Sunday, October 7, 2012

"Oh, Kaye!"

                Yes, well - the whole world has heard by now what stars The Reds were at Boucherson!  Let's give them one more huge round of applause!!!!!  And as proud as I am of them, I'm still being a little pouty.  Just take a look at this picture - - -

What do you see?

A group of really beautiful, really smart, really talented women, right?  And, oh yes, one adorable Red Husband who I hear was quite the hit.  Jan, however, wasn't there, nor was I.  Waahhh. 

See those scrumptious red pashminas


Jan - did you get one of those?

If I had known about those scrumptious red pashminas I would have been there!  (well, that's probably not really true, but can I whisper the word "covet" here?  I did want to be there, even before I knew about the pashminas. . .)  Maybe next year.



While some of The Reds are kicking up their heels in Cleveland, having a grand ol' time I'm sitting on my bed in Boone, NC writing about angels while wearing a cheap flimsy knock-off red pashmina.



Somebody has to hold down the Sunday Red Fort and this Sunday that would be me.

And, as usual, I'm tickled pink (pink is a shade of red, right - there are lots of shades of red.  Maybe 50. . . . ) to be a part of this group.

(RED Angels wear tiaras rather than halos)
They are truly angels. 

We’ve all heard about angels who walk the earth disguised as humans.

Many of us are lucky to have met a few. 

I have. 

Many of them came to me through the
mystery community – including the women
here at Jungle Red.

I’ve brought yet another angel along with me today.  Some of you will already know him.  For those of you who do not, please allow me to introduce you to Earl Staggs ( ).   A man I love.  Yes, yes – not to worry - Donald is totally aware of the fact that Earl is in my life – and in a very big way. Nowadays while I’m writing and pondering over a particular phrase or problem I will run it by Donald. He’ll think it over and he’ll offer suggestions.  And follow it up by saying, “Run it by Earl.”  I love that.

I met Earl a few years ago through DorothyL.  I don’t remember exactly how it all came to pass, although Earl may (I think I’m older than he is, so his memory should be a little better).  We discovered that we both grew up in Maryland – me on the Eastern Shore and Earl in Baltimore.  We started sharing stories and strolling down Memory Lane and realized we both had spent a lot of time in Ocean City, MD.  Our hope is to one of these days get to spend some time there together along with my Donald and Earl’s much adored better half, Carol.  We almost made that wish come true a couple summers ago, but you know how it goes – best laid plans going astray and all that.  But we haven’t given up – we still want to mosey and meander down that boardwalk along the beach with the ocean breeze blowing.  Snack on Dolle’s popcorn, fudge (chocolate for me, peanut butter for Earl) and saltwater taffy.  Eat Thrasher’s French Fries and go visit Laffing Sal in the little Ocean City Museum.  A lot of that part of the Ocean City Boardwalk is pretty much just like it was when I was going there as a kid with my mom and dad.  I loved it then and still do. Those are lovely memories.  I still ride Trimper’s carousel when we visit, and I can always hear my dad’s laugh when we walk through Playland. 

As time went on as Earl and I were getting to know one another and eventually become good friends I read his book MEMORY OF A MURDER which remains one of my favorite books to this day and one I buy to give to friends.  It takes place in Ocean City and here’s a little story that give me goosebumps.

 A few years ago Donald and Harley and I went home for a vacation.  A girlfriend I grew up with lives in Ocean City now and she and her husband own some rental property.  She offered one of the condos to me and Don for the week.  When we were driving down Ocean Highway looking for the right building I was brought up short when it became evident that we were moving into the building that was on the exact same spot as the home of Earl’s protag, Adam Kingsley, in MEMORY OF A MURDER.  I loved that, but it was a little bit spooky, truth be told.

(For those of you who have read "Memory of a Murder," one of those condo units in the photo on the left is where Adam lives.   The photo on the right is his view)

  Earl’s first writing love is short stories, and I must say – I think he’s a master. 

He’s been the recipient of the Derringer Award two times. You can read two of his stories at his webpage – The Day IAlmost Became A Great Writer and White Hats and Happy Trails.  You may be able to guess who White Hats and Happy Trails is about - a hero to many of us.  Roy Rogers.  And this is Earl's story about meeting that great man.

Earl is a person who finds it easy to give heartfelt compliments and encouragement and the next thing I knew I was trying my hand at writing a little bit and Meanderings and Muses was born.  Looking back, I now know this sly friend of mine had guided my hand towards writing. 

Next thing I knew, I had two pieces being published in regional anthologies.  Projects I will always be proud to have been able to be a part of.   I was a happy gal writing those types of memoir and opinion pieces, and I think blogging was born with my name on it – it was where I found my voice and where I share my heart.

Zip forward to my retirement and it not taking long for me to start getting a little bit bored.  So what did I do?  I said to myself  “I think I’ll try writing some fiction.  It’s time.”  It’s now two years later and I’ve written my first novel.  I’m in the process of polishing the 47th draft (okay – the 6th – I think).    But it would never have happened without Earl Staggs who is, absolutely, one of those angels walking this earth disguised as a human. 

He’s basically given me a one-on-one 2 year writing course.  If I had had even a clue as to what I did not know, it’s doubtful I would have ever started this adventure.  Seriously. He’s kept me motivated and he’s kept me writing when I was pretty close to saying I don’t want to do this any more.  He’s told me when things weren’t working, but oh so gently.  He’s praised the things that were.  He’s tried to teach me the rules and he’s corrected my grammar and punctuation and tried to re-teach me those rules – many of which have been long forgotten, I’m sorry to admit.  He’s suggested moving huge scenes from here to there.  Some of them right out of there into a place called “For the next book - maybe.”  Or “Trash.”  He’s taught me how to trust my “voice.”

I have never worked so hard.  It’s been one of the most rewarding things I’ve ever done and I am enormously proud of myself and the novel.  It won’t be everyone’s cup of tea.  I do know that.  And honestly?  I don’t care.  I have written a novel.  And it’s a story I love filled with characters I love.  That in itself is something to be proud of.  Any of you out there on the same journey I am – do not EVER let anyone try to dismiss or diminish your accomplishments.  Take it from me – there are those who will try.  I promise you – they’re out there.  You’ll be quite surprised where they pop up from.  Be prepared.  But.  At the same time, there will be many more who are going to applaud you along the way.  Many who will go out of their way to help and support you.  Embrace them and maybe you’ll find your own angel, just like I did.  We all deserve angels in our lives.

Earl gets to wear a halo - of course.  As he's helped me make this journey as my friend and mentor/teacher and editor, he's been tough.  But he has also been immensely fair.  And his applause and words of praise have been balm to a sometimes wounded soul.  His fairness has kept me going.

There’s a delightful story Earl’s told about giving a  talk about writing to a kindergarten class.  You should read it - .  And after his talk, those little kids who had fallen head over heels in love with Mr. Earl, just like everyone who has ever met him, gave him the ultimate accolade – a loud and rousing ‘WHOOP! WHOOP! WHOOP! FOR MR. EARL!”  and in my heart, I join them in that cheer. 

And now, HERE'S Earl - - -

 Kaye, I’ve been called a lot of things, but I don’t recall angel being one of them. Before you change your mind, I’m going to go out and get fitted for a halo.  I may even take up playing a harp.

In the meantime, thanks for letting me tag along on this visit to Jungle Red. It’s exciting to be in the company of so many talented and beautiful ladies, but I promise to behave.  I wouldn’t want to tarnish that angel image.

I can even earn my visitor’s pass with some facts.  First, you said you think you’re older than me. Not true. I’ve turned a few more calendar pages than you.  How many?  Well, in keeping with the spirit here, let’s keep that a mystery.

Next, I remember exactly how our friendship began.  A few years ago, I’d recently joined the DorothyL list when you posted a link to an old picture of your parents.  What a surprise to see a snapshot of your parents standing in front of Memorial Stadium on 33rd Street in Baltimore. I dredged up the courage to write you a personal email explaining that I’d spent most of my life in Baltimore, including many Sunday afternoons in that stadium watching my beloved Colts play before the team was whisked away in the middle of the night to Indianfrickinapolis. (No offense to anyone from that fine city, but it still hurts.) I thanked you for triggering many warm memories and asked if we shared the same hometown. You were kind enough to respond that you were from Cambridge on Maryland’s Eastern Shore, but you and your family visited Baltimore often.

Well, that triggered about a jillion emails between us comparing memories of Maryland and, in particular, of Ocean City, and swapping news of our families, mine revolving about Carol and our daughters, yours of Donald and Harley.

You even shipped me boxes of fudge, straight from the Boardwalk. Yum! (Angels are allowed to eat fudge, aren’t they?  Sure they are.)

The thing that never strayed far from my mind was your unique voice.  Whether in a post on DorothyL or an email, there was a sparkle and vivacity in the way you strung words together.  To use one of your own signature phrases, “Boy Howdy,” was there! I said you were a natural-born writer, you said, “No, I’m just a reader.”  Finally, my nagging wiggled through a crack in your resolve and you created Meanderings and Muses, starting with your own writings, then blossoming into a popular guest spot for some of the best-known writers around. 

And now, you’ve written a novel.  I was honored to see WHIMSEY develop along the way.  I offered some  knowledge of the craft of writing I’d picked up over the years, but the voice, the style, and the characters are pure Kaye Barley.

My advice to everyone is to watch for the publication of WHIMSEY. It’ll be a big hit.  Boy Howdy, will it!

As for me, I’ll be working on that angel stuff.  I think I have most of it down, but the flying part worries me some.

See There!  He is an angel!  For real! 

And now Reds, it's your turn!  Who are your angels? Have they kept you on your feet during difficult times and made sure that, above all things, you continue believing in yourself and what you're doing?


  1. Earl is indeed a terrific guy, Kaye, as I discovered a number of years ago when I joined the staff of Futures Mystery Anthology Magazine. Initially I was one of many editorial reviewers, then later on one of the fiction editors. Earl was Managing Editor at the time. When he subsequently decided to step down to concentrate on his own writing (though remaining on staff as a consultant), he was kind enough to recommend me as his successor.

    After I took over as Managing Editor, I could always count on Earl for advice if I needed it, and for his assistance if the fiction editors and I were swamped with submissions and needed another editor to evaluate the stories we received.

    You're right, too, about how talented a writer Earl is. Both his novel and his short story collection should satisfy hardcore mystery readers, and he is unquestionably deserving of the two Derringers he's won.

  2. I've had lots of angels, coming into my life at various times of need: guardian angels, cherubs, watchers, and orphanim. No destroying angels, however (although there have been times when I was hoping for one...)

    We create our own luck, I think, and allowing space for guides to come into our lives is part of that. You did well, Kaye, and Earl is a treasure.

    Red is your color, and I heard a little bird say on Facebook that there's a Jungle Red pashmina with your name on it!

  3. Oh, Kaye (Love saying that...) WE LOVE YOU and missed you, and we saved you a red leopard pashima. The pashimas are going into the vault for next time the Reds step out... which we hope will be ALL of us.

    So pleased to meet Earl Staggs. The great thing about the mystery community is that it is so full of writers who have been so encouraging to other writers. To quote someone, they step through that door to success and before it shuts behind them, they reach bag to haul the rest of us after them.

    The single best thing about being a mystery writer for me has been being part of that community.

  4. An angel indeed! Editing/critiquing a novel is Hard Work. You've been blessed, Kaye!

  5. Earl is a good guy. Beyond the writing, he is my friend and I am very glad for that.

  6. What a perfectly Delightful blog! You really get an A Plus! I too met Earl in this wonderful world of mystery - I think it was on your blog! Then I invited him to bring his kindergarten to Crime Chronicle - then I got his book Memory of a Murder - and the rest is now history! I can't wait for his next book!!!! And your debut too, Kaye. Thelma Straw in cooler Manhattan

  7. BTW, this is kind of old home day... be sure to drop by and share my tribute to Liz Squire of North Carolina at Thelma

  8. I love seeing you guys who are friends and fans of Earl's here! Thanks for stopping by. We should start a club for the guy - we can call it "FOE."

  9. Karen, I think you're right. We have a hand in creating our own luck - and I've been lucky most of my life in being given opportunities to either grab it, or not. Sometimes, I think, the key to this is being aware of the opportunities. There are some we just don't recognize.

  10. Hallie - I love you back!!! and oh my, I love this group of women to the moon and back.

    Malice Maybe?? I would love it if we were all together at Malice.

    And I'm awfully happy to introduce you to my friend Earl. He's a keeper and embodies all you say about the mystery community.

    AND - On the growing list of things I love is that particular quote. Oh, yes.

  11. Vicki - Hey You!! I hope you know you're always included in that group I think of as my angels.

    Everyone? Vicki is my guest today over at Meanderings and Muses. I hope you'll drop by over there and say hey -

  12. Thelma, Good Morning!! Old home week indeed! Thanks for stopping by - you always come with such nice thoughts and sweet words. thank you.

  13. What a wonderful post and what a wonderful angel to have. I love the illustrations.

  14. Boy Howdy, what a terrific piece. Kaye and Earl, thanks for sharing your story - it's delightful and a perfect start to my day!

  15. Great blog post. I'm from mountains of Virginia and we gravitated to South Carolina beaches in the summer. Loved reading about your meeting each other and forming a mentorship really. Quite inspiring to those of us who can't help ourselves-- we just love to write and read. Nice to know we might encounter angels along the path.

  16. Ah, yes you are so right...and you are an angel for reminding us to keep them on our minds.

    I'm rushing off, back later, but two things: Kaye dahling, I have your pashimina safely right here.

    ANd thank you for the fabulous photo! Who took it?

    More to you all... xoo

  17. Hank dahling - Thank You!!!
    The photo was an uncredited one at the B'Con site at Facebook. If anyone here took it, or knows who did, let me know, please!

    Teresa, don't give up the quest! Those angels are there, but sometimes they make it difficult to be found (or we do).

    Jenn Honey, Hey!!! Last I saw of you it appeared you were being strangled by The Hulk! SO glad you were able to escape, cutie!! thank you for stopping by! <3

    L.J. - Hey you! and Thank You. I drew that funky little angel and I'll bet you recognize the "special effects" from our friend PicMonkey.

  18. Lovely post. You shared many things. Angels show up, sometimes when you least expect them. I've had a number of these. Nice view.

  19. What a beautiful post Kaye. I understand the feeling of missing out Bouchercon. I know many mystery bloggers attended and I was hoping I could too, but I missed out. Hopefully I will get to Malice and meet all you fabulous authors!

  20. Hi Kaye, thanks for holding down the fort while we were away! Will see you soon at another--that's the good thing about these conventions, they do come around again...

    We'll be sharing a little more about Bcon during this next week so stay tuned:)

  21. Thanks everyone - I'm glad you're enjoying my ramblings today. AND Earl's.

    I'll be at Malice. As soon as I saw Laura Lippman's name on the program I had to register. I had a great time last year, which was my first. If life were fair I'd be able to go to Malice AND B'Con, but that's not in my cards, I'm afraid.

    Can't wait to hear some B'con stories, Lucy!

  22. Kaye, count me in for a club for Earl! Thelma

  23. The photo looks like one Annette Dashofy put up on Facebook.

  24. Yay Kaye! Jungle Reds at Malice! xooxo And I will bring your pashmina! (who else is going?)

  25. Kaye, it was a ton of fun teaming up with you here. A real treat for me. A big thank you to the Red Ladies and to everyone who stopped by. Mostly, thanks and a big hug to you just for being you.

  26. I'm late to the party because I was at a party (B'con) and just got home.

    I've known many angels in my life, Kaye, but I must point out two recent ones with huge wings and very sparkly tiaras. Red Julia emailed me from out of nowhere right after I won the Malice Domestic Competition and offered me congratulations and help, which she then proceeded to give in the most generous abundance. Truly an angel--and I finally had a chance to meet her and her fabulous Ross at B'con! What a huge treat for me!

    More recently, Red Debs agreed to blurb my forthcoming book--and picked up the first to read beforehand so she could do a thorough job! Unheard of for an author to do! We also had a chance to meet and spend some fun time together at B'con.

    But then, all the Reds are angels. All you have to do is look at the blog and how many writers (often debut authors) they help and to whom they give career boosts. I still remember sitting nervously waiting for my panel at Malice to begin when this gorgeous woman came up to me to wish me luck and thank me for my involvement with JRW. I had to blink and look twice to realize she was Hallie. My first experience of the "Reds look even prettier in person than in their photos" syndrome.

    I do hope everyone comes to Malice. That way I'll get to meet and see you all.