You are currently browsing the monthly archive for September 2008.

I’m sorry, am I the only one who still thinks Jackson Browne is super hot? Is that maybe dating me a little? Well, too bad. The man is timeless and he is hot and I’ve been obsessed with him since I was thirteen years old, so there.

He has a new album out. Still that dreamy voice. Sigh.

And a propos of nothing, my son-in-law-to-be looks like JB’s love child. Which means I gave the boy a thumbs up even before he opened his mouth.

See for yourself:

JB has a new album out!

JB has a new album out!

photo by Pete Saloutos

photo by Pete Saloutos

wedding bells!

wedding bells!

In Creole, “lagniappe” means a little something extra, like the perfectly-wrapped chocolate truffle on your pillow at a fancy hotel.

As I’m working on a book, it sometimes occurs to me to offer a lagniappe to readers. Sometimes this means a memorable saying or aphorism on the epigraph pages of the book. (Epigraph = book geek speak for those pages that separate sections of the novel.) If I’m writing about a restaurant, or going camping, or a Polish family bakery, it’s likely to be recipes and anecdotes. Sometimes it’s an aphorism or memorable saying.

For Just Breathe, the lagniappe was a no-brainer because of the main character’s job. Sarah Moon is a comic strip artist. Come on, who amongst us didn’t want to be a comic strip artist as a kid? Didn’t we all draw cartoons with speech bubbles coming out of their mouths? I always try to give the main character of my books a “fantasy” job–one I’d love to have in another life. This is one of the perks of writing fiction. You get to live in a character’s skin.

I bet this drives comic strip artists crazy–people think it’s easy. Because the very best comics look effortless, like mindless doodling. You just sketch a few lines, write a few panes of funny dialogue, et voila! Instant art!

What I discovered is that, like any art form, comic strip drawing and writing is hard. And I found this out the hard way–by trying my hand at it. I had no trouble conceiving of the setup and and dialogue for Sarah’s strip, which is titled “Just Breathe.” A grown daughter, Shirl, experiences marital troubles and moves in with her bossy divorced mom, Lulu. Yet when it came to rendering these characters into drawings, I was hopeless.

I studied the careers of successful cartoonists, notably my favorite, Nicole Hollander, who created “Sylvia.” I traded e-mails with the ever-helpful Greg Evans, creator of “Luann.”

But I still couldn’t draw. At my wits’ end, literally, I told my editor we needed to find a real artist to draw Lulu and Shirl. Fortunately for me, my publisher’s creative art director, Sean Kapitain, is a fine artist in his own right. Burning the midnight oil, he made the fictional comic strip look exactly like the real thing, right down to the last detail.

So if you happen to pick up a copy of Just Breathe, please enjoy the little lagniappe–a series of comic strips created just for this novel.

Like most writers, I’m camera shy. Anyone scrolling through this blog can see I’m much more comfortable behind the camera than in front of it. Seriously–I would rather have a root canal. However, in commercial publishing, the author photo is a necessity, so off we go (or here they come, rather) to get a shot that needs to be a) flattering, b) honest enough that people won’t be confused when they meet me in person. Let’s hope A and B are not mutually exclusive.

People ask me why I never change my hair. Simple–because that would require me to change my author photo. Here I am, ca. 1988: 

photo by Greg Dawson; blank expression not his fault

photo by Greg Dawson; blank expression not his fault

My favorite photographer (besides the one I sleep with every night) is my friend Pete, whose off-the-charts creativity is like a force of nature. I also love the work of Brad Camp, who
photo by Brad Camp

photo by Brad Camp

has done some fun, creative shots for the local paper.
For a book jacket photo, my friend Christie Jenkins came to the rescue. She completely understands a girl’s need to avoid unflattering angles and wardrobe malfunctions. Her shots will appear on my web site and an upcoming reissue of Lord of the Night.
photo by Christie Jenkins

photo by Christie Jenkins

And then there’s Nina Subin. Like Christie, she’s old-school, using film and camera (Nina’s is a Hasselblad with Carl Zeiss lenses). My pubisher sent her with her assistant–a wickedly talented illustrator–to shoot in and around my home. We also had Jeanne Kobayashi, stylist extraordinaire. I’m not going to tell you how long it took to turn me into a “natural beauty” but trust me, she used all her mad skills.

Are we having fun yet?

Are we having fun yet?

I love Nina Subin’s work, and her portrait of Claudia Steinberg is probably the best author photo I’ve ever seen. The photo above shows us “working” (this is work?!) in my yard. Results to come. Stay tuned!

Did you know there’s a coffee table book of author photos? I kid you not. Porn for English majors.

So I’ve been up since 6am, working on the mess-in-progress. I realized it was quitting time when this rolled out of my pen:

Maureen might consider the library a vital organ of the community, but to most people it was a mere appendix.

–SW, first draft of Lakeshore Christmas

(Ha ha – and they say writing is hard. This stuff just rolls out of me. No problem.)

Sometimes it pays to look up from my work. I might see, oh, maybe an aircraft carrier out my window:

the John Stennis

the John Stennis

And just when you thought it was safe to go into the water…
spooky, eh?

spooky, eh?

A sub!
Godspeed to the people on the carrier and sub!

I’m doing your surfing for you again! Would you please check out this video featuring Dr. McSwimmy?

Really, I do. You might think that you do, but you don’t. I do. When the Publisher & CEO, the VP & the sales director came to Seattle for meetings with, they paid me a visit, too. I was going to meet them in the city for lunch, but we came up with a better option–a nice catered lunch on my patio, then boating to visit an author on the mainland, Debbie Macomber. So I got to be a VIP for a day. Here we are after boating from the island to the mainland:

SW, Loriana, Donna, Craig
SW, Loriana, Donna, Craig

When the people you work with feel like friends, it’s a total bonus. It was one of those days when work didn’t feel like work. Oh, wait. That would be every day. I (heart) my job!

I can’t wait to meet you! Here are my two events in the area–a signing at Costco, and an event sponsored by the Sacramento RWA:

Friday, September 19, 2008

Cal Expo
6:00 p.m.
Costco #471
1600 Expo Parkway
Sacramento, CA 95815
Phone: (916) 830-1078
Contact: Carl Golston



Saturday, September 20, 2008

Sacramento, CA
Open to the public starting at 1:30pm
Holiday Inn Sacramento North East
5321 Date Avenue



Sacramento, CA 95841-2597

Barnes & Noble has a section of their web site called B&N Studio, featuring podcasts with dozens of authors. I got sucked in for an hour and a half, hoping one of the writers would reveal the Secret to Making One’s Deadline (and surviving to tell the tale). No answers, alas. My podcast is on the site here.

Speaking of B&N, it’s Girls’ Night Out in Silverdale, WA on October 18. Mark your calendar:

Saturday, October 18, 2008
Girls’ Night Out – the all-day-Saturday edition!
12:00 noon – 1:00 p.m.
Kitsap Mall (by the Food Court)
Silverdale WA
Please join Kitsap authors Susan Wiggs, Sheila Roberts and Carol Cassella in a no-holds-barred, tell-all panel discussion, “The Story Behind the Story” — how a writer really turns her dreams into ink. Books will be available for sale at the event.Kitsap Mall’s annual Girls’ Night Out features a variety of activities, all oriented to women’s interests, including tables for non-profit, health-related organizations, fashion shows and speakers. This event benefits a women’s charity.Contact: Ruthanne Devlin
Community Relations Manager
Barnes & Noble Booksellers
10315 Silverdale Way NW at Kitsap Mall
Silverdale, WA 98383


Come see me in Ketchikan on Tuesday!

Cozy up with a good book.

Cozy up with a good book.

Join me on Facebook. You won’t be sorry.

I tend to spontaneously give stuff away to readers and libraries. Join the fun here. Really.

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September 2008