Archive for September, 2010

Tea & Magic

September 29, 2010

Our most recent Supernatural Tea was on the subject of Magick – the artistry of magic tricks and the supernatural kind  – everything from conjuring to disapparation.  (Wait, is that a word?!)

We dined on Tillamook cheddar/apple/basil sandwiches, zucchini bread Pam made for us, figgy jam Cyn made for us, chocolates (ginger, cherry, and toffee) and a nice pot of Earl Grey.

Don did a few feats of prestidigitation using cards, coins, and a wee wooden guillotine. He’s quite the illusionist. I don’t know how he did it. (And I don’t want to know — it’s magic, after all.) As usual Binny was very keen to listen to our conversations and participate. Don and Cyn showed magic clips. We plotted a few treats for the upcoming Halloween tea. (Don promises to play a recording of Vincent Price supposedly conjuring up a demon – spooky, if campy, fun!)

While we’re on the subject of magic, another of my “favorite things” is the magic stylings of my cousin magician/actor/filmmaker Scott Cervine. Here is the link to a 1985 recording of his legendary ring act.

Oh, the artistry! I adore him and his contribution to the craft which will remain part of the history of magic forever, I’m quite certain of it.


These are a few of my favorite things . . .

September 25, 2010

One of my favorite performers is

the puppeteer Bruce Schwartz. Follow this link to see some of his magic.  

One of my favorite artists is

Burne Jones, a Pre-Raphaelite painter.

One of my favorite TV shows is 30 Rock — there are five epiosdes free to view on your computer at

One of my favorite foods is

the BBQ chicken salad at California Pizza Kitchen.

My favorite designer is

Eileen Fisher — comfortable, classy, mix-and-matchy clothes.

My favorite comic strip is Get Fuzzy — check it out free at:

One of my favorite places is

Disneyland (the original.)

One of my favorite movies is Gosford Park — if you haven’t seen it, try the trailer at:

I love sharing faves — feel free to comment on some of yours.

Don’t believe everything you see on facebook!

September 23, 2010

If any of you got a photo of a naked lady “tagged” with my name, it was most definitely not me. I’ve reported the incident. My apologies if that photo made it to anyone’s computer. (The picture was tagged with dozens of people’s names — how disturbing!) This is more my style . . .

A well-covered girl!

My Career Team

September 15, 2010

Writing a novel is a lot of work, but I’m not the only one who works on my career. So much happens behind the scenes and it is equally hard work for which I cannot take credit; I thought you might like to know who is in my corner.

Ann with her dog, Benben

My literary agent is Ann Rittenberg. She is fabulous at her job. She pitches my ideas to editors, our Hollywood agent at CAA, and foreign scouts. She sells my books to their publishers and negotiates the deals, vets the contracts, sends me my royalties and advance checks, gives me career advice, bucks me up when I feel discouraged, and is a wonderful friend. Ann and I co-authored the book YOUR FIRST NOVEL, a great experience for me. Ann’s assistant, Penn, is also a total gem.

Kate with her cat


My editor for THE FETCH and UNDER THE LIGHT is Kate O’Sullivan.  I loved my SLANT editor, Eden Edwards, and worried that when Eden left Houghton Mifflin I wouldn’t like my new editor as much. But I was wrong — Kate is GREAT! She is wonderfully easy to communicate with, has superb insight, and did a fantastic job at helping me improve my work. (Not to gloat, but lucky me!)

Karen, publicity stylist

My Houghton Mifflin Harcourt publicist is Karen Walsh. She sets up book tours and speaking/reading events, works with me on the readers guides for my novels, sends me splendid materials (post cards, book marks, flyers) to advertize my projects, contacts people about possible interviews and book reviews, and is also a joy to work with.

Brian the web master

My website stylist is Brian Batson. He was terrific at not only giving me what I asked for on my site and blog, but speaking to me in layman’s terms. I’m such a low-techie! He was very patient.

Cyn with Binny

My sister Cynthia is also part of my team. She’s a writer and a teacher of writing who not only acts as my first reader (giving me notes for revision on my manuscripts) but she also helps me with childcare. Cyn, or “Nana” to my son Binny, gives the baby his early bottle so I can get an hour or two extra sleep (luckily she’s a morning person and I’m a night person) and also spends two hours with Bin each day so I can write. I couldn’t do it without her!

I know some of you out there reading this post are writers on the verge of publication. I wish for you a team as terrific as mine.

Black Tea & the Green Man

September 8, 2010

At our last Supernatural Tea we talked about Forest Lore – the Green Man, Pan, the powerful use of woods in myth and fairytale, the idea of plants having feelings and thoughts, Robyn Hode (Robin Hood), enchanted sod, and other fascinating tidbits of supernatural  nature.

We dined on woodsy treats — stuffed mushrooms, nuts, berries (black and blue) – and traditional tasties such as tea sandwiches, chocolates, English style chocolate biscuits, and Earl Grey tea. I iced and decorated shortbread cookies in blue and pink to match my china. I tried to copy the way my grandmother used to create flowers and leaves, magically turning a drop of pink frosting and a knife smear of green into a rose and a leaf with the use of a toothpick dipped in food dye. Mine did not come close to hers (she was a painter, after all – wish I’d paid more attention when I was young) but I did manage to get ONE leaf perfect.

Julie could not attend but sent us several treats – a tea cozy she handmade to match my Mt. Vernon china, a poem she wrote about the Green Man, and a couple of conversation starting questions. Don read the poem aloud and did a much better job than I could have. (With an accent and not a bit of hesitation on a cold reading – how handy that he’s an actor.)

Don and I each decorated half the mantle – mine is the left side where you find a painted wood face of the green man, a fairy sized tree, a wee hedgehog, etc. Don’s is the right side where you find statues of Pan and Cernunnos, as well as the Lord and Lady of the Forest candleholders with glowing eyes.

Binny dressed up in a bow-tie (okay, the shorts, shirt, vest, and tie were all sewn together and made of tee-shirt material, but still . . . sporty!) and he had a fabulous time. He loves company and conversation, but he’s starting to get jealous of the food. (So far he’s a straight formula man.)

A sign of good fortune, a deer came into our yard (as oft happens) — a sweet sight.

Don brought several wonderful clips of related stories (Pan, fairies, forests, and the like.)

I showed a very strange, allegedly real, clip of some small things that (to me) look like living plant stalks walking across a yard at night. To see this clip, go to Hulu on your Internet searcher, “search” for the TV show “Fact or Faked” and choose the episode titled “Unwanted Visitors/Strange Sightings” to view the possible critters and make your own judgment. Part of me thinks it might be a trick, and yet the crew of the show could not seem to debunk this footage. Also, the way the investigating team gets teased on location, as if by some kind of naughty forest gremlins, and the mysterious heat image footage they captured afterwards, are intriguing, to say the least.

Robyn Hode

The next tea will probably be on the subject of Magick. I’m very much looking forward to that.

So glad to have caught my own little forest sprite!

Where I work . . .

September 1, 2010

I’ve heard that sometimes readers like to see (or hear about) authors’ work spaces. This is mine. My son and dog and I share a house with my sister and her daughter and their two dogs. My baby’s nursery and my bedroom are on the second floor, but my Writing Den is downstairs.

I chose a shallow card table as my writing desk because if you gave me a bigger surface on which to work I’d cover it with stuff. Small means I have to keep most things put away. I just need room for my laptop, my printer, a mug warmer, and at least 8 by 11 inches of free space to the right of my keyboard for a page of notes. The stereo’s essential (behind the desk) — I LOVE my writing music.

There’s plenty of light –  windows look out onto the front garden and beyond to the horse farm on the hill across the road. The sunsets are lovely.

French doors open into the entry way. My dog likes to see who is coming to visit. (No doorbell left unbarked!)

I’ve never been a grown up about decorating. I tend to have mismatched furniture (as you can see) because I either got the pieces as hand-me-downs from older siblings (I’m the youngest of four) or I picked them up at the Goodwill. (I love the Goodwill.) Or I inherited them from my parents, like the antique server. My den’s not huge but I have room for Max’s doggy bed and blanket and for my son, Binny’s, buzzy seat, and for my stair-step exerciser that I use sometimes while I’m thinking. (I should do that more often. Exercise. Also think.)

I separate my books into fiction and research books. (Okay, I’ll admit it – I don’t read much nonfiction unless it’s research for one of my novels.)

I keep one of every version of my published works – advanced reader copies, hardbacks and paperbacks, audio books, foreign language versions, and new printings that add groovy things to the cover of a novel like quotes from great reviews.

I keep meaning to stop, but I’m always adding treasures to my “museum.” Some of the relics are junk shop level and a few are real antiques. 

As with the museum, my walls are decorated with some fine art and some fine junk. The overall effect of my den may seem Halloweeny — actually, Halloween is my second favorite holiday, after Christmas — but I’m not at all a dark or morbid person. I write about the dark parts of the Supernatural only to showcase the Light.


So that’s my work space. I better get back in there and write a book.

Well . . . as soon as Binny goes down for a nap.