January Round Up

I’m a few days late with my regular monthly update but I have a good excuse–I had my left hip replaced at the end of December and I’m now in the middle of a months-long recovery, going to physical therapy three days a week. It’s proving very beneficial to my regaining mobility but it cuts into my writing time.

51imExjlyUL._SX321_BO1,204,203,200_Books read:  I received Stacy Schiff’s book about the Salem witch trials as a Christmas gift and wow, is it an interesting read. I’m not a fan of the Colonial period so I haven’t read much nonfiction about that time, but I’m learning a great deal about societal beliefs and the psychological factors that turned ordinary teenagers and older folks too, into “witches.” This book is not a light read–it’s very detailed and scholarly but if you are a fan of the colonial period in America, you will enjoy it immensely.

On a much lighter note, my friend and colleague Robin Lee Hatcher sent a copy of her latest novel. Keeper of the Stars is the final book in her Kings Meadow series and it’s every bit as good as the others. Readers who have enjoyed the series will be delighted to revisit some favorite characters and to meet new ones.

I usually report on great food I enjoyed but sad to say mostly it has been hospital food and frozen entrees that can be prepared while hobbling about, first on a walker and now with a cane. I’m looking forward to getting out to check on some great new foodie places here in SA.

Writing stuff: Just after I came home from the hospital the page proofs for Mrs Lee and Mrs Gray arrived. The novel will be published at the end of May and is available now for pre order and delivery in mid June. This book is a departure from my usual work. It’s a biographical novel about the 50 year friendship between Mrs. Robert E Lee and her slave, Selina Gray. It’s a remarkable story of loyalty and courage that crossed racial lines during the most turbulent period of our nation’s history. I spent months poring over letters from Mrs Lee and Mrs Gray, journals, and articles and dozens of biographies of General Lee, pulling out the tidbits about his wife. I was captivated with this beautiful and poignant true life story and I hope readers will be, too.

Now I’m working on more story ideas and looking forward to completing my recovery and getting back to work.

I hope you all had a lovely Christmas and New Year and that the year ahead will be your best ever.

Sit Here for the Present

As a teacher of first graders I began the year reading aloud Beverly Cleary’s hilarious Ramona the Pest in which 5 year old Ramona goes off to kindergarten. The teacher shows Ramona to a chair and says, “Sit here for the present.”

Ramona sits there all day, growing more and more irate as the present she is expecting from her teacher never appears. Meanwhile, all around Ramona, children are playing games, and having fun and she, so focused on what is missing,loses out on the pleasures of the day.

ID-10040283Especially at this time of year when so many of us are rushing about getting ready for the holidays the simple pleasures can get lost in the shuffle. In the run up to the big gift exchange, the big meal, the big game, the quiet conversation with a loved one, the sound of a carol, the card or letter from an old friend gets pushed aside. This year I’m making an effort to appreciate the small things happening all around me, to pay attention, to let go of the past, to worry less about the future, and simply to sit here for the present.

Wishing you all the joys of the season and the happiest of new years.

November Wrap Up

I hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving. Ours was very quiet this year.  Mom took a bad fall in early September and broke her hip so we dispensed with the traditional celebration and stayed home. I made all our favorite dishes, with Jake “helping” as only a golden retriever can–and we rested and watched football and caught up on our reading. Which brings me to

Books Read: The End of the Point by Elizabeth Graver is an absorbing WW2 era novel set in Massachusetts. I’ve always wanted a cottage on some rocky, windswept seacoast and I got to go there in the pages of this family drama.

Family Pictures by Jane Green is a tale of two families who discover their husband and father has been leading a double life. I read mostly historical fiction but I very much enjoyed this tale by the author of Dune Road and The Beach House among others.

The Boston Girl by Anita Diamant is a wonderful historical novel about a determined daughter of immigrants, set in turn of the century Boston. Addie Baum is a fully-realized character and the historical details add to the believability  of this lovely novel. My favorite of the three.

Meals consumed:Isn’t it  funny how our childhood preferences and prejudices about food follow us into adulthood? I remember when then-President Bush said he hated broccoli,  he was President of the Untied States and he was not going to eat broccoli. I feel the same way about beets—or I did until I tried them at a local eatery called Cured. The beets I remembered from my childhood were soggy purple things that tasted like dirt. But the ones at Cured were small and firm and just a bit briny. I loved them. Emboldened by my beet experience I tried kale. I’m still not a fan but the kale at Napa Flats, one of our favorite local hangouts was better than I expected.

Which goes to show we should always embrace the new even when it seems unpalatable.

Book News:  This month I finished the line edits for MRS LEE AND MRS GRAY, my new biographical novel to be published next May. I’m very excited to bring readers a never-before told story of a remarkable friendship between Mrs Robert E Lee and her servant, Selina Gray. I’ve seen the cover and can’t wait to share it.

I’m taking December to finish some other writing projects and of course to celebrate the Christmas season so my next post will be in 2016! This year has flown by.  I’m  deeply grateful that I get to do the work I love and grateful for so many readers who have become cherished friends.To all of you near and far, thank you for supporting my books, and may you have a lovely December, wherever you go and whichever holidays you celebrate.

See you next year.

October Round Up

Maybe you can guess what kind of a month it’s been by the fact that I am two days late posting this roundup. I lost my internet service for a time due to severe storms down here, and then several requests from my publisher kept me hopping. In a nutshell here is what October looked like:

Meals consumed: I first tasted fish tacos when I lived in Southern California. Rubio’s are so good that I despaired of finding their equal  here in Texas but  I’ve found two places that come close :  Napa Flats and Fish City Grill. One taste and I’m back on the beach in Coronado. I tried a new dish at Sushihana, our favorite Japanese restaurant–chicken sobayaki. It’s made with noodles, chicken and all sorts of stir fried veggies. My only complaint is that the portion is too big and this is one dish that does not reheat all that well.

Movies watched: Only one this whole month ( see below for why!) but it was a sweet little film that I missed when it came out a few years back. The Magic of Belle Isle stars Morgan Freeman as a disabled writer and Virginia Madsen as his divorced neighbor and friend. Some of the plot points were a little too neat, but this is a rare movie appropriate for all ages. I’m getting it for Mom, who you may remember is recovering from a broken hip.

actressWriting Stuff: A Respectable Actress was published October 13 to very good reviews, including a 4.5 review from Romantic Times which named it a TOP PICK. The reviewer called it “a book readers will treasure forever” and I hope they will! I had a wonderful readers circle who helped with this launch–22 readers from around the country who posted reviews, tweeted and posted on FB,  and generally made some noise for this book. Thank you ladies!! You are the best.

Meantime I turned in  my revisions for next year’s biographical novel, MRS LEE AND MRS GRAY and this week I’m working on the line edits. My publisher just sent the cover which I will be posting very soon. I love it, and I hope you will, too. This is a very special story and I can’t wait for next spring when it will be out.

In my spare time I’ve been working on a new story idea, blogging (occasionally) and chatting with readers on Social Media. Come on over and say hello.

In the meantime, I wish you a wonderful Thanksgiving filled with friends, food, and fun.