Wildcard Wednesday: And the winner is …

Thanks to everyone who left a comment on last Friday’s blog for a chance to win a personalized, signed copy of THE IMMORTALS by J.T. Ellison. Using the handy-dandy online random generator, the winner is Jean Oram. I’ve gotten Jean’s address and her book will soon be on its way. Everyone else, head to your nearest bookstore or order from Amazon. A link for both the print and Kindle versions is below.

THE IMMORTALS hit the bookstore shelves yesterday and last night I attended a standing-room-only celebration with the author at Davis-Kidd Booksellers where, to quote my hometown newspaper, The Florala News, “…a good time was had by all.” Here are a few party pictures. Enjoy!

Me with J.T.

J.T. with her critique partner, Jennifer

J.T. with Christine


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One of the characters from MURDER ON MUSIC ROW will be my guest blogger on Friday. We hope to see you back then.

~Kay

Manic Monday: Airport Security

What a great way to start the week here in middle Tennessee with highs in the 60’s and 70’s and low’s in the 40’s and 50’s. I love the crispness of fall.

Hubby and I flew home yesterday from a long weekend in North Carolina. He attended meetings at a professional conference while I sat on the balcony of our room and watched the leaves turn. I also spent an afternoon with one of my favorite sorority sisters. It was still warm but color was beginning to burst through everywhere indicating fall weather is indeed just around the corner.

As I walked through the airport for our return trip home, I was reminded of all the changes in airport security since the tragedy of 9/11. We can no longer go to the gate to greet visitors or stop by to visit with a friend who might have a long layover. I suppose if the layover was long enough and they didn’t mind the hassle of going back through the security check-point we could still get together. But even though I love my friends, it’s usually just too much trouble.

Another change is the physical location of retail and service vendors. Most of the shops are behind security, an inconvenience when I’m looking for a great gift and recall something I saw in the airport that would be perfect—if only I could get to it. The ongoing Nashville Airport renovation has added restaurants and bars on both sides of security, and passengers are now greeted by sights and smells of Nashville—such as the Grassmere Zoo Shop and Whitt’s Barbecue—as soon as they deplane.

The first phase of the $44 million dollar upgrade also added not one, but two locations of the legendary Tootsie’s Orchid Lounge—one on each side of the security check-point. With purple-brick façades, white orchids painted on the windows, signature “Walls of Fame,” and live entertainment these replicas of the downtown icon—“The World’s Most Famous Honky-Tonk” according to the Guinness Book of World Records—are a fine substitute if you can’t experience the real thing. Travelers can sip Tennessee-made George Dickles or Jack Daniels and get a final taste of up-and-coming artists performing original music at the same time.

As a writer I’m always looking for story ideas and airports are great places to get them. For some time now I’ve toyed with a book sub-plot where someone needs to go away and not be found. In the story, she and another character both go through airport security and then exchange their one-way tickets. The first character can’t be traced because she’s doesn’t go to her ticket location and the second traveler simply returns home on another ticket in her own name. But something happened yesterday that blew this plot-line to hell and back.

After we went through security and got to our gate there was an announcement to get our ID’s back out because they were going to do a “spot-check.” As we lined up to board the plane, four uniformed TSA officers looked at the photo ID of every single person boarding. I suppose my character could slip into a portion of the line already checked, but it seems a little risky. Or maybe it’s the conflict every scene needs. And why were they doing this random check? Hummm…There may be more plot material here than I realized.

Have the changes in airport security had an impact on you? Leave a comment and share your experiences.

By the way, it’s not too late to become eligible for a copy of J.T. Ellison’s new book THE IMMORTALS which will be released tomorrow. See my Friday post for details.

I hope you have a great week. See you Wednesday.

~Kay

P.S. Happy 19th birthday to a special goddaughter, Ashli. Have a wonderful day, sweetie.

Friday Favorites: CONTEST–Featuring J.T. Ellison

As promised on Wednesday’s blog, today’s post is an interview with J.T. Ellison, author of the soon to be released THE IMMORTALS, a Taylor Jackson Novel.  The pre-release reviews are awesome and I plan to be at Davis Kidd next Tuesday (Sept 28) for the launch of the book.  For a chance to win a personalized, autographed copy for yourself, leave a comment telling us why you’d like to win. The contest is open to US mailing addresses only, though all comments are welcome. The winner will be chosen by an online random generator.

KE: Hi JT. Thanks for agreeing to do a blog interview with me. You have a new book about to be released. Tell us a little bit about it.

JTE: Yes, THE IMMORTALS, the 5th Taylor Jackson novel, which comes out September 28. I love this book. I know you’re not supposed to pick favorites amongst your own works, but when I started writing this one, I’d just come off a really grueling serial killer novel, one that kept me up at night with terrible nightmares. In THE IMMORTALS, Taylor Jackson is faced with a totally new kind of adversary, a world she’s not at all familiar with in Nashville, the subculture of witchcraft and mysticism. On Hallowe’en night, Samhain, eight teenagers are murdered, all with pentacles carved into their flesh. It’s staged to look like Satanists, but these crimes are much more complex than they first appear. Taylor is aided by a Wiccan high priestess, Ariadne, who helps her understand the pagan and Wiccan lifestyle, and the truth behind the murders.

The research I did for this book was so much fun. I’ve always been a seeker, though I was raised Episcopal and went to church for ages, I’ve always been rather open to all kinds of theologies. Coming off THE COLD ROOM, and the incredibly difficult to stomach research I needed to do to make that book come to life, I felt an affinity for gentleness and naturalism of Wicca and paganism, which led to deeper research than I might have normally done, especially on Wicca and Buddhism. I have a couple of friends who are Wiccans too, so they were a huge help pointing me in the right direction. What I loved was the fact that the entire time I was researching and writing the book, I didn’t have a single nightmare. Mysticism doesn’t scare me nearly as much as the horrors we inflict on one another.

KE: I can’t wait to read THE IMMORTALS. I have to tell you THE COLD ROOM, scared the stew out of me. I was afraid to go to sleep. It makes me feel better that it troubled you, the author, as well. What was that like?

JTE: Terrifying. Having nightmares is no fun, but par for the course for me. But the ones I had from THE COLD ROOM were channeled right onto the page.

KE: I don’t usually read suspense/thrillers (those damned nightmares). What drew me to your series initially was that it was set in Nashville and I’m writing a cozy mystery series also set in Nashville. (Nothing like yours, believe me.) What are the advantages/disadvantages of using a “real” city for your setting and how do you merge fiction with real places?

JTE: I love having the real Nashville as my backdrop. When I first started out, I was committed to having Nashville be a character in the books. Now, 5 books in, I think I’ve accomplished that. I rarely alter the city to suit my own purposes, but it’s been known to happen. It’s such a great town, I love writing about it.

KE: Though I read your first book because of the setting, I read the others because I wanted to know what was going to happen to the characters. That Taylor Jackson…she’s quite a girl.  What was your inspiration for her character?

JTE: John Sandford’s Lucas Davenport. I wanted to write a female Davenport, half cop, half rock star, a woman who was not only respected by her peers, but well-liked too. She leapt fully formed into my mind, talking in that low smoky drawl, and I was hooked.

KE: I was hooked too, but I have a crush on Taylor’s hunky fiancé, FBI profiler John Baldwin. I don’t like Scotland Yard Detective/profiler Memphis Highsmythe. You aren’t going to mess things up for Taylor and Baldwin are you?

JTE: I invoke my 5th Amendment right to decline to answer the question in the event that my answer may incriminate me in some way.

KE: Well, I had to try… Taylor’s best friend is medical examiner, Dr. Samantha Loughley. Both of the women are former Nashville debutantes. I get Taylor as a detective though I can’t imagine why a girly girl like Samantha would want to be a medical examiner. What drew her to the profession?

JTE: Sam is better with dead people than live ones, though she does a great job at pretending. She’s a classic introvert – much prefers quiet, solitude, but can turn it on when necessary. She’s a great foil for Taylor, who retreats behind her thin blue wall and won’t come out unless coaxed. Sam’s a special, important character, the one female that Taylor truly trusts. She’s elegant and smart and so very Southern. But she’s as committed to Nashville as Taylor is – Taylor protects the city, and Sam uncovers the secrets of Nashville’s dead. They compliment one another, I think.

KE: I had just finished THE COLD ROOM when Rizzoli and Isles debuted on TV this year. My first thought was to e-mail you someone had stolen your stories and moved them to Boston. Then I saw both you and Tess Gerritsen blogged for Murderati so I was pretty sure she wasn’t a thief. Do you see similarities between the Rizzoli and Isles novels and the Jackson Taylor series?

JTE: Absolutely – I’ve been a huge fan of Tess’s work for years. I didn’t set out to make something similar, that happened rather organically because of the nature of the characters’ work. I think Tess has done an amazing job blazing a trail through the thriller world with Jane Rizzoli and Maura Iles. I’m really happy to see the series doing so well too, it’s important to have female role models who are tough and still feminine. I love that. But there are major difference between our books – in mine, Sam and Taylor are more like the TV Rizzoli and Iles – dear friends, dependent on one another. Tess’s books have the characters in a respectful but wary friendship, something I chose consciously to do differently.

KE: Speaking of  Murderati–I just love this website. The authors who post there seem to be a pretty tight-knit group. How did this all come about?

JTE: Pari Noskin Taichert was the brainchild behind Murderati  though my husband was the one who came up with the name. We started back in 2004, before I had a book deal. The blog has grown from 7 authors to 14, in all stages of the process. Readers can go back to the beginning and literally trace my career, which I love. It’s been such a joy to share my journey with our readers. 5 years in we’re one of the most well-respected group blogs in the crime fiction ‘verse, which is a huge honor for us all.

KE: How many foreign editions do you have?  It must be a major rush to have your work published in other languages. Do you have each of the foreign editions in your bookcases at home?

JTE: It’s up to 21 by the end of 2010. Let’s see, in addition to Canada and the US, the first foreign translation was France, then Australia (which includes the Philippines), then the rest came in: Germany, and Austria, Poland, the Nordic Bloc (Norway, Finland, Sweden and Denmark), Spain (with Mexico, Argentina and Chile), Holland, the UK (Scotland, England, Ireland and Wales) and most recently, Turkey. It’s rather surreal to me to see the books in other languages. Every so often, a box will arrive with the foreign editions in them – it’s such a treat! I’m hoping for Italian rights to sell – I’m Italian, and my family there is chomping at the bit to get a book in their own language.

KE:  Congratulations on your success. It’s inspiring. Thank you for your time and for agreeing to appear on the blog of an unknown, yet to be published author. I want to be your new best friend, but that’s probably pushing it a bit so I’ll just end by asking if there’s anything else you’d like to include in this interview?

JTE: I think you’ve pretty well covered it, Kay. Thanks for having me!

Don’t forget you have to leave a comment for a chance to win a personalized, signed copy of this intriguing book. I’ll announce the winner on next Wednesday’s blog. If you can’t get to a bookstore next Tuesday, you may pre-order this or any of the books from this series from the links below.

Have a great, safe weekend. I hope you’ll visit my blog again on Monday.

~Kay

P.S. If you are a blog subscriber, you might not see the links to the books below. Double click on “Kay Elam Writes” above and they should be there. KE

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Wildcard Wednesday: J.T. Ellison

Hi everyone,

Well, I’ve landed a big one this time and I’m so excited.

J.T. Ellison, the author of the best-selling Nashville-based Taylor Jackson Novels, has graciously agreed to do a blog interview on Friday. Her next book THE IMMORTALS comes out Sept 28th so our interview is actually pre-release. How cool is that? For those of you in the Nashville area she’s having a book signing on Tuesday (release day) at David Kidd at 6 p.m.

I’m not typically a connoisseur of thrillers with my tendency to have nightmares. But when I got my Kindle for Christmas, I decided to check out some local authors. One of the books I selected was J.T.’s debut novel, ALL THE PRETTY GIRLS. I didn’t actually read it until late spring but as soon as I finished it, I downloaded her other three books from this series.

The last one, THE COLD ROOM, came out last February had me sleeping with the lights on, much to Hubby’s chagrin. He didn’t like it any better that every time he woke up during the night I asked him to make sure the security system was armed.

If you live under a rock (like me) and have not previously heard of J.T. she’s so big her first four books of this series are available in audio versions and she’s published in a bunch of different languages. I’ll let her tell you just how many countries her books are sold in during the interview on Friday. So even though I discovered her because she is a local author she has international popularity. AND she has another book to be released in March, 2011 … SO CLOSE THE HAND OF DEATH.

This is one busy woman which is another reason scoring this interview was such a coup. Here’s the really big news—I saved the best for last. J.T. has agreed to personalize and autographed a copy of her new book for one of my lucky blog readers. Just leave a comment on Friday and the following week I’ll use that nifty on-line random generator to select a winner. The book will be shipped to you. (Contest open to USA residents only.) You have to leave a comment to win, so why don’t you tell us if you’ve read any of J.T.’s books or why you like thrillers. I’d love to hear what other readers think of this genre.

J.T.’s website is www.jtellison.com. You may also follow her on Twitter http://twitter.com/thrillerchick and on Facebook http://facebook.com/pages/JT-Ellison.

If you want to go ahead and check out the books in this series before Friday’s interview here are links to her books on Amazon. Happy reading! See you Friday.

~Kay

If you are a blog subscriber and can’t see the links, double click on the title and they’ll magically appear.

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Manic Monday: Nashville Antics

The oppressive heat of summer is fading, the humidity is lower, and in spite of the sky-high pollen count, it’s hard to resist being outside … especially with my sister visiting from Seattle for the first time in over five years.

She’s here to celebrate a 50th birthday. No it’s not mine–been there, done that. It’s not hers either. She’s survived that milestone too. It’s the birthday of her partner. It’s a big year for them as their 30th anniversary is in December.

So what’s planned for this manic week? Let me check my spreadsheet …

Today they’re going to the Country Music Hall of Fame (while I go to my tap dance class).  Even if you aren’t a country music fan, I highly recommend this unique museum . It’s encompasses much much more than country music, and visitors are often surprised at both the quality and quantity of its collections. Even the building housing the museum is a piece of art with multiple musical instruments represented in its architecture. When my guests finish there we’ll have some time for pampering (pedicures) but rest assured we’ll be home for the season premier of Dancing with the Stars.

Tuesday we’ll start the day with breakfast at the Loveless Café. Sadly, the famous biscuit lady died way too young earlier this year but I’m told the secret recipe is intact. After the Loveless we’re going on the Nash Trash tour of downtown with the Jugg sisters in their pink bus. This, in my opinion, is Nashville’s most fun touristy treat. Be warned, however, it’s not for the kiddies. It’ll be hard to top the Nash Trash tour, but we’ll round out this day with other downtown tourist adventures.

9 to 5: The Musical is launching its national tour at Nashville’s TPAC (Tennessee Performing Arts Center) this week, so we can’t miss that. The music and lyrics are by Tennessean Dolly Pardon who starred in the 1980 film version. Ironically, TPAC opened its doors in 1980, and in its thirty year history this is the first national tour to debut at TPAC. Happy anniversary, TPAC.

What else will we be up to? Well, I can’t give away all of my plans—who knows, my sister might actually read my blog—so that’s it for today. We’ve got places to go and people to see …

~Kay

Be sure to come back Wednesday for a special surprise and the announcement of a contest (with a prize) for Friday.


Friday Favorites: Character Chat—Loralee’s Lyrics

Guest blogger: Loralee Anderson, character from Murder on Music Row

Hey ya’ll,

You know when I signed up as a guest blogger, I thought I was gonna get to blog lots, but it’s only working out to be like once a month or something. I got way more to say than that and if they don’t let me blog more, I might just start my own blog and then they can be MY guest bloggers. At least they didn’t tell me what I had to write about this time. Good gravy. What was up with that?

Don’t you just love what I come up with for the title of my blog? Loralee’s Lyrics. Now just so there want be any confusion I need to let you know that don’t mean I’ll be writing songs on here—though I could. I just thought because I’m a singer/songwriter it’d be a fitting title—certainly better than Nan’s Notes or Kat’s Komments which she insisted on spelling with a C. Kat can be so uppity but it ain’t no never mind to me, she still puts her britches on one leg at a time, just like I do.  Me and Kat are about as different as syrup and gravy, but we’re both best friends with Nan so that means we have to be friends with each other too. At first it was hard as toenails, her being so damned smart and acting like everbody should know what she was talking about all the time. Then I found out she can’t carry a tune in a bucket so I got her there. Nan keeps on saying it ain’t a competition, but me and Kat both know it really is. But that don’t mean either one of us wouldn’t go in a burning building to save the other one—we would. We just don’t see eye to eye on most things.

One thing we do agree on (and Nan too) is Dancing with the Stars. It’s our favorite TV show (except for maybe The Closer) and the new season starts Monday night. I always go over to Nan’s to watch and Kat comes too if Josh is home to keep the girls. She used to bring them, but now that they’re in school they have a bedtime that’s before dark.

Anyway, who do you think’ll win this year?  Me, myself, I’m pulling for Michael Bolton. That man’s a hunady-hunk! But I think Jennifer Grey’ll probably win it. After all, she was hot in Dirty Dancing and her daddy was Joel Grey AND she’s paired with Derek. With that much luck even I’d have a shot at the mirror ball trophy and goodness knows I’ve got two left feet.  I can’t wait to see how Louis does with Margaret Cho—they’ll probably kill each other. Maksim and Brandy’ll  do good. Now that’s another man I wouldn’t kick outta my bed. I just don’t know how we’d talk with his accent and all. But with pecs like his, talking would be way down my list of things to do. Cheryl and Rick Fox look good together and so do Tony and Audrina. Florence Henderson looks great for her age and if Corky Ballas make make up dances for Cloris Leachman ‘ole Flo should do just fine. I like Kurt Warner as a football player and he seems to be one heck of a guy but I just can’t see him as a dancer, not even with Anna, who I love ’cause her hair’s just like mine. Of course, some of the other football players  ended up being some of my all time favorites—like Warren Sapp and Emmit Smith. Leave me a comment about who your favorite stars have been or who you think’ll win this year. We won’t bet on it or nothing … unless you really want to.

Better run. I’ve got a big gig this weekend and need to rehearse. I’ll see you whenever they let me post again—or when I get my own blog going … whichever comes first.

Cheers and beers to ya,

~Loralee

Wildcard Wednesday: Cozy Mystery—What’s that?

When I was writing my first novel, Murder on Music Row, I knew it was a mystery, but I wasn’t sure of its subgenre. At a writing conference last year I was telling someone about my book and they said, “Oh, it’s a cozy.” I simply agreed instead of admitting I’d never heard of such a thing. In the year since I’ve found many people (including writers) aren’t aware of this popular subgenre even if they’ve been reading cozies for years. Hence, today’s wild-card topic…

A cozy is fun. It’s a fast-paced, feel-good read that, when you put it down, you can hardly wait to get back to it. Clues (as well as a few wild-goose chases) are given so the reader wants to solve the mystery along with the sleuth. The victim is not someone with whom the reader has a real emotional attachment—he’s the villain after all—so the reader isn’t dismayed by his/her death. There are twists and turns as well as surprising revelations but, in the end, justice always prevails and the sleuth is the hero.

The cozy’s heroine (or hero) is usually an amateur sleuth (think Jessica Fletcher).  This is a role she’s just fallen into because she’s intelligent, intuitive, and inquisitive. She is usually connected to the crime by someone she knows or because she was nearby when it happened. Often she solves the crime to protect someone important to her. The sleuth is likable, though flawed in a way that is not going to offend the reader. (She’s always late, smokes, gossips…)

The sleuth has strong relationships, though not necessarily romantic. She has lots of friends, family, acquaintances who feed her missing links to solve the mystery. These characters are often eccentric, annoying, or amusing—just like people we all know. Frequently the protagonist is friends with (or married to) someone who legitimately would know facts about the crime that aren’t public. This could be someone on the police force (or the sheriff), the medical examiner, the district attorney, etc.

The cozy’s sleuth usually has another job—solving crimes is just something she does because somebody has to do it.  She might be a former teacher, business owner (florist, bookstore, hotel, caterer, etc.), doctor, lawyer, chef, librarian, journalist, tour guide, pet sitter, and so on … you get the idea. Instead of or in addition to a profession, a cozy might center on hobbies such as crafts, puzzles, sewing, needlework/knitting, quilting, golf, tennis, gardening, genealogy, among others. Some cozies have a theme like the holidays, animals (cats, dogs, horses, birds, etc.), or even religion.

There is often a romantic subplot, but no explicit sex scenes, and there is little, if any, profanity.

The murder in a cozy isn’t described with a lot of details. It usually happens before the book begins or at the very beginning. Sometimes there a multiple murders, but even they are off the page. They are described in general terms–no blood and gore.

A cozy is often geographically specific—usually in a small town or village, but may also be in a “closed” setting like an office, hotel, train, etc. My book is set in the city of Nashville but is limited to a specific section of town.

Of course there has to be law enforcement—but they are often short-staffed, kidnapped, out of town, etc. which is why a small town setting works so well. Procedural accuracy is often overlooked in this genre and the police seldom take the protagonist seriously.

A lot of cozies are written as a part of a series. For example, Murder on Music Row could become the first in a Music City Mysteries Series. A series allows the reader to become emotionally involved with the recurring characters.

The real measure of a cozy, in my opinion, is a book you want to read while snuggled in to your favorite chair on a cold, rainy afternoon…a book that when you finish you’ll have a smile on your face and will wonder when the next one will be published.

**********

So, do you read cozies?

Who are some of your favorite cozy authors?

Do you have another description of a cozy?

Please share your comments and ideas.

Loralee, a character from Murder on Music Row, will be blogging on Friday, so I’ll see you Monday.

~Kay

Manic Monday: Mom

Today would have been my mother’s 75th birthday. Well, sort-of. She was the youngest of eight children—they had big families back in her day to help work the farm, and by the time she came around, her parents were tired. Both of them worked outside the home (in addition to the farm) so the younger siblings were cared for by the older ones.

A few years ago I was talking with one of my aunts (third from the youngest) and Mom’s birthday came up in the conversation. My aunt said she vividly remembered Mother’s birth and it was very cold outside. It couldn’t have been cold in September. Not in north Florida. Something wasn’t right and this inquisitive mind wanted to know more.

So I asked another aunt, the oldest living relative on my maternal side, if she knew the story. She has a touch of dementia, but she remembered this with extreme clarity. It seems the courthouse where Mom’s birth certificate was housed burned to the ground. This particular aunt, with nerves of steel and guts to match, saw this as an opportunity to get out of babysitting.  She was ten at the time. She wrote the state department of records, forged my grandmother’s name, and got a new birth certificate showing Mom’s birthday as September 13th, not December 13 (which was accurate). Then she boldly enrolled Mother in first grade. It had been an at-home birth so the only record was in the ashes of the fire—and maybe the family Bible. I’m not sure what she did about that.

Mother grew up thinking she was born September 13, 1935 … the same year as Elvis. (Of course she’d never heard of Elvis growing up—I just thought I’d throw that in.) When she found out perhaps that wasn’t the case, she ignored the facts and held true to the fabrication.

I remember her always being touchy about her birthday. I recall one incident when my dad told her happy birthday in December once she told him where he could go—right in front of my sister and me. There was always a vibe around the subject, but it was one of those things that we just didn’t talk about in our household.

When I learned the truth, I didn’t understand my mother’s logic—after all, if she’d celebrated the December birthday she would have been three months younger. Or, if it had been me, I would have celebrated both (but only aged once, of course). Sadly I never got to ask her about it…I never got to hear the story from her.

Mom died July 2, 1992 at the age of 56 (no matter which birthday you use). I think of this as I approach my 56th birthday in March. (I really thought about it when I was 50, the age she was at the time of her stroke, from which she never recovered.) Though she’s been gone over 18 years, I don’t think I’ll ever get used to not having a mom. So happy birthday, Mother. I love you; I miss you; and I wish you were here.

~Kay

Friday Favorites: Character Chat—Nan’s Notes

Guest blogger: Nan Macomb, character from Murder on Music Row

Hi,

It’s my turn to blog again and we didn’t even get a topic this time … at least Kat and I didn’t. I’m not so sure about Loralee.

It seems like I’ve known Kat and Lor my whole life, but it’s not been quite that long. Loralee transferred to my school in 7th grade and I was instantly smitten. When I saw that long, curly red hair I knew I had to get my hands on it. I’d known for years I wanted to be a hair stylist even though my parents insisted I go to college or they’d cut me off. So I spent 4 years at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville which is where I found Kat.

Kat and I met right before freshman year and we bonded over the trauma of sorority rush. We ended up pledging the same sorority and worked it out so we could live together and we were roommates for all four years. Loralee didn’t go to UT though she might as well have, she was there so much. She went to UK up in Lexington but she dropped out and moved to Texas to live with her dad after her mom married a guy from Match.com.

I did graduate, but my heart was never in it. Oh, I loved the parties, the boys, and my sorority, but classes–well, I’d had enough classes in high school. I was ready to get on with my life.

We all went our separate ways after college–me to NYC to study cosmetology, Lor was still in Texas trying to start her singing career and Kat came back to Nashville to go to grad school at Vanderbilt. You wouldn’t know it to look at her, but she’s brilliant– I mean MENSA brilliant. She met Josh, her husband, at Vandy and he’s almost as smart as she is. They’ve got two little girls who’ll probably have IQ’s like Einstein’s. Josh and Kat were a good match and they were smart enough to know it. That alone makes them geniuses in my book.

Loralee and I haven’t had as much luck with men. Lor can have them eating out of her hand faster than a New York minute, but once she does she doesn’t want them anymore. Me … well, I just always seem to pick the wrong one, usually one with a wife at home. But I vow here and now if I ever get out of this mess with Randy’s murder I will not date another married man for as long as I live, so help me God, cross my heart and hope to die, stick a needle in my eye! I mean it. I am done with married men. If I ever fall in love again it will be with my head and not with my heart.

As great as I get along with both Lor and Kat the two of them are like yen and yang. There’s no way they’d be friends if I wasn’t in the mix. But I am and we are so that’s that. We’re best friends and in it for the long haul. We’ve been through lots of stuff together but this murder is by far the worst thing yet. But we’ll survive. We always do. And we’ll be tighter than ever afterward. That’s just the way it works with us.

Well this seems like a good place to stop for now. See you when it’s my turn again.

~Nan


Wildcard Wednesday: Weekend Adventures

Labor Day weekend was a rare time in our house for we had no commitments—at least not for Saturday and Sunday.

On Saturday morning I heard Hubby singing while he shaved—nothing strange about that except he didn’t have to be up so early nor did he have to shave on a Saturday. It didn’t bother me…I went right back to sleep.

A while later, he springs onto the bed with the announcement, “I have an idea.” Suddenly I was wide awake. An “I have an idea” from him is like a “we need to talk” from me. He had my full attention.

“What’s your idea?” I asked as I tried not to panic. We didn’t have time to hike the wilds of Africa and I didn’t know of anyone who offered bungee jumping in Nashville but there were lots of other options so I braced myself.

“Let’s go out for breakfast,” he said like he really thought I’d let it go at that.

“And?”

“And after breakfast maybe we could go buy bikes and ride them on the greenway.”

Aha! The zinger.

With the exception of renting bikes in Chicago last year to ride along the relatively flat paths near the lake, I’ve not been on a bike since I was a little girl. Amazingly there is no place in Nashville to rent bikes, though I recently read someone might open up a couple of rental stands in the future.

The only bike I’ve previously owned didn’t have gears and I braked with the pedals. I’m pretty sure (but wouldn’t swear on it) that my dad finally removed the training wheels.

I think I surprised Hubby by not offering much resistance. All in all, it wasn’t a bad idea—we could spend time together and burn calories too. I had one caveat—I would get absolute veto power over where we rode. He tried to negotiate out of that one, but I held firm and we agreed to revisit the subject in the future should it become an issue.

So to the bike store we went (after breakfast, of course). When we walked in the door the first bike I saw looked like Jessica Fletcher’s (without the basket). I was quickly ushered away from that pretty bike to a rack of bikes that looked as complicated as our universal remote control.

“I don’t know…” I started, but both Hubby and the sales guy ganged up on me and before I knew it we were in the parking lot and I was riding a bike with three gears on the left and seven on the right around in circles. (Or was it three on the right and seven on the left?)  I almost panicked when I realized the brakes weren’t controlled by my pedals, but I quickly figured it out. It was the only bike I tried. I didn’t fall in love with it, but I didn’t fall in hate with it either and I figured it was best to not complicate things by trying to make comparisons.

A little while later we left with kickstands and water bottle holders added to the frames. Hubby also got the tools to fix a flat tire—I’ll just call AAA myself. They mounted a bike rack to the back of our car and of course we got helmets. We were ready to go…and I was terrified.

We drove to the greenway (about two miles from our house) and began riding alongside the Cumberland River. Much of the trail had fencing, but some didn’t so I kept my eyes on the path and not down the bank where I’d be if I lost control. At 1 ½ miles in, we came to a fork in the trail. We went to the right, but quickly saw it was too hilly. We turned around and went the other way, but it was hilly too. So we turned around and trekked the 1.5 miles back to our car.

We started around noon and even though we were having some mild weather with low humidity, I was still huffing and puffing and felt like I’d run a marathon when we finished. (Actually, I can’t make that comparison since I’ve never run a marathon. I have run a few 5k’s though so I could use that.)

We returned home and I promptly took a nap. Hubby, with his endless energy, hung hooks on the ceiling of the garage to store the bikes.

The next morning (Sunday) we got out earlier. We went to another trailhead and rode a total of six miles—double the day before. My butt was sore and I was tired, but I only had to walk up one, okay two, well maybe three hills.

Unfortunately, though I seem to have basic bike-riding conquered (I can break, but I can’t change gears yet), I also seem to have developed an allergic reaction to the great outdoors. I’ve lived in Nashville for twelve years without a major allergy attack but I had one Saturday that we were able to squelch with some over-the-counter meds, a manicure, pedicure and massage. I’m still fighting the one Sunday’s ride. I’ve been miserable…but it won’t stop me from riding because, by George, I’ve got a bike.

Warning: If you live in the area and see me coming (I’ll be the wobbly one in the surgical type mask), be sure to give me plenty of room. When I get really good (and confident) I’m gonna get me a bell and a basket. Then Jessica Fletcher can just watch out.

Sneezingly,

~Kay