Monday, October 27, 2014

Why I Wrote Zip Last Week

After years of putting it off, last week we finally had our upstairs air conditioner replaced. Turns out the old hvac closet is too small to meet new code regulations, which means the system had to be relocated to the attic. While we were at it, we decided to replace all the ducting, boxes, and vents (we've had mold issues ever since Katrina) and install a duct in the master bedroom closet since it gets hot enough in there in the summer to melt shoes. That meant I had to completely empty the closet (because, drywall dust and dirty workmen).
All those workmen in the house, opening up holes in the attic, pounding, ripping, sawing, dragging heavy equipment in and out, etc, meant I had to lock up cats. Huck and Angel were shut in my office, and Huck showed his displeasure by claiming my desk chair and giving me the evil eye every time I suggested I might want to type. Everyone else just howled.
And then, once the work was all finished, I had the joy of cleaning up and putting everything back in the closet (still working on that). What fun--not. Although I did find some things I'd forgotten about, including my childhood collection of dolls in native costume, added to every time we visited a new country or my dad was sent somewhere (he was in Intelligence). Of course I had to stop and play with that. I also decided to use the opportunity to try on everything with an eye to my upcoming March book tour (yes, it is happening; more on that when the dates are finalized).  That was also fun--not.
Between the galleys for the hardcover Who Buries the Dead and mass market Why Kings Confess, Scout's death, and now the hvac overhaul, it feels like ages since I wrote anything on this new book. To work.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Run Free, Little Girl

We lost Scout last night.

She managed to hang on for four months after Banjo had his final, fatal seizure. We knew she was deteriorating, but her slide has always been more gradual than his. When we first rescued them, Scout could scamper around (sort of) and eat and drink on her own. But she'd lost that ability shortly before Banjo died, so we knew it was only a matter of time.
Still, losing her last night was unexpected and a bit of a shock. I went in to check on her before dinner and knew as soon as I saw her that she was in trouble. She died in Steve's arms shortly before midnight.
We rescued our "shaky kitties" just over a year ago, on my birthday. It's been a very tough, very draining, and very emotional twelve months, and now it's over.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Advance Readers Copies!

My small box of Who Buries the Dead ARCs (advanced readers copies) has arrived. These are bound versions of the uncorrected page proofs that are given away for promotion. And I will be giving a copy away here (and another on Facebook) once I figure out how to do it.

It's always nice to see the ARCs because it means the book is that much closer to going on sale. And once again they've given me a full color ARC (as opposed to the horrible brown paper wrapper things I used to get). But the best part of all is this, from the back cover:

This is the Marketing Campaign information, which tells booksellers how well the publisher is going to support a book's release. And see what it says right up there at the top? Author tour! That's right; it looks as if they're actually, really going to send me on a book tour. They're finalizing the schedule.

Sunday, October 05, 2014

A Life in Small Boxes

From the time I was seventeen until I was in my late thirties, I never lived anyplace longer than 18 months. After that, I started staying longer. But I always knew I'd be pulling up stakes again sooner or later. Sometimes my moves were simply across town. But often I was relocating across continents and oceans. And because I'm a sentimentalist (which is a nice way of saying I'm inordinately attached to my Stuff), I was always careful to keep the small boxes things came in so I could safely pack them for my next move or stash them in my parents' basement until I was in a position to retrieve them.
And so, long after I'd inadvertently lost contact with my high school friend Sue, I kept the box for the silver chamberstick she gave me as a graduation present. I kept the random box that nicely fit the two old blue-plate specials my grandmother gave me when I was eighteen (along with a lecture on the evils of gambling, for the plates were all that remained of a restaurant my grandfather lost at the turn of a card in 1928). I kept the box for the Wedgwood Peter Rabbit cereal bowl I bought my daughter in England her first Christmas; the box for the alabaster cat my mother sent for my thirty-fifth birthday when I was in Jordan.... You get the idea.
When I moved to New Orleans, I fully expected to relocate again in a couple of years. I put all those little boxes inside big dish packs and stuck them up in my attic. And this past weekend, as we were getting the attic ready for the A/C overhaul we're having done, I found them.

As I went through each and every little box to be certain they were all empty, I realized that here, in small boxes, was the story of my life: flimsy, half-crushed boxes for treasures from China and Egypt and Spain nestled next to little Brio train boxes and boxes for porcelain dollhouse sets with torn bits of Christmas paper still adhering to them. Then, a bit misty eyed, I hauled all those boxes out to the curb for the trash.
Yes, I will move at least one more time, probably in the next 3-5 years when Steve retires. But I don't need all those small boxes anymore. And while I know it says volumes about my stage in life, I'm not sure I'm ready to admit yet what that is.