I received two interesting emails this morning.  One from a writing student who participated in a class I taught last summer, and one from Fresh Fiction, a website for book lovers.  Fresh Fiction generously reminded me I have a book coming out tomorrow . . .

EEEEEEK. . . .

Okay, I KNEW I had a book coming out in September, but somehow the summer flew by.  Between finishing Sunset Bridge, the sequel to Happiness Key and Fortunate Harbor, entertaining family and enjoying programming here at Chautauqua Institution, the reissue of Iron Lace, published originally in 1996, just crept up on me.  Now it’s about to hit bookshelves, and probably has in many places.  In a year with several reissues and two original novels, somehow Iron Lace didn’t receive the nudge from me it deserved.

The second email, from my student, was a writing question.  He wanted to know why, now that he’s got almost 45,000 words written on his novel, his enthusiasm has dwindled.  Is that normal?  What should he do? (more…)

Some dilemmas are so easily resolved, but it takes creativity.  Recently when my publisher “gifted” me with multiple cartons of my upcoming re-releases, I raised my hands to the heavens and shrieked.  Ask my assistant, she was there.  There is simply no place to put more books.  I already have a gazillion cartons–including my lovely Quilt Along With Emilie Richards volumes–hidden all over my house.  In closets.  Under tables.  In piles alone my office wall.  Not an inch of storage space is left.  Not anywhere.

I don’t live in a shoe.  I have a large house, purchased when the last child of my four was still home.  My husband and I both need home offices, and we’re a clergy family so entertaining comes with the territory.  At the time, a house that fit all those needs was essential, and while not the best designed house in Virginia, it suited our needs.  Which means that in addition to those already mentioned logistics, the house needed gardeners willing to do a lot of work on the back yard.  Sold. (more…)

I’ll confess that unlike some of my colleagues, I believe in reading my reviews.  First, I’m incapable of not reading them.  That kind of self control is absolutely beyond me.  Second and more important, I know I will learn something.  I always do, even if I only learn that a particular review site is not worth my attention because the reviewers despise everyone’s books.  Usually, however, I learn a great deal more.

Most of the reviews for Fortunate Harbor have been wonderful.  Booklist, from the American Library Association, said: “Women’s-fiction favorite Richards uses wit, suspense, and the relatable and extremely touching friendships of her main characters to weave an exciting and mysterious story. . .”  Publishers Weekly called the book “A juicy, sprawling beach read with a suspenseful twist.”  Thanks, folks.  Nice to see these. (more…)

We had the privilege of hosting a colleague and friend of my husband for dinner this week, along with his delightful wife and daughter.  Although our cottage is chock full of toys for younger children– toys our own children played with that are now happily at home here for grandchildren and visitors–we did not have toys I thought appropriate for our eight year old guest.  So while I was shopping, I decided to buy a jigsaw puzzle for her to piece together if she got bored.

Like everything else these days, jigsaw puzzles aren’t simple.  Where once a puzzle had between 100 and 250 pieces, a fairly innocuous rural scene and several hours of guaranteed play, now puzzles range from simple pre-school varieties, through 1,000+ pieces with abstract art and holographic images, guaranteed to become entire summers of frustration and finally glory when the last piece snaps into place.  After staring bewildered at an entire shelf of puzzles at our local discount store, my husband pointed out that we had puzzles in our cupboard that had come with the house.

“But what if they’re missing pieces?”  I pointed out.   He was more practical.  “She won’t be there long enough to finish anyway.”  Sold. (more…)

Back in late June I blogged about all the wonderful things I did that month instead of writing.  This was my first stint at our funky old cottage in Chautauqua, New York, and between plumbers and carpenters, cleaning and weeding out, and yes, meeting and enjoying the company of neighbors, I ended up with far fewer chapters than I’d expected.  Instead, I went home refreshed and plunged right into the story.  When you take time to fill the well, the water is clear and pure and the most arid of ideas suddenly blossoms.

In June I also did something utterly crazy.  Despite a million things to do in my “new” house and yard, I took on a community garden plot.  It was there.  It was offered to me.  I love to garden.  Crazy or not, I said yes.  Then I saw it.  Because it had been someone else’s the year before, someoe who had decided at the last minute not to pursue it, the weeds were knee high.  My heart sank.  So many weeds, so little time.  Somehow, I got them out, a few at a time as I walked by each morning with Nemo.   Then it was time to plant.

I was planning to be gone for five weeks.  What grows without tending for five weeks?  I would plant and drive away.  The organizer of the garden said she would do light watering and weeding while I was away, but would that be enough?  No time for a fence, either.  Would the plot survive rabbits, drought and anything else I wasn’t there to shoo away?

Call me an optimist, but I planted tomatoes, basil, cucumbers, zucchini, cilantro, rosemary, parsley, beans, hot peppers, and sweet peppers.  In order to plant the tomatoes, I had to dig holes several feet deep so I could sink cages around them.  I did battle with numerous rocks.  No hope for this garden, I was sure, but I’d come this far.  No point in stopping now. (more…)