For Love of Family

It’s my birthday this weekend.  I’ve been in the hospital twice in the last few years–once when I fell off my rocking chair and broke my leg.  (Never use a rocking chair as a stepladder).  And once, in early April, to have my gall bladder out.  My two daughters and two grandsons have suddently decided I’m mortal, even though my younger grandson–when I was on pain meds right after I broke my leg–came in the emergency room, shaking his finger at me and told me that I’m not allowed to die.  I’m pretty sure I can’t make a promise like that, but I’d like to put it off for quite a while yet.  But just in case, everyone decided this was the year that we should celebrate my birthday properly.

My older daughter and grandson live in Indianapolis, and they’re driving up to stay with us for the weekend.  Tyler’s bringing his serious girlfriend.  She’s a sweetie–a real keeper.  My younger daughter is flying up from Florida.  Her husband can’t make it–he’s buried at work.  And my younger grandson wanted to come, but he’s a marine and couldn’t get leave time.  My HH’s (handsome hubby) brother came from Oakland last week for his high school reunion and is staying to celebrate with us this weekend, too.  We’re going to have a house full.  Air mattresses are coming out.  But we’re all looking forward to it.

My daughters and I always said if we got together, we wanted to spend the day in the kitchen and  make bouillabaisse, so this is the year we’re going to do it.  On Sunday, we’re going the manly meat route, and we’re filling the smoker with a brisket, two whole chickens, and three slabs of ribs.  Then we’re inviting my sisters and cousin over, so we’ll add in all the sides–potatoes au gratin, succotash, apple crisp or slab apple pie (haven’t decided yet), and salads.  Then on Monday, everyone has to fly home.  But it will be one heck of a birthday!

In my new mystery series, I wanted Jazzi to have a family like mine.  We might squabble here and there, but we all like each other.  So, I have her hosting her family every week for their Sunday meal.  She cooks lots of food, and they sit around her table and catch up with each other and gab about whatever’s happening in their lives.  Of course, since it’s a mystery, they often talk about clues and suspects.

I know plenty of people who aren’t as lucky as I am, who don’t get along with their family and try to stay away from them.  I wanted to show that with Jazzi’s romantic interest, Ansel.  His family owns a dairy farm in Wisconsin, and they kicked him out the day after he graduated from high school so that the two older sons would make enough money to stay home and help milk the cows.  Ansel has no use for his family and would be happy to put them behind him.  But you know how family is.  Blood is thicker than water, whether you claim your kin or not.

Anyway, I won’t be getting any writing done for a few days–starting when I finish this post.  I’m writing it today and scheduling it for Saturday, so that I’m not even tempted to lose myself in front of my computer for an hour or two.  Hope whatever you’re working on is percolating away, and happy writing!

Writing: Celebrate each victory

cover_mockup_30_thumb cover_mockup_28_thumb cover_mockup_29a_thumbThis post is about celebrating.  I’ve been writing for more years than I want to count, and it takes a thick hide to learn from critiques and rejections.  But a writer needs successes, too, to help her hang in there.  And I’ve learned that successes come in all shapes and sizes.  My husband took me out to dinner the first time one of my stories was accepted for a “pays in copies” anthology.  I took him out for hot dogs at Coney Island downtown when I got a check for a whopping $35.  When I sold my first mystery short story to Alfred Hitchcock’s mystery magazine, I took the whole family out to eat.  Sometimes, celebrations are scaled back to fit the occasion.  When I got my first “good” rejection for a novel I was pedaling, it was a raised glass of wine.  When I got more “close, but no cigar” rejections, it was a box of candy.  And yes, I counted the rejections as victories, not defeats.  After all, an editor had taken the time to write a personal note on them, something uplifting, not a standard copy of “thanks, but no thanks.”  They were a step forward, even if it was only a baby step.

When I get a speed bump in my writing–a rejection that especially hurts or a campaign that falls flat–I give myself a day to grieve and get it out of my system.  So it’s only fair that when I finish a novel or I get a glowing review or if more people download a book than I expected to, I give myself time to enjoy the victory, regardless of its size.  You should, too.  Take time to savor the good moments.  Wherever you are in your writing, enjoy each step along the way.  Give proper importance to each tiny victory that moves you forward.  Celebrate the journey.

At the moment, I’m celebrating my two, new novella bundles that just went online.  I love the covers Michael Prete made for them, one for each collection and two for the new novellas inside Collection II.  I bragged about Michael’s work last week, but I felt the need to brag one more time.  I shared the first cover in my last blog.  Here are the covers for the second collection.  The voodoo priest is on the creepy side, but he’s not very nice, so it suits him.  This blog is my joyous moment before I hit rewrites on Monday and return to my everyday life of fingers on keys, striving for the right words, the right flow.  But today, I’m going to play and push writing thoughts away.  Today’s for fun.  Enjoy your moments, too.

(If you or someone you know needs a cover, I’ll list Michael’s link one more time.  He’s wonderful to work with and reasonable.  You can contact him through his business site for web pages: