I am not in a coma. And my post office peeve.

Well, I hit 20K today, which is about 25%, and I just had a glass of wine to celebrate. It was Gruener Veltliner, incidentally, not the Riesling with undertones of turpentine and a strong plastic finish I tried to drink the other night. And it was quite nice with the lemon pepper salmon.

But word counts aside, I’m not exactly bright-eyed and bushy-tailed. In fact, I am almost embarrassed to admit that I fell asleep sprawled across a metal mesh picnic table at Abby’s school. I have no idea how many people saw me drooling, but I shudder to think. (Ian’s been waking up in the middle of the night the last few nights, reminding me — as if I needed a reminder — of why I am happy with two, and only two, kids.) In fact, if it hadn’t started sprinkling, I’m pretty sure I’d still be in a semi-coma at the school playground, with the kids seeing how much pea gravel they could fit into my ears before I woke up.

But with the help of the rain and a few shoves from Abby, I did manage to pry myself up (I still have mesh marks on my left cheek). And this evening, while I was frying up a flank steak and a couple of salmon filets — it was another what-fell-out-of-the-freezer night chez MacInerney — Maggie Sefton called, which was an unexpected delight. Truth be told, I forgot to call her this morning, due to my sleep-deprivation-induced haze. But she forgave me, and told me about her great trip to New York, meeting all the bigwigs and impressing the socks off them. Her books are selling like hotcakes. I’m so happy for her; she’s worked so hard for so long, and it’s wonderful to see good things coming her way.

And something about that last paragraph made me think of another thing I wanted to talk about. Why, I don’t know, but since I spent a good forty-five minutes waiting in line (with mesh prints on my face and two bored and active children hanging from me like ripe fruit), I guess it’s still a bit fresh in my mind.

Traditionally, there is a long wait at post offices. Like, twenty to twenty-five minutes at the least, if you go to the one I go to. What I want to know is, would it be too much to ask that one use this time for things like, say, selecting the envelope one would like to use for one’s correspondence? Or, perhaps, writing the address of the intended recipient on said envelope? Or maybe even investigating the certified/return receipt requested options before approaching the desk with six piles of paper whose intended destinations include Tasmania, Hong Kong and East Burlington, Timbuktu?

Ah, well. Next time, I’ll just bring a paperback — and about forty lollipops for my kids. They can stick the half-eaten ones to the bottoms of the people with stacks of certified mail for Tasmania, who are on their cell phones trying to make sure they’ve got the right zip code.

I’m off to make sure my son doesn’t drown himself in the tub.

How was your day?

You know you’re a mystery writer when…

Sorry to be blogging so late, but tonight was my critique group, and I just got home; they liked my chapter, thank goodness, and I liked theirs. (I’ll tell you more about my writing buddies soon; they’re interesting people with interesting stories.)

Today was a better day on the work front; I got in 1600 words — hooray! Because I’m time-impaired, I also spent a good portion of the day thinking it was Wednesday, and that I only had two days left to catch up on yesterday’s shortfall. Imagine how delighted I was at 4:00 when I realized it was still Tuesday!

Perhaps I should pay more attention to the calendar.

And what a Tuesday it was… after writing, I met with Melissa (you’ve seen her comments here before, and here’s a photo I took of her at Lou Neff Point) for lunch at Schlotzky’s and a walk on Town Lake. (She even showed me her son’s short film, Diss the Miss — what a treat!)

I met Melissa last year at a signing; she brought a plate of the most wonderful rhubarb muffins, which I’m going to ask her to give me the recipe for so that I can post it. Today, while we were walking, Melissa told me she’d spent the Christmas holidays in Connecticut, with lots of snow. Here’s a snippet of the conversation:

Melissa: Anyway, I told everyone else I was hiking with to go ahead of me. So there I was, all by myself, and it was just gorgeous, with the evergreens, and the snow… a perfect day.

Karen: It sounds just beautiful.

Melissa: And I’m walking along there, thinking to myself, This is just like a scene out of a book. Only, if this was a novel, I’d turn the corner and find…

Karen: A dead body.

Melissa: (looking at me strangely) A dead body? Actually, no. I was thinking of a handsome man.

Karen: (chuckling uncomfortably) Of course. That would be great, too! Ha, ha, ha. A dead body. What was I thinking? Oh, look — there’s a woodpecker!

Despite my murderous inclinations, Melissa did agree to have lunch with me again — and bake another recipe for my March 24 signing in Round Rock. So all’s well, that ends well. Except for the dead guy in the snow.

Now I’ve told you about my day… how was yours?

Not the most productive day

Well, so far today I’m topping at around 500 words, which really wasn’t where I wanted to be… BUT I did get to eat donuts with four wonderful Barnes and Noble Community Relations Managers, so that was a good thing. (Gosh, I’m starting to sound like Martha.)

Then I did some press release stuff. And ate lunch. And only then did I drag my sorry derriere to the coffee house to write for about 45 minutes before going for a walk. (Can’t miss that walk!)

But the plum blossoms are blooming! They smell heavenly. I miss the apple blossoms, blowsy and pink, of my childhood… but now at least I have bluebonnets. And plum blossoms, of course. I do like spring blooms, but they are so brief, and when they go it is a chilling (perhaps that’s not the word) reminder of the brutal summer to come…

I’ll check in later. Hope everybody’s day was more productive than mine.

Karen’s handy wine tips

I know what you’re thinking. Shouldn’t Michele Scott be the one talking about wine? But believe it or not, every once in a while I do crack open a bottle… and even less frequently, I manage to open one that doesn’t smell and taste like skunk-flavored vinegar. So here, for your edification, are two handy tips I’ve gleaned from my wine experiences of the past 24 hours:

Tip one: If you are invited to a church getting-to-know-you dinner, make sure you have something other than Il Bastardo or Menage a Trois on hand to take with you. (I didn’t, and went for the Menage a Trois. Eric kept trying to pass it off as “Trinity” wine, but I don’t think they bought it.)

Tip two: If you’re in Sam’s Club looking for a Riesling, and one of the people in blue smocks recommends a bottle with a screw top that’s “a special offer” for $4.88, do not be tempted. I repeat. Do not be tempted.

I would type more, but I need to go wash my mouth out with bleach.

Oh, and word count? Zip. Zero. Nada. Zilch. The big fat O.

But tomorrow is another day…

The news

First, I did write about 900 words this morning (I thought it was less, but my word count meter was acting up, so that was a pleasant surprise).

And much more importantly, I got word two days ago that Murder on the Rocks was nominated for an Agatha Award for best first novel.

I am blown away.

Three-and-a-half years ago I sat on the futon on my office, screwed up my courage, and wrote the first few paragraphs of a mystery novel. I figured it would probably never see anything but the bottom desk drawer, but I decided to give it my best shot and write the book I’d always wanted to read.

And now, almost four years later, not only is that book (and its sequel) on the shelves, but it’s been nominated for an Agatha.

I guess some dreams really do come true.

I hope to see everyone at Malice this spring. Wild horses couldn’t keep me away. 🙂

May all your weekends are wonderful — mine is shaping up pretty darned fantastically so far — and thank you so much to everyone who put in a vote for Natalie and the Gray Whale Inn.

I’m honored beyond belief. And stunned. Did I mention stunned?

Off to go and pinch myself again…


Everything but what I really want to say

Well, I haven’t written a single word yet today, which is ridiculous, but I hope to amend that in the next few minutes.

For now, though, I’ll share with you a few notable events/discoveries of the past 24 hours:

1) Somewhere in Austin there exists a woman with the words VEGAN POWER tattooed on her shins. In red. In 1.5-inch type. (I saw her on the trail yesterday. Presumably she paid to have this done. Why? Why? Why?)

2) Tucked in my freezer, right between the niblets and the parkerhouse rolls, is a Tupperware bowl full of rubber bands. Why, you ask, are there rubber bands in my freezer? It was a mystery to me, too. But the answer, according to my five-year-old son, is that putting rubber bands in the freezer prevents premature spoilage. Who knew?

3) I got a phone call yesterday with some news I’m dying to share, but can’t. Yet. But will as soon as I can. Like, the moment I get the green light.

Okay. Back to the werewolves. Which reminds me: what is it that Martha Stewart says? “It’s a good thing?” I need to know, but have no TV.

Ciao for now,

Back in the saddle

Well, I got back to Wolf 2 today (maybe I’ll call it On the Prowl), and despite a slow start this morning, I am happy to report that I am at 15,064 words, which I think is an increase of around 1,900 words. I kind of lost track of the count somewhere. At this rate, if my kids didn’t get sick and spring break wasn’t hovering around the corner, I could have this book done in about a month! Of course, that won’t happen, but it’s fun to think about.

I’m going to keep this brief, because (a) it’s my Cozy Chicks day and (b) I just wolfed down (har, har) about a third of a stale King Cake and need to do some kind of exercise if I want to be able to button my jeans, but I am thrilled to be writing again.

Now I just have to come up with a topic for my CC post. Hmmm. Maybe that post I had in mind earlier this week: When Bad Things Happen to Good Characters.

I might just do that…

At any rate, enough about me. How’s everyone else? Debra, how’s the editing? Laura, how’s the writing?

UPDATE: I did post it: you can find it here. Ta for now!

Town Lake on a spring day

Well, today was glorious, I tell you. Just glorious.

After a lovely morning reworking Howling at the Moon (I only increased the word count by 600 or so, but plan to get back to Wolf 2 tomorrow), I put my running shoes on and decided to give myself a treat: a turkey sandwich at the Schlotzky’s right next to Town Lake, here in Austin. So for almost an hour, I sat outside with a book of travel essays and a sandwich, the spring sun cascading down and the sweet and elusive smell of pansies all around (they were such a brilliant yellow I had to take a picture). Oh, and only after I ate a chocolate chip cookie did I notice all the people walking around with smudgy foreheads and remember that it’s Ash Wednesday and that I had considered giving up chocolate for lent. Or is it Lent? Oh well, there’s always next year…

Despite my chocolate faux pas, I then did one of my favorite things; I hit the trail around the lake, drinking in the sunshine. I don’t know if you’ve ever visited Town Lake, but I’ve probably walked thousands of miles around it over the years; it’s almost a sacred place for me. I know where the wild onions grow, and the dewberries — and of course the poison ivy. (Men never believe me when I tell them they’re standing in it. I swear. Women, on the other hand, usually thank me profusely for alerting them. Why is that?)

Anyway, in addition to all that natural beauty, I always find one or two things that are unusual. Today’s standouts included a three-year-old boy with what appeared to be a large tattoo on his lower back (and I mean the real thing, not the Daffy Duck kind you get at children’s parties). I also saw this dog dish. And the question that leapt to my mind is: was it really necessary to label it?

Despite the warm air (it hit 80 today), though, the flowers were few and far between. Even the clump of paperwhites that grows next to one of my ‘thinking benches’ is already played out, but the turtles were everywhere, basking in the warmth. I caught a bunch of them piled on a log (they all plopped off when they noticed me.)

A little later, I stopped at Lou Neff Point, another of my favorite spots, which unfortunately lost a lot of its wisteria during recent trail renovations, but is still a lovely shady bower in summer. It’s a gorgeous, peaceful place to sit — the water laps at the pilings, the lesser scaups and coots (the little black duck-like things you may or may not be able to see in the photo) dot the water in winter, and the sycamores and pecans frame the Austin skyline over the lake.

So it was a wonderful afternoon, and as I finished up and headed off to pick up Ian, I was thinking — as P.G. Wodehouse wrote — that “God was in his heaven and all was right with the world.” Just as I was reflecting that I couldn’t think of a more lovely place to be than Austin on this particular afternoon, a woman pushing a stroller passed by me and said to her walking companion, “I really wish I could go to Iowa.”



Anyway, I’m hoping to hit the trail again tomorrow; but not before I write another 1500 words on Wolf 2. The edits are done (hallelujah) and I’m back in the saddle again, so Laura, keep those word counts posted!

I hope you all had a lovely day too, wherever you are…


oh, for a normal day

Although I like to consider myself a bit of a free spirit, lately I’ve realized that I’m very much a creature of habit, particularly when it comes to writing. My perfect day is this:

Get up at an ungodly (for me, anyway) hour
Drink coffee, make lunches, drink more coffee, take healthy children to school or drug them so that no one at school will know they’re not healthy. (Ha, ha. Just kidding, of course…. would never stoop to such a low level, unless of course there was a major deadline.)
Go to coffee shop, write from 8:30 to 12-ish (or until 1500 words complete — this includes chatting time, which is evidently an integral part of my morning writing)
Go home, eat lunch, check e-mail, blog, do other household tasks
Exercise from 1:30 – 2:30
Resume parenting duties until bedtime.

The problem happens when I schedule other events in there, or have things like page proofs due. Or children who start projectile vomiting. Like today, in fact! The kids, who were a bit under the weather last night, went to school late; right after dropping them off, I went to a marvelous talk I wouldn’t have missed for the world, then gave a talk to my daughter’s second grade this afternoon (I got to wear hats from the dress-up box). Then I picked everyone up and finished reviewing the page proofs for Beads of Doubt, which are, in fact, due today. (I just sent them.)

In short, my word count is a big fat zero, and I’m feeling more than a bit discombobulated. If that’s the word I want. (I did, however, squeeze in a 20-minute walk.) Now it’s time to read chapters for the critique group tonight, which fortunately is pleasurable work. And I can hear the dishwasher calling me…

But tomorrow should be normal.

I hope.

When did I become so set in my ways? And when do you all write?

almost forgot

I almost forgot… the web site is finally updated, thanks to my wonderful designer Thea Eaton!

Cross that one off the list…

(If I made any snafus, please let me know!)

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