Friday, July 31, 2015

This Week

This week has felt like one long day of me sitting at my computer powering through the rest of SEAMS LIKE MURDER. But I typed the last rewritten line a little while ago. The very last part of the ending of my books always comes as a surprise to me. It seems like the characters always take over and just do something. This time was no different. Now, I just have to add the patterns and recipes. I will hit send tomorrow and it will get there before the August 1 deadline.

This is always the bittersweet time. I want to send it off, but it is hard to say good bye to it. Even though I will be getting it back with notes from my editor. This will be a new editor, so I’m not sure what to expect.

I made it to the Knit and Crochet Show last Saturday in San Diego. I signed some books, saw some friends and of course bought some yarn. My whole family drove down. They went out to lunch while I spent time at the yarn show. Afterwards we drove to Coronado island. It was very touristy, but festive. The Hotel Del Coronado was built in 1888 and I think was the first hotel on the west coast to have electricity. I kind of remember that Edison flipped the switch that turned it on.

I love old places like that. It was fun looking in the gift shop that has been open since 1888. There was a table with some DVD’s and books. I didn’t realize it, but “Some Like It Hot” was filmed there and they had DVD’s of it for sale. There was also a stack of the book “Somewhere in Time” by Richard Matheson. A lot of people know the movie made from it that starred Christopher Reeves and Jane Seymour. The movie takes place on Mackinac Island, but the book actually takes place at the Del Coronado Hotel.

I love things about time travel and started to read the first few pages of the book. I got caught up in it right away because it starts out right around where I live, so I recognized the streets. I ended up buying the book and starting to read it that night. It seemed so strange to read about a character going to the Del Coronado hotel when I had just been there seeing the exact things the author was describing.

I had to set it aside to finish my writing, but after tomorrow I can get back to it. I think I am out of words for now.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Protagonists, Talents, and a Violin Named Clare.

Hi all!  Please welcome the wonderful Marni Graff to Killer Hobbies today!  Like Kate, Marni's protagonist loves dogs. Unlike Kate, she has true musical talent.  She plays a violin named Clare.  Why Clare?  Read on to find out.

Tracy Weber

When I designed the ‘bible’ for the protagonist of the Trudy Genova Manhattan Mystery Series, I knew I wanted nurse Trudy to have interests outside her medical consulting job at a movie studio, working on medical scenes filmed in New York City. She’s a dog lover who regularly walks in Riverside Park near her apartment to play with the dogs.

And since I’m a music lover, Trudy is one, too, but I went a step further: for her solace, I gave her the hobby of playing the violin.

Do I play the violin? Nope, the piano, a stringed instrument, too. But I love listening to violin music, and I have three close friends who are all violinists who gave me great descriptions of the kind of wood Trudy’s violin would be made of and how she should care for it.

I also had Trudy name her violin: Clare. Why Clare? Because that’s the name she wishes she’d been named by her German mom and Italian dad, instead of Gertrude Sofia Genova. Hence Trudy—because if your name was Gertrude, wouldn’t you rather be called Trudy?

I’m a huge fan of any musician who can play the violin like an extension of his or her arms, and of the amazing melodies they coax from what could otherwise sound like a screeching mouse caught in a door! Itzah Perlaman playing the theme from “Schindler’s List” is a favorite and it’s haunting melody is one I have Trudy trying to master in a scene where she describes her backstory and the mystery revolving around her father’s death. That mystery won’t be solved in the first novel, DEATH USNCRIPTED, premiering this month, but it will be addressed in a future novel.

In this debut, Trudy is working with womanizing actor Griff Kennedy, teaching him how to fake a heart attack. During taping he points his finger dramatically to Trudy just as he collapses, only this time the actor isn’t playing dead. With suspicion lighting on Trudy, she snoops and pokes her nose into the murder investigation to clear her name, frustrating NYPD Detective Ned O’Malley—whose family are regulars just down the street from Trudy’s studio at Lincoln Center. And Ned is a Perlman fan, too, which Trudy has yet to discover …

Marni Graff is the award-winning author of The Nora Tierney Mysteries set in England. Her first Trudy Genova Manhattan Mystery, Death Unscripted, is based on Graff’s own favorite nursing job, working for a movie studio as a medical consultant. Available at Bridle Path Press ( and on Amazon this July.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Back from RWA National

As I figured last week I'm a bit late posting this today.  My return flight yesterday was delayed, which didn't help.  The reason? Well, for one thing it was too hot in Chicago to fill the plane with enough gasoline to get to California, so we had to stop and refill the gas in Kansas City.  Go figure.

Anyway, I had a great time in my travels.  For one thing, the end of my trip was a stop to visit my son, d-i-l and two grandsons, which was Icing on the Cake--which you know is also the name of the bakery for humans in my Barkery & Biscuits Mysteries.

The first part of my trip was the Romance Writers of America National Conference in New York City.  It was a great conference--if you don't count the hotel I stayed in with two friends with whom I was on a panel.  It was an overflow hotel since the main conference hotel was filled, and it was awful.  First, they were redecorating the main level and it was a mess and hard to get around.  Then, there were hardly any lights in my room, which made nighttimes difficult.  There were a couple of bugs--termites?--that may have been permanent fixtures on the bathroom floor.  There weren't enough towel racks.  I could go on, but I won't.

Instead, I'll tell you some of the fun parts of the conference--networking, for one thing.  Also, I wound up with some additional insight on what to do with my website.   I spoke with my Harlequin editor and attended Meet and Greets for the two lines I write for, and got additional ideas for what comes next.  I met with my agent.  I learned more about the changing publishing industry. 

And I of course attended the always-fun Harlequin party!

Next year RWA National is in San Diego, much closer to my LA home.  Will I be there?

What do you think?

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Go Flyball!

It’s slim and trim and bound in blue,
Its leaves ae crisp and edged with gold,
Its words are simple, stalwart too,
Its pages scintilate with wit,
Its pathos clutches at my throat;
Oh, how I love each line of it,
That Little Book I Never Wrote.
                             - Robert W. Service

An update on Panzi:  She's decided she's not going to die after all.  The vet's visit stimulated her and she immediately started eating and drinking and purring and wanting to be petted.  So we're feeding her and giving her water and rubbing her briskly now and then.  She's gained a few ounces.  Amazing.

Working hard on Knit Your Own Murder – but I did take a break on Sunday to go to a flyball event with my sister-in-law.  I think my ears are still ringing.  It took place in an ice arena where every surface was hard and every dog present felt cheerfully driven to bark as loud and long as he could.

Flyball is a relay race run by dogs.  There are four dogs on a team, and two teams run at a time.  There are two parallel alleys with four low jumps and a box at the far end that has a slanted face and a hole at the top that holds a tennis ball.  The dog dashes over the jumps and comes to the box, slams his forepaws onto it and the ball flies out.  The dog catches it and brings it back over the jumps.  It’s a time trial, and the dogs run really, really fast back and forth.  The next dog can’t go until the first dog crosses the finish line.  There is a lengthy run-up area to the race and the trainers/owners try to release the second dog so he starts exactly as the first dog finishes – there is an electric eye in a post that records when a dog passes by the pole marking the start and finish of the race.  A whistle is blown when the second dog comes into the start while the first is still finishing.

The dogs totally get most of this and think it’s the most fun they’ve ever had.  They are wildly excited waiting their turn or even just watching from the sidelines, and the people present who didn’t bring ear protection wish they had.  An interesting thing: they don’t bring the ball back to the trainer, but drop it the instant they cross the finish line (some before they cross the line, which is a fault) and go for fake fur toys held up on a rope by their trainers, often snatching them while still running and being swung up in the air.  I think some of them would have run into the wall if the toys didn’t act as a kind of brake. 

The jumps are made of narrow boards held in slotted uprights, and more boards can be added or taken away to adjust the height.  The height is tested for every team, and is determined by the smallest dog on the team, so almost every team has a very small dog on it.  One team even had a chihuahua – and to my surprise he was among the fastest runners, though he had to jump in the air to catch the ball flying out of the slanted box and then couldn’t take it in his mouth but had to pinch into an edge of it.  But he never missed the ball once and was fast over the jumps. 

Most of the dogs are border collies, Australian shepherds or cross breeds with border collie, whippet, greyhound, or Australian shepherd blood.  But fox terriers do very well and the labs are pretty good.  A papillon surprised us by doing well, but a big, old-fashioned collie seemed to be too much of a gentleman to seriously exert himself – it was amusing to watch him hopping deliberately over the jumps rather than flying down the course like the others.  And an English spaniel tried hard but just wasn’t very fast – I think his very long ears and thickly furred legs were a handicap.  One undersized Australian shepherd was amazingly fast, he was just a blur going down the course.  I believe a rule is that you have to come back with a ball, because when a dog missed the catch, he’d spend several seconds looking for it.  And through the whole competition all the other dogs were shouting at the tops of their lungs, “Go, go, go, go, go, go, go!!”

It was fun to watch, makes me almost wish I had a dog so I could play, too.