I'll be in Hyannis this Friday, July 9th at the Cape Code Writers Conference Breakfast with the Authors. The event will be at the Cape Codder Resort in Hyannis starting at 9:30AM. Authors Spencer Quinn and Lynn Kiele Bonasia will be there with me. Please come if you're in the area. Click here for all the details
12/1 Tuesday - I'll be at the Cary Memorial Library in Lexington, MA from 7 to 9 PM for a reading & signing. YOu can get more information about the library here.
Both events are free to the public. I look forward to seeing everyone.
Labor Day can be a sad time in New England. Summer is over, the kids are back in school. Though fall is our prettiest season, we all realize what is coming. Last winter was a bad one where we live. We had over ninety inches of snow, a record for our coastal city. I don’t know anyone who is looking forward to winter this year.
This Labor Day, I began my book tour for the paperback version of The Lace Reader. By the time I return to New England, summer will be long gone. And, while I hate to leave those last few beach days, I am very excited by the idea of visiting new places and making new friends. So, if we haven’t met, and my tour takes me anywhere near you, please consider coming. The bookstores I’m visiting are some of the best. And we always have a lot of fun at these events.
Our first stop on the tour is Seattle. We arrived this afternoon and were given a brief but informative tour of the city. It was raining hard. While we weren’t surprised (isn’t that what it does in Seattle?) we were told that this was unusual. Mist, yes, full on rain is evidently not as common. An hour later, the rain was gone, and the streets were filled with happy people. This seems an almost perfect city.
The hotel we’re staying at is great. It’s right in the middle of the city, we can walk to just about everything. And you have to love a place that asks you upon arrival if you’d care to have a pet sent to your room. We now have a lovely goldfish named Trixie.
Tonight (Tuesday) at 7 PM, we will be at Village Books in Bellingham. If you are in the area, please stop by. Tomorrow we head to San Francisco.
P.S. The back of Trixie's name card notes that she's able to call room service and order food so there's no need for us to feed her. Smart fish.
For the last month, I've logged over 2,000 miles driving around the New England area to bookstores and libraries for events. I've kept a photo diary of these events, click here if you'd like to see it. However, for the next three weeks, I'll take to the air and head out to the West coast.
Here are the first two stops on the West coast tour:
9/7 Seattle, WA at the Seattle Public Library (Secret Garden Bookshop) on Sunday at 2PM
9/8 Bellingham, WA at Village Books on Monday at 7PM
I'll be speaking, signing, and taking questions so please stop by if you can.
After Washington state, I'll be in the San Francisco Bay area and in and around Los Angeles. Then I'm off to Colorado, Arizona, Louisiana, and Mississippi.
I hope to see you soon.
Last Monday, I flew to Washington DC to appear on NPR's The Diane Rehm Show to discuss The Lace Reader. The show is an hour long, and it is live, so I was a bit nervous. I didn't sleep much the night before. Instead, I sat in the dark, making mental lists of all the ways I could mess up. Of course, I knew better. If you're going to make mental lists, make them of all the ways you can be successful, right? But middle of the night list-making often yields darker results, so, eventually, I turned on the light and started to read.
In the morning, when I walked into the studio, all of my apprehension faded. What a great group of people! They are gracious, smart, and funny. They had me laughing within about a minute. Diane is such a good conversationalist that you get better just by being in her presence. The hour flew by. In the second half of the show, we fielded some very interesting questions from listeners.
The only thing we didn't get to was the promised definition of chop suey sandwiches (CSS). So for those of you who were listening and for others who may be curious, here's the dish. CSS are a popular treat in The Lace Reader and in the real city of Salem. When I moved back to town about a decade ago, they were the best value around (beating even McDonalds at sixty-five cents apiece, though the price has increased since by a dollar). They are sold at two different take-out Chinese places along the midway at Salem Willows Park. John Rafferty (the book's fictional detective) eats at least one of them per day, partly because he really loves them, and partly because he has acquired a sense of New England frugality that would make the locals proud.
Basically, the sandwich is a scoop (some would say lump) of very traditional chop suey, with soy sauce squirted on top, and sometimes a bit of chicken, all served on a hamburger bun. It's not one of my favorite treats, though my brother swears by it. I swear by the popcorn that is sold two shops away and is (hands-down) the best on the North Shore. But that's a story for another day. So, if you listened to the Diane Rehm show, you now know what a CSS is. If not, and you are interested, click here to listen to the show.
I do a fabulous loon call. The loons actually answer me. There are two loons on our tiny lake, nesting right in the wooded area at the shoreline in front of our house where the old tree fell ten years ago and was never removed.
Last summer, a good friend (who has studied loons more closely than I) informed me that my loon call was actually a loon distress signal. This caused me a great deal of consternation. The last thing I would ever want would be to distress the loons. My intention was simply to be friendly. So, for the most part, I have stopped doing my loon call, or at least I don't do it as often or unless there is something real to distress them about (like the bald eagle who shows up on occasion, or maybe a flock of geese).
But, on the Fourth of July, I give myself permission to sound as many loon calls as I can, because, on the Fourth of July, a loon call means something entirely different on our tiny lake.
Though there are much better fireworks displays than our little show, no one would ever think of going to them. Sure their pyrotechnics are flamboyant, and their shows last more than ten minutes. But we have something much better on our tiny lake, we have Harry and Bill and the old raft. And as many fireworks as they can buy in Hampton Beach with the money they've been able to collect door to door.
And we have a special set of sound effects.
At approximately 9 PM, the lake begins to sound like a barnyard. Or a jungle. Or in our case, like the frogs and loons that inhabit the lake. Everyone sits on their little beaches. Protected by the anonymity of darkness, they not only imitate, but seem to become their favorite animals. We have whales, macaws, several roosters, cows, and what I can only descibe as an asthmatic hyena. We signal our approval after each launch of fireworks with calls that have gotten better over the years and that I can only assume have been practiced during the long New England winters. Every once in a while, someone yells "Good one Harry," or "Way to go Bill," but, for the most part we just cackle, crow, or moo.
Later in the summer when we see each other at the Lake Association meeting, we will try to match the voices to the sounds. As Mike stands up to register a complaint about impending milfoil, my husband will turn to me and mouth the question "Bantam rooster?" I am pretty certain that the eighty-year-old woman who lives two doors down and serves formal tea to her husband on the screened porch every afternoon is the macaw, but I'd never ask.
Last year, as I stood up to complain about the speed limit of motor boats on our lake, I am pretty sure I heard Harry turn to Bill and whisper, "Cue the loon."
I am now working on my impression of a Norwegian harbor seal.
I recently entertained some visitors from Colorado who, after a brief encounter with a local food service establishment, mentioned that they found New Englanders to be sarcastic. "You've got to be kidding," I said disingenuously. New Englanders are a strange mix of propriety, humorous subtext, and open aggression, especially in the face of anything they find pretentious or dishonest. Growing up in New England, I came to discover that you can get along pretty well by resorting to your Emily Post or Miss Manners, but that when people really began to like you, they will mock and tease you mercilessly. If a person is always polite to you, it is never a good sign.
Now that The Lace Reader has been sold in many countries around the world, I am beginning to interact with the various translators and I'm finding that 95% of their questions deal with sarcasm, self-effacing humor, and mocking understatements. Making translatable sense out of tongue-in-cheek remarks is challenging enough but even more so when a culture is devoid of multi-generational taunting. Do cultures like that really exist? If so, what do they do at family gatherings?