Thursday, January 21, 2016

It's Out There

I'd heard rumour that the book was out, that Suspect Witness, my first Harlequin Intrigue, had not only been released, it had hit the shelves.  I'm not sure why this came as a surprise to me but it did.   Maybe it was because I'm in the midst of another book and with a dozen things on my mind including Suspect Witness, I was gearing up for February 1.  But, here's the rub, there is a release date for the paperback and one for the e-book.  The e-book is not until February 1 not so the paperback.  Now to add to those dates, there's the time that a Harlequin Intrigue remains physically on the bookshelves - one month.  So, by all logical accounts, okay by my slightly skewed calculations, that would be the month of February.

But there were already reports of scattered sightings.   The author of That Night, Lisa McManus Lange had even rushed to her book store only to get the last copy of Suspect Witness.

Oblivious to all this, I spent the day of January 19 picking my mother-in-law up, a sweet lady despite her relationship status, for an appointment that was booked months ago and then off to lunch.  It wasn't until I got home that I saw a tweet, thank you Janie Crouch, that my book was out.

I was excited but it took me until January 20 to get to my local Chapters to discover if this might be true.  Was Suspect Witness on the shelves and not just lurking on my office floor in the guise of author copies?  I dragged DH along with me who wanted to know as soon as we'd rushed those golden book gates why my book wasn't featured front and centre with the books of interest.  I ignored that comment and charged to the back of the store where the "real" fiction is kept.  After skirting two teenage girls huddled over a table that was mere feet from where I needed to be I crouched down and looked.  

I should have known - not there, but I didn't expect it would be - not really.  But wait, one title looked familiar as did the author and the one beside that.  I looked a little closer, and discovered there it was, Suspect Witness, parked in the middle.  I wanted to yell, hey over here - look.

But the thought of all that was overpowered by the voices of the young ladies only a few feet behind me who were discussing the relative merits of acids and bases.  One really wasn't getting it and the other was trying her best to clarify the concept.  I wanted to interrupt that conversation to ask them if they really believed that my romantic suspense could possibly be of less interest than their scientific analysis?  I'm sure from their perspective they were wondering what my fascination was with the book rack and might possibly even be rolling their eyes at the woman who kept backing so close to their table to take pictures of books that held no scientific relevance.

Leaving acids and bases for another day, it was off to Walmart.  There, the book shelving situation was a different story.  The clerk who oversees the books with a diligence that an army corporal might admire, told me that January books had not yet been cleared off and it would be another week or two before February replaced them.  The way she said it made it clear that she thought this was obvious and that I should look at a calendar and not bother her with February books that were currently not her concern.

But all that was fine for I'd seen the proof that Suspect Witness exists beyond an online entity.  It's out there.


Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Aliens, Margaritas, and a One Horse Town

It's hard to believe that the ruins at Casa Grande, Arizona are now over a week ago.  Blogging became a little difficult as we packed and headed back on the road and toward home.  But here's what I missed mentioning.  Big miss - it is one of the largest prehistoric structures built in North America.  What it was used for is still not known, the people who know the secret to this imposing stone structure that stands in the middle of the Arizona desert and that is surrounded by a complex irrigation system, are long gone.

The road we took this year wound through beautiful and slightly terrifying mountain cliffs and valleys in Arizona before hitting New Mexico.

Along the road there were many oddities from the "One Horse Town" that consisted of one house and a fake horse attached to a hitching post, to the sign saying public library with no houses in sight except one house with a library sign tucked into a opening in the hills near the town of Notes, New Mexico.  I wanted to stop in the worst way but we needed to hit Albuquerque before dark.  And it was a good thing was didn't for then we had the "Contact" experience.

Gleaming on the plains of New Mexico some miles out of Socorro there is a Very Large Array or VLA for short.  The VLA consists of 27 dish antennas that have been monitoring the universe and discovering some pretty amazing things.  In fact some of the movie, Contact, was filmed there.  Unfortunately, we didn't have time for the tour, only time to drive up and find out what the heck was going on.  I'll read up on all of it later, when life settles down.

We hit Albuquerque in time for supper at El Pinto.  It's a cavernous yet oddly cosy Mexican restaurant on a dark street that on a first visit, makes one think to keep the doors locked.  It might be a very nice neighbourhood, I don't know, I've only seen it at night, and unlike home - there's not a lot of street lights.  Either way, El Pinto is worth visiting.  Great Mexican food although this time around I was craving vegetables and had a Taco salad.  Of course, there were the margaritas with fresh lime juice that vie with the food for which is best.  When morning arrived, Albuquerque delivered another surprise - hot air balloons, a lot of them.  In fact by the time we left there were over sixty launched and more coming.  While Albuquerque is known for it's fall balloon festival, December is not the month for it.  But apparently the cold weather has hot air balloon enthusiasts gathering.

From there it was on to Wyoming where the land rolls in mountains, hills and plains that for miles seem as untouched as they might have hundreds of years ago.  Wyoming is where we see the most wildlife.  Birds of prey, herds upon herds of antelope, and land that sprawls out in dips and valleys and mountains, in this part at least, seem little bothered by the intrusion of man.

It's strange how a State line seems to change the terrain as if somehow the line was drawn where the topography changed but that's impossible, or is it?  But that what seems to happen as we cross into Montana, I can't tell you what it is exactly but there's a distinct difference between the two States, both beautiful in their own way.

There's nothing like a road trip to give me lots of ideas and locales for stories.  Meantime Christmas is almost here and today, well it's Festivus for the Rest of Us.  How can you forget that hilarious episode of Seinfeld.  I loved George's parents.  They played off each other so well.

Happy Festivus.  Merry Christmas.


Monday, December 14, 2015

Bring Cash and Keep Low

It turns out getting published by Harlequin was only the first of my challenges.  After the excitement died down, there were expectations and I met each one except for one - the author picture.  Turns out that uploading an acceptable author picture to the Harlequin site is not as easy as I thought.

It all began with the camera of choice and the fact that the IPhone camera is not particularly fool proof.  It does not take the perfect picture every time, at least it doesn't for me or more specifically, DH.   Picture one I thought was a keeper - not so fast, the size of it was off, mostly I suspect because of DH's penchant for playing with settings.  Another picture was in order but with everything good and bad that has happened late summer through early fall,
This wasn't the pic sent in.
combined with packing for an extended trip, the picture kept falling into the wreckage of preparation.   Finally, picture two was taken, I admit in a bit of a rush, but still I waited to get the thumbs up.

Instead, another rejection.  This time the picture was out of focus.  It's not obviously out of focus or I'd never have sent it - in fact to the amateur eye it looked fine.

So now release date is coming closer and I desperately needed an acceptable photo.  Fearing another rejection, I decided that it was time to take the advise that had been in front of me all along and hire a photographer.  I found one in the San Tan Valley area that was offering a great deal for a half hour shoot.  We connected by e-mail and she told me to meet her at a park, she'd be wearing red, follow the trail and bring cash.

Bring cash?  Follow the trail?  Was I meeting for some sort of shady deal that I hadn't been forewarned about or was this, as advertised, a photo shoot.  Do I come prepared or do I dare show up at all?

Fast forward two days and one cancellation later that made me glad that I was arriving with DH in tow.   On the upside, it turned out the deal wasn't shady, in fact, the photographer was a personable woman who made me laugh the entire half hour.  Ironically though, I thought Arizona would be a unique setting for someone from the prairies, rock - desert etc.  Instead, the pictures were taken in a park with trees in autumn shades behind me, just like September at home!

So now the photos have been taken and I'm waiting to receive them.  It will just be a matter of time to see how well this all turns out.


Saturday, December 12, 2015

Tripping Along The Road

Recently we took a road trip to the Karchner Caverns not far from Tucson.  It's an interesting drive where the signs warning of dust appear only minutes before the dust.  It rises up in a curtain along the edge of the stark desert mountains and blankets the fields in a fog of dust.  We get past the dust and the scenery seems to flip every ten miles or so from rolling hills to rough foothills and desert cactus to fields of cotton and back again.

Finally we arrive at Karchner Caves.  The caves were discovered not that long ago in what looks to me to be more a large hill than a mountain.  As the tour began outside the caves, I didn't expect much as the tour guide kept encouraging audience participation like you do in grade school but as the tour progressed her off key humour became just part of the entertainment of the tour, and was eclipsed by the cave.  We only had time to see one but it was gorgeous.  The park was adamant at protecting them and we could take nothing in, unfortunately not even a phone or camera, nothing.  So there are no pictures, except this at the entrance, which we took as we were leaving and as you can see, that didn't turn out.  The caves though were well worth the visit.  Unlike the Mulu Caves in Malaysia where my latest book Suspect Witness is set, these caves had a tour guide, a concrete path and lights that worked!  So there was a lot more to see.  The stalagmites and stalactites were gorgeous, and with the inclusion of a guide, we learned a lot.  But with no pictures you'll have to take my word for it.

Then it was off to Tombstone.  We debated going there, we'd rather have gone to Bisbee but it was
already early afternoon.  So knowing that Tombstone would be a tourist attraction that we'd only spend a few hours at, we headed there.  Bisbee is a longer trip, probably a full day and one we'll have to make for another day, or year.  Our vacation time is rapidly running out!

But on to fun stuff.  In Tombstone I got a chance to try to
fire a pistol and plug holes into my target.  It was a messy "kill" as the poor man took six shots to the chest area but none hit the heart.  "Is he dead?" I ask the shop owner who had given me instructions on how to cock and fire.  "Yep," he replies and I smile and hand him his pistol as I glance one more time at my one-dimensional foe.

From there we headed over to Tombstone Cemetery.  The graves are neatly piled with rocks, some
are unknown and others have names and stories behind them.  It's definitely a cemetery built for tourists but they claim it's real, and maybe it is.  It's definitely worth a stroll through.

On the way back we were stopped by a Border Patrol checkpoint.  The author in me was intrigued and was anticipating what they might ask or do - would they search our truck, demand our passports - all of this would be great info for further blogs, stories, who knows.  So we stopped, DH rolled down the window and the questions started:

"Are you American?"  Border Patrol asks.
"No.  Canadian."  DH replies.
"Go ahead."  Border Patrol responds and steps back waving us forward.

"That's it?" I ask as we leave the check point behind.  I suspect only an author would want just a bit more drama in her day.

Meantime it's time to head for home for a well earned Margarita and maybe a hot tub - life isn't so bad here on the road.


Sunday, November 22, 2015

In the Closet

It's been a strange "winter getaway" this year.  I've kind of been numb over all the events that happened in the weeks before we left.  Thank goodness for the wedding, it was the only event that gave us any warning ahead of time and the only one that goes without saying, was happy.  I was best person and witnessed a good friend marry the woman of her dreams.  It was the perfect remedy for the two funerals that bracketed the "wedding of the year," as was the vacation that followed.  It's the vacation that I've already blogged about in earlier posts.  But here's the inside scoop on our Arizona vacation.

Arizona was a trip we made the last few years to escape at least some of the early months of wind,
cold and snow, that chilly fall "slide into" winter.  It's a time when it seems that even the furnace can't keep the damp away.   Although we would have loved to explore further afield, our trusty Irish Terrier was beginning to show signs of age and really wouldn't have done well in a kennel.  So instead he rode in luxury with the backseat raised and thick padding on the floor where he could snooze between rest stops.  With his travel bag beside him and content from the inevitable treat he received from the customs officer as we crossed the border, he was settled in for the trip.  It worked out well, we got our vacation and he got to come along.  In fact, we'd expected that he would travel with us again this year but we found out a few weeks before departure that that wasn't to be.  So we're missing our little Irish this year.

Meantime, we're halfway through our time in Arizona and the house we're staying in is feeling a bit like home - a home away from home.  But it only has two bedrooms and no den so when a friend came to visit, the spare bedroom I was using for office space was no more and I moved - literally, into the closet.  Fortunately it's a walk in closet off the master bedroom.  Unfortunately, its proximity is right next door to the bathroom and adjacent to the shower.  Not exactly plush surroundings as my laptop must be slid just so under the lower bar normally meant to hang clothes and I have to push the chair back carefully to miss my half open suitcase.  Yes, I've been here a month and still I haven't completely unpacked.  But in another month we'll be heading home, so now I call my state of unpacking, a time saving measure.  

Now the spare bedroom is again free but I'm beginning to like my time in the closet.  Maybe I'll stay for another week or two, or three.

Where do you do your best work?


Sunday, November 8, 2015

Through the Looking Glass

I've never had to seek out dental care out of country before but this time a broken tooth left me no choice.  I discovered that in Arizona dental prices vary wildly, in fact one quote was twice the price of where I finally got the work done.  So, after saving all that money I decided to cash in on their teeth whitening deal.  Yes, there are the week's deals painted on the window - something you'd never see at home because there are no deals.  Now, my smile is whiter, I've seen three episodes of Storage Wars, whether I wanted to or not, and I've survived another trip to the dentist.  

Later in the week, while at a shop trying to mail the last contest prize to the winner in England I ran into a few small problems.  I should have known right off that there would be trouble from the fact that the clerk greeted me with a pained expression and clearly had better things on her mind than anything I might propose.  So it began, first it was the gel pen that smeared on the envelope's plastic surface.  I asked for a label to cover the smeared address and the clerk stuck her finger on the address and smeared some more, I assume to ensure my claim that it needed a new label at all was valid.  Sigh.  It took a few more minutes, despite looking at the label a few times and my asking for overseas prices to get this to London, for her to realize that the package was going to England.  That caused a lengthy discussion with her co-worker, a massive amount of typing and various pained expressions before she determined that sending a small envelope holding one paperback book to England would cost a little less than one hundred dollars.  At that point there was the distinct feeling that Alice and the looking glass might be standing beside me.  So, twenty minutes later with mailing my package a failed mission, and biting my tongue down to a fine art - I left with plans to visit the United States post office on Monday.  From what I found online, their rates are more in the realm of reason.

So enough of dentists and over-priced postal options, it was off to golf at a local course in Gilbert .  It's an easy course but an enjoyable way to spend the afternoon.  The only ones rushed are the ducks and other birds, and even they don't put too much effort into getting off the green and back to the water as we approach.  

After golf we stopped for something to eat at Uncle Bear's.  Uncle Bear was, so the story goes, a dog.  And the walls in this casual chain restaurant are papered with dog pictures.  Which is fine, I love dogs.  However, having just lost my beautiful Rourke what I wasn't prepared for was not the wall of pictures of dogs but what was in the middle, a picture of a pet cemetery.  Then I noticed that some of the dog pictures had RIP's and dates.  I was looking at a dog graveyard!  Needless to say, I ate with eyes fixed on anything but that wall.  What are the odds - and, really... who came up with that idea for a restaurant?

But what's really defined this week are the scorpions.  Two of them so far - one at the beginning of the week that wasn't much bigger than a centipede, a Canadian centipede anyway - and the second just yesterday.  Both met a squashy end but I'm beginning to shake shoes out and put them on every time I head outside.  No more, barefoot into the garage and, call me paranoid, but they're nasty and I'm not taking the trash to the bin at night either.  

Travel is always an adventure, nothing is what you expect and that's the fun of it all.  Better yet, it looks like it's going to be a nice day here in the San Tan Valley. 

Enjoy the remainder of your weekend.