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.