Time for a second week of Birthright discussion! Do you like this book chat idea? Do you feel you need a new post per discussion prompt or are you ok with five prompts during the week? Any and all feedback is welcome as we figure this out!
MARCH 30: I do like a man with a plan. And Jake is full of them, isn’t he? I enjoyed their rhythm in work and conversation. You?
MARCH 31: I’m not sure how to describe my reaction to these lines. Sympathy for everyone involved is at the forefront, especially for Callie who is so pulled in many emotional directions.
APRIL 1 — Doug was so impatient and brusque when we met him, but these few lines gave him all my sympathy. So torn between past and present.
Time to start a new adventure: Book Chats here on the blog.
You’ll have to bear with me as I figure out the best ways to do this. For now, I’ll add a different graphic to this post Monday through Friday (and if we need more, I’ll make it so).
The first book is Birthright. If you haven’t read it in a while here’s the quick summary:
When five-thousand-year-old human bones are found at a construction site in the small town of Woodsboro, the news draws archaeologist Callie Dunbrook out of her sabbatical and into a whirlwind of adventure, danger, and romance.
While overseeing the dig, she must try to make sense of a cloud of death and misfortune that hangs over the project-fueling rumors that the site is cursed. And she must cope with the presence of her irritating-but irresistible-ex-husband, Jake. Furthermore, when a stranger claims to know a secret about her privileged Boston childhood, she is forced to question her own past as well.
MARCH 23: First conversation point: Is there anything you love — even with any discomforts — as much as Callie loves archaeology?
MARCH 24: Lana and Tyler Campbell are the first locals Callie meets in Woodsboro. Not sure I like Callie’s philosophy about kids or her immediate nickname for Tyler more. You?
MARCH 25: Doug Cullen considering how and why his family unraveled so completely. The hard part of these sentences is you can feel for everyone involved.
MARCH 26: I love a book in which I can’t wait to see what everyone is doing. For Birthright, watching Lana court Doug was so much fun. Are there secondary characters you’ve rooted on as much as you did the main couple?
MARCH 27: And then Jake Graystone swaggers on the page with his smug walk (Callie’s words). Here we have an example of Love Talk, Callie and Jake style. What appealed to you about Jake?
This is a terrible and scary time. Most of us have to stay in our homes, losing the freedom of movement and society we’ve all taken for granted, well, forever. But we give up that basic freedom for the good of all. For our families and friends and neighbors. For strangers we’ll never meet.
Not all of us can stay home and safe, and we need to thank all those on the front lines. The doctors, nurses, interns, the lab techs, cleaning services, maintenance people, support staff in hospitals and clinics everywhere.
The cops, the firefighters, the truck drivers and delivery people, the mail carriers and all who leave the safety of home to help and protect us are heroes.
We have staff at Vesta and Turn The Page and Gifts going to work on limited hours to provide food for take-out, on line ordering for books and other things that make life for those of us at home easier and more bearable. At FIT, our Renee is streaming yoga videos from her home to keep that connection, to offer ways to relax. Our inn staff is doing videos of room tours, and posting on FB to, again, keep that connection, offer something to help people get out of their own heads for just a little while.
The teachers doing their best to send out lesson plans, to keep our children from losing progress, to keep their minds occupied, more heroes.
The child care providers tending children so those medical and essential people can do their jobs, just more heroes.
For myself, staying home is natural to me—but . . . I miss my grandchildren, I miss spending a fun week with my girl pals. And, like all of us, I worry.
Kayla’s missing the best part of her senior year—her last chance to run competitively, her prom, her moment of walking across the stage for her diploma. And the trip we planned for this summer, taking her to Italy.
And this sweet, smart, strong young woman is handling these deep disappointments without complaint. She’s sad, but knows how lucky she is—she told me so—to have a home, to have internet, to have books and movies, a family right there.
She’s one of my heroes, too.
I mourn for Italy, one of my favorites places in the world. I have dear, dear friends in New York, and am sick what this virus is doing to a city I love. I have friends with underlying conditions, with elderly parents, with young children.
I light candles—that’s my way of sending out light and hope and strength.
I have my home, my work—plenty of food and alcoholic beverages. I work out daily—it helps gets me out of my head. I have books, I stream movies—and when watching the news gets too much, I switch on HGTV, or turn to a book or movie.
When the weather warms, BW and I can do yard work, something we both enjoy. I hope we can get annuals to fill out the beds, but if not (after my sad) I can divide and plug perennials into empty spaces.
I walked around outside—it’s brisk but sunny out there today—and took pictures of blooming things. It helps remind me that seasons change, hope springs, and we have to look for beauty to find it even in horrible times.
Last fall I sliced a tomato, stuck it in a pot. And today, I picked the first perfect little ripe tomato. I’m going to send it down the lane with Kayla—she’s bringing me a few back-up groceries after her mom gets to the store.
Yesterday I made chocolate chip cookies, so my treasures down the hill can have that little bit of love from me.
Later today we’re FaceTiming with Jason, Kat and Griffin. They send pictures and videos, and I gobble them up every day.
This virus is a bastard, and we all have to take it very seriously. We have to protect each other. I hope you, too, can find little things to do to help push away the worry for awhile. Spring cleaning, crafting, books, movies, keeping in touch with friends and family, playing games, baking, whatever works. Do something to ease your mind while you stay safe and strong.
I read a story about a young man who heard an elderly couple in the grocery store say there was no more bread. He told them to take the loaf he had in his cart. Heroism can be just that simple.
Social distancing doesn’t mean we stop caring. It shows we care enough to give up those freedoms, that movement, those activities to protect others.
This is long and rambling, but heartfelt. Stay safe, wash your hands (We’re going through soap and lotion like crazy here!), be loving enough to keep your distance so we can all hug again one day.
I’m lighting candles for all of you.
Note from Laura: With so many people away from their regular routines, I think this is the right week to start the FITS book discussions. I will start a post with the first graphic and add to it as the week passes (like I do with the teasers for the In Deaths). I’ll be using graphics some of you may have seen on Facebook because I have a backlog of them.
The first book we’ll discuss is Birthright. Look for a Monday morning post.
Life as we know it is a bit upended right now. I thought it would be fun to bring a little excitement of the book kind into this St. Patrick’s Day 2020 so I’m pleased to share the cover reveal video for The Awakening, the first book in the Dragon Heart Legacy.
Right now, all I can tell you is the Awakening is the first book in Nora’s latest trilogy where parallel worlds clash over the struggle between good and evil.
You can pre-order The Awakening at your favorite retailer now:
I haven’t blogged in awhile mostly because I’ve had my nose to the grindstone both professionally and domestically. So it’s pretty much boring, as in:
Get up, go to work. Check the news on the world maybe. Realize the news in the world sucks a lot. Go back to work. Finish work, go work out. Sweat is good!
Talk to BW. Perhaps have a drink with BW because I’ve had a righteous day. Eat. Sign books or do galleys if necessary. Watch something on TV as brain is very tired. So is body. Go to bed.
Get up, repeat.
On weekends, continue the full house purge–no excuses!–until it’s finally, finally, FINALLY complete. Bake bread, make soup or whatever. Shovel out the rest of the house.
Oh, a couple of dentist appointments in there. My teeth are my bane. A couple of family dinners–with at least some on the menu geared toward our vegetarian.
Oh, a nice visit from same over a weekend when she stayed with us. Movies, on-line shopping for (gulp!) a graduation dress. And it’s so pretty on her, too! Help with purging is always welcome. Much happy conversation about college. When Kayla leaves the end of August, I’ll miss that girl like a limb.
A delightful family Sunday including the constantly happy Griffin. He definitely likes Nana’s spaghetti. I don’t know if Laura can grab the shot of him off FB–I have no clue how to–but it’s classic.
Work, more work–my favorite routine is sticking well over this period. I love getting solid, uninterrupted writing days, then sweating it off, getting my house in order and spending time in the kitchen on weekends. It’s my perfect balance.
Tomorrow I plan to go out into the world (or at least Boonsboro) for the first time–excluding the dentist–since . . . jeez, I think the February signing. I believe that’s correct.
The inn’s having an art show with one of my very favorite artists, Claire Hardy. Since I’ve just redone our bedroom I believe I have a spot for a new painting.
Then, my hope is to continue to basic and boring right up to the girl spa in April.
As of this writing, we’re 8 days away from Golden in Death (see? it wasn’t that long). In a FITS tradition, I’ll share some teasers about the book over the next few days.
As always, these will not spoil the plot, they are just some Easter Eggs (as they say in the film business) to look out for when you read.
A quick reminder of the plot:
Pediatrician Kent Abner received the package on a beautiful April morning. Inside was a cheap trinket, a golden egg that opened into two halves. When he pried it apart, highly toxic airborne fumes entered his body—and killed him.
After Eve calls the hazmat team—and undergoes testing to reassure herself and Roarke that she wasn’t exposed—it’s time to look into Dr. Abner’s past and relationships. Not every victim Eve encounters is an angel, but it seems that Abner came pretty close—though he did ruffle some feathers over the years by taking stands for the weak and defenseless. While the lab tries to identify the deadly toxin, Eve hunts for the sender. When someone else dies in the same grisly manner, it becomes clear that she’s dealing with either a madman—or someone who has a hidden and elusive connection to both victims.
MONDAY, JANUARY 27
Black, brown, gray, indigo – which is more dignified?
Teaching, training – what’s the dif?
Peabody has a life exit plan.
Roarke now has Nowhere to go.
Tuesday, January 28
Whose brain has more fun when asleep?
There’s a chance Jenkinson’s ties are alive (in Eve’s head).
Did you know how old Peabody is?
Wednesday, January 29
Marriage Rules apparently have notations (and Eve is apparently corporate secretary)
Fog + sheen = power
Peabody translates the power of clothes
Thursday, January 30
Dectective Peabody: Forensic fabric specialist
Elevators: the best place for impromptu support meetings
Gardening for newbies is a lovely way to end a day
OK, gang, that’s it. Golden will be in your hands in four days!
I don’t make new year’s resolutions because never going to keep them, but I like the idea of starting fresh. And that I can try to do.
It might be why I do a full-house purge every January. You gotta out with the old before you in with anything. Plus I find it incredibly satisfying. Boxes and bags of things someone else might use–and clean, tidy closets and shelves and drawers for me. [Please see Editor Note below]
But first, we had to end the old year.
We do that around here with a full day in the kitchen prepping for our annual New Year’s Day Open House. The fun part of the prep is having the kitchen full of girls.
Kayla shows up first, willing and able. I’ve already started the red beans–culling out a portion before I add the ham hock so my veggie girl and Kat can have some. And I’ve mixed up and rolled 108 meatballs now simmering in red sauce.
Yes, I said 108.
Laura comes bearing her InstantPot to boil the eggs for deviling. This, she tells me–and it bears out–cuts the time down, doesn’t require my magic solution to make the eggs come easily from the shells.
And here’s Sarah.
Sarah and Laura, InstantPot experts–deal with the eggs. I don’t like to think about pressure cooking as I have vivid memories of my mother’s old cooker exploding.
But this doesn’t happen.
Kayla’s making brownies for her trifle, I’m making whatever comes next–and Kat arrives with Griffin. He’s the most delicious thing in the kitchen.
We stir, chop, cook, mix. I’m doing a couple more veggie dishes this year, experimenting to see what goes over with the crowd.
We drink champagne while everyone pitches in.
It’s a long, busy, productive day, and how better to spend the last day of the decade than with people you love?
Kayla’s building her trifle, Kat’s creating a huge casserole of tortellini and cheese, Sarah and Laura are shelling three dozen eggs. I’ve got two big-ass hams in the oven, and my pal Ruth’s recipe for Party Potatoes to finish up. And a whole lot more.
Jason–who had a show rehearsal–arrives.
…24 hours earlier
I’d emailed him in a panic the day before.
The saga is thus:
At the end of my work day, I go to back up on my flash drive before my workout. I get: MALFUNCTION!!! And something else that my shock has forgotten.
Okay, well, just reboot, it’ll be fine.
Okay, breathe. Try a new flash drive. And the screen goes black.
There is no breath as I hastily reboot, check if my work is still there (I’m talking 29 and a half chapters of a 30 chapter book.)
It’s still there, so okay.
Now let’s get out the Surface I use when traveling. Plug in the flash drive. And the keyboard won’t work.
I try everything (and send the panic email). I go to the desktop and Google, follow the instructions for what to do. Keyboard works.
For a minute. But even in that minute won’t read the drive. Not MALFUNCTION but INVALID.
I obsessively check, and my work remains intact. So I put all my faith in Jason and go workout.
An email from him when I check assures me all will be well. I’m already backed up on some other location. (I knew he did this, but I don’t understand it.) And he’ll figure things out when he gets here.
Back to prep day
So he’s here, and he figures things out. Apparently–though he’d never experienced it–the little drive itself malfunctioned and screwed up everything.
He fixes, puts in (has to program I think as I use the ancient WP) another flash drive.
So I don’t have to end the year weeping and gnashing my teeth while cursing the cruel and capricious gods of technology.
Ah, sweet relief provided by the prince of all sons.
Meanwhile, my girls have to go. Much gratitude for the help and the company. Post-nap Griffin eats hearty, and as I added noodles and sauce to his meatballs, gets a sink bath.
BW is the only one with enough gas left to make it till midnight.
Happy New Year means Kat puts together her adorable veg crudite–this year with a little something extra for Colt and his pal CJ.
We have set up, we have making whatever needed to be made in the morning. We have Griffin to entertain–and be entertained by. We have dogs to chase out of the kitchen.
Then we have guests. Lots of guests. Lots of happy, lots of people, lots of noise, lots of food. An all-day deal with friends and family to ring it all in.
And happily, enough party leftovers that Kat and Jason can take enough home, and I have enough here none of us need cook this weekend.
And Monday, it’s the start of a well-earned week and the spa for all of us. With this year’s extra-special treat of Kat’s participation in Nemocolin’s art show.
We’re so proud of her! She’s already sold SIX paintings. She has a website. Shoot, what is her website? Laura, do you have it? I have book brain as I worked today in anticipation of a week not, or barely, working.
[Laura Knows All: www.katpong.com]
My house is de-holidayed–clean slate. The house purge will begin when I’m home from the spa. And I’m going to thoroughly enjoy a week of relaxing and cuddling Griffin.
My first, miserable draft (first drafts are always miserable for me) is done.
A nice start to the New Year. A nice page or two written on that blank slate.
I hope however you ended the decade made you happy. And whatever you write on the start of the new one brings you joy.
Editor note: I’ve posted Nora’s pieces about the whole-house purge for nearly 8 years. While it’s not my personal style, I admire her ruthless clear out of drawers, closets and cabinets in every room, on every floor. I see how that clean slate sets her up for the year.
But, I’m here to tell you that even the Mistress of the Purge misses some spots. After the December signing, Sarah decided she wanted some tea, something herbal. Nora doesn’t drink it, but she’s gifted tea all the time so she keeps it in one of the lower cabinets for guests who do. I was sitting in front of that cabinet on that December evening so I reached down and ran through the inventory to find a taste Sarah wanted.
Idly, I turned a package over and there it was: Expires 8/16. I picked up another, expiration date 2013. Another, 2017 (that was the freshest). Sarah was already steeping her tea as I started flinging tea out of the basket, announcing dates.
“Tea expires?” Nora asked. “Who knew?”
Me, for one. Sarah opted to live in ignorance, but since she didn’t expire herself, I can now reveal that she chose the oldest tea there — expiration 2006.
I tossed three boxes then and there, proclaiming that the 2020 purge was now underway. Nora’s sworn all tea will be gone the second week of January. I will bring a fresh (truly) assortment for the Golden in Death signing.