is Earlene Fowler? I’m right here! (I stole that from an old computer game kids used to check out of the library when I worked there in 1992–Where in the World is Carmen San Diego?)
I’ve been working hard at finishing up State Fair. It’s due on Monday, June 15, so I’m down to the wire. My original due date was May 1, but I had to ask for an extension. So June 15 is truly a drop dead day! (And that’s exactly what I feel like doing right now).
So, except for a wonderful long weekend where I spoke at the Kingman, Arizona Book Festival, I’ve had my nose to mu computer. I went through my normal panic when I finished the first draft (last Saturday at 8:19 p.m. to be exact). I always hate my first drafts. But I’ve been rewriting this week and am feeling better about it. It really is about layering, going back through and clarifying what I meant, changing a word here, a sentence there. My books are always so clear in my head. It never reads as good on the page as it does in my head (kind of like how I look better in my bathroom mirror than in the pictures people take of me).
Right now I’m watching “Tattoo Highway” on A & E. They are in Albuquerque. For some reason I love all those reality shows about the tattoo culture even though I don’t have one. I wonder if anyone has ever gotten a quilt tattoo? If I got a tattoo it would probably be a combination of a pen, a quilt pattern and maybe a cross.
Okay, just wanted to say howdy and let those of you who follow my blog that I’m doing okay. (Yes, I know I’m the worse blogger on earth–forget about me every twittering or tweeting!) Back to work tomorrow on the rewrite. I’m on page 200 (of a 436 page manuscript).
Happy Trails! Earlene
Hey, my loyal blog readers! You are being rewarded for reading my blog because you are hearing it here first. As of ten minutes ago, my publisher and I came to an agreement for me to write two more books–another Benni Harper mystery and the sequel to The Saddlemaker’s Wife. I’m very excited about both books. The title for the Benni Harper book will be Spider Web. It is scheduled to come out in May 2011 (don’t forget, the Benni book I’m working on now–State Fair–will come out in May 2010). That means you’ll get two Benni books in a row. The sequel to The Saddlemaker’s Wife (no title yet, but no, it won’t be The Saddlemaker’s Sister, Cousin, Husband or Mother) will likely come out in 2013 because I’m taking 18 months to write it. Wow, 2013 sounds like something out of a science fiction novel, doesn’t it? Anyway, wanted you all to be the first to know. Tina will send out a newsletter (as soon as I get it written–probably today), but you heard it here first!
Happy Trails, Earlene
p.s. Many readers have written to lament with me the passing of Mother’s cookies. But, one reader wrote and told me that Kellog’s has bought the rights to the recipes for Mother’s cookies and may produce some of the favorites. I hope it’s the iced animal cookies! (Another reader wrote to tell me she and her friend only like the white ones…we should get together since I only like the pink ones…)
Book promoting is hard on writers…both physically and emotionally. We’re doing the one thing that most of us feel uncomfortable with, going out in public and explaining to you what we do in private. Some (somewhat sick, I think) writers cope with this by lots of exercise, sessions with their therapists or eating healthy. I and the writers I love, whine to our friends (when they aren’t avoiding us), watch daytime TV (thank you, ladies of the View) and eat our favorite junk foods. Yes, we should be working on our next book or our pecs or grouting the tile in our unfinished bathrooms. Instead, we eat cookies and candies and fried tacos. Please, no lectures. We do what we need to survive. So, during my tour I scoured the grocery stores for Mother’s iced animal cookies and I was dismayed to find them…nowhere! I tried the Keebler ones (too stingy on the multi-colored candy dots), the Nabisco ones (better, but still no blue ribbon) and continued to look for Mother’s. I rarely eat them and when I do, only the pink ones (I have no idea why–yes,I know the white ones taste exactly the same). But when I want them, I want them. Yesterday, at Vons, the fourth grocery store I searched, I finally asked a clerk. Apparently, Mother’s cookies went out of business! I had no idea and I mourn their passing. Another part of my childhood has disappeared. Mama always bought Mother’s cookies because they were cheap and we loved them. I haven’t googled yet to find out the details, so am taking the clerk’s word for it. But let’s give a shout out to Mother’s. I wish I could have supported you more, but if I had, I would have triple chins instead of a double one. I’ll always remember you with joy.
Happy Trails (of cookie crumbs…), Earlene
I know I sort of left you all hanging. After my signing in Fresno, I spent the day and night with my friend, Bunny Brown, in Riverdale. (Yes, she’s the “Bunny” in Broken Dishes!) We went up to a place on her ranch called Section 9 (near Coalinga) where we watched some of her horses, cattle and her five cattle dogs frolic in the gorgeous green hills. I swear, the dogs and horses acted positively drunk on the incredible air. There were about 20 of us there for a birthday party for her friend, Bonnie. I took photos of the dogs and horses and will post some of them soon on my website. Then I drove home! Boy, was I happy to sleep in my own bed. This was actually a short tour for me. I’m used to doing more like 15 cities in 16 days, sometimes flying cross country. So, despite my whining, this was a snap. It sure felt good to come home. Allen and Boo were glad to see me (though Boo was mad for a few hours, my punishment for being gone) I rested on Monday, then intended to start writing on Tuesday…then Allen got sick. So, there you go. It’s hard for me to work with someone in the house (especially someone hacking and coughing). But, he’s doing okay now (just a touch of the flu). I signed in Pasadena on Saturday; Garden Grove today. Tomorrow, it’s back to working on State Fair (though I’m starting to get a scratchy throat…) My deepest thanks to all of you who have taken the time to come to my signings and buy books. During these hard times, I so appreciate the support. Lots of creamers getting won at the signings. After my last signing (March 28), I’ll post the website winners.
Happy Trails, Earlene
Sisters, sisters, everywhere! Last night I had a bunch (bevy? barrage?) of Beta Sigma Phi Sisters come to my signing in Bakersfield. Tonight I had a pre-signing meal with the San Joaquin Sisters in Crime, then after my signing, dessert with more Beta Sigma Phi Sisters. Sisters rule! And, to be honest, every person who loves my books feels like a sister to me, like someone who is traveling with me as I wander through the lives of Benni, Gabe, Dove, Hud, Ruby, Lucas, Love, Mel and Rett. When we all get together and talk about San Celina or Cardinal or Morro Bay, they feel like a real places (well, Morro Bay is a real place!) It still amazes me how one person–a writer–can put words, sentences and paragraphs down on a blank page and other people–readers–can create a world in their heads, one that is something like the one I invent, but not exactly. That’s the thing I try to teach young people about books, how it is the only art form where they can create along with the writer. It is such a personal relationship, the one between writers and readers (I know how you all feel because I’ve been a reader much longer than I’ve been a writer). I think that’s why it feels like we know each other when we meet. I’ll be going home on Sunday after spending tomorrow at my friend Bunny Brown’s ranch in Riverdale (yes, she’s the inspiration for the Bunny in Broken Dishes). This has been a short driving tour for me and I still have my local signings to do, but I’ve traveled to some of my favorite parts of California. Places I not only love because of their physical beauty (I had to stop and take a picture of the almond tree blossoms outside of Traver because they were so gorgeous), but even more because of the people. I appreciate your loyalty and support more than I can say. So, what was today like? I left Bakersfield and drove up Highway 99 with a fuel and food stop in the town of Traver. There’s a wonderful cheese and nut store there (the name eludes me because it’s so late and the bag of stuff I bought there is out in my car). I bought Allen some almonds and cashews, but don’t tell him…it’s a surprise. I also had a delicious tri-tip sandwich made the way it’s supposed to be made…on a open grill with an oakwood fire. I put salsa on it (like a native knows to do) and ate it with a large Coke. Best meal I’ve had on this trip! Can’t beat it. I’ll write again soon, but Sunday I’ll be home and Monday back to work on State Fair. This has been a short tour, but so much fun for me. Still have some local signings so come on out if you have time!
Happy Trails, Earlene
Wow, I forgot how beautiful this part of California is in March! On Highway 46 from Paso Robles (where I signed stock at an adorable new quilt shop–Wine Country Quilts) things are green and blooming and absolutely gorgeous. At one point on the drive there was a flock of mama sheep and lambs on one side of me and an orchard of pink-white almond blossoms on the other. I listened to Willie Nelson’s “Stardust” CD, which seemed entirely appropriate for this drive. I checked into my hotel and was able to relax some before my signing tonight. So, I was feeling pretty good–watched a little television, read the USA Today, the San Luis Obispo Tribune, looked through the room service menu (always important, though I suspected I would just drive through Taco Bell after my signing). Then I started getting ready. So, I’m brushing my teeth and (truly, I have no idea how this happened) toothpaste squirted up into my left eye. I mean, really, what’s with that? Have you ever gotten toothpaste in your eye? It hurts! And it makes it red. Ay-yi-yi. So I washed it out and, luckily, I had some Murine (because I travel with a whole drugstore in my luggage). But it took a few minutes for it to stop hurting. I just thought that was weird. So, my signing was fanstastic, as it always is in Bakersfield. There’s something about the Central Valley that just feels like home to me. I think it’s because, like me, many of the people who live here had parents and grandparents who were from the South and the Midwest, who were sharecroppers or migrant workers like my grandparents. I know that my readers in the Central Valley are gonna “get” the character of Love Mercy Johnson. She’s a special to me and I really want people to take her into their hearts. I suspect the Valley people will. If you have never been to California, if you ever do visit, try not to leave the Central Valley out of your travel plans. You just can’t completely “know” California if you don’t visit this place. And make sure to go to Dewar’s for some of their famous taffy. It is not like anything you have ever eaten. I never come here without spending forty or fifty dollars there buying it for my friends and family. Oh, I finished the recorded book ”The God of Animals” (it’s in the car and I cannot remember the author’s name–yeah, ironic). You have to read this book. It was such lovely writing and such a heart-wrenching story. It’s very serious, but I just loved it. And the last scene ruined my mascara. So, off to bed now. Fresno, tomorrow!
Happy Trails, Earlene p.s. Though the room service menu looked good, I did go to Taco Bell. I just wanted to get comfortable and not wait for my food. My publisher loves me–I’m such a cheap date!
It took me two hours yesterday morning to drive 67 miles. Yeah, that’s Southern California traffic. It rained and South Cals are like a bunch of turkeys when it rains. We stand outside with our beaks open, not certain what that water falling from the sky is. So I left my house at 6:20 am and arrived in San Luis Obispo about 12:30 pm because of a horrible accident outside Calabasas. That gave me a half hour to grab a green burrito at Taco Bell (I asked for extra green sauce and they gave me NO green sauce…ah, well…) and get to my signing in Morro Bay. The minute I arrived at the Cotton Patch it was worth it, of course, because I had fans waiting. It was a quick, fun two hours, complete with chocolate cupcakes the store provided in honor of Love Mercy. Then back in the car and back to San Luis Obispo. (My Subaru Outback already looks like I’ve spent two weeks in it rather than one day–I pack like I’m going on a five-month trip to the Alaska back country). At the Novel Experience, I spent another two hours signing books and talking to old friends and new. Some readers here in “San Celina” have come to my signings since my first book came out in 1994. We all agreed we looked the same, especially when we take off our glasses. Then dinner with three friends (hamburger with smoked mozzerella cheese–yum!) and to my hotel. I was so tired I knew I couldn’t write on the blog so I waited until this morning. (Good thing because I almost didn’t get connected–I had to call the desk and they had to walk me through it–honestly, is there a bigger techno-boob than me? I don’t think so). Before going to bed, called hubby Allen, got update on the Boo-meister (he’s doing fine, but he doesn’t understand when I travel, he waits by the back door for me, then finally gives up–yeah, makes me tear up to think about it). Today I’m off to Bakersfield, but first to sign stock at a new quilt shop in Paso Robles–Winecountry Quilts. If I miss a night (or day) on this blog, trust me, it’s because I can’t figure out how to get on the Internet. Free breakfast down in the lobby so I think I might check it out. I have had my first cup of coffee and the cup protector said this–”Because sometimes you need a cup of coffee to go downstairs to get a cup of coffee.” Oh, yeah, these people get it. That could my life motto.
Happy Trails, Earlene p.s. I tried to proof read this, but I’m afraid to touch any other button for fear that I’ll lose this posting. So, if there’s any weird mistakes, blame it on the fact I’ve only had one cup of coffee…
Okay, I finally learned how to use the spell check, but then somehow these little boxes came on my blog and I thought they’d go away when I hit publish…and they didn’t! I would email Tina and ask her why, but it’s very late and I need to go to bed. Maybe we can fix it later. Anyway, eventually I’m gonna learn how to work this dang blog!
Not So Happy Trails right now, Earlene
Okay, I noticed that I wrote way more than a paragraph in my last blog after promising I wouldn’t do that.� That’s a writer for you.� Give�her a blank page and�she can’t help but fill it up.� But, it’s late and I have to be on the road at 6 am tomorrow morning (Morro Bay is about 6 hours away and I have to fight LA traffic), so I’ll make this short.� Despite times being hard here in California and everywhere else, I had a nice crowd at Barnes & Noble tonight…maybe forty or so people.� Some were readers I’ve seen since my early days as a writer.� I arrived early, as I often do, and was able to chat with people.� We talked about when I was first published–1994–when there was no email, no websites, few cell phones.� Hard to fathom how life and even the way books are written has changed.� But one thing hasn’t changed and never will.� That’s people’s desire to hear stories.� And for that I am grateful.� As a writer and even more as a reader.� Will someday all books be digital…or audio…or some other new technology that we can’t even imagine?� I don’t know.� But this I know for sure.� Writers will tell stories and people will want to listen to them.� Though I’m sometimes apprehensive about the rapid changes happening, I’m also hopeful and looking forward to the stories the younger writers will tell.� No matter how they are told, stories explain and connect us.��
See you on the road!� Happy Trails, Earlene�
Okay, I swear I checked and rechecked this blog SO many times! Tried the spellcheck…LOST another blog. Then I checked it again and, because I have to get to sleep because I’m driving home tomorrow, finally published it. Of course, I reread it one more time and realized I misspelled Scottsdale (and there’s a few commas and misspelled words too). What can I say? Mea culpa and sorry ’bout that. Honestly, I’m the type of person who has trouble when the sliding glass door comes off its runner, so this technical, bloggy, Internetty stuff…well, it just don’t come that easy to me. But I’m trying!
Happy Trails (and good night!), Earlene
What a wonderful launch party! Wish you all could have been here at the Poisoned Pen in Scottsdale, Arizona. It was eight-nine degrees and about fifty or so people came to give Love Mercy a wonderful start! There were many of my long time fans there as well as some new ones, some who just happened to be passing through Scottsdale at the same time I was. Lucky me! I gave away the first creamer (a brown bull) and the winner chose #293 (from 411 entries) for the winner of the cyber-contest. Once I get the list of cyber-winners from Tina, webmaster queen, I’ll list them on the website (we’re talking end of March, once all my signings are done). Barbara Peters, the owner of Poisoned Pen, has kindly put me up in her lovely guest room and her husband, Rob, has made meals fit for an Empress (my normal oatmeal or Grapenuts is going to look pretty sad now that I’ve been served homemade blueberry pancakes). I miss my Boo-dog, but have had a spirited time playing with their wirehaired fox terrier, Odin. He’s a whirlwind of energy and lots of fun! (He loved the stuffed monkey I brought him)
So, here I am trying to think about how to make a blog about book touring interesting. To be honest, this is my second blog tonight because somehow I lost the first one after I finished it. I have NO idea where it is. Maybe it’s a sign it wasn’t interesting enough? It took me about seven and a half hours to drive here from Southern California and that’s a long time alone in the car to think. Some of the time I listened to a book-on-CD (The God of Animals–I’m liking it so far) and some time to think about the book I’m working on now–State Fair. I stopped at a Love’s truckstop (took notes for a future book–truckstops are a blast) and down the road ate lunch at one of my favorite restaurants–Cracker Barrel. We don’t have them in California. As I was driving across the desert toward Arizona there is a spot (those of you who have driven it know just where I’m talking about) where the road seemes to stretch straight out in front of you, a long, line of road that doesn’t seem to have an end. I thought as I drove it how much it reminded me of what it is like to write a novel. You know in your heart there is an end but it seems impossibly far away (this is especially significant when you are in the middle of a book as I am now), but like driving on that desolate desert road, before you know it, you’re there! And at the end of it there is this wonderful group of people who say–Hey, come on in and have some Chocolate Coca-Cola cake. We’ve been waiting for you. So I take a piece of cake, sit down and we talk about our mutual journeys. I guess that, in a way, is what a book tour is like. I come to the end of my book’s journey when I see and talk to you.
Happy Trails, Earlene
A cyber-Moonpie to Sue from Oregon, Joan from Georgia and Bonnie from Northern California for finding the mystery quote in Seven Sisters (page 200 in hardcover, page 199 in paperback). You all are the best! Thanks from Connie and me. Here’s the exact passage.
Oh, honeybun, Dove’s voice sang in my head. What does it matter where your old bones are when your soul is dancing with Jesus?
Right now, it’s raining in Southern California (miracle!) and I’m watching The View. A lot of people don’t like that show because the ladies all talk at the same time. That’s exactly what I like about it because it reminds me of when I get together with my three sisters or my friends. I usually watch the first half hour then I get back to work. State Fair (my next Benni book) is set in summer when it’s 100 degrees in Paso Robles. Kind of hard for me to imagine right now! Maybe I’ll make some hot chocolate to get back in the mood…
I need your help! I received an email from a fan of mine whose best friend just died. A quotation by Dove has been running through her brain and she has searched and searched, but cannot find it. So she wrote me. But, I’ll be honest with you all, I don’t remember my work that well (my brain is usually focused on the book I’m currently writing as well as the one I’m promoting). So, I figured (well, I know) that some of you remember my work better than I do. Or some of you might have recently read the book where the quotation is written. Connie thinks it might be in Seven Sisters, but she looked through it page by page and could find it. The quotation has the words “dancing with Jesus” in it. You know, I do remember writing it…but I just don’t know where it is! Thanks, Earlene p.s. If you know it, please send it to my email address on my website.
I was having a bad writing day so I went to South Coast Plaza. This is what came to my mind as I was eating my Wahoo’s Fish tacos…
Who are these women who shop in 4-inch heels? Are their legs made of wood?
I love little old ladies (not so far removed in age from me) who wear shiny gold flats.
Is is me or is the size XL smaller than it used to be?
Nordstrom’s has the best bathrooms, by far, of any store I’ve even shopped at. Just wanted to say thank you.
I solemnly promise to never wear anything with the word “Juicy” written on it.
I read somewhere that there are 100 million blogs. Ay-yi-yi. I know you’re all busy. So am I. So I’ll keep my blog short. And, hopefully, interesting. I’ll use it to answer questions, update you about the progress of my current book and maybe comment on something totally irrelevant to the important incidents troubling our world (like who decided to close the Krispy Kreme that was so close to me–whoever you are, you have broken my heart). They will never be more than a paragraph. This is the first one.