difference between an epilogue and a last chapter, because I don't know. I called it an epilogue because it was three weeks later in the story. I actually have no idea, or care, what real epilogue rules are). To finish writing a book is monumental because when I start a novel it feels like such a daunting task (even after all these years) that I fear it will never get done. Minuscule because, really, in the course of world events and eternity, my little novel isn't all that important. Still, it is done. At least, first draft done.

So, I have nine days (counting today which I'm taking off to clean my office and house, do some laundry and play with the dog) to rewrite it once before sending it to my editor. The due date to my publisher in New York is July 15th (originally July 1st, but I begged for two more weeks). Then my editor reads it, gives me her opinion, and I do have a chance to rewrite it again. But, at least there is something to work with. That's the part that is a relief. For those of you wondering, Spider Web is another Benni Harper Ortiz novel and it will be published, God willing, May 2011.

I corresponded recently with someone who is thinking about writing his first novel. When someone is just starting as a writer, there's not a lot I can suggest except recommend some good writing books (I always suggest Stephen King's "On Writing" and John Steinbeck's "Journal of a Novel" as two of many helpful books for aspiring writers) and to give one observation/piece of advice. Whatever you start...try to finish. As I told him, I can't tell you how many first chapters/first one hundred pages of novels I've read over the last twenty to twenty-five years. For a beginning writer (or potter or painter or cabinetmaker or dog trainer or, or, or...) finishing a project is more than half the battle. Much more. Always starting and never finishing doesn't accomplish much in life or novels.

So, Spider Web is a complete story now. The manuscript will be soon in the hands of my publisher to start that journey to becoming a book that you will read either physically or, these days, in some kind of e-book form. For some reason, this book was even harder to write than the last (I think I say that every time, but I'm not exaggerating, as all working writers know, each book does get harder to write). I'm glad I have a year and a half to write my next one. I need some time to decompress, let the well fill back up and start that exercise regime I promised my doctor.

Hope you all had a wonderful 4th of July! I spend the day writing (of course), but did take a few minutes to stop and ponder those who have sacrificed so much so that Americans have the privilege of shooting off fireworks, cooking hot dogs and disagreeing with their government, if they so please. Thank you, men and women of the military! I salute you and pray that you all return home to your families safe and whole.

Will write more later. Just wanted to update. Have to get to my rewrite now. July 15th looms like a fiery dragon...

Happy Summertime Trails, Earlene

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Time Correction for Patchwork Penguin Signing!!!

The booksigning at Patchwork Penguin Quilt Shop in Tujunga, California is not at 2:00 pm, but is at 1:00 pm!!

Sorry about that! I've, unfortunately, done that a couple of times this tour. I think I've lost some brain cells somewhere along the way.

Patchwork Penguin signing: NOT 2:00 pm, but 1:00 pm!!

From the confused trails of Earlene Fowler :)

Saturday, May 29, 2010

May Dazed and June Too Soon!

What a month! First, thanks from the bottom of my weary heart to everyone who came out to visit with me and buy books at my events across the Midwest and West. It seems like it was only yesterday I was packing my bag for book tour and now I only have four more booksignings left. What a great time I've had laughing and talking with you all. Good memories of meeting long time and new fans and, of course, the great regional food I try to sample while traveling like Jack Stack Barbecue in Kansas City, Missouri, Voodoo Donuts in Portland, Oregon (the bacon-maple bar is rock star delicious) and Lolo's Chicken and Waffles in Scottsdale, Arizona (a heavenly combination of foods--order mac and cheese on the side if you're feeling brave). I'm due for a doctor's appointment in June and I'm afraid of what my cholesterol is going to be.

Boo's doing much better. Thanks for the concern and good wishes you've sent. Life is almost back to normal. I'm back to work on my next book which is due in July. Then I'll take a little time off to get my house organized, maybe do some long-delayed chores like painting the master bedroom and going back East to visit my baby sister, Debra, and my friend (and webmaster), Tina. Then I'll start my next book!

A quick announcement to fans in Southern California. I've added a few more signings and they weren't on the snail mail postcard mailing so if you missed one of my appearances, you still have a chance to see me before I go back into hibernation. (All of these signings are also listed in the appearances section of my website)

June 2 (Wed) Vroman's Bookstore, Colorado Blvd, Pasadena, CA (7:00 pm)

June 5 (Sat) Book 'Em Mysteries, 1118 Mission, South Pasadena, CA (2:00 pm)

June 6 (Sun) Mystery Ink, 7176 Edinger Ave, Huntington Beach, CA (1:00 pm) (This is the very first signing for this newly opened bookstore. I used to sign here back in the 90's.)

June 12 (Sat) Patchwork Penguin Quilt Shop, 6245 Foothill Blvd, Tujunga, CA (1:00 pm)

Happy Moonpie Trails, Earlene (I have a box of banana-flavored ones hiding in my pantry to help me finish this book)

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Dog Days of April

I mean that title literally.

Why is it that when I am desperately trying to work on my next book (manuscript due in July), getting the postcard mailing out for my booksignings, going through my clothes trying to figure out what to pack for book tour (if I only weighed 10 pounds less I'd have plenty to wear), gearing up my perky persona for public appearances (as opposed to the scraggly, non-makeup-wearing, book writing hag seen only by my husband and the people at doggie daycare), why is it then that my crazy little puppy (Boo is six years old now!) starts vomiting indiscriminately?

The record was seven times one night. Now, at fifty-five years old (young? not feeling so young at 2 a.m.) that is rough. I'm dead the next day. So, of course, those of you who have animals know, I started the whole changing foods, consulting Internet sites, going to vet and having tests done. For almost two weeks Boo couldn't keep half his food down. Eventually, after many tests, including an ultra sound (for which he had to experience his very first Brazilian wax job--well, actually, they shaved him), it was diagnosed as Inflammatory Bowel Disease. So, he's being treated, is on a special diet and is doing much better. And I asked for a 2 week extension for my book, so I'm not quite as panicked as I was. I've also had some other personal family problems, but with the help of God and my faithful friends, I'm feeling pretty good about going out on the road. Just do me a favor and pray for good weather. My flying schedule is so tight that one thunderstorm could throw it all to heck!

I'm excited about coming out to talk about State Fair. I'll also be talking about Love Mercy, which comes out in paperback at the same time. I know many of you were waiting for the paperback and I'm looking forward to more people meeting Love Mercy Johnson, her best friend Magnolia Sanchez and Love's eighteen-year-old banjo-playing granddaughter, Rett. If the paperback book sales are good, it might convince my publisher that people would be interested in a sequel (so far, I don't have a contract for another Love Mercy book as the sales in 2009 weren't that good--hopefully because of the economy, not because people didn't want to read the book).

So, back to work now so that this time next year you'll have another Benni book to read. Hope to see you out on the road! (Check under appearances on website for my schedule).

Praying for safe travels and happiest of trails for everyone, Earlene

Monday, March 29, 2010


Hi everyone!

My book tour is up on my website, so check it out and see if I'll be dropping by your neighborhood. The only change from my prior newsletter is that my publisher decided to take off Seattle and add Mission, Kansas (outside of Kansas City). I have no control over my schedule and I would have loved to come to Seattle, but it's my publisher's charge card. Maybe next year, Seattle! (And I have no clue why they choose the cities they do).

Hope to see some of you at my signings. Come on out and hear the story behind the story of State Fair!

As for what's going on in my life...I'm still working on Spider Web (next Benni book) and that's about it! See you all soon.

Happy Trails, Earlene

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

March? Already?

I'm sure I'm not the first person to look up from my work, blink and stammer--it's March? I see it was the beginning of February when I last wrote a blog. I will never be accused of excess blogging. My excuse is a good one. It's because I was writing! Seriously, I'm working hard on Spider Web, and the writing has been going good so except for the things I have to do (house, husband, dog, father, bills--not necessarily in that order), I've had my nose in my computer and my head in San Celina.

But, updates are needed on some things, so here it goes.

Yes, Tina and I did draw names for the contest. This is how my new mailing list works. It's entirely email and I don't have people's snail mail addresses or even their names. Everyone who is on my email list (that's all of you who've signed up for this newsletter) is automatically entered into the contest. When we decide to draw names, Tina has a computer program who randomly chooses the winners (I used to pull numbers out of a hat--seriously, I did--back in the 90's). So, then I email the three winners, ask permission to post their names and ask for their addresses.

Well, I emailed them three times over the course of three weeks. Finally, one answered. Barbara from Texas. She chose the State Fair cookbook and quilt book, which I've sent to her already. I finally gave up on the other two and Tina sent me two new winners...whom I will email today and inform them they've won. Once I hear from them, I'll post their names. So, you still might be a winner. I'll do another contest soon.

Other than that, not much else going on in my life. I'm going to Left Coast Crime convention this weekend in Los Angeles. Maybe I'll get to see a few of you there. My panel is on Thursday at 2:15 pm. It'll be fun staying in LA a few days. My very first job when I was seventeen years old and just graduated from high school was in downtown LA at what was then called Occidental Life Insurance. It was down by the garment district and we used to shop for deals during our lunch hour. That was back in the Stone Age--1972.

Well, that's all for now. I'll be posting my book tour schedule for State Fair soon. My publicist is putting the final touches on it (waiting to hear back from bookstores). I'll be going to Dayton, Ohio, Portland, Oregon, Seattle, Washington, Scottsdale, Arizona, my regular Southern California places (plus a few new ones like Bluebird Quilts in Grand Terrace), Central California (likely Bakersfield and Fresno, though not certain yet) and, of course, the Central Coast. I'll send out a quick newsletter to let you all know when the dates are posted. The official State Fair publication date is May 4, 2010. Come out to one of my signings and hear the story behind the story of State Fair!

Happy Trails, Earlene

Monday, February 1, 2010

I Can't Think of a Title January Blog Letter

And, besides, it's February! Please, I'm still vacuuming Christmas tree needles out of the carpet (actually not true, I had an artificial one this year). Still, I had a crazy, crazy January which is why I'm writing this post on the first day of February.

First, Boo got bit in the ear (by a Golden Retriever named Shrek! Not, apparently, a gentle giant), then he got sick (a stomach-colon thing...won't go into detail). Then he hurt his front paw (a stone bruise we think) and couldn't walk for two days...then he got the stomach-colon thing again! That's as of yesterday. Poor Boo's had a hard 201o so far (and so have I since I'm the one who has to cart him to the vet who should be able to put a down payment on that new bass boat now). He's doing better, but I'm tired!

And during that time we've had one of the worse rain storms I remember experiencing in Southern California. Our 500 pound pergola/patio cover blew over (I made the weight up...not sure exactly how heavy it is, but it is steel). It happened on the same day they reported a tornado in Huntington Beach. Unreal! I was lucky it didn't go through our sliding glass door. I was at the bank at the time and came home to a hysterical dog (well, now that I think of it, it's no wonder he's got a nervous stomach). Allen had to take it down and we now have an umbrella that we can roll up when the bad weather hits.

But, in spite of all that, Spider Web (the next Benni book after State Fair) is coming along well. During January I also reread State Fair one last time for errors and also reread Love Mercy and corrected errors that you all have sent as well as some I found on my own. So, hopefully, the paperback will be correct now. Biggest blooper was I had Tommy and Karla Rae, Love Mercy's son and daughter-in-law getting married in two different places! Believe it or not, at least a dozen people read my manuscripts before they are printed (including me, many times, though it's often hard to find errors in your own writing as I'm sure you know). But, in defense of the employees at my publisher, they are so, so overworked. It's amazing books get finished at all!

We've drawn the three winners for the contest and will be announcing them soon. I have to contact them first and get permission to post their names. Boo is on the mend (and on boiled chicken and white rice diet); I'm still writing; Allen's going to the dump this weekend with our broken pergola while I take my dad out for a birthday dinner (he'll be 85). Life goes on.

I am going on book tour this year. The places aren't finalized yet, but once they are I'll be posting them on my website so keep watch. I'd love to have you come to a booksigning. I have some great stories to tell about the writing of State Fair.

Seems like it's crazy weather for everyone in the world so keep dry, stay safe and drive slow. As the roll call sergeant used to say on Hill Street Blues--"Let's be careful out there."

Happy Trails, Earlene