Monday, September 10, 2018

How We Spent our Summer--Vacation?

HANK:  Well, wow! Starting our next decade with a win at Bouchercon--and what a joy!  And that will be one of the many fabulous memories of this summer. Here in Boston it was hot hot HOT, amazingly so. One day recently I found myself thinking--hmm, what should we do for July 4th? And then I realized it was long over. Why does time go by so quickly?  But big big summer around here--I sent in the first draft of THE MURDER LIST  (you heard it here first) and ready to dive into revisions. (( love revisions!) 

I had a million events and taught a million classes, and was full of apprehension and nerves for the launch of TRUST ME--but hurray--it was named a Best Of by Real Simple Magazine and BookBub and CrimeReads and PopSugar and Bustle and The New York Post! YAY! And it's the psychological thriller pick of the month from Amazon! So, yay.

And the launch party was awesome.


Vacation, though? Nope. I did not even go into our own pool. Which is kind of weird.

How about you all?

LUCY BURDETTE: It was a great family summer in our household. I could fill up the blog for weeks with my photos, but I'd hate to see you all glaze over... We got to spend time with grandkids, Dorothea and Henry, and niece and her two babies, Lewis and Jojo, and see my father's brother and John's family...and you get the picture. 




Of course, DEATH ON THE MENU came out in August and sharing events with the Reds was a super highlight and will be a treasured memory





. And food, lots of great food. Here's an example, the mojito cake from Death on the Menu. 




HALLIE EPHRON: This is pathetic--I have to go to my datebook to remember. Oh yeah, the highlight was a trip to Croatia and Slovenia in July. We took a small bus tour (Gate1 travel) with 14 fantastic fellow travelers (including an aspiring writer -- waving, Lynn Katz!) and a brilliant local guide. The highlight, surprisingly, was getting AWAY from the coast, which gets overrun by cruise ships. The capitol of Slovenia, Ljubljana, felt like a miniature Vienna in the foothills of the Alps. I'd go back and spend an entire summer there in a heartbeat.




Other highlights were going to book launches for Hank, Lucy, Rhys, and Edwin Hill. And teaching at writing conferences. In Sacramento I taught an intensive, 4-day workshop for Sisters in Crime in Sacramento. 



I taught workshops at Willamette Writers Conference in Portland, OR and at Writers Digest's annual NYC conference. And in between caught up with our delicious grandchildren (Jody's 2 and Franny's 5).

Oh, and I finished a manuscript. And edited it. And now I'm editing it again.

RHYS BOWEN: The highlight of my summer was the trip to Europe. First I taught a writing workshop in Tuscany,(an absolute joy, both participants, scenery and food) then three weeks outside Nice doing research. No, seriously--I was doing research. Food markets, bistros, walks in the hills, dips in the Med. All research. You'll hear about the book soon! 






Then to England where we stayed with John's sister in the manor house and I did more Lady Georgie research. The weather was hot and fabulous throughout. The food wonderful. I'm smiling as I think back.




As soon as I returned home it was hitting the ground running... launch time for FOUR FUNERALS AND MAYBE A WEDDING. My tour took me to every hot portion of the country. 112 degrees in Scottsdale. 100 percent humidity in Houston. It was even hot when I joined Lucy, Hallie and Hank for our fun event in Boston. Hallie gave me the one airconditioned room at her house (thank you!!) and then we stayed at Lucy's fabulous home to do the event in Connecticut. Tours are usually stressful and solitary so it was great to spend two days with friends. 

Since then I've been working to finish the next Royal Spyness book, doing final edits on the next Lake Union stand-alone, called THE VICTORY GARDEN, and also edits on a Christmas story for Amazon--plus we've had family visits from England. So I'm ready to enjoy fall.

JENN McKINLAY: What is this summer vacation you speak of? Just kidding, but honestly, when you're a writer, are you ever really on vacation? My highlight was definitely playing at our summer cottage in Nova Scotia. The hooligans and I spend a delightful couple of weeks with my mom, enjoying the outdoors and running wild while eating all the ice cream we could manage. Another fun moment was attending RWA in Denver and having tea in the famous Brown Palace Hotel with a passel of librarians and fellow author Kristan Higgins.

INGRID THOFT: Visits with family were a highlight on my summer schedule.  We traveled to Minnesota for a family wedding and then Boston for my annual family reunion.  We caught up with friends in between trips and enjoyed the Seattle summer until the smoke from the forest fires turned the city into a smoke house!  I got a lot accomplished on my WIP, SUBMERGED, and look forward to handing this baby in to my editor.  Fall is my favorite season, so I have to admit, I’m not as sorry to see summer go as others might be!

DEBORAH CROMBIE: I stand with Jenn here--What summer vacation? Although we did go to a family reunion on Lake LBJ (that's down near Austin for you non-Texans) for three days and it was a great get-together. Mostly it was visiting and eating. 


My sister-in-law gave me (and Wren) watercolor lessons, and we celebrated my daughter's birthday with a fabulous strawberry cake made from scratch by my niece.


Other than that, it was horribly hot here at home--ten days of nearly 110!!!! So we talked a lot about how we need to replace our air conditioner, and I made a LOT of progress on my WIP, which I promise I really will have a title for soon! In the meantime, I'm looking forward to it actually being cool enough to enjoy our patio.




JULIA SPENCER-FLEMING: Argh! I must have missed this while in transit between St Pete's and Maine. Probably just as well because my summer pretty much sucked. I mean, my mother died. That sets the tone right there. I had to get my water heater replaced, new faucets installed in my kitchen and master bath (not remodeling - the old ones broke down) - and my washing machine died last month. My hard-working Youngest had both an internship and a money-paying job, but since she only has a permit, I spent up to 2 1/2 hours every weekday being driven BY her to and from her various commitments. Thank God she's a pretty good driver, or my heart couldn't have taken it.




Now the fall - THAT looks promising! I'm writing again, of course, and I'm scheduled to be at Murder by the Book in Bar Harbor in October, and I have loads of friends asking me to come visit, so, as soon as I've settled Frank the Foster Dog in his forever home, I'm planning on hitting the road! Bring on the pumpkin spice season!

HANK: Today at the grocery store there was a huge display of--pumpkins.  Ah. But before we talk about Halloween and Thanksgiving, and.--well, more to come--Reds and readers--how did you spend your summer. Vacation?

65 comments:

  1. Congratulations . . . so much wonderful news from you ladies: successful book launches, awards and recognition . . . all so well-deserved.

    Summer vacation? Not here, unless you count driving to the airport to pick up two of the grandkids and taking them home to Virginia. It was a fast trip as we only had a couple of days free, and it's always good to spend time with family.

    But I did get to read lots of books, so, all in all, it was quite a good summer . . . .

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    1. That sounds so lovely! And thank you for your kind words— we wish you could have been there with us! You are such a part of this blog! Love love love

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  2. My summer vacation was taking a few days off to go home to Northern California to throw a party for my parents' 50th Anniversary. They are still talking about how much fun they had. Fortunately, my brother and sister-in-law did most of the planning because they were the reason it was so successful.

    However, I did rejoice in the two mud runs I was able to do in early June. I wasn't sure my health would permit me to do them, but I did just fine. Already signed up for next year, which will be 10 in a row at the Camp Pendleton Mud Run.

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    1. Congrats to your parents Mark--fifty years is very special. And we're so happy about your health!

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    2. Very exciting and wonderful… Any good for you for the runs! Terrific!

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    3. Congratulations on the mud runs, Mark! It’s so good to hear that your health permitted you to do them, The daughter of a friend does them here on the East coast.

      DebRo

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    4. "mud" and "run". Do those two words really belong in the same sentence? I know this is an off the wall question but, what kind of shoes are best for this type of running?

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    5. I use old running shoes. I use them for a few runs over a couple of years and then donate them to one of the companies collecting old, muddy shoes after the run.

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  3. I had the usual summer commitments to the Dallas Winds Band Camp--six days/600 inner-city kids with flutes and horns and drums--plus our July 4 concert, but after that I . . . messed with my malfunctioning air conditioner. During the hottest part of our summer. It's not really a vacation if you have to move to a hotel because it's too hot to stay at your house.

    I did manage to take a couple of weeks off in mid-August, catch up with old friends, buy art, and get some personal writing done, but we're back in rehearsal now, with the season-opening concert on September 18, so I guess the summer is over for me.

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    1. oh my Gigi, what did you do with all the dogs??

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    2. Your life is such a whirlwind! Never a dull moment…

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    3. Gig, I'd love to hear more about your musical life.

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    4. And I am still imagining that band camp! :-) What did they play at the concert?

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    5. So many questions! Lucy, the hotel I checked into when the AC fritzed was only 5 minutes from home, and I had to be at the house much of the time anyway, to meet the repair guys, so the dogs stayed home and I kept them on the same basic schedule they have when I'm working. For the two nights I stayed in Fort Worth, catching up with old friends, I had a house/dog sitter come to the house. She fed the cats, too!

      Hallie, the Dallas Winds is one of the top professional wind ensembles in the world. We're like a symphony orchestra, but without strings. Or a marching band that sits down and plays the hard stuff. We perform at the Meyerson Symphony Center in Dallas, and record there, too, when we have a new project. My job is to make sure everything we need for the concert is in place before we go onstage, with the help of our personnel, technical, and equipment managers, and the librarian. According to my boss, these things "all just seem to come together" but I'm here to tell you, it's not because of magic. In between concerts I write grant proposals and program notes.

      Band camp is a partnership with the Dallas schools. Dallas is a low-income district, and the band kids there can't afford a lot, so we give them the kind of high-quality summer band camp experience they'd get at a private band camp, only for $25 instead of $250. Kids range from 6th grade beginners to high school seniors, so we have six bands, and kids audition for the band that best suits their level. They play everything from beginner pieces by Brian Balmages and William Owens to the top level hard stuff by John Mackey and Frank Ticheli. Mostly contemporary composers. The final concert is free for their families, and happens at the Meyerson, so they get a taste of the real deal. It's a very cool band camp.

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    6. Yeah Gigi! Yeah Band Camp! Yeah Dallas Winds! Boo AC!

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  4. Summer vacation? Surely you jest. I worked. But I did do some minor activities when I wasn't working. But they are pretty much what I do year round anyway.

    I attended a certain Brookline Booksmith double book launch and had a great time. I went to 8 concerts and reviewed 6 of them. I wrote some CD and book reviews as well. I attended an event with a friend that I won't go into here but it was the first time I'd gone to something like it and it was an eye opening experience.

    I went to some movies. Hell, I went to the beach for the first time in 30 years. I made a third and final attempt at becoming involved with someone and watched that go down in flames in the usual fashion. I continued to go to trivia night and I am now up to 20 wins.


    And again, since I haven't hit the lottery yet, I worked. So same crap, different season is how you can break it down.

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    1. Jay we rely on you to bring us your own hilarious personality! Crossing fingers for the lottery :-) Xxxxx

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  5. Congratulations to all of you -- on the win at Bouchercon, and on all the lovely book launches.

    I guess I'm bucking the trend, but I actually felt I had a great summer. I have a lot of fond memories of cold drinks and live music on patios with friends and family. Add in several fun visits with out-of-state loved ones and plenty of fresh summer food, and I'm happy.

    We are going on our first real "vacation" of the year next week -- three days of leisure living in New Orleans, followed by a long weekend of immersion in extended family that I don't know very well near Baton Rouge. So I guess I'm making summer last as long as possible.

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    1. Susan, that’s brilliant! And what a wonderful summer that sounds like… tell us about the live music!

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    2. Love NOLA. Eat boudin. Stay away from the hurricane.

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    3. Now that we are empty nesters, Bob and I have just found we really enjoy local live music. So very often on the weekend that's what we seek out. Mostly just cover bands, local artists, performing at area bars and restaurants and at a couple local lakes, occasionally a symphony. We like a variety of styles. Pretty easy to please, really -- just give us well-performed live music by musicians who obviously find joy in what they are doing.

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    4. My fave concert memory this summer--sitting next to Ian Rankin at a folk/bluegrass performance at Poisoned Pen Bookstore! (We were writing down the lyrics to use as titles...)

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  6. What lovely memories! I worked a lot this summer, but also enjoyed a few days at the beach, had a family weekend in Vermont, and soaked up all the yummy summer produce. Right now we are on a real vacation in New Mexico and Colorado and it is splendid. Huge skies , clear clear air, and real mountains. Santa Fe feels like home!

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    1. Gorgeous! Have fun...you certainly deserve a rest!

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  7. Congratulations my darling Reds on the Bouchercon win. And to think I can say I knew you when!

    It's been an interesting summer with two lots of guests in July and August, both of which included a trip to Niagara Falls. Does that count as summer vacation? I don't think so, but it was still fun.

    I spent the spring and summer at the gym, working 2-3 times a week on all those pesky muscles that I've neglected for decades and indulging in a water ballet for old ladies class. (That's not really the name.)

    Sometime last month I got sick with multiple symptoms, cough, horrid itching petechial rash,
    fatigue, joint pain, you name it. After multiple tests and measurements, we have ruled out most of the L diseases: lupus, leukemia, lung cancer, lymphoma, and Lyme Disease. That pretty much leaves leprosy, and I'm not having that, so I am concentrating on getting over myself.

    Day after tomorrow our summer vacation begins, a UK quickie. We are flying into Manchester for the first time, being met by my daughter Melinda who lives in Chester. We'll spend a few days touring that area and going to a party our many Mancunian friends are throwing for us. Then we are off to Oxford and the Cotswolds.

    Deb, Melinda has already located your old house in Chester, and I will be taking pictures that will now be even more valuable as they depict the one time home of a best selling author. I bet the landlord can even raise the rent on that alone!

    Autumn arrived furiously yesterday, and today it is pouring rain, the furnace is cranking, and I am starting to read the Shetland double quartet all over again. Sigh, even though I know how it all ends.

    L'shana tova ya'll.

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    1. Time to campaign for a blue plaque on that house in Chester, Ann?

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    2. There you go Gigi. Maybe I should just bang one up myself?

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    3. Oh, Ann, what a rollercoaster! Safe travels--and cannot wait to hear about your wonderful journey!

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    4. Yes, definitely a blue plaque! Safe travels, Ann, and keep us posted on your adventures!

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  8. What a summer for the Reds! And capped with a bunch of well-earned awards, too!

    My summer--it's already over?--felt like a circus, with me as ringmaster. Between managing a big garden, having our house tweaked to sell next year (it took our friend three weeks to paint the living room, with all the furniture everywhere else in the house), and overseeing a million details for the home we are building, I've had a lot of balls to juggle.

    This was the first summer I barely saw my thirteen year old grandson; we drove 500 miles to pick him up at camp while my daughter and son-in-law​ were in Europe, but only spent two nights in Michigan together. All three daughters came to visit for Mother's Day, since my brother remarried that weekend. I think that was the highlight of the year, so far. His new wife is lovely.

    Remember that old commercial? Calgon, take me away!

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    1. Calgon, take me away! I do remember! (SO funny, when I was a teenager, when that was on, I had no idea what it meant...now I certainly do!) SOUnds like you are doing the juggling beautifully--of course!

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  9. Cincinnati Opera, FCCincinnati professional soccer games, World Cup on tv, heat, humidity, rain, weeds. Vacation trip coming up.

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  10. Congratulations to all the ladies of JRW! I'm so happy for your win. This has been a summer of "minis", those little day trips to places nearby that I love. A drive up to Santa Barbara for business that resulted in a very leisurely drive back to the San Fernando Valley. Along the way I detoured off the highway to visit two tiny coastal towns that barely register on the Google maps. One or two events at the Hollywood Bowl. A pre-summer LitFest in Pasadena. Next week I'm taking three days in Cayucos (another small California coastal town south of Hearst Castle) to write. I take my "vacations" in small bites.

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    1. Oh, that sounds lively, Lyda. And that is a great idea, I agree. No big packing, no worrying about whether the plants at home wills die. Perfect!

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  11. Vacation? You're supposed to take a vacation in summer?

    All work for me. My vacation was Bouchercon last week and it was wonderful seeing so many friends - and congrats to the Reds on their Anthony win! I had to come back to Pittsburgh to run into the remnants of Hurricane Gordon. Oh well.

    Maybe I'll get a vacation in the fall...

    Mary/Liz

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    1. No, that vacation thing is a myth, I fear.. SO great to see you, and relived you are safely home! xo

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    2. Okay, whew. I thought I was missing something.

      Great seeing you both - and congratulations on the win!

      Yes, it is definitely rainier and chillier than Florida, but we are safe (if a bit waterlogged).

      Mary/Liz

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  12. This was a great summer for me! In mid May I retired, and have been celebrating ever since, it seems!

    Monday is my “day off”. Three days a week I take classes at the senior center. One day a week I volunteer for a couple of hours at the library. The rest of the time I’m supposed to be working on decluttering and sorting through paperwork. Ah, well, I have the rest of my life for that. There are too many books to read, as you all know! There’s also homework for one of the classes. That’s one thing I don’t skip.

    In August I went with my extended family to Chincoteague VA for our annual vacation there. We started going there together 27 years ago, when my sister was pregnant with her first child. This summer I felt really old, not because of being retired but because that “child” contributed towards the cost of our beach house this year. And he and his younger sister were both solicitous of their dad, who had some health challenges this past year. While we were there, our family received some good news, and we celebrated by staying an extra couple of days. We spent most of that extra time lounging around reading, and eating Oreo cookies. (We know how to celebrate, don’t we?)

    In April I had meniscus surgery, and I have been slowly building up my walking routine again. I now have far less pain (I’ll still need a knee replacement eventually) and I have lost over half the weight I gained after I injured my knee and had to cut back on exercise. If the weather is not great for outdoor walking, then I walk at the mall.

    Our family welcomed a new baby boy in July!

    And I have rejoiced in all the good news coming from JRW!

    DebRo

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    1. Wow--busy and life-changing summer, DebRo! And so pleased to hear you have carved out a "day off" for yourself..that is a brilliant idea! (And I am with you on walking. Magical.) So glad you are healing. oxo

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    2. What a great summer, DebRo! And congrats on the new baby in the family!

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  13. I love hearing how everyone spent their summer vacation--just like the essays we used to write in the first week of school. Now I'm taking a one day vacation at home to recover from Bouchercon!

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    1. Exactly! But then it was a chore--now it's a joy! Welcome home, sister Anthony winner!

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  14. Argh! I must have missed this while in transit between St Pete's and Maine. Probably just as well because my summer pretty much sucked. I mean, my mother died. That sets the tone right there. I had to get my water heater replaced, new faucets installed in my kitchen and master bath (not remodeling - the old ones broke down) - and my washing machine died last month. My hard-working Youngest had both an internship and a money-paying job, but since she only has a permit, I spent up to 2 1/2 hours every weekday being driven BY her to and from her various commitments. Thank God she's a pretty good driver, or my heart couldn't have taken it.

    Now the fall - THAT looks promising! I'm writing again, of course, and I'm scheduled to be at Murder by the Book in Bar Harbor in October, and I have loads of friends asking me to come visit, so, as soon as I've settled Frank the Foster Dog in his forever home, I'm planning on hitting the road!

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    1. I'm with you, Julia -- my summer sucked as well. My mom passed away at the beginning and our family lost a good friend very unexpectedly in late August. In between, my 18-year-old cat lost her battle with old age and various ailments. So, summer of 2018, please go away. But, I ended August by adopting two 12-week-old kittens (I must be crazy) and started out September attending Bouchercon. Congrats to the Reds on your Anthony win! Well deserved. And, Lucy, I was delighted to be at your table at the librarians' tea and to see you again on Sunday morning at breakfast.

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    2. Onward onward, dear Julia. And if it matters, you looked GORGEOUS at Bouchercon!

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  15. So much fun to read about everyone's summer. The writing activities are impressive and inspiring, too. We had a difficult summer. Not on the scale of hospital stays or hurricanes, but on the scale of daily stress. Complete renovation of garden floor apartment and still ongoing. Not exactly our living quarters but the noise and dust (LOT OF IT- worst summer ever for allergies) and daily workmen were there. To make life complete? Construction starting at 7 AM ( sometimes earlier) in the school yard directly across the street, too. Did it impact on writing? Guess. We did get away to Cape Cod for a week, in a rented house with both daughters and their families 3 grandkids 5 and under was not relaxing, but was fun.

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    1. Triss! Craziness. But do not forget to write--we rely on it!

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  16. I'm still in FL with plans to head to VA Beach late Wednesday to speak at a conference that lasts through Saturday. Sounds great, except for this little thing called Florence...

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  17. While we usually spend a week at the coast, usually in Cannon Beach, we skipped this year as life's usual things seemed to always be in the way. It was hot as blazes here in Portland, and the wildfires made for a smoky mess much of the time. So we stayed inside, windows tightly closed, air conditioning going around the clock. Fortunately the garden is mostly perennials, so it soldiered on with only watering and some weed abatement in the cooler mornings. We pulled out all of our chrysanthemums last year, so there's just Black-Eyed Susan, fuchsias and a few other things left for color. I got reading done, including books by Rhys, Hank and Julia, and have been glad for cool salads, fruit and iced tea.

    Once again congratulations to Reds for the awards and recognition. You deserve it.

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    1. Oh, the fires have been so terrifying...incredibly sad, too.
      ANd thank you for reading! Crossing fingers you loved TRUST ME. And yes, we are still floating about the Anthony!

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  18. Our summer vacation took place in the spring--up the Pacific Coast Highway from San Diego to Mill Valley (I have the photos if you want to be bored). Summer consisted mostly of trying to write something new, getting very occasional (every two months) follow-up immunotherapy and then, just to kick it off right, going to Bouchercon three days after my wife badly sprained her knee in the Atlantic Ocean at Asbury Park (not to worry, Julia--it's not always like that!). So Bouchercon was great because I got to see Hank and Julia and Roberta, and then left to help take care of Jessica!

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    1. Oh, so wonderful to see you! And all our love and healing powers to Jessica! (how did THAT happen? In the water?)

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  19. Yes--a wave just hit her the wrong way. She's scheduled for an MRI on Thursday. Great to see you, Hank!

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  20. Bleah. This summer sucked in general. Settling Mom's estate. Ridiculously hot humid weather. We tried to do a 3 day weekend at a B&B in central Texas, visiting wineries and tubing. Had to cancel when my M-I-L wound up in the hospital. Planned a road trip to pick up our granddaughter in Ohio and go to Maine and Nova Scotia. Had to cancel it. We did fly her down here and did some things, so not a total loss. Went to Galveston for the day to take in the Sunday brunch at the Galvez and celebrate our anniversary. And the weather cooperated! We are doing a road trip, come hell or high water, next month to Charleston, SC. Meeting my sister and B-I-L there and enjoying the area for a week. My husband and I will be driving along the Gulf and up the Atlantic to get there and scouting out cool places for future trips. Husband has already informed me that if his mom goes downhill again I will stay on the trip while he runs home to do whatever.

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  21. I'm retired and don't travel anymore so summers are rather quiet. The heat and rain meant that I didn't spend as much time gardening or going to farmers' markets. The garden actually did pretty well. Hey, iced tea and reading makes a great summer, too.

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  22. Alas, I feel like a slug - all I did was recover from a broken wrist and start a new series - gotta go, I'm 2k behind - Love living vicariously through the Red's adventures!

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    1. Oh, poor thing! That's so terrible--and such a slog to heal. Many smooches, and don't worry about being behind. You'll catch up!

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