Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Goodbye 2008!

It's been a great 2008 with my first book, I So Don't Do Mysteries, finding its place on bookshelves. Thank you Random House. I had a wonderful year with the Class of 2k8. My family is happy and healthy and enjoying life.

Yes, I am one of those people who makes New Year's Resolutions. The only one in my little house this year.

Here goes:

1. Take vitamins daily.
2. Exercise 3x weekly.
3. Watch a movie a month. (or more)
4. Return library books on time. (or suffer the consequences*)
5. a resolution to do with stopping to smell the roses and having more fun time with the kids**

*to be determined

** I know this one needs lots of work. But....I'm hoping that as I hop around bloggyville and read everyone else's resolutions, it will all come clear. :)

We wish you and yours a happy and healthy and prosperous New Year!

I'm looking forward to keeping up with you all in 2009!

Sunday, December 28, 2008

My Town Monday: San Diego Silverman

I know, I know, I know. We're not really doing My Town Monday posts until the New Year. Our fearless leader, Travis Erwin, is off with his family, kicking it with Mickey, Donald, Goofy et al.

But...I was down on the Embarcadero this evening and got this picture taken. And now I just want to do a MTM post.

Here's the photo:

It's me and San Diego Silverman!

He's a street performer, also called a performance artist, who hangs outside Anthony's Grotto on the Embarcadero. You can also find Silverman at Seaport Village and various other places around town.

Silverman can give you a bit of a shock because he looks like a statue. He might even be standing on a cement block. And then, suddenly, he changes positions. Child #4 kept a safe distance.

He's silver from head to toe, including his teeth! Including his tips can! Silverman's real name is Dash MacTavish. Although, seriously? That does not sound like a real name at all. Dash is around 30 and is a theater-arts student. I've just friended him on Facebook, so I may have more scoop in the future. I'm going to ask him how long it takes to get all silvered up.

Here's a little article from The Union-Tribune about how, due to a police error, Dash and other street artists almost lost the right to perform in front of Anthony's Grotto. And, while we're on the subject of Anthony's Grotto, the menu has changed since I was last there. This evening, the food was greasy, bland and overpriced. So not recommending it.

If you have time to kill, here's a YouTube of San Diego Silverman:

Happy Monday!

Friday, December 26, 2008

Thank goodness for FORGIVENESS FRIDAYS!

I wasn't going to post about this because it's embarrassing.

BUT I'm feeling so incredibly relieved that it feels okay now.

Here I am, in front of our local library. It really is me. I'm just in disguise.

Why? Because I owe a SMALL FORTUNE in library fines. I owe the MOST I've ever owed to the library in my ENTIRE LIFE. On my card. AND on Child #4's card.

So, I'm sneaking into the library, incognito, to inquire if this is, indeed, a Forgiveness Friday.

Yay! It is Forgiveness Friday! Yay! Yay! Yay! Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus!

I whipped off the wig and unloaded my bag of books.

The library clerk was kind of mean. Not that I didn't deserve it. I couldn't stop blushing and apologizing. Plus, I promised to make Returning-Library-Books-On-Time my NUMBER ONE NEW YEAR'S RESOLUTION. Which I will totally do. And you are my witnesses. Starting Jan. 1, for every book that is late I will donate $10 to a charity. I guess it should be a charity to do with reading? Or maybe librarians' retirement funds? Suggestions are very welcome.

I must say I think this whole situation is a little bit like the shoemaker's son having holes in his soles. Poor Child #4 hasn't been able to borrow library books for a while now. She was thrilled to bits to have a clean card today.

I'm thrilled to bits too. And here's what I'm reading: Fine Just the Way It Is by Annie Proulx

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

I Am Sick

Yes, it's true. I am sick. This is not good for a mother of four who still has shopping and baking to do.

On the upside, I have stopped throwing up. (Don't worry. As this is not a medical blog, I won't be offering further details!)

On another upside, my stomach is exceedingly flat.

On yet another upside, I can now keep down tylenol which helps keep the aches and shivers at bay.

This Christmas will be known in our family as The Christmas Mom Learned To Delegate.

I'm off for a cup of tea and some dry toast. I'm making detailed lists for various family members to pick up my slack. And then I'm crawling back into bed.

Seasons Greetings to you and yours!!

(And if I do manage to drag myself out and you see me in the stores, don't hug me. )

Monday, December 22, 2008

An INCREDIBLE book launch!

On Saturday, I had the MOST INCREDIBLE EVER book launch at The Yellow Book Road.

At home, before the launch, I was pretty much freaking out and worrying and giving my family fits. What if no one shows up? What if I forget how to spell my name? Why did I ever agree to do a presentation?

Anyway, my family totally put up with my neurotic behavior. Even my poor in-laws who came here from Oklahoma to enjoy a peaceful (?Say what? In my house where we don't even know the meaning of the word peaceful??) Christmas with the grandkids. So, to keep me quiet and out of a straitjacket, they all covered Hershey miniature chocolates with little sleeves of the book cover, stuffed disposable coffee cups with candy, said chocolates, cute I So Don't Do Mysteries pencils, notebooks, rhino tattoos and I So Don't Do Mysteries tattoos.

Child #4 and her streaky blue hair

Child #4 and I escaped to see Jamie the Wonderful Hairdresser who pinned teal streaks (yes, to match the cover!) in our hair. We picked up the cupcake cake on the way home. By this point, I was hyped beyond belief and talking three million miles a minute. I may have frightened the cake lady.

THE cupcake cake!

Then, it was off to The Yellow Book Road where my very amazing friends Eileen B-R, Eileen C and Vicki S set up the food table with cheese and crackers (Eileen B-R created extraordinary cheese trays), raw veggies and dip, m&ms, Chex Mix, water bottles, the cake and wine.

Mary and Kristin and Anne of The Yellow Book Road were remarkably calm and professional and did not even come close to slapping me around even though they probably wanted to see if that would snap me out of my hyperness.

DH set up the screen, projector and computer for the powerpoint while I tried, in vain, to convince The Yellow Book Road personnel that there was no real need for me to do the powerpoint. They good-naturedly ignored me and rolled book cases out of the way to make room for a signing table. And then they set up the raffle table.

And then the guests arrived. And more arrived. And they kept on arriving.

And they bought books. And more books. And more books. Until The Yellow Book Road ran out of books. And DH brought in some of my author copies from the car for the store to sell. And those sold out. So, DH raced home and got the rest of the author copies.

The signing line went right to the door.

Here are some people waiting to have their books signed. I signed way way over 100 books!

And people hung around and chatted and ate and drank and got to know each other.

It was truly an EVENT.

Me in the middle of the powerpoint presentation. It's not the most flattering photo, but I'm giving it to you anyway!

The powerpoint went very well. Although I did cry a little. Mary and Kristin said I did an awesome job, one of the best author presentations they'd even seen. Which I'm sure is an exaggeration, but does mean I didn't fall flat on my face. So, yay.

Now I feel like Sherry is well and truly launched. Thank you to everyone who helped. Thank you to everyone who came. Thank you one and all.

before and after

Sigh. And now I can put up my feet and relax. Oh no, I can't. Because it's CHRISTMAS and I have bought a total of THREE gifts. You might remember that I have FOUR children. So....if you see a blur with teal streaks fast-forwarding through the stores at the mall, it's just me in a holiday panic.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

More car business, misc

First off, thank you for all your advice. I totally took it to heart and did not so much as pick up the phone to dial 22 Year Old Girl Who Drives Through Red Lights And Then Denies It.

Oh, and to answer a question: No, she did not get a citation.

Today, we got the repair estimate for DH's car. Are you sitting down?


For a car worth $3,000.00. So, uh, goodbye car.

As per our insurance company's suggestion, DH will file in Small Claims Court tomorrow. Apparently, whoever files first looks better. And, anyway, we're in the right.

Why are we stuck doing all the legwork? Because we only had liability on DH's car. The 22 year old only had liability on her car. So, the insurance companies can't be bothered getting too involved.

Anyway, at Small Claims Court, if the judge rules in our favor, her insurance company will total out the car and give us some money. Conversely, if the judge is ridiculously crazy and rules in her favor, our insurance company will pay for her repairs. And her injuries. Something to do with her chest and her seat belt.

DH put up a sign where the collision took place, asking for witnesses. We also put it out on Craig's List. And, certainly, San Diego Momma, you can twitter about it. (Thursday, Dec. 11 @ 9:00 pm, eastbound Friars, by the onramp to 163 North)

On a much happier note, Child #4 and I went shopping for supplies for my big exciting (nerve-racking) book launch party/signing at The Yellow Book Road on Saturday. Yikes! We're both getting teal streaks (to match the book cover) Saturday morning. Worrieth not, they'll just be clip-on streaks! But they will be cute!

A huge shout-out to Gina Black for posting the incredibly adorable picture of her with I So Don't Do Mysteries.

And I'm over here, on Cynthia Leistich-Smith's Cynsations, posting about what I've learned this past year as a debut author.

You know what, though? It's high time you guys met my real-life critique partners. So, that's what's coming next! You'll love them!

For now, I'm signing off to go finish Scarpetta by Patricia Cornwall. There's something about a decent serial-killer read during this festive holiday season!

One or thirty last evilly addictive fruit-flavored Tootsie rolls and I'm outta here!

Monday, December 15, 2008

No One Got Hurt

DH and Child #3 were in a car accident last Thursday, December 11 around 9:00 PM.

DH had a green arrow to turn left onto the on-ramp for Highway 163 North from Friars Road. A green Kia Rio, traveling west on Friars Road, ran a red light and plowed into DH's car. No witnesses stopped.

DH checked to make sure Child #3 was fine, then hopped out of his car to make sure everyone in the Kia were okay. The 22-year-old female driver and her, roughly, 16-year-old female passenger (a younger sister?) were fine.

The driver (whose name I'm having a very hard time not typing) stayed in her car, on her cell phone, while they all waited for the police.

Then she told the officer that DH's car had hit hers!

DH's car was undrivable and was towed. She and her sister (?) drove away in her barely-dented car.

The next day, she told her insurance company that she was suffering from bodily damage!

The police officer who came to the scene believes she was lying. Her insurance company believes she was lying. Our insurance company believes she was lying.

But, she'll probably get away with it.

We only had liability on DH's (old) car. Which means we're going to be stuck with a bill to either repair his car or buy a new one.

And a lying 22 year-old-female named X who lives at X with phone number X is getting off scott-free.

I am so annoyed.

I have all the X information. Plus, I think I found her on myspace.

Your thoughts?

Thursday, December 11, 2008

The First-Ever Book Signing

Thank you so much for all the support! It's been very amazing and wonderful. xo

Last night's book signing went very well. I actually had lots of fun. Who would've thought I'd enjoy chatting with strangers about kidlit? And then signing my book for them?!!

There's a little more detail at the Class of 2k8's blog. Plus a picture of an unexpected mystery guest.

Barrie and fellow blogger San Diego Momma who is incredibly cool!

Guess who else showed up? Blogger San Diego Momma. She is cute, fun, interesting. And she has a really nice dh and adorable kids. And she has a tres fancy camera. In short, San Diego Momma has it all! I even forgive her for looking so much better than me in the photo. Oh, and, thank you to Vodka Mom for introducing us in the blogosphere.

Okay. I'm getting a little sick of talking about myself, so I'll only share a couple more things. I teared up in my local Barnes & Noble today when they told me they had to order a bunch more I So Don't Do Mysteries. I cried when Bookseller Sue Ellen told me she was handselling the book because she'd read it and it was fantastic.

All that crying; Child #2 was fit to be tied. Can I just point out I generally don't cry so it was fairly new territory for him.

I'm wisening up, though. When Mary from The Yellow Book Road mentioned on the phone that they'd done a really nice display with I So Don't Do Mysteries and did I want to come in and see it, I replied:

I'd love to, but I just redid my mascara.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008


Holy Publishing Toledo!

My launch date has finally arrived!

Welcome to the world I So Don't Do Mysteries!

Welcome to the world Sherry Holmes Baldwin!

In real life, I'm having coffee with a really really good friend who delayed her flight back home in order to spend this launch morning in a coffee shop with me. After coffee, we'll wander over to the Mysterious Galaxy Bookstore who have absolutely promised to display I So Don't Do Mysteries out on a shelf so that my friend can buy a copy and I can sign it. My very first signing!

You might remember this friend who was little too candid when it came to my author photos. All, joking aside, she's great.

And then this evening, I have a signing with a couple of other mystery writers at Warwick's. Followed by drinks with some friends.

It's going to be quite the day!

Also...the Class of 2k8 is hosting a surprise cyber party for me. A least, they think it's a surprise. They forget that I have four children, three of whom are teenage boys. It's not easy to get one over one me. Please pop over for a visit if you've got a sec.

But first, check out my book trailer. It brings tears to the eyes. It's that cute. If the video isn't working on the screen below, you can check it out at YouTube


Monday, December 8, 2008

One day to go!!! And my mantra...

             In case you're wondering, this is NOT me.

Hola Bloggy Friends!

One short-and-long-at-the-same-time day to go before my little heroine, Sherry, is out in the world.

I'm trying really really hard to enjoy each and every second of this experience. Until I get all caught up in the worry and the freakiness of book signings (I have abominable handwriting) and readings (I have this cough that won't vamoose) and the million and one things that need to get done (I have a to-do list the length of Yonge Street**).

And then I just slap myself upside the head (mentally, of course because, come on, I'm not a total nutcase!) and say (inside my head because, like I just said, I'm not a total nutcase): This is the one and only time in your life you'll have a first book released. This is a dream come true. Get over yourself, Ms. Worry-Wart Summy. Have fun.

So that, my dear friends, is my mantra for the week: Have fun.

You will NOT hear me saying things like "I gotta get caught up on the laundry" or "Hey, family, here's a home-cooked meal" or "I paid all the bills today and vacuumed and dusted and tidied and hemmed that pair of jeans that's been in the basket for a year". No sirree. In fact, I may not say those things next week either.

So, I am off to have fun. I wish more of you were here with me to keep me on track.

Come visit the Class of 2k8's blog where I'm the star for the entire week.

And a loud shout-out to TeensReadToo for a lovely lovely review and FIVE stars and for posting said lovely lovely review on and Thank you!

And another loud shout-out to Bookworm Readers who gave I SO DON'T DO MYSTERIES an A rating. Thank you to you too!

One last practice of the mantra: Have fun. Have fun. Have fun.

**a very very long street in Toronto. It may even be the longest street in the world, but I don't have time to check this fact for you. Not that you don't deserve conscientious blogging; it's truly a time thing.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

A veiled chameleon falls ill...

Here's a picture from healthier days. The male veiled chameleon drinking water from a ficus leaf

You may or may not remember that Child #2 became the proud owner of two veiled chameleons. They were his big birthday present about a year and a half ago. Then, last May, the female died.

Well, last week, the male stopped eating, got big knobby and swollen joints and was barely crawling around. Thursday evening, Child #2 (who is fifteen, and I'm sure that one word, fifteen, tells you a lot) spent much time wringing a wet facecloth above his still chameleon so that a gentle rain cascaded over his pet. The chameleon turned the most beautiful turquoise we have ever seen.

Fast forward ten minutes. I tucked in Child #3 who shares a room with Child #2. The chameleon had fallen off his little log and was lying at the bottom of the cage. His eyes were somewhat sunken; his eyelids dark. Oh dear. I did not want Child #2 to Learn a Life Lesson that evening. He'd already had a water polo disappointment; he still had a lot of homework; and he needed a decent night's sleep. So, I dusted the little chameleon off and propped him back up on the log. We could all face the Life Lesson in the morning, or better yet, after school.

Imagine my surprise the next morning when I saw the chameleon had crawled a little higher up the log. DH had the day off. We got the kids to their various schools, then carefully placed the chameleon on a bed of his special mossy stuff in a cut-off milk jug and drove him to the reptile expert at the pet store. Yes, this is what happens during these crazy busy times of Christmas and a book launch when you're the parent of a child with a pet. Don't think I'm some kind of saint. I'm not. I wasn't happy with the turn of events, with the to-do list sitting at home on the kitchen counter and the milk jug on my lap as we headed into San Diego.

The reptile expert took one look at our fat-jointed lethargic chameleon and pronounced: Metabolic Bone Disease.

It's curable! I texted Child #2 who responded with Yay!!!

Now our chameleon is eating crickets dusted with calcium powder + extra Vitamin D for absorption, housed in a smaller cage so he's always close to the UV + heat lamp, basking on fake wood laced with fake ficus leaves which stay stable for his sore joints. With proper care and a certain measure of good luck, he will live to a ripe old age. When he's a little bigger, we'll find him a female and help him settle into married life. It'll have to be a female accepting of gnarled joints because these won't return exactly to normal. This is all doable.

And now I up with insomnia, working through the to-do list, because...

I would post an updated picture of the chameleon, but the entire house is quiet and sleeping as it's only a little after 3:00 am.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008


I've been tagged by the one and only Vodka Mom! If you haven't checked out her blog, you really must. She's a hoot and a half.

And now I must list SEVEN random facts about myself. Up-front warning: these will not be anywhere near as outlandish as Vodka Mom's. Because, well, she is more wild and crazy than I am. Now, don't you really want to check out her blog?!

Okay. Here goes:

1. I've been engaged THREE times. To three different people. Each one was a different nationality. But they all had one thing in common: blue eyes!

2. I have Eustachian Tube Dysfunction. It's true. A doctor told me. This is a useful device at cocktail parties when you want people to move away from the snacks. While standing within sneezing distance of the food, I announce, "Hi! My name is Barrie, and I have ETD." (Okay. Maybe I haven't actually used this ploy...yet. But I just might this Friday when I'm at DH's big fancy schmancy company holiday party. They always serve really fine appetizers.)

3. My fave foods are: diet coke, red licorice, black licorice. Other than that, I'm a pretty healthy eater. Seriously.

4. A long time ago, in a faraway place, I worked in marketing for 7UP Canada. During this time, I met Wayne Gretzky who was our corporate sponsor. You're probably all wondering if he was one of the guys mentioned in #1. Keep on wondering, folks...

5. One of my kids has webbed toes. DH (Darling Husband) and I each have a great great great feathered grandmother with wings and a pronounced bill. Kidding. Although webbed toes do run in both our families. (Probably more in his as I'm loathe to admit to genetic abnormalities.)

6. Once upon a time, I dated a French Canadian who saved his ear wax for art projects. He was very definitely not part of #1.

7. Did you notice that Child #3 hacked into my blog? Check out my new-and-improved (?) profile!

Choose this award.                                   Or this award.

Or you can be like me and choose both. I'm just that way. Delightfully indecisive.

Here are the rules:
1. Do five jumping jacks
2. Balance on one foot.
3. Call a friend to say hi.
4. Take a hot bath.
5. Hug your kid or your dog.
6. Post seven (or whatever you have time for) random things about yourself.

Then, choose your award(s) and i.d. five people (or whatever) for the meme. Oh yeah, and let the people know you chose them. Oh yeah, and link back to me.

Here's who I'm i.d.'ing (in alpha order). Check them out. I think you'll really enjoy what these bloggers have to say.

Cheaper Than Therapy because we can all use some therapy at this crazy time of year! Her blog is grrrreat!
Don Mills Diva because she lives where I'm from. Plus you'll love her blog!
Eileen Cook--We're agent-sisters; she's really, really funny (no pressure there, Eileen); she's an American living in Canada, and I'm a Canadian living in the U.S. And she's the type everyone wants to hang out with!
Just a Plane Ride Away because she's far from home and makes all sorts of interesting observations. Not to mention her incredible photographic skills!
Laughing Wolf--He's a crazy blogger. You just never what strange bits of info he'll post up.


Monday, December 1, 2008

My Town Monday: Ann Arbor, Michigan

Before starting with our regularly-scheduled My Town Monday post, I'd like to send you over to Larramie at Seize a Daisy.

Why? Because she wrote a big beautiful brought-tears-to-my-eyes post for I So Don't Do Mysteries. Larramie is one of those bloggers who puts a ton of effort into each post. I can't tell you how it feels to be on the receiving end of all that energy. Incredible. So, please pop on over to see what Larramie is saying about Sherry.

And now, without further ado, onto My Town Monday. And Ann Arbor, MI.

Yes, I know I live in San Diego. Yes, I know Ann Arbor is, like, many many miles away. Believe me, I know. I was squished up like an uncomfortable bug for the entire plane ride at the beginning of November when Child #3 and I ventured to Ann Arbor for water polo. For him, not me.

But pretty please indulge me for just one more Ann Arbor post. Then it'll be back to this side of the country. Pinky promise.

So....if you're ever in Ann Arbor, you absolutely must go to Zingerman's. Everybody knows the joint. Everybody goes there. Everybody loves it. It opened in 1982 and has been growing in popularity ever since.

With good reason. The food is GREAT! The service is FANTASTIC! Even the MENU is fun to read!

I ordered the #2, the MOST popular sandwich: Zingerman's Reuben--Zingerman's corned beef, Switzerland Swiss cheese, sauerkraut & Russian dressing on grilled, hand-sliced Jewish rye bread.

It was like I'd died and gone to corned beef heaven. Of course, I couldn't finish the monster sandwich. (I'm expecting a comment on this from Travis Erwin). I requested a to-go box. The waitress goes to wrap my leftovers. She picks up the pickle.

"This is too soft," she says. And promptly orders me a new one.

Seriously? My standards are obviously too low.

A member of our party ordered the wrong sandwich. His mistake. No biggie. When the waitress found out, she brought the sandwich he thought he'd ordered. Free of charge.

You can try out Zingerman's Deli, 422 Detroit St., Ann Arbor, MI

Or Zingerman's Roadhouse (a sit-down restaurant): 2501 Jackson Ave, Ann Arbor, MI

That's it. You'll thank me if you're ever up that way and get a chance to test out Zingerman's.

Please visit to Travis Erwin's blog. He's our Fearless Leader for My Town Mondays. Along with his own MTM, he'll have a list of participants.

And, uh, just in case you've forgotten...


Friday, November 28, 2008

Friday's Forgotten Books: Nero Wolfe

Now that we're all done with Thanksgiving dinner and preparing to tuck into leftovers today, I'd thought I'd choose a book that celebrates food along with a really good mystery.

Enter Nero Wolfe. Fifty-six-year-old (a fact you may have not known!) overweight detective genius from Montenegro (although his birthplace was changed to the U.S. for one book)who liked good food (especialy shad roe), beer (about 6 quarts a day), orchids and his luxurious brownstone on West 35th Street in New York City. Wolfe employed:

Archie Goodwin--Nero's "legman", a PI who can recite verbatim entire conversations. He does the bulk of the investigating (because Wolfe doesn't like to leave home) and drinks a lot of milk. He's also responsible for mundane office tasks, like opening the mail. Archie lives rent-free at the brownstone.

Fritz Brenner--Nero's talented Swiss cook

Theodore Horstmann--an orchid expert who lives on the roof of the brownstone who helps Nero daily with his plants from 9:00-11 am and 4:00-6:00 pm.

There are also three private eyes that Wolfe hires to help out: Saul Panzer, Fred Durkin, Orrie Cather. And remember Lon Cohen, the reporter?

And Nero is soooo eccentric with his yellow pyjamas, his inflexible schedule, his dislike of women, the way he closes his eyes and pushes his lips in and out when thinking.

Just typing these names and bits of description brings back so many fond memories for me. There wasn't a Nero Wolfe mystery I didn't enjoy. Not one. From the first one, Fer-de-Lance (1934), to the last, Death Times Three (1977).

Rex Stout wrote 33 Nero Wolfe books and 39 short stories. Journalist Robert Goldsborough wrote seven Wolfe books after Stout's death.

Oh, I am homesick for a Nero Wolfe. I'll have to re-read one. I've never read one of Golsborough mysteries. Perhaps I should do that. And I think I might ask for The Nero Wolfe Cookbook (it has 237 recipes!) for Christmas. It was also written by Rex Stout.

And I leave you with a super quotation:

"You don't have to burn books to destroy a culture. Just get people to stop reading them."~~Ray Bradbury

Please pop over to Patti Abbott at pattinase's blog for links to other posts for Friday's Forgotten Books. It's always a fantastic line-up.


Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Introducing the real McCoy!!!

Look what arrived in the mail!

I So Don't Do Mysteries. The book. The actual printed book. The real McCoy.

With a pretty bow and a beautiful letter from my editor.


I'm practically speechless.

Tuesday, December 9 is almost here. When she launches into the world. Wow.

Here she is without the bow.               And without the dust jacket.

A now for a little trivia....Where does the expression "the real McCoy" come from?

According to
"Elijah McCoy was the son of former slaves who had fled from Kentucky before the U.S. Civil War. Educated in Scotland as a mechanical engineer, Elijah McCoy returned to the United States and settled in Detroit, Michigan. He began experimenting with a cup that would regulate the flow of oil onto moving parts of industrial machines.

His first invention was a lubricator for steam engines, U.S. 129,843, which issued on July 12, 1872. The invention allowed machines to remain in motion to be oiled; his new oiling device revolutionized the industrial machine industry. Elijah McCoy established his own firm and was responsible for a total of 57 patents.

The term "real McCoy" refers to the oiling device used for industrial machinery. His contribution to the lubricating device became so popular that people inspecting new equipment would ask is the device contained the real McCoy. This helped popularize the American expression, meaning the real thing. His other inventions included an ironing board and lawn sprinkler."

FOURTEEN DAYS until I So Don't Do Mysteries hits the shelves! The countdown is almost over!

I may perhaps have mentioned you can pre-order the book? I know, I'm subtle that way.

To pre-order online, you go here for the US and here for Canada.

Monday, November 24, 2008

My Town Monday: Palm Springs, CA

I was away yet again this weekend. I know, I know, it's becoming a disease; I fly the coop every Friday. Anyway, this weekend saw me, Child #3 and Child #4 in Palm Springs, CA for a swim meet.

I love Palm Springs, this desert city of about 43,000 people (depending on the time of year) that's surrounded on three sides by mountains. Palm Springs is about 130 miles northeast of San Diego. Almost every day is sunny. And many days are windy. Sonny Bono has been the most famous mayor.

There's quite a bit to do in Palm Springs. I didn't do any of it on this trip because I was pretty much trapped at the pool watching my darling children lunge off starting blocks and swim their little hearts out. All joking aside, this was Child #4's first big swim meet and she was awesome with her pink goggles and turquoise flip-flops. Plus, she really poured on the steam, her skinny eight-year-old arms and legs working overtime. A brave little girl, she even swam the butterfly!

Back to the topic at hand. A very popular attraction is the aerial tramway which zooms you up to the top of San Jacinto Peak (the highest spot in the San Jacinto Mountains which is the 3rd highest mountain range in the state) in about nine minutes. There's the botanical gardens and cactarium and shopping, golf, hiking, yummy eateries. How about some spa time? Personally, I'm up for the whole Head to Toe Indulge. Also, you can take a tour of a windmill farm.Palm Springs is windy. The winds blow west to east in the morning and east to west in the afternoon. There's enough wind that the windmill farm powers Palm Springs and then some. For about $65, you can take a three-hour coach ride to visit the San Andreas Fault. Then again, there's plain old R&R around the pool, with or without libations.

All of this is entertaining and exciting and enticing. Some of it I've done and some is still on my to-do list.

But here's what I REALLY want to do in Palm Springs...

The International Film Festival. Sigh. Unfortunately, I can never figure out a way to escape for a week in January. Despite the fact that I'd be an excellent Palm Springs International Film Festival blogger. I love artsy films. I'd write up all manner of reviews. Plus LA is only about 100 miles away. So, you know there'd be scads of famous actors milling about. I look so nice and normal and non-paparazzi, that I'd be a super successful star stalker (who doesn't skimp on alliteration!).

DH has zero interest in non-Bruce Willis-type movies and even less interest in star gazing. So, some of you people will have to join me instead. Maybe when my kids are a little older?

Now pop on over to to Travis Erwin's blog. He's our Fearless Leader for My Town Mondays. He'll have a MTM post up himself plus a list of links to other Mondayers. And, unlike myself, they'll all have posted in a timely fashion!

And if I haven't visited your blog recently, it's only because I'm way way over-extended. Not a lack of love. Not at all.

Sources: Palm Springs Bureau of Tourism, Wikipedia, Southpoint Travel Guide, Palm Springs Int'l Film Festival

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Wrapping up CLA + Theft

At a Chinese restaurant in San Jose: (left to right) Zu Vincent (THE HAPPY PLACE), me, Stacy Nyikos (DRAGON WISHES), PJ Hoover (THE EMERALD TABLET) Hoover. We missed you at dinner, Courtney Scheinmel (MY SO-CALLED FAMILY).

CLA (the California Library Association) went super well! No one fell over. No one broke out in hives. All the electronic junk worked--powerpoints, book trailers. In four words: we were a hit!

One faux pas: not one of us remembered to take a group picture. :(

PJ Hoover blogged about our CLA weekend. She has a particularly upscale bathroom shot.

Guess what else happened this weekend? DH and I became the victims of credit card theft! Yikes!

I talked to the credit card company Sunday evening around 11. They believe a counterfeit credit card was used to purchase:

         $ 432 worth of merchandise at Walmart in Oakland
         $   13.78 at a game store in Oakland
         $ 400 worth of gas at a station in Bakersfield (although a hold was put on the card after $100)

That is not a very imaginative thief. No trips to Hawaii or Paris. No diamond rings. No books.

Child #3's theory: The thief is a truck driver, getting ready for a long haul. So, he bought a bunch of gas, new clothes and snacks at Walmart and a video game.

It's all very creepy. On the upside, we're not responsible for the fraud purchases.


Sunday, November 16, 2008

My Town Monday: San Jose, CA

Greetings from San Jose, CA! I'm up here with four fellow class of 2k8ers (in alpha order): PJ Hoover (author of THE EMERALD TABLET), Stacy Nyikos (DRAGON WISHES), Courtney Scheinmel (MY SO-CALLED FAMILY) and Zu Vincent (THE HAPPY PLACE).

So far, we've chatted. Drunk wine. Chatted. Eaten Chinese for dinner. Chatted some more.

Don't worry, fellow 2k8ers, your SCANDALOUS secrets are safe with me!

We're on a panel at the California Library Association's Annual Conference. Which means that, tomorrow morning, I will be standing up and speaking for FIFTEEN whole minutes. Thank goodness I have a very cute power point presentation.

Totally ignoring the evening-before public-speaking jitters, I'm posting about a fun house to visit here in California's 3rd largest city.

Winchester Mystery House

Some interesting facts about the Winchester Mystery House:

Wealthy widow Sarah Winchester, heiress to the Winchester Rifle fortune, began building on this house in 1884.

Construction continued for THIRTY-EIGHT years.

There are 160 rooms in this Victorian mansion.

This house is bizarre, with features like staircases that lead to the ceiling.

The house was built without any master plan, so it's quite the hodge podge.

Building costs were about $5.5 million.

The Winchester House is HAUNTED by people who were killed by Winchester rifles.

You can have your birthday party here.

If you're interested in visiting:

525 S Winchester Blvd
San Jose, CA 95120
(408) 247-2101

Sorry if this isn't my best MTM post. But think of the pressure I'm under. Speaking engagement tomorrow. Holder of SCANDALOUS secrets. Please please cut me some slack. So... I'm off to get my beauty sleep. Think of me (and the rest of the 2k8 gang who are in San Jose) at about 10:30 am Pacific time. Cross your fingers that I don't fall over in a dead faint.

Now, go directly to Travis Erwin's blog. He's our big kahuna boss for My Town Mondays. He'll have a MTM post up himself plus a list of links to other Mondayers.


Thursday, November 13, 2008

Friday's Forgotten Books: Perry Mason

Before I start my post for Friday's Forgotten Books, I'd like to give a BIG shout-out to David Cranmer of The Education of a Pulp Writer who totally made my day! Child #3 and I stopped in at The Yellow Book Road to drop off some book launch/signing postcard-invitations. Mary, the co-owner, informed me that David had called to order a signed copy of I So Don't Do Mysteries! Yowzer!

And onto Friday's Forgotten Books (how's that for an abrupt transition?). While at Aunt Agatha's bookstore in Ann Arbor,Michigan, I picked up a used copy of The Case of the Sleep-Walker's Niece (EIGHTEENTH printing, 1965, original price of 50 cents) by Erle Stanley Gardner. It is so wonderful to be back in the company of defense attorney Perry Mason, his confidential secretary and love interest Della Street, his private eye Paul Drake, switchboard operator Gertie Lade, Lieutenant Tragg. It's even a pleasure to re-visit District Attorney Hamilton Burger.

Why did I stop reading Perry Mason? He puts me in such a good mood. I should gobble up one a week. And how about Bertha Cool and Donald Lam. Ah ha! Another post for another Friday!

Some fun facts about Perry Mason: He's in over EIGHTY novels and short stories. He loves a difficult case. He shines in a courtroom. He lives in an apartment and likes to eat out, especially steak. We know nothing about his background or childhood. I personally feel that he strung Della Street along. But that could just be me.

Some fun facts about Erle Stanley Gardner (1889-1970): He got kicked out of law school after about a month for fighting. He worked as a typist in a law office, studied law BY HIMSELF, then took the bar and PASSED. He hung out a shingle at THE AGE OF 21 YEARS in Merced, CA. He practiced law until 1933 when The Case of the Velvet Claws was published. He wrote under his own name and SEVEN pseudonyms. He loved the courtroom and steak. He married his longtime secretary (as in, she worked for him for over THIRTY years) when he was SEVENTY-NINE and she was SIXTY-SIX. I think they were waiting for his first wife to die. That Erle Stanley Gardner was some kind of brilliant and some kind of character.

Please pop over to Patti Abbott at pattinase's blog for links to other posts for Friday's Forgotten Books. It's always a fantastic line-up.

Sources: Wikipedia,,

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Heartfelt Thank-Yous and Book Launch/Signing

A huge huge thank-you to Virginia of The Virginia Monologues. Virginia sent me a copy of her blog's template. Without that, I would never ever have figured out why the buttons and post titles weren't working on my blog. Seriously, you should've seen me comparing the html, line by line. I'm a closet engineer!

A shout-out also to PJ Hoover, author of The Emerald Tablet and fellow 2k8 classmate. PJ felt the panic through my email and checked out the blog html. It's so great having a techie you can count on!

I'm completely happy with the blog. Just love the design. Goofy Girl did an amazing job. And now that the buttons are working, I could hang out here all day long. But, uh, no, I can't. Life won't let me.

December brings an event that will be fun and nerve-racking all at the same time. Oh yeah, and there's Christmas too.

Here's the invitation to my real-life signing/launch party. Wow. This means it's really happening. As in, be there or be square. As in, I'll be doing a reading. Yikes. I guess it's totally cheating if I have Child #4 read for me? She is good, though. And she has shoes for it.

This is the front of the postcard. If you think it looks exactly like the front cover of I So Don't Do're absolutely right. Love that cover.

Here's the back of the post card. It's actually very clear in real life.

Of course, you're all cordially invited. It's at The Yellow Book Road, San Diego's indie children's bookstore. We're having an Open House, Sat., Dec. 20, 3-6pm. With wine, cheese & crackers, kid snacks and door prizes.

We could definitely have some blogger fun, couldn't we?

Monday, November 10, 2008

My Town Monday: Ann Arbor, MI

If you are even thinking you might be in the mood for a mystery and you're within, say, fifty miles of Ann Arbor, Michigan, head over to Aunt Agatha's. It is THE bookstore for new and used mystery, detection and true crime books.

I had the BEST conversation ever about Nancy Drew (you can imagine how much fun I am at a cocktail party) with owner, Jamie. Did you know the yellow cover Nancy Drews were edited and "dumbed down" from the blue cover editions?

And see below for the treasures I found.

I know. It's incredible!

The blue cover edition of The Hidden Staircase (1930). This just happens to be my favorite-of-all-times Nancy Drew.

The blue cover edition of The Secret in the Old Attic (1944). I started reading this on the plane. It's so not PC for these days with its references to dancing pickaninnies and crooning mammies. (Seriously. You can't take that Bess anywhere.)

Trixie Belden and the Gatehouse Mystery (1951)

And a book starring the lawyer who never disappoints: Perry Mason in The Case of the Sleep-Walker's Niece (1936)

And guess what I left behind? Bookmarks and an Advance Reader Copy of I So Don't Do Mysteries which Jamie has promised to buy for Aunt Agatha's in TWENTY-EIGHT days (not that I'm counting or x'ing off days on the calendar because I am far too cool (not) for that) when it's released.

Here's the link to Aunt Agatha's. It's a fun website to poke around.

Now, go directly to Travis Erwin's blog. He's our big kahuna boss for My Town Mondays. He'll have a MTM post up himself plus a list of links to other Mondayers. And, unlike myself, they'll all have posted in a timely fashion!

p.s. I did not take the photo at the top of the post. I could've taken a pic of Aunt Agatha's. I could've asked Jamie to take a pic of me and my sisters in front of Aunt Agatha's. But, oh no. I was too busy chatting and browsing to remember to pull my camera out of my purse!

p.p.s. It's launch week for Stacy A. Nyikos and her debut fantasy middle-grade novel Dragon Wishes. You might as well get in the habit of checking out the Class of 2k8's blog because I KNOW you'll be hanging out over there for my launch week Monday, Dec, 8 through Friday, December 12. I'm starting to nag now...

Testing, testing...just ignore

Just go about your business and have a wonderful and productive day. And don't worry about those of us going crazy with frustration at trying to make the buttons and the post titles work in this cute new format. Hopefully, all will be well very very soon! And my My Town Monday post will be up!!

Friday, November 7, 2008

Hello Ann Arbor, Michigan!

Here's my wonderful athlete!

We're here at the Speedo Cup!

Child #3 and his team won their first game handily. They played soooo well. Child #3 played great defense, had a couple of assists and a beautiful goal.

My sisters are driving across the border from Canada as I type. We'll be having dinner together after the next game!

And the leaves are still turning here. A site I haven't seen in years.

Don't you love the new look of the blog? Thank you to Goofy Girl! (link at bottom of sidebar). Don't worry about the buttons at the top; we're still sorting them out.

Will check in later. I'm racing off to a game. And, oh yeah, wearing THE jeans!

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Jean Shopping

Yesterday I bit the bullet and did something very difficult. Very very difficult.

I went shopping for jeans.

As many of you know, Child #3 and I are going to Michigan on Thursday. His water polo team is playing in the prestigious Speedo Cup. I understand it's chillier there than down here in So Cal. And I wanted to take a new pair of jeans.

It took NINETY-SIX minutes to find ONE pair of jeans. Back and forth to that tiny beige change room, it was some kind of crazy aerobic workout. From Gloria Vanderbilt to Levis to Liz to brands I'd never heard of before. Boot cut and straight leg and stretch and classic fit. I even tried a pair with a zipper the size of my baby finger.

I was on the verge of giving up. Time was running out; Child #3 and Child #4 were coming to the end of their school day. Not to mention it's kind of demoralizing to see how many brands and styles of jeans can manage to make you look deformed.

And then I found them. The perfect pair of jeans. They're so perfect I could even wear them for Thursday's long day of travel.

Actually, I would've found them sooner if I'd just slowed down and read the label.

See? It says "Crafted from premium denim for STRENGTH, SOFTNESS AND CHARACTER."

Exactly what I was looking for. Strength, Softness and character.

AND they were on sale.

Monday, November 3, 2008

My Town Monday: Tom Ham's Lighthouse

Before I start our regular programming, I'd like to point you over to the Class of 2k8's blog where we're celebrating a week-long launch for middle grade author PJ Hoover and her sci fi The Emerald Tablet.

It's that time of the week again. And today I'm posting about one of my very favorite San Diego restaurants: Tom Ham's Lighthouse.

Built in 1971, it has an actual functioning coast-guard operated lighthouse (Beacon #9) attached to it. From a window or outside seat, you can see the San Diego Bay, San Diego skyline, North Island and the Coronado Bridge. You might also see seals, dolphins, pelicans and, if you're really lucky, a whale. Here's a great tip for you: the best view is from Table #109.

Dress is casual. After all, this IS So Cal. The Queen of England could show up in jeans, and no one would judge. Lunch meals are $10-$15. Dinner meals will run you $31 to $50. There's a Sunday champagne brunch for about $25. And on Wednesdays 1/2 price bottles of wine.

I always get the shrimp diablo which is stuffed jumbo Gulf shrimp, wrapped in bacon. To die for. The service is very good too. There are waiters who have worked at the restaurant for a decade. They know what they're doing.

An additional bit of trivia: Tom Ham's Lighthouse is located on Harbor Island. This island was formed in 1961 of sand and mud (more than 12 million cubic yards of the stuff) when the Navy dredged San Diego Bay to deepen it for military ships.

Here's the link to the restaurant if you want to check it out. Don't be put off by the hunk of steak on their opening page. The food really is terrific.

2150 Harbor Island Dr
San Diego, CA 92101-1084
Phone: (619) 291-9110

The DH and I went to Tom Ham's last night with four friends. Great friends, great food, great vista. Life is good.

Please visit Travis Erwin, our big kahuna boss for My Town Mondays. He'll have a MTM post up himself plus a list of links to other Mondayers.


Shrimp Diablo on Foodista

Saturday, November 1, 2008

A Halloween Post

I really should not be blogging. Not at all. I have a million trillion things to do and throwing in a blog post this weekend is not on the list.

BUT...we had such fun trick or treating last night that I just had to share.

Child #1 is well beyond the trick or treating stage.
Child #2 had two water polo games. Don't even get me started...
Child #3 wanted to give out candy only.

So, Child #4 (dressed as the most beautiful angel in San Diego and, no, I am not biased) and I trundled off into the night. Can I just say that Child #4 and I should NEVER AGAIN be left to our own devices on Halloween. We trick or treated for HOURS AND HOURS AND MILES AND MILES. We walked a REALLY LONG DISTANCE, only to stand on the curb and gawk at a haunted house. We did not join the throngs of people going in for a fright. We know our limits.

We came home with very tired and aching legs and feet. And...

NINE POUNDS of candy! Yes, we weighed it. Because that's the type of trick or treaters we are.

And this is very probably why Child #4 scored SO MUCH candy...

It was the SHOES!

And I leave you with a shot of Dorothy the Witch/Dog. A total misnomer as Dorothy is quite likely the sweetest, most docile poodle ever to be found on Craig's List.

p.s. Any Canadians out there still saying "Shelling out"?