Cabbages and Kings

A diary by the authors of the Louis Kincaid series

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Location: Fort Lauderdale/Elk Rapids, Florida and Michigan, United States

We are the New York Times bestselling authors of the Louis Kincaid series and other stand alone thrillers. We have taught writing at major conferences for ten years.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Walkin' the dog

I took my dog for a long walk tonight. It was one of those lovely spring nights here in Fort Lauderdale. Cool, balmy, smelling of the sea and night blooming jasmine. The perfect kind of night for an epiphany.

Oh no...she's going deep on us.

Nah. Wouldn't do that. But will you allow me to be serious?

This is my blog sign-off tonight. I don't have the huge following to make any blogasphere headlines, but that it is not the point. I am writing to you folks who have have shown up here to read my stuff for the last year or so. Many have contributed, many have just lurked. We've had some fun, some passionate exchanges. We've learned from each other. You've given me great joy.

But here's the thing. Over the past couple weeks, I have come to a realization. I only have so much energy to give. To give to my loved ones. To give to my friends. To give to my work. To give to myself.

We writers, God, we are driving ourselves crazy these days trying to do it all. To blog. To tour. To promote. To network. To market. Too....?

What is being lost as we push the rock up the hill every day? Creative energy lost to our books? Time lost to our families? No nights to do something as simple as taking the dog for a nice long walk? No time to take a well-deserved breath and say, "enough?"

I have two friends named Elaine. My friend Elaine Flinn gave up her spot on her blog Murderati this week so she could find a better balance in her life. My friend Elaine Viets had a stroke this week. She will recover. But I am trying to figure out not just how I can help her but what I can learn from her.

I am writing this in an emotional state tonight. But with a greater clarity than I have felt in a long time. I will miss you all. I bid you to visit the sites listed at the left of this entry. Lots of good advice, entertainment and great stuff out there in the writer's blog world.

The time has come the walrus said
To talk of many things:
Of shoes and ships and sealing wax
Of cabbages and kings

- Alice in Wonderland

And the time has come to sign off. Thank you all for visiting Cabbages and Kings. You've been great. As for me? Don't fret. I am walking the dog.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Busy work

I have been gone a long time, I know. I suspect many of you poked your nose in the door, saw the room was empty and gave up. But if you are still reading this, you're giving me another chance. Thanks.

But life, as they say, has gotten in the way of late. I have been distracted with my chores as Edgar Week chair (Kelly has been, too). We've been gearing up for a tour that we are arranging and a workshop we will be teaching at SleuthFest this month. Busy, busy, busy...go, go, go. Right...

And then, today, I got a big slap to the head. One of my best friends, Elaine Viets, had a stroke last night. She had emergency surgery and will recover. But the road back won't be easy. Many of you know Elaine. If you don't, well, you should. She writes two terrific series that are laugh-out-loud but leavened with wry social commentary: The Dead-End Job books starring her on-the-run heroine Helen Hawthorne. And a newer series starring Josie Marcus, mystery shopper. Even though my tastes run to hardboiled, Elaine's series are one of the few I go back to because I know I'm going to get a great read. I really like her stuff.

I know she'll hate me to say this, but she's a role model for writers. She's been a stalwart at countless writers cons, a great teacher at SleuthFest, a former board member of Mystery Writers of America at the National and local levels who helped steer the organization out of its good-old-boy dark ages to its present health.

When I was just starting out in the business, I worked up the courage to go to my local MWA meeting, Elaine was the only person who went out of her way to make me feel welcome. I never forgot that. I try to remember to do the same now for other newbies. Later, when I got over my utter awe of her and Barbara Parker, we three become good girl buds, meeting for venting sesssions over drinks. We call ourselves The Hussies. I knew whenever there was a NEED HUSSIES! email alert, we were in for a good night of gossip, advice and providing whatever balm our careers and lives needed.

Elaine had a damn busy spring, with new books, tours, appearances at book fests. She still found time to edit the Edgar Annual, which is a stunner, meeting her deadline this week like the ex-journalist she is. She was scheduled to be a moderator at the upcoming Edgar Symposium, leading a great group of panelists who were going to talk about cozies, traditionals and chick lit mysteries. (She's a crusader for getting them the respect they deserve). She was set to be toastmaster at Malice Domestic next month (where she has won two Agatha's). She was set to lead a workshop in the short story at SleuthFest next week, and appear on a panel with Nancy Pickard, Barbara Parker and me. In this business, you need friends who have your back. Elaine is that kind of friend. She is a great broad, as we used to say in the old un-PC times.
This blog entry is the closest I came to work today. Mostly, I cleaned out computer files. I reorganized my address book. I threw out old files. I made new ones. When I couldn't find anything else to do in my office, I cleaned out my underwear drawer, refolded my husband's t-shirts, did the kitty litters.

That's what you do when something happens to someone you care about. You do stupid shit to give yourself the feeling that you have some control over something.

Well, fellow Hussie, we couldn't have a meeting, so I hope you don't mind that I vented here. Get well soon, friend.