Friday, September 19, 2014

Blog hop! And then back to our regularly scheduled programming.

Thanks to Beth Kephart via Caroline Leavitt via Bill Wolfe. I think. (Tempted to use the word begat.)Their answers wildly different from mine, you'll enjoy reading!

1.What are you working on?
Revisions on my new book, ONE MORE DAY, tentatively scheduled for Oct 2015 from Sourcebooks. It’s about kidnapping, marriage, religion, and seeing ghosts. But it’s really about trusting people. About being believed. And about being different. Then I go back to writing CHARMED LIFE, about a divorced woman still in love with her ex, who goes bankrupt and is forced to care for her cold and distant elderly mother. And my blog posts will go back to my quest for filling my almost-empty nest with wild hobbies.

2. How does your work differ from others of its genre?

As the reviewers always say -- “it’s surprisingly dark.” Not surprising to anyone who knows me ☺ -- Readers, though, at book clubs I visit, always seem most surprised by beautiful writing. They hunger for it, and not all women’s fiction gives it to them. I try.

2.Why do you write what you do?

All kinds of crazy-ass sh—t fascinates me. I see plot everywhere. But I have to write it my way – and not everything matches up. So I try to find a good mesh between my writing style and my conjured ideas.

4.How does your writing process work?

A combination of knowing when to sit, and knowing when to take a walk.

And . . . I throw the baton over to Merry Jones. If you love mystery, you'll love Merry!

Saturday, September 6, 2014


We’ve finished dinner, and the last pans are soaking. I’m sitting on the couch, eating chocolate, staring at an e-Harmony commercial, waiting for Unsolved Mysteries to come on. My youngest daughter, a senior in high school, is upstairs doing her homework so she can get into college and get the hell away from a mother who is so obsessed with Unsolved Mysteries that she is constantly telling her never to go to the mall at night, because that is when all abductions occur. My husband is behind me, sorting the mail, ignoring the e-Harmony commercial, but prepared to mock any investigative show that comes on before his beloved network programming.
“Hey,” I say suddenly, “do you think e-Harmony would match the two of us up?”
“No,” he replies instantly.
“No?!” I turn around. “You don’t even want to think about it for a second?”
“No,” he says. “We don’t have any of the same interests.”
We met while working in the same industry while playing the same sport on the same team. Those are things in common right there, I point out.
“Kelly,” he sighs, “you love to read, write, knit, and dance. I love to hunt, fish, golf, and ride horses.”
Could he have made me sound any more un-cool and girly and prissy? And made himself sound any more outdoorsy, fit, and Marlboro-Man-y? Those are not really good descriptions of the types of people we present to the world. He runs a company, travels widely on business, but mostly sits in meetings and watches a lot of television. I’m an author and a relatively humorous public speaker who runs around making television commercials to pay the bills. Does that sound like a bookish knitter married to a Marlboro man? Huh?
“We’re both Episcopalian,” I say.
I know for a fact this is the only thing his mother likes about me, since I was not born blonde or listed in the Social Register.
“So we’d be matched on Christian Mingle, but not e-Harmony.”
“You read books occasionally. And we both like movies and we like each other’s friends.”
He exhibit-As me by calling out one of my friends by his nickname for her: “Head case.”
The program comes on and I realize after a few minutes that I’ve seen it before. I’ve seen them all, probably, at this point. The show my husband is waiting for is on in half an hour. My knitting sits in a bag on the table, next to the book I’m reading. I refuse to pick either of these items up; I have no wish to underscore what he has just said. There are busy days coming up: we have volleyball games to watch, a college essay to edit, schools to visit for one child, Parent Visiting Day at college for another. The rest of this month and the next will be jam-packed with kid-related activities.
But what about when they aren’t?
What about in one year from now, when every last kid related activity is gone? What about after that, retirement, when the days are completely open?
Am I gonna read books and knit while waiting for my dance class while he gallops on a tall steed headed to a duck blind somewhere?
Don’t those two people sound like they live in two completely different places?
Jesus, I think. I need to come up with a plan.
And so here it is: Try Something New At Least Once A Month For A Year, until I find something my hubby and I can do TOGETHER. (It should be noted that if it were up to him, we could simply take up a new sexual hobby and he would be happy. But I say we need MORE.) To show that I am a loving, giving person, I am starting by trying something I HATE that he LOVES. I am doing the hardest thing first. Stay tuned. I am dreading it ALREADY.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Changing it up. A tad.

My friends know that for a couple of years now, the words "empty nest" have been on my mind. Where to live, what to do, how to be. Three children are a REALLY big, um, hobby. So having them all gone, as they will be soon? WHOA. I've threatened before to embark on a one-year mission -- a kind of search for a new hobby or cause -- for something to balance all the writing in my life -- and for greater connection with my husband, who has a zillion hobbies I don't share. Still writing novels of course -- and hopefully news on that front very soon (emoticon for crossed fingers is -- X) but I'm thinking that it would also be fun to chronicle my hobby search, here. So stay tuned for some slightly different silliness, soon.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Mother's Day.

Every once in a while, I write something on my microblog that seems to want to live here, too.
Here you go. See what you think.

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Who's on firsts.

When your children are small, there are nothing but firsts. First word, first steps, first day on the bus. But senior year of high school, there are nothing, it seems, but lasts. The last time I'll hear her in a school concert. The last time I'll see her playing a sport. This spring, there is a ball field on every corner, each filled with parents, coolers, younger siblings with their fingers looped through the back stop fence. I want to roll down my window and call out to those younger parents: Enjoy those metal bleachers. Don't complain about the cost of juice boxes. You never know how much you'll miss cutting up orange smiles for the team, until you stop cutting up orange smiles for the team.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014


There is nothing like looking at colleges with three daughters and burying two parents to make you think about the things you are left with. The things left behind.

Maybe that's why I've been reading so obsessively about the Minimalism movement. That, and the fact that I grew up in a spare modern little house where everything was put away and organized. (Even my books were alphabetized.) But add in a husband who grew up in the opposite way -- where nothing was thrown away -- where tag sales were frequented and inherited objects were cherished and the garage, basement and attic were chock-full of bargains that someone might need some day. Add in children and toys and teenagers and prom dresses.
Despite two massive, orchestrated, order-a-dumpster cleanups, stuff is creeping back in.

Although I make pilgrimages to Goodwill throughout the year, I decided to challenge myself to get rid of more. I do this while my husband is out of town so he doesn't hyperventilate at the thought of parting with a chipped coffee mug. This has led to some interesting self-examination: Do we need more than 5 vases? Am I poised to take up gardening? Do I aspire to becoming a professional flower organizer?

Another project was culling my wardrobe. I chose things I wear everyday, and a few nice things I should wear and don't (would it kill me to wear a skirt?) -- hid the off season stuff, then gave the rest away. So now all I do is look in one 18" span, and grab. Everything in there seems to go together. And go together in ways I never thought of.

Simpler. Less.

And proof that I am obsessed with gray, blue and purple.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Jump start.

When I was young and struggling, I owned a car that was struggling too. A faded red VW Beetle, a car with smiling curves and winking headlights that despite its rust, radiated cheer and light. A car that wasn't really meant to hold up to a Midwestern winter.

Every winter night I parked it at the top of a sloping snowy hill, and hurried down to the house I shared with 4 roommates. And every morning I got up and ran four or five miles through the icy streets, getting in my workout, knowing if my hair froze at the edge of my hat, my car would not start. Again.

I sometimes think I started running that year just so I could find a way to stay warm.

I would come home, shower, change clothes. Then head up the hill, where I sprayed the door lock with de-icer, lowered the brake, and jumpstarted the battery by letting it roll downhill and catch. My battery, dead every morning, yet brought back to life by gravity every day.

I don't think I'm exaggerating when I say my roommates and I did this for perhaps 40 days in a row one winter. I couldn't afford a new car. I couldn't afford a new battery. I couldn't afford to live somewhere with a garage. And so, our cars froze.

This winter, when it seems to have snowed on the East Coast every other day for months, I am reminded of that winter in Illinois. I am reminded of how cold I was growing up there, how my eyelashes crystallized if I dared to cry, how my knees looked blue when I pulled off my tights, how I would walk home from ice skating at the pond without being able to feel my toes.

I am reminded of the snow drifts so high and so heavy, you couldn't open your front door. My father had to jump out a second floor window to get out to shovel snow.

And, most importantly, I am reminded how my roommates helped me with my car, teaching me that technique. And I remember that when I was out jogging in the worst weather, I would spend half my time pushing cars out of snow drifts when they got stuck.

You can hate winter all you want. But you can't ignore it. Like a toddler throwing a tantrum, it forces you to pay attention. Deal with me, it says. It will build character. It will help you help each other.