Silent Night: A Spenser Novel (Well, Kind of)

Parker bookGather around, girls and boys, and I will tell you the story of a very prolific author who created several wonderful sets of characters beloved by many, many readers. His name was Robert B. Parker, and, as you may have guessed from the verb, Mr. Parker diedRobert Parker suddenly in the middle of his writing career in 2010. One might think that the author’s passing would end his list of books. But in the case of Mr. Parker, we seem… Continue reading

Christmas Panama Style

This will be our 9th Christmas in Panama and, after 34 years in the snowy, icy environs of Washington, DC and its suburbs, seeing all the palm trees with little lights still makes me think wistfully of past Christmas Eves by the fire, the caroling in the neighborhood while the fluffy white flakes came down, all that Currier and Ives stuff that we actually lived.  You hear this lament all the time from folks who’ve moved far south, particularly from those in Florida.  But, after all, we did make the decision to come to Central America and we… Continue reading

Merry Christmas

Snow on branchThe storm had lived up to its gloomy predictions. Standing in her warm living room, Maureen watched the wind gusts turn the wet snowflakes into an off-white frenzy. The reflection of her Christmas tree in the window made her shiver. A fine Christmas Eve, for Eskimos!

She turned and looked at her tree, festive and bright with piles of presents underneath, all set for excited hands to unwrap. Huh, she thought, they’d sit there like that for another week. Her family had gone to her ex-husband’s. This year… Continue reading

Bah, humbug

SA Wire ArtChristmas has not been the same since we moved to Virginia, going on four years now. My children and stepchildren are grown.  Most of them have settled in Wisconsin with their families, although some are in California, Michigan, and New Jersey.  I’d love to have them here for the holidays, but expecting all twenty+ of them to trek across the country to celebrate Christmas with us is impractical.

Being far from family is hard during the holidays, but we are starting new ‘empty nest’ traditions, and continuing some… Continue reading

A Winter Idyl

Years ago I took a trip to the East Coast and stopped at the homes of some of my favorite authors. Thoreau’s Walden Pond, Emerson’s home in Concord, Longfellow’s home in Cambridge, and Nathaniel Hawthorne’s childhood home and his House of Seven Gables in Salem. One of my favorites among the homes of these literary giants was the farm Whittier birthplacehomestead of John Greenlief Whittier at Haverhill, Massachusetts. A lone caretaker took us through the house and we saw the same fireplace where the family gathered in Whittier’s nostalgic poem, “Snowbound.”… Continue reading

A Second Challenge – Do you know these books?

I thought Susan’s challenge was fun so I decided a second one with last lines might be interesting. This is a bit harder (at least for me) so I’ve listed the books below that I’ve drawn from – they range from classics to science fiction and everywhere in between. Each has been around for a long time so I’m sure you will recognize them. I don’t really have a score for this and will be curious how many you know or can reason out. Please post your score if you’re willing.

The Dreaded Query Letter

What is it about query letters that causes heart rates to soar, pupils to widen, and usually articulate people to stutter? It isn’t as though a query letter is very long, certainly nothing like a synopsis, so it shouldn’t take much time to create. It isn’t as though the information requested is difficult to find; it’s all about your work and your life. In fact, query letters from authors are actively sought by agents and editors. What’s the big deal about writing query letters?… Continue reading

I Challenge You: Do You Know These Books?

Stack-Of-Books-BigThis week I thought I might take a slightly different angle to the question of what my favorite first lines are from books I’ve read and loved. Instead, let’s see how many first lines you can remember from some of my favorite books. Two hints: I taught American literature in high school classes and have always loved the classics. Here are fifteen first lines. How many do you know? I’ll put the answers at the end, but no peeking.

1. “Christmas won’t be Christmas without any presents,” grumbled Jo, lying on… Continue reading