Saturday, November 20, 2010

Bouchercon 2010

So I went to Bouchercon and had a great time! I’d been thinking that I wasn’t really a part of the book world anymore – that I’d feel out-of-place. My pal Lita assured me I wouldn’t feel that, wouldn’t be that, and that I should just have fun. So we did.

Some thoughts and memories:

Panels were all over the place, authors famous and not-so-famous spoke or argued or just chatted on a huge variety of mystery/thriller-related topics. The first session I attended was with Jeff Somers, in a “30 on 30” discussion. He was solo, to chat for 30 minutes on the topic “Science Fiction and Crime Fiction: The Most Exciting Combination since Whiskey & Soda.” I remember three things about Jeff Somers: he was funny; I sadly did not answer one of his trivia questions so did not win a cool baseball cap; and he served whiskey! So…Bouchercon…that’s how it’s going to be, eh?

On Friday, Lita and I had hard and fast plans to attend “The Hard Breed,” with our pal Gregg Hurwitz. The topic: Beyond Novels – Writers who Write More than Just Novels. Gregg writes comics and screenplays, and he’s darn funny: when asked why he writes a variety of things, he blurted out, “FUN! I would be a total tramp if I was a girl in high school!” As to writing for a variety of genres, he said, “God, I hate what adaptive creatures we writers are.” (Added to Kate’s Reading list: The Killer Inside Me by Jim Thompson and The Signal by Ron Carlson.)

In “The Glass Dart Board” panel, with Santa Barbara writer Gayle Lynds, the discussion was about politics. “Champions of a genre have a certain political stripe,” said moderator David Corbett. He was explaining how Glenn Back, on the right, promotes thrillers, while no one on the left does so. S.J. Rozan narrowed it down for us: “The right wing ‘gets’ there are no opposing views of good and evil; the left ‘sees’ the opposing view.” (Added to Kate’s Reading List: Do They Know I’m Running? by David Corbett.)

The big treat of Friday was Gregg Hurwitz’s interview with Michael Connelly. When Gregg asked, “If you could remake any movie…?” Michael answered, “I’d remake ‘Bullitt,’ and I’d be driving the mustang.” We all laughed, as he went on to explain, “I’ve been on ‘Castle,’ and I got my SAG card, so…” Gregg asked, “What's the quality you most like in a man?” Michael promptly blurted, “Tattoos!” and started laughing right along with us! (Added to Kate’s Reading List: Nine Dragons and The Reversal by Michael Connelly.)

Connelly with Hurwitz

Lita and I suffered through the poorly moderated panel about serial killers called “In the Midst of Strangers.” But it was worth it. The panelists were bright and funny and interesting, and brought the ‘serial killer’ world right to the forefront. Jonathan Hayes, a forensic pathologist from Britain now working in NYC as a medical examiner, really put everything into perspective with one quiet comment: “Most murders are sad, brutal things.” True, that. Luckily, Chelsea Cain kept us laughing with her unique view of the genre…and how to use crochet needles to one’s best advantage. (Added to Kate’s Reading List: Dharma Girl by Chelsea Cain, as well as her novels and Precious Blood by Jonathan Hayes.)

Next panel was “The Drop,” with some big names, authors I’ve read and very much enjoyed: Mark Billingham, John Connolly, Denise Mina and Karin Slaughter. It’s always so interesting to learn that mystery writers often have a great sense of humor, and these four were no exception. The topic was the good, the bad and the ugly about the unknown bits of being a writer – the fans, the tours, the rejections, etc. “I take an AA’s look at my schedule – one day at a time,” said Karin Slaughter. The anecdotes flew, as well as the cheerful insults: “John, when you travel and wear sunglasses, do you get mistaken for Bono?” The fact that all four authors all had different – and thick – accents only added to the delight of the audience. (Added to Kate’s Reading List: Denise Mina’s titles, Karin Slaughter’s new book).

Bouchercon Goodies.

My pal Elizabeth Sims was part of the afternoon “Continuous Conversation” panel, about the business of books. I stayed for a bit, but then bopped over to “A Collection of Eagles,” with Martin Cruz Smith, Joseph Finder and Santa Barbaran Andrew Klavan. Always fun to run into pals at a big conference! Spent a bit of time with good pal Harley Jane Kozak as well.

Harley meets fans.

Speaking of pals – although I’m sure she wouldn’t be able to pick me out of a crowd, I worked with Sara Paretsky a couple of times, both in Oak Brook, IL and Indianapolis. So I was looking forward to, at the very least, hearing her speak at her panel, “Timelock.” She wasn’t there, and I never did find out if she had cancelled or what. Sad…would’ve loved to have touched base.

As for the evenings – I had dinner with great friends, Nancy and Bob, from Santa Barbara. They just moved to San Francisco earlier in October and she was eager to show off her new city. They have a nice apartment in a fabulous neighborhood, with a great view - the best of all possible worlds. This is the street view from my hotel window. I'm always so interested in this kind of big-city view from a hotel room; always such a different "beat" than what I'm used to.

Hotel view.

(And yes, I did a bit of shopping in San Francisco, so sue me.)
Saturday, Lita and I went to a Harper Collins party, where I caught up with Mike Spradlin, a wonderful publishing friend. And Sunday, after a yummy brunch with Borders Buddies (former and current), Lita and I went to the airport (thanks again, Kathy!) for the return home.

The Ladies Who Brunch

Next stop, according to Lita – Book Expo in New York City, next year. We’ll see…

Shopping in the big city.


Friday, October 1, 2010

Of Parents & Painting

It was a bigger project than I thought it would be. All I wanted to do was a bit of accent painting, in one area of my condo - you know, a light color, framed by a darker color in the same palette (a painter's word), in one location, to make that location "pop." Simple, right?

Not so much. Agonized over color choices. Five trips to Home Depot and/or Ace Hardware. Ran out of that darn blue tape. And paint is surprisingly expensive...especially when the paint guy gives you huge cans of paint, for your "one area" in a condo.

The paint!

When my Mother saw my painted walls (after, ahem, I pointed them out to her), she said, "Where did you learn to do this?!?" Well, Dad, mostly. In fact, although my brother Tom has most of Dad's tools, I took one small, important-to-me piece: his paint-stirring screwdriver. It's big and heavy and paint-splattered. I treasure it.

Dad's Screwdriver

And I wanted it, that tool specifically. Why? Not sure. But it's one tool I watched him use, many times. Squatting over a paint can in the garage, the crappy old radio scratchily playing a ball game - any ball game - stirring a can of paint with that thick screwdriver. When the paint guy in Home Depot tried to up-sell me a paint can opener, I just smiled and said, "No thanks, I'm good."

When Dad and I painted bookshelves for my room, I did the stirring, as sort of a rite of passage. I loved those shelves, for many years, before I left for college.

"YOU!" I answered my Mom. "You taught me how to paint! Remember, when we painted my room, in Huntington Woods? We painted it that very pale purple."

She looked at me, blankly. "Remember?!? We painted the walls together, and we glopped so much paint on the ceiling, you went back and painted a border on the ceiling, all around the room. I used to lie in bed and stare up at that border, growing up."

She was stunned by that memory, that confession. 'Tis true though: I learned painting tips from both my parents. From my Dad: long, smooth strokes, with the occasional bop-bop-bop with the brush, in corners or at edges. And from Mom: if you make a mistake, just paint over it!

Painting is one of those jobs that requires dedication and NOT an attitude of "Oh, one will see that part, anyway." Painting walls really is a job that comes with a healthy dose of: "If it's worth doing, it's worth doing right."

Which I learned the hard way.

After two weekends of trips to purchase/return/re-purchase/another return, lots of clean-up, many hours of DVR'ed shows, drips, smears, sighs and swipes, I'm done. Or at least, done for now. As I gaze at my beautiful accented wall and trim, I see spots where I missed and need to retouch. But the paint is safely stored in the garage for now. Next weekend, I'll pull it out again.

For now...let's not and say we did, OK?

Little corner, before.                                                                                    
Little corner, after.

Friday, September 3, 2010

The New Look to my Blog

Ahh, see? I've done a bit of work, despite being tired after a long week, on my humble little blog! Changed the name of it, to more reflect me and where I am in my life at this moment. Because it's true: I'd almost always rather be reading.

The picture, by the way, real is a picture of me. I was about, well...let's say 2 or 3 years old. At my Grandparents' house, Grandpa and Grandma Sensenbrenner. I could always count on Grandma Sensenbrenner ("Nana") having something to read by the toilet. It was "Guideposts" magazine. And I'm pretty sure it was fascinating.


Saturday, May 8, 2010


Watch this space for many upcoming changes. I guess it's easier to keep this blog, and that's long as I can change the name of it, the theme, my profile, my goals, and the email address associated with it.

So watch this space for blog changes!

And thanks for sticking with me - Kate.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

What?!? Kate is Blogging Again? Really?!??!

OMG, as David would say - I'm posting a new blog! Yes, sorry, you're right, my bad, blah, blah, blah. Moving on.

I just finished my third solo week at work. No Sarah. She and her husband are, I'm guessing, well into getting to know their new home and their new city, Portland. They'll be starting a new chapter in their lives. I've only known Sarah for 2 months, but even I knew - it was time.

So know, I'm all alone in my job at MTD. And for the past couple of weeks, I felt a bit like a deer in the headlights. I know, I know - Sarah and I worked together for two months, right? I should've learned it all in that time, right? The whole job, no questions or fears, right?!?


From the first day I met her, I had an inkling about what would happen: we'd have so much fun giggling, gossiping and getting to know each other, the "learning the job" thing would, umm, sort of fall by the wayside. Turns out, I was right.

Oh, sure - I learned the basics, and as everyone in a new job should, I'll put my own stamp on this job. But these next few weeks are going to still be a bit of "hurry and catch up," to learn all the details.

And honestly, I wouldn't want it any other way, would you?

Sarah's last day at MTD was, I hope, memorable for her. I planned it to be, so I hope it worked. I sent out an email invite to the staff, before 8:00 AM that day: "Join me in the kitchen, for Sarah's Going Away Breakfast! Just the first stop of the day on the Sarah Farewell Tour (just like Cher!)."

So, bagels, fruit and coffee for Stop 1; Lunch at Mulligan's for Stop 2 (see photo). A driver brought in a cake (!) for her, so "dessert" became Stop 3.

Stop 4 was Happy Hour at the Sand Bar. See? Here's proof - Martha, Sarah and me, margaritas close by.

I invited everyone to Stop 5 on the Farewell Tour - Jazzercise the following Monday night. Oddly, no takers, except me. Well, I had a great time, anyway! Might just make this Jazzercise thing a real part of my life. No promises, of course - only if I can find some really cute jazzer-togs.

And yes, thanks for asking, there was a Stop 6 on the Farewell Tour: Sarah and I met to share a bottle of wine, on Stearns Wharf. Why the Wharf? Because it has one of the most stunning views of Santa Barbara: the mountain, the ocean, the beach, the Riviera. Sarah was - and is - keen to move on with her life, excited about what her new Oregon life will bring. But one last look at Santa Barbara, her second home, from such a gorgeous vantage point...who could blame her?

I'll miss her, but as it turns out, I did learn a lot from her:

*Keep that smile on your face;

*Wear heels whenever possible;

*Greet everyone you know as if they already like you, and treat them nicely;

And lastly:

Bitchiness be damned, keep rocking that ponytail!

Miss you, Mrs. Herbold. Wish you well, but really, really miss you.

From Paradise, Farewell Tour Stop #7.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Last Weekend of May

And now we head into June. Summertime in Santa Barbara. June Gloom. Solstice Parade and all the fun that goes along with that.
May was a crazy month, what with starting a new job, dealing with the Jesusita Fire (yours truly drove around for three days with a packed car, "just in case") and my Best-Kept-Secrets event.
The Jesusita Fire - very huge, very scary. But for the courage of our first responders, this lovely town would be horribly devasted. But those brave folks, many from all over the state, fought hard and long. The Santa Barbara Botanic Garden was a battleground - we lost a chunk of it, but a great deal of it was saved. We lost nearly 80 homes, but many more were saved. And although three firefighters (from Ventura, actually) were injured, no residents were harmed (unlike the huge Tea Fire last November).
Here's a photo of the huge smoke plume on Wed, May 6th - the second day of the fire:

That Wednesday, May 6th, was also the date of the Best-Kept-Secrets Author Tea. Honestly, it was a great afternoon, despite the fact that the lights went out, right as the panel discussion began. And we all watched, over the heads of the authors, the wind pick up and blow up State Street with great ferocity. And it was exactly 100 degrees that afternoon.

But still - the authors were delightful, the food was fabulous and the audience had a wonderful time! Many thanks to the panel: Mara Purl, Harley Jane Kozak and Kathryn Cushman, and a big shout-out to Starshine Roshell, our moderator.

Almost forgot my other event this month! Michele Carbone, author of Friday Evening, conducted a fabulous food demo, tasting and booksigning at Borders on May 1st. It was well attended, but her event today at Borders in Thousand Oaks, according to my sources, was even better. I wish her great success - her book is absolutely gorgeous! (

Yes, it's been a crazy month. I'm glad May is over and I look forward to June. But I know that May 2009 will be one I'll think about for a long time to come. Heck...I haven't even mentioned Bike to Work Day yet! :-)
As always, with love from paradise - K8.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Greetings - last day of a three day weekend. What a great invention, the three day weekend. And it leads to a four day workweek. I think I love four day workweeks - can I have one of those every month?
I wanted to make sure I did not let something go unnoticed to my blog followers. My young neice Lily recently starred, as a sixth grader, in her school production of "Alice, Junior." This is the elementary school version of Alice in Wonderland.
And did I mention that my neice, Lily Kathryn, was the STAR of the show? I was so proud of her! back to Indiana were grossly expensive (and at the time, I was still gainfully umemployed), so I was not able to go back home to see her play. But with the photos Lily's mom sent, and the breathless and excited phone call I got from Lily after opening night (on the way to the Opening Night Cast Pizza Party - always the best part of any production), I can only say that she was a huge hit!
She's named after me and following in my footsteps! See photos below:

Truth be told, I'm proud of all my neices and nephews - four of each. Dominic is home after his sophmore year at Dominican University; his sister Maria heads to Marian in the fall. She is a true beauty and very talented - she got a scholarship for being named to the Marian Dance Team!

My mom heads out every Saturday, this time of year, to FOUR soccor games with Zoe, Lily, Olivia and now Jack. They are all really growing up.

I'm looking forward to the annual Arizona Schwab Family Vacation in Santa Barbara, in July. Brendan and Matt are also growing like crazy. I can safely say these two boys love coming here for vacation - often, the temp here in Santa Barbara is 30-40 degrees cooler than in AZ! Matthew, my youngest nephew, is reading on his own, at only 5-years-old, and I have proof:

Dunno...maybe having an Aunt who worked at a bookstore helped, a little bit?

Hey - I'm on Twitter, look for me: K8Reader.

That's it for now, from Memorial Day in Paradise.