Tuesday, November 2, 2021

Simple Twists of Fate; a guest blog by Wendall Thomas

JULIA SPENCER-FLEMING: Authors, unsurprisingly, tend to be a somewhat superstitious lot. Not, say, to the extent of the 2004 Red Sox players who refused to shave their increasingly shaggy beards in case it might bust the streak, but still... we have our rituals. We respect (and worry and fear) the mystery of being able to pull a whole novel out of thin air. And we're all very aware that at more than one time, we've been the recipients of luck. That weird idea you have about a Southern vampire mystery romantic comedy turns out to be a massive hit for HBO. Or, more commonly, you meet an agent at a cocktail party you almost didn't attend because you were tired, and she's the one who sells your new series for more money. 

Wendall Thomas is a big believer in luck. Or karma, or doom, to use the old Norse term. Why? Well, let's just say, "Luck plus preparation equals opportunity."

 

 

I believe in fate. 

 

There are so many times a chance meeting or a lucky accident has changed the course of my life or paid off, years later, in unexpected ways. Planning has never worked for me. I’m not just a “pantser” in writing, I’m a pantser in life. 

 

The spring I was due to graduate from The University of North Carolina, I’d managed to accumulate 2500 albums and planned on being a sound engineer. But when an all-male New England prep school called and offered to fly me up for an interview, I went. And got the job. I’ve been teaching, one way or another, ever since.  

 

 

I never planned on getting married. I just wanted to travel. So when I got a last minute job offer to lecture at a writing workshop in Ballygally, Northern Ireland, I took it. When one of the writers dropped out, an Englishman named James Bartlett took his place. At the final night party, James was too late to sit at his friends’ table and wound up next to me. Even though he was fourteen years younger and lived in Belfast, I took a chance and danced with him. That was twenty years ago. Not surprisingly, we got married in Vegas, no wedding planner required.

Wendall and James at the scene of the crime

In 1995, I wanted to go on a walking tour of the East End of London, but only had time to make it to the one in South Kensington. I couldn’t know that the inspiration for my third Cyd Redondo mystery, Fogged Off,  would come from that walk and my subsequent friendship with the wonderful guide, actress Emily Richard, and her husband, Edward Petherbridge—some of you might remember him as Lord Peter Wimsey in the 1987 BBC adaptation of the Dorothy L. Sayers’s novels.

They had met on the epic eight hour production of Nicholas Nickleby and were both trained in classical theatre. They not only gave me their guest room and endless cups of tea, they gave me an entrĂ©e into the dressing rooms, cast parties, disappointments, and gossip of the West End. From them, I also learned about the down and dirty “backstage” of the walking tour world, filled largely with out-of-work actors, and retired academics. I was fascinated by the drama behind the guides seen leading groups on every corner in the city. 

Walking (and being inspired) with Emily Richard

And I knew I’d never seen that world in a novel. So, when the pandemic demanded I write about  a place and a world I already knew well and which Cyd might find tough to navigate, I chose London and the “cutthroat” world of Jack the Ripper walking tours—highly fictionalized, of course. It was fate.

One of the last conversations I ever had with my Dad was about fate and opportunity. He’d grown up the youngest of six on a farm outside Charlotte, N.C., complete with outhouse (as a child, he was famous for locking neighbors in and making him sing to get out...). He told me that the whole trajectory of his life, which he thought he would spend as a minor league baseball player or a mechanic, came down to his willingness to veer off course and say yes to random opportunities. This “pantsing” resulted in achievements—a PhD, heading the Speech and Hearing Department at UNC, consulting for NASA—that a farm boy couldn’t have dreamed of. It was only in his later years that he saw the plan that had always been bigger than he was.

Fogged Off is dedicated to him—my role model and cheerleader for flying blind.

Are you a planner or a pantser in life? Do you believe in fate? Have you ever had a chance meeting that changed your life? Let me know, because I'm giving away a copy of Fogged Off to one lucky commenter!

 

FOGGED OFF: When travel agent Cyd Redondo’s client and Jack the Ripper expert Shep Helnikov is found dead in London, she navigates the cutthroat worlds of research librarians, unemployed actors, embassy underlings, rodent smugglers, and more to find his killer and bring his body back home.

 

Wendall Thomas teaches in the Graduate Film School at UCLA, lectures internationally on screenwriting, and has worked as an entertainment reporter, development executive, script consultant, and film and television writer. Her first Cyd Redondo novel, Lost Luggage, was nominated for the Lefty and Macavity Awards for Best Debut Mystery of 2017. Her second, Drowned Under, was nominated for a Lefty for Best Humorous Mystery of 2019 and an Anthony Award for Best Paperback Original. Her short fiction appears in the crime anthologies Ladies NightLast Resort, and the Anthony-nominated Murder-A-Go-Go’s. You can find more at her website, like her on Facebook, and follow her on Twitter as @EWendallThomas

“Laugh-out-loud, coffee-down-your-shirt, don’t-read-it-on-the-bus hilarious. . . Fogged Off is what the world needs right now.” Catriona McPherson, multi-award-winning author of the Last Ditch Motel series

“A screwball delight. . . If Preston Sturges and Janet Evanovich had a baby, she would be Cyd Redondo.” Haris Orkin, award-winning author of You Only Live Once

97 comments:

  1. Wendell, welcome to Jungle Reds and I remember learning about your mystery novel at the Left Coast Crime conference in San Diego.

    Awesome about meeting your husband in England.

    Yes! I remember the actor from Lord Peter Wimsey and I remember when he was on Midsomer Murders. Ian Richardson was supposed to play the role, then he died two days before filming so your friend played the role. I think it was the Chocolate Box episode?

    Chance meetings are fascinating, right? I have met some wonderful people, who became lifelong friends from chance meetings. I met my college boyfriend from a chance meeting. I was studying abroad at Oxford when I met the parents of a ballet dancer at the Royal Ballet. We were at the Royal Ballet in London when we were chatting before the performance started. They insisted on driving me back to Oxford from London because they did not want me to take the train back at night.

    Meeting your husband is a wonderful chance meeting! Sounds so romantic!

    Diana

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    1. Thanks so much. Yes, I am very lucky in my husband. He had a "pub day" present and card waiting for me by my computer when I got up today, so I am so happy I took that trip, every day. I love your story about the parents of the Royal ballet dancer. Things can really be random, can't they? And wonderful that way.

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  2. This is such a wonderful tribute to possibilities, Wendall . . . fate certainly is amazing at taking our lives in all sorts of unexpected directions. Happy Book Birthday . . . “Fogged Off” sounds like a special treat . . . I’m looking forward to reading it.

    I’m not much good when it comes to planning things . . . and, yes, I believe in fate; after all, I met my husband as a result of simply accompanying a fellow teacher to a morning meeting . . . .

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    1. Good morning, Joan, and thank you for the kind words. Yes, it's heartening that, for all the "romantic comedy" pratfalls and mistakes we make in life, sometimes husbands and friends just show up anyway!

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  3. WENDALL: Welcome back to JRW!
    You know I LOVE your Cyd Reddondo books, including FOGGED OFF!

    Wow, fate has certainly played a positive hand in your life for sure.
    Thanks for sharing these wonderful stories on your path to teaching, how you met your husband James and the lovely tribute to your dad.

    Me, I am a planner to the max but I have had some chance encounters that have changed my career and life.

    When I was travelling throughout the UK via youth hostels/Britrail at 19, I met a newly married Australian couple in their 20s at a youth hostel in Stirling, Scotland. Graham worked as a CPA and Heather was an Australian Red Cross nurse. We hit it off and exchanged mailing addresses (this was before email). To my surprise, they sent me a letter 2 years later with the news they were coming to Toronto to start another 3-month global adventure. This time, they were also bringing a 3-month daughter named Olivia. Suffice to say, we met up and I gave them the grand tour of Toronto. They were as laid back and charming as always and I had an open-ended invitation to come stay with them in their home outside of Sydney. Sadly, I have not made the trip out there yet. Graham and Heather now have 4 kids so I think the guest bedroom is gone!

    And one of the best work assignments I had in the 1990s was because of a fateful email from an Environment Canada colleague who had a friend in Ottawa looking for someone like me. I was at a low point in my (current) job so I gave Chris Tucker a phone call. And that's all it took for me to pack up and move to Ottawa for a jam-packed 3-year assignment working on natural hazards and emergency preparedness projects that changed the trajectory of my research career.


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    1. I should have added that my encounter with Graham and Heather inspired to travel as much as possible. I was still in university when we met but I took a travel term off from school to go to Europe for another 2 month solo trip. And then I had to save up vacation time for 5 years before I could take my mom on our first trip to Europe in 1993. We spent a memorable 9-weeks together criss-crossing the continent.

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    2. Grace! Thank you for the kind words and I love those two stories. Given your great travel posts on Facebook, I can only imagine what a wonderful host and guide you were for Graham and Heather. And, if they are Australians and they have four kids, I would imagine they will sort something out when you finally get to Sydney! In terms of stops and starts in careers, it is so easy to get discouraged sometimes and feel like you are just hitting your head against the wall, and then, suddenly, you've knocked a hole in the wall big enough to walk through. I love that fate stepped in and sent you to Ottawa! Thank you so much for posting and for your longtime support for the series!

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    3. Awww, thanks, Wendall. I am happy to be a champion for Cyd and your wonderful series!

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  4. What adventures, Wendall! I had a chance encounter with a woman on a Greyhound decades ago that convinced me I might have it in me to go to graduate school, after all. I had a few detours getting there, but seven years later I was the proud holder of a PhD.

    While I don't plan my writing, I am something of a planner in my life. Right now I plan to go hunt down your books, because they've somehow evaded my radar!

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  5. Thanks so much for posting, Edith! Wow, from a Greyhound to a PhD is such a great trajectory (and almost a song title). I'm very heartened that you are a pantser, as your books are so beautifully plotted, that gives me something to strive for. I have to admit, at 62, there are moments I wish I'd planned in life a bit more--like for retirement...

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    1. Wow, thank you for "beautifully plotted" - if you only knew how I scramble to make it all work as I'm revising...!

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  6. Thanks so much for that intro, Julia, and to all of the Reds for having me here on publication day. What would we all do without the seven of you! xxxx

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  7. Wendall, welcome to JRW and congratulations on your latest book, it sounds terrific. The story about how you met your husband is delicious and one to savor. Thank you for sharing it with us!

    I am one of those people who plan but know well enough to recognize when plans won't work. My luckiest "chance meeting" happened when my husband bought the condominium directly across the street from mine. It was at least 2 months before we actually met although we'd seen one another coming and going all that time. I was particularly lucky that he liked big dogs because I had a 110 pound German Shepherd cross breed who'd been screening my dates and scaring off those who were unworthy! Ha! The first thing he said to me was, "I've always wanted a dog like that!" And then he smiled and I thought, "Easy enough."

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    1. Judy! My reply disappeared, I am trying again. I absolutely love that story. Clearly your dog was looking out for you in more ways than one and it gave your fearless husband a way to recognize you as a soulmate. Thanks so much for posting and for the kind words!

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    2. JUDY: Now that is fate and signs of a good match re: meeting your husband.
      I'm sure your dog was also a good judge of whether he was a suitable date for you, too.

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    3. OMG, Grace. He bought him ice cream the first time he met him. It was love at first bite!

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    4. JUDY: Love at firrst bite, that's great!

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  8. Welcome Wendall, love your post. What a lucky thing to find your Irishman that way. I'd love to hear how your expertise in screenwriting helps in writing your mysteries?

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    1. Good morning, Lucy! Thanks so much for having me and for the kind words. In thinking about it, my screenwriting background--which involves not only writing, but teaching film writing--probably makes it easier for me to be a pantser in novels. Screenwriting is so specific in terms of certain beats you are expected to hit, regardless of the genre, and so there is probably a bit of "structure knowledge" in my DNA that I'm not even conscious of when I'm writing. I also think it makes me hyper-aware of the need for a strong central question and a true "disastrous" midpoint in a book and I know that, if I have those, it's easier to write up to and away from those moments on instinct. I also think it helps me with Cyd Redondo's physical comedy in the books, as I learned in scripts to use the "white space" for beats and comic pacing and I do that as much as I can in prose. It's harder in a novel, though. Thanks for making me articulate this for myself!

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  9. Hi, Wendall! I fall somewhere between a "plotter" and "pantser" when it comes to life. I don't like totally freewheeling, but I don't like everything planned to the last detail, either.

    I love the story of your inspiration for the newest book.

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    1. Thanks so much for posting, Liz! Freewheeling can cause a lot of unnecessary stress, so I figure being a "combo" is probably the wisest move. I envy you your balance!

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  10. I am SUCH a fan! And this post is absolutely inspirational. I know this isn't the point, but 2500 albums?

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    1. Haha! It might almost rival your t-shirt collection, Hank! It took a V-8 engine to get those across the country, you can imagine... Upon my husband's insistence, I have gotten the number down to about 1000 now. Thanks, as ever, for the kind words!

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  12. Congratulations on your latest publication! Kensington is my favorite part of London. One night, quite by chance, we had dinner at the Scarsdale Tavern on Edwardes Square. After dinner, we watched the bonfire and fireworks to commemorate what turned out to be Guy Fawkes Day. I'll use the memory in a story someday.

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    1. Margaret, the Scarsdale is one of my favorite pubs and I usually meet my London friend there for dinner. How fun that you got to see the bonfire!

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  13. Happy Book Birthday Wendall! You know I LOVED Fogged Off. Just patiently waiting for book #4.

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    1. Dru! You have been so fabulous about the book and the series, I can never thank you enough. Sending love from 5:30am in LA!

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  14. Wow, Margaret. Thanks so much. And yes, Kensington is magic. What a wonderful night that must have been! Accidental Guy Fawkes Day! It's nice when a foreign holiday can take you by surprise in a good way (as opposed to not knowing the Tube will be closed...)I had one of those in England as well, that first trip, when I met Emily. I was staying at a small town on the edge of the New Forest and smelled smoke. My B&B hosts explained, and I met a lot of lovely people that night. Thanks for posting.

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  15. Wendall, happy pub day! Always something to look forward to on JRW--new books to read! I'm behind on Cyd's travels, but oh the fun in catching up! Fogged Off and Drowned Under are heading to the top of my list of books I need to be reading. I love your description of screenwriting and how it influences your novels. Some books scroll like a movie as I read them--movie adaptations almost seem effortless. Screen adaptations really shine, though, when the screenwriter can translate and elevate the essence of a novel. (Since we're all about books here, but original screenplays are pure heaven! Can you tell I love movies almost as much as I love books?).

    Two random things that happened to me at about the same time--I was out of work and scrounging freelance projects in my field. I was living with a sister and feeling tired of trying, when a friend helped me get a freelance project. Turns out the company had a mountain of work and a very receptive project director--I ended up with a full-time job. I began looking at houses, but my realtor couldn't seem to translate what I wanted into the houses she showed me. One day she suggested I drive by a property--it was not what I wanted at all. Discouraged, I drove back to my sister's and on the way drove down one of my favorite country roads--and saw a house for sale sign. I'm still living in that house.

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  16. Good morning, Flora! Yes, we share a dual love of films and books and it is too bad when a book adaptation lets us down. In the end, I think the most successful ones either are based on books that are not revered, and sometimes aren't that good (McCabe comes to mind as the inspiration for McCabe and Mrs. Miller...) or on novellas like Stephen King's The Body, which don't have to be diminished. Stand By Me felt like its own, wonderful thing. I love your two stories of how fate stepped in. And that you are still living in that house! How great. Thanks for the kind words about the series. I am in the same dilemma, with TBR piles in every room!

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  17. Oh Wendall - I love this (also a BIG fan of Cyd Redondo!) I'm pretty cautious when it comes to making big changes in my life - I like to take baby steps. Sounds like you're more of a leap-and-the-net-will-appear kind of decision maker. Whatever works and makes you happy. By any measure, you're doing just fine.

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  18. Hallie, it definitely has its downsides in moments, but you can't completely fight your nature. Or I can't seem to, anyway. I just posted this on your fb page, but I credit fate for our meeting, and so for my being on JRW today. If you hadn't dropped into my panel at CCWC and then been kind enough to tell me to let you know when my books was coming out, we might never have met and I wouldn't have found this wonderful blog, or you! I treasure our friendship so much. Sending love and thanks for the kind words about Cyd. xx

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  19. I mean book, not books! It is still early in LA, but that's no excuse for typos. xx

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  20. Oh wow! A new (to me) author with a new series that sounds devine! I can't think of any point where a chance meeting changed my life. Maybe it just hasn't happened yet! I'm somewhere in the middle between pantser and plotter. Maybe more of the planning gene because I love to look forward to something that is planned. Often that is the best part of the event, thinking of all the possibilities.

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    1. Judi, my replies keep moving! I clearly am not the master of this blog domain. Look for my response below!

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  21. "A screwball delight"? Just what I need right now! Congratulations, Wendall.

    Love your story of meeting your husband, and that you were open to a relationship with someone so much younger. That does take a lot of courage, and I feel fairly certain your friends and family members gave you some, shall we say interesting feedback around that decision, pro and con.

    So many serendipitous moments in my life, that I call "boulder in the creek" points, where the course of my life has had to strike out into unknown territory to get around an obstacle, or from taking a left turn instead of continuing on. Meeting my husband was also that kind of whimsical situation. I was meeting friends at a bar after work one August afternoon, and they were late. They were always late, and I decided this once I would be the late one. So I went home, changed into something cooler, had a bite, then went back. When I got there they were talking to the nicest guy I'd ever met, and he ended up asking me out. That was 43 years ago, and two kids later we will celebrate our 40th wedding anniversary in March.

    And thank you for applying the term pantser to life decisions. Most of my life had no real plan, but it has worked out beautifully, and I wouldn't change a thing. It's all about saying "yes", isn't it?

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    1. Thank you, Karen. Yes, EVERYONE had an opinion on our marriage. Especially my new mother-in-law! You can imagine. I guess staying married is the best revenge...I love that story about meeting your husband. I, too, am terminally prompt but have never had that kind of luck when I decided to turn the tables. Congratulations on what sounds like a wonderful marriage and life! Thanks for posting.

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  22. Congratulations, Wendall, on your book pub day! Your series is new to me.

    I am a firm planner, and I believe equally firmly that a plan is just a theory that changes when new data arrives. My personal tagline is "The plan may change along the way, but it’s better to change the plan than be lost without one."

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    1. Good morning, Amanda. As I've said above, I really envy people who can plan properly and then have things workout at least vaguely the way they planned. It always seemed to backfire on me, even when I was very young, so I guess that made it easier for me to throw more caution to the wind. I love your tagline, it really incorporates the best of both approaches!

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    2. Wendall: Thank you for replying to my comment. I find this topic of planning vs not planning endlessly fascinating. I'd love a discussion about 'plans that backfired' -- and I'd also love a post about 'serendipity that turned sour'! When opportunity meets ability, it's a beautiful thing.

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    3. Amanda, yes, this post is definitely skewed towards the successful leaps! There have been many which have not turned out so well, especially involving pre-husband dates! (The best example would take too long to write here, but grab me at a conference sometime..) I think as a kid I spent a lot of time daydreaming about the way I wanted things to turn out, and they hardly ever did. But dreaming is a lot different than planning. Most of the planning I've tried to do has involved my various careers, and though I passed up some opportunities I shouldn't have (usually out of fear) and didn't quite "pants" enough in those situations, my organized plans about j,ob-hunting, writing, getting an agent, pitching projects, etc. have often been disastrous, and I've been saved by luck or another person's kindness. S I think you're right it IS endlessly fascinating and I'm not sure there's a right answer.

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    4. Definitely no right answer, Wendall. Just a lifelong pursuit of (preferably) good experiences...

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  23. Hi Judi! Yes, the anticipation is all. And I think, especially now, being able to plan anything and have things to look forward feels like a privilege. Thanks for the very kind words and chance may have things in store for you yet!

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  24. I’m a lifelong “wannabe” planner who has ended up living life mostly as a Pantser. And it’s good!

    I’m a huge fan of Cyd and have anxiously awaited the next book, which I preordered. I couldn’t remember when it was supposed to arrive and was pleasantly surprised when it showed up on my Kindle this morning! I hope those who haven’t yet started reading your books love them as much as I do!

    DebRo

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    1. Deb! What an incredibly generous post. Thank you so much. Yes, the "best laid plans" and all that. I really hope you like the book--it was a bit harder to try to be funny during the pandemic, so you can let me know if I pulled it off! Best to you from me, and from Cyd!

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  25. Good Morning Wendall and all the JRWs- this entire post has been such a joy. Is there such a thing as a hybrid pantser/planner? I make lists and then lose them which means I seem to start out with a plan but then finish with a improvised slid into home plate. Hallie and Wendall, as a side note, that CCWC was the first writers conference I ever attended. I saw Hallie's picture on a Facebook post promoting the conference. It was the coming weekend and it was close to home so why not? I had never considered attending a conference. I had no idea there was such a thing as a mystery writer's community. A whole new world opened up to me that weekend and it's one that continues to feel like home. Wendall, you know I love Cyd. I'm going to settle in and enjoy Fogged Off this evening with a nice cuppa.

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    1. Lyda! I had no idea that CCWC was your first conference. How lucky for all of us. And I, too, am a chronic list-loser. Especially as they are usually on the back of envelopes which my very tidy husband often recycles on instinct...I'm thrilled you're reading the book and hope you let me know what you think. If the cuppa isn't working, there's always bourbon!

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  26. I am definitely a pantster, although I sometimes surprise myself with actually planning something, such as packing for a trip at least a day in advance instead of the morning of! My daughter, on the other hand, is quite the planner and so organized! She’s still trying to figure out where she got that from…

    I’m looking forward to reading Fogged Off, and love that it’s set in London ~

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    1. Hi Celia. Thanks so much for posting. Actually, packing is probably the only thing I really plan, as, like Cyd, I will only do carry-on. But overall, pantser, for sure. I don't have kids, but my husband is much more organized and neater than I am and sometimes we're astounded we've made those opposite approaches work for so long. Laughing bridges the gap, or minds it! Glad you like the London setting, it was a labor of love for me--I have so many happy memories there. Thanks for the kind words.

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  27. Even though I think I'm a planner, I think the planning is more like dreaming because I normally never have the guts to follow through. The pandemic has caused more pantster actions in my life, as I'm sure it has in everyone else's lives.

    I'm new to your books, so I will be checking them out when I get a minute during the day.

    For some reason I think it's Edith's birthday, hope the day is wonderful.

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    1. Hi Deanna. I'm a big dreamer as well, always have been, so I agree with you about that and also about the pandemic. We've all had to scramble, not always in a good way, this last year and a half, in ways we could never have predicted. I hope in the end, it will make all of us braver about "pantsing" when we're not forced to. Thanks so much for your post and for the kind words about the book!

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  28. Hi Wendall - I'm a combination of pantser and plotter, both in writing and life. Sometimes it feels like wandering, but in life, the results have been uniformly good. I joined the Air Force based on a recruiter's recommended job, which had a certain start date for training. This led to my attendance in the technical school, where I saw a handsome, out-going man across the breakroom. He approached me, and I fell hard for him. However, over the next four years we were just friends as he attended the Air Force Academy and I travelled around Europe. After seeing him at Christmas during his senior year, I mentioned to a coworker my renewed romantic interest in this guy. The coworker said, if he wants to get stationed here I can make that happen. Turned out that he did, and we were married a year after his graduation. Two wonderful kids later, I realize that all of the chance events had to happen just as they did, or I would not have ended up with the love of my life. (By the way, if you haven't attended an Air Force Academy graduation, it's something to see. The Thunderbirds do a low pass over the stadium immediately after the Academy commandant says, "You are dismissed.")

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    1. It said I was replying as Karen Brandin, but then when I pushed "publish", it said unknown. Sorry about that.

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    2. Hi Karin! The blog was a bit squirrelly with me today as well, so no worries. Wow, that is such a perfect pantser/plotter love story! I love that. I have never had the good fortune to attend an Air Force graduation--it sounds incredible. My father loved planes and we used to drive to the airport to watch them take off when I was a kid, so he would have especially loved it. Thank you so much for posting this!

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  29. Cannot wait for this new book! I certainly remember Edward Petherbridge as the definitive Wimsey(I just might have the DVD's. Third shelf up, on the right) and have also taken some great walking tours in London. Answering your question, I am a planner in real life - keeper of the family calendars, files, trip research, etc ( retired librarian) but helpless pantser in writing. I'd like to be a plotter - I do waste a lot of time as a pantser - but it never works for me. A half page of planning and I feel like I am wasting time, let's get to the writing.

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    1. Dear Triss! So lovely to see you here. Haha about the DVDs. Edward was always so lovely to me. He's not unlike Sir Peter in life, except that instead of quoting poems, he writers them and reads them to you on the stairs! It's heartening to me that you're a pantser in writing, as I love your books and they seem beautifully thought out. Wish I were more of a plotter in life-- you should see my desk! Sending much love and thanks for the kind words about the series.

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    2. Apologies to everyone about the typos. When I started responding I hadn't had enough coffee, and now I've had too much!

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  30. Hi Wendall! What a treat today. I read the blog on my phone first thing this morning and as soon as I got down to my computer, I bought Fogged Off! I can't wait to dive into this one!!! I usually stay in South Ken when I'm in London, and the whole of Kensington is stomping ground for me. And I SO envious of your friendship with Edward Petherbridge and his wife Emily!! I adored his Lord Peter (by far the best) and have always kept an eye out for him in productions since.

    On a personal note, my husband is four years younger than me, so I applaud you and your hubby. No one thinks anything of a man marrying a younger woman, so I say hooray for us!

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  31. Thank you so much, Deborah, for the kind words and the buy. Since you know London well, I will be interested to see what you think! The first time I stayed in London I didn't really know enough to plan my hotel choice and just by luck wound up in that wonderful neighborhood. And yes, Edward is hilarious. Whenever I stayed with them, I was always late to everything, as he would make me stop on the way out the door to listen to a sonnet he'd just written or a 78 he'd dug out. Meeting them really was such a very happy twist of fate! Plus, I got to stay in West Hampstead...I didn't know your husband was younger, but yes, hurrah for us! Everyone told me not to do it, but so far, they've been idiots. Thanks for posting and fondest from LA!

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  32. I'm a planner who hates to make decisions. So fate quite often takes a hand.

    Congrats on the new book. My copy is on the way. Looking forward to reading it.

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  33. Mark! I can imagine with your job you have to be organized. But that doesn't make decision-making any easier, does it? Probably it's even harder. Still, I really admire how hard you work for your readers and how lucky we authors are to have you considering our work. Thanks so much for reading the series. I'm always on tenterhooks waiting to know what you think. I appreciate your posting!

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  34. What an impressive and tempting bunch of review quotes!

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  35. Thanks, Libby, I imagine they were all drunk when they wrote them, but I'm grateful just the same!

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  36. I am so NOT a pantser, lol! I honestly wish I was. But I have benefitted from a few impulsive decisions. Like changing a no to a yes re: attending a dinner - and meeting my husband there. Congratulations! Now I'm off to work on a ms, based on the 26 page detailed outline I wrote! See? Not a pantser. (I don't know how you manage to pants screenplays, Wendall. You'll have to tell me sometime. xo)

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    1. Oh, and don't enter me in the contest. Looking forward to buying the book.

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    2. Honestly, Ellen, if I ever had to do a 26 page outline for anything, I would blow my brains out. I admire you so much for that! That's amazing. I think the screenplay thing is just practice, but TV writing is very different. Thanks for posting!

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  37. Oh, dear Wendall, I do so love you and your Cyd Redondo books! I should finish reading Fogged Off today, and, no surprise, I am enjoying every single page. I do want to apologize for being behind schedule and not having a review out on today, its book birthday, but I've actually already started the review while reading it. I couldn't wait to start getting my feelings about it down on paper. Congratulations on another successful addition to the series that proves how splendidly entertaining reading can be.

    It's so interesting reading how fate has seemed to play such an important hand in your life, Wendall. Meeting James the way you did reminds me that fate played a part in how I met my husband. I was in my last semester at the University of Kentucky, and a friend had asked me to wait for her while she handed in some paperwork at the College of Education, and then we would walk to the student center together. I waited and when we walked over there, my future husband Philip was looking out of the window at the ROTC building. He knew my friend and later asked her to get my phone number. The rest is history. Your loving words about your father are so touching, too, Wendall. I'm so glad you had him in your life. And, I want to thank you for the inclusion of a quote from my review in the e-book version of Fogged Off that I'm reading. Oh, and I am so very thankful that I had put together the dinner in St. Pete and that you honored my request to attend. It was the start of a beautiful friendship that I treasure.

    Planner or panster. I usually like to plan out what I'm going to do on a trip, often where I'm going to eat. I'm afraid if I leave it all to chance, I'll miss something that I will regret missing. My writing of reviews is a mix of planning and pantsing though. I do have a certain pattern I use to write reviews, but I usually start by letting my heart lead me to pour out how I felt about a book.

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  38. Hi Wendall, I'm really looking forward to reading your latest--I absolutely loved Lost Luggage! I like to pretend I'm a planner, but really too often I'm not. But it works out just fine, even with traveling. Book the first night's hotel, after that, well, we'll see!
    -Melanie

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    1. Hi Melanie! Thank you so much for those very generous words. I'm thrilled you liked Lost Luggage. Yes, I agree that for travel, some plans are smart, but you have to be willing to change them if something wonderful catches your fancy. Thanks so much for posting!

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  39. Kathy! Thank you so much for all those very kind words. I love the story about your husband, that's a fab one, and it's interesting to me how many people here had a somewhat random meeting with the person they've spent most of their life with. It really does make me believe in rom/coms for real! I would imagine that you would have to be pretty organized to be a reviewer, in terms of the scheduling, if not the sentiments, at least. I'm pretty organized about my teaching. That's probably where my fear of letting people down overcomes my natural impulse to wing everything... Thanks so much for posting and I can't wait to hear/read what you think! Very glad fate had a hand in our valued friendship, dear Kathy! In fact, didn't we first connect here, on the site? And then you read Lost Luggage? Cheers again, to the Reds!

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    1. Yes, we did first connect here, Wendall. Jungle Red Writers is one of the best places to meet and connect with authors there is. I can't wait to see you and the Reds and so many others in person again. I hope to meet James, too. You both are so interesting.

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  40. He looks forward to meeting you, too! That is a day devoutly to be wished!

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  41. Hi Wendall! I've heard such fabulous things about the Cyd books, that I'm looking forward to diving in! I like to think of myself as a panster-with-notes! I met my husband by several coincidences. First at The Catacombs,a dance club in Houston,where our dads happened to be temporarily transferred,a month before I turned 15. I was dating his co-worker & we danced and chatted a few times. He was 2 yrs. older, very cute & so cool. Then 2yrs. later we met again just by chance in Dallas, where he was born and raised,when a friend's cousin needed a ride to the airport to fly back to CA on a late night flight. DH just happened to be an available friend/neighbor to my pal, and supplied the ride in his GTO. We spent the evening talking,reminiscing & laughing and had our 1st date the next weekend. Four yrs. later we were married,and it's now been over 48 yrs.! We've also had chance meetings, like on a plane to Jamaica from Dallas, where we became friends with a couple across the aisle,who were staying in MoBay at an all-inclusive, but we were going to Negril. They called our hotel,then rented a motorcycle and drove west to come visit, got a room where we stayed and we spent 2 days together, seeing the sights and having fun. We kept in touch for years thereafter! You never know what curve-balls life will throw at you, in spite of "planning"!

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  42. Hi Lynn. Thanks for the kind words about Cyd! I love the idea of "pantser with notes," and love the story of you and your husband's "random" meets before 48 years of marriage! Congratulations, that is some achievement. I love the Jamaica story, too. When you're open (and not too stupid about it) wonderful things and people can come your way. Thanks so much for posting!

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  43. Sometimes one just has to take a chance on life . . .

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  44. Sorry I’m late to the party - it’s been A DAY! Congratulations, Wendell!!! I am chomping at the bit to read Fogged Off - I love this series so hard and your premise sounds brilliant!

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    1. Hi Jen! That is so kind and means so much, coming from you! You're my rom/com heroine! Let me know what you think and thanks so much for posting. x

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  45. Also, I swear I typed Wendall- curse you, autocorrect!

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