Autumn Newsletter

It’s been much too long since I wrote here, but believe me, life has been busy!


We spent almost all of September away. The first weekend we went up to Boston – and although the leaf color hadn’t started yet, it was still beautiful. New England is lovely, but it always makes me feel somewhat claustrophobic, as does most of the East Coast. I’m a Texican – I like space!

Anyway, we drove up to Lexington and stayed in a pretty hotel that was so modern and trendy it was almost surreal. The purpose for this trip was to attend the wedding of The Husband’s battle buddy from his first Iraqui deployment. It was a beautiful ceremony in a 200+ year old white wooden church – the kind where the pews are in enclosed stalls with doors. Fascinating! The ceremony was beautiful and very touching. Second marriage for both bride and groom, both of whom are nearing retirement age. Their grown children were their attendants and the whole thing was just fairy-tale pretty. Then to nearby Hanscomb Air Force Base for the reception – a gourmet wonderland with incredibly delicious food and drink. Believe me, whoever invented elastic waistbands should be canonized immediately!


Both before and after the wedding we did the tourist thing, exploring all the Revolutionary War sites, etc and taking tons of pictures. Another thing we did was take the tour of the Orchard House, the rather eccentric home where Louisa May Alcott wrote Little Women among other things. I’ve always been ambivalent about Alcott, but it was fascinating to see where she lived and worked. Her father had a huge (comparatively) study with all the luxuries of the day, while Louisa had a tiny surface about the size of a large tea tray attached to the wall to write on. Little Women has never been out of print, and yet her father Bronson Alcott, even with his big desk and elegantly appointed office, is almost totally unread today. Somewhere there should be a lesson in that…


One interesting thing – The Husband and I are connoisseurs of Mexican food and in some little town (maybe Lexington, but up there who can tell, as the towns all run into each other) we found this Mexican restaurant called Ixtapa. Being in an adventurous frame of mind we stopped, but weren’t expecting much. The food was actually quite good! Not spicy enough for our Texas tastebuds, but otherwise surprisingly good. We even recommended it to some people at the wedding.


Back home, only to leave for Enterprise Alabama two days later to attend the wedding of one of The Husband’s staff from his second Iraqui deployment. The wedding was entirely different in style, but just as wonderful and full of love. The couple were much younger, and the groom insisted that the bride’s two children (early elementary school age) be part of the ceremony because, as he is reputed to have said, he was marrying the whole family. Such a lovely man! At the reception in the church hall they served the most wonderful Mocha punch – made with ice cream and coffee and just about the best stuff I ever put in my mouth. The lady in charge of catering graciously gave me the recipe, and I’m trying to contact her to see if I can share it with you. Suffice it to say, only the good manners instilled in me by my mother years ago kept me from grabbing the punch bowl, locking myself in a closet and slurping it all down! That and the fact that the outfit I was wearing did not have an elastic waistband.


Enterprise is a smallish town famous mainly because it is the only town in the US with a monument honoring a bug – the boll weevil. There’s an 1890s style classical goddess holding aloft this enormous (and greatly enlarged but proportionately correct) boll weevil. From the pictures I had seen I thought the monument would be enormous, but it isn’t – the goddess is about ¾ size of a human. Beautiful though, if you don’t look at the bug. I don’t like bugs.


The third weekend we were closer to home – just a jaunt to East Texas for a family sort-of reunion. Great fun, but by now we were getting tired.


The last weekend (and the beginning of October) we drove to St. Pete Beach in Florida for the NINC (Novelists, Inc) conference. This is by far and away the best writers conference I know of, and perhaps the most intense. It’s held at the luxurious TradeWinds resort and is right on the beach, which sounds lovely but the conference is so intense and we were so busy that The Husband and I only managed one walk on the beach. There are several pools and hot tubs, and half a dozen restaurants and twice that of bars, and all kinds of amusements from a 2, perhaps 3 story water slide and water jet rocket rides and… Sigh. Aside from a restaurant or two (one must eat) we didn’t get to try any of them. However – the conference was worth it. NINC is an organization of multi-published writers with strict requirements for joining. The conference reflects this professionalism. No bookstore, no signings, no fans, no unpublished writers – just workshops on what working professional writers need to know. Absolutely wonderful, and absolutely exhausting. Workshops started at 8:30 in the morning and the more informal Night Owl sessions usually wrapped up around 10:30 at night. As much as I love the conference I do wish they could add an extra day and ‘decompress’ it a bit so we could enjoy the wonderful resort without having to miss workshops to do so.


Drove home – takes two days each way. I loved the drive and watching the scenery; The Husband did not. He insists that next year we’re flying. That is a going to be a point of contention, for as far as I’m concerned, we’re not flying anywhere again unless it’s overseas. I love the act of flying, of being far above the ground and the clouds, especially in a small plane, but absolutely loathe what flying commercial has become. Even buses are more comfortable. I hate being jammed into seats made for an anorexic ten year old, almost getting heat stroke in an overheated cabin because we are deprived of individual air vents, given terrible food and treated like not-very-welcome cargo. (Yes, Lufthansa, I am talking primarily about you.)


Anyway, once we got home we spent an entire day doing nothing, but the next day The Husband had to return to his job and so did I. I had to finish A KILLING AT EL KAB (It’s done! Yea!) and start working on notes for the next couple of books. Yes, I got great story ideas from each one of our trips and wanted to get them down while they were still relatively fresh. I don’t know which ones will actually get written, but it’s lovely to have a choice of things waiting when I want them. (And hopefully in the near future I’ll have an exciting announcement.) Of course, there was also the laundry, and the herculean task of reassuring our three furbabies that we had not abandoned them permanently. (As I write there is a little dog lying on my feet, a cat in my lap and another cat on the desk with her paws on my arm as if to keep me from vanishing. Even going to the kitchen for a drink of water is currently something of a production!


So that’s what’s going on here. Hope you had a lovely September and October…


PS – I have been told to put more pictures with my letters. Sorry – I’m much more inclined to do things than take pictures of what I’m doing. I’ll be better, I promise