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Checking my blog stats, I noticed an incoming link to my conversation with Garth Stein. See? You’ll only find the top talent in the business here. 3 words for Garth: Go Dog Go!

My author copies have arrived. I even know when Dockside will appear in stores, because there is a sticker on the packing boxes:

Dockside street date

The label says, “This box contains Dockside by Susan Wiggs. DO NOT DISPLAY until July 24, 2007.” I cheated a little. Sent an early copy to my mom and Carly Phillips’s mom.

I’m marking my calendar. The idea behind the street date is that the book will go on sale all over North America on the same day. Very smart move by my publisher.

I have a banner ad! Go look–it’s a first for me. Thanks to my publisher and to Authorbuzz for this very cool gizmo on my web site.

Lakeshore banner

Writing is a solitary pursuit, so it’s important to remember to take time to celebrate. Lori & Susan, 1963I’m blessed with the best writing buddies in the world, and we’re really good at recognizing the good things when they come along–a first sale, an award, a placement on the bestseller list. Sheila's cake for Christmas in CarolHere’s a slide show of the fun side of writing and publishing.

And here’s one of my favorite cakes–an olive oil cake, also known as Ladi Tourta. Bon appetit!

What are the things you celebrate? What cements the good memories in your heart? Chocolate, flowers, champagne, wearing funny clothes, a spa day, shopping for new books, calling your friends and screaming, doing the Snoopy Dance with your sister? I’m always open to new ideas in this department.

Would you please check out my adorable new companion? He is a lovely Doberman, eight weeks old today, and I named him Barkis, after a character in David Copperfield (and, not coincidentally, in Summer at Willow Lake). Dickens’s Barkis is a simple cart driver who falls in love with Peggotty after tasting her pies, and then sends David to give her his now-famous message, “Barkis is willin’.”

Barkis

Barkis Verbossa Wiggs gets to keep his floppy ears and undying affection for his people. He already loves the great outdoors, and sleeping on my feet while I write. Consider me smitten!

In a place where most of the calls to police involve objects lost and found, disputes over hedge trimming and dogs behaving badly, this entry stands out:

Police Blotter

My favorite part is in the middle, when one drunk pounds the other drunk’s face to get him to shut up so he can hear what the police are saying.

 Also note–there are boats and extremely cold water involved. And dark of night. Anyone familiar with boating on Puget Sound is probably shuddering at this point. I suppose if you’re going to get trashed and do something stupid, you might as well go for broke.

Sometimes, when I’m looking for inspiration (or procrastinating), I type “ripped from the headlines” in Google and see what pops up. Sometimes you hit paydirt. I mean, c’mon! Pig-smuggling? What’s better than that?

As a fiction writer, I’m often trolling the newspaper for little tidbits of human interest that might find their way into a novel. I could never tell this story, though. This is one of those things that is just goes too far for fiction. If you read this scene in a novel, you’d never believe it.

 Which is one thing that makes reading the police blotter so entertaining.

I made a fresh peach pie the other day. Most of my pies turn into fruit soup, but the tapioca saved me. Here’s the recipe:                               

Fresh Peach Pie                                                                          peaches

  • 4-6 sliced peeled peaches                                          
  • 3/4 cup sugar + 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup Minute Tapioca
  • 1 Tbsp. lemon juice
  • 1 pkg. (15 oz.) ready-to-use refrigerated pie crusts (2 crusts)
  • beaten egg white or apricot glaze
  • 1 Tbsp. butter or margarine
  • milk and coarse sugar to brush on the top

Preheat oven to 400°F. Mix peaches, sugar, tapioca and lemon juice. Let stand 15 minutes.

Lay the bottom crust in a pie plate and brush with beaten egg white or apricot glaze. This will keep the bottom crust from getting soggy. Fill with peaches; dot with butter. Cover with remaining pie crust, brush with milk and sprinkle with coarse sugar; seal and flute edges. Cut slits in top crust to allow steam to escape.

Place a cookie sheet under the pie in the oven to drips. 45 to 50 minutes or until juices form bubbles that burst slowly. Cool and serve plain or with vanilla ice cream.

Top 3 ways to get me to watch a TV movie:

  1. Make it be about a writer.
  2. Play a Talking Heads song during the credits.
  3. Have the main character say, “If everybody could do it, don’t you think everybody would be a freakin’ writer?”

And that, my friends, is the TV trifecta. I love stories about writers. I’ve written a few myself. “Write or Wrong” with Kirstie Alley is funny, smart and watchable. There are also bonuses: A lap dog. Fear of cosmetic surgery. A main character who keeps her clothes in my closet [point deduction because she lies about being on the wagon]. References to Hemingway and Cyrano de Bergerac. A hero (also a writer) with a subtle Scottish burr. A BMW Z-4 Roadster. Oh, and a shocker happy ending. 🙂 This movie will re-air on Lifetime this Sunday, so set your DVR. Definitely worth a look.

I wish I had more time to work in my garden. But–come to think of it–things are coming along quite nicely without me. Here are some scenes from my yard in the springtime.

 beach roses, California poppiesGardening is good for writers because it doesn’t occupy the same channel in the brain as writing does. I should do more of it. There is more power in the plotting done while pruning thgumbootse box hedge than in staring at a blank page for hours.

I’m not a very technical gardener. In this climate, you don’t need to be. Things tend to grow on their own. However, there are two things I always wear while gardening–my Chooka Rockabilly gumboots–because trust me, there is nothing grosser than stepping barefoot on a slug. I also wear those stretchy gloves that look as though they’ve been dipped in rubber–again, it’s the slug thing.

On the other hand, here is a tidbit of writerly wisdom for the day: If you step on a slug with your bare foot first thing in the morning, then you can be pretty sure nothing worse will happen to you the rest of the day.

Here’s a chance to meet one of the best writers and teachers I know. Work with the incomparable taskmaster on the deepest, most essential part of your story. His most popular workshop will take place online throughout the month of July, so it’s a short commute for everyone on the Web. No excuses! Go for it. BobBobBobBobBob Mayer and Jennifer Crusie

The Original Idea: The Heart of Your Story

Instructor: Bob Mayer

Can you say what your book is about in 25 words or less? This is essential to both writing a tight book and then selling it. In our first online class, we’ll discuss ways to find and state your original idea so that you can excite the reader and stay on course while writing the book. Participants will get the opportunity to share their idea and have it discussed by the instructor and group in an interactive e-mail format. The instructor will post daily with topics for discussion, assignments, general commentary, feedback and responses to specific queries from students. We’ll find out what you really meant to write and the level of interest it generates. All will profit, not just the students whose ideas are discussed, as this workshop will show you how to focus your creative energies.

When: July 1-31, 2007

Tuition and class size: $50, limited to 50 participants

Where: In Cyberspace

Registration: Click here to register online. There will be no registration by mail for this class.

what’s on my mind right now:

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