Monday, June 25, 2012

I Suck At Picking Book Titles

By Beth Groundwater

Okay, I'm fessing up. I really suck at picking book titles. Thank goodness others have stepped in to suggest better titles for me. My first title boo-boo was for the book that is now titled A Real Basket Case. Since the protagonist is a gift basket designer in her menopausal late forties and she was suffering from the empty nest and mid-life marital malaise, I titled the manuscript Mid-life Crisis. Boring! I queried multiple literary agents and none were the slightest bit interested.

Then an astute critique partner suggested that I focus on the cozy craft series potential for the manuscript and give it a title related to the sleuth's occupation. So, title attempt number two was Basket Case. After making some other changes, the most important being moving chapter three forward to be chapter one, I hooked my first agent, who sold the book, and the series, to Five Star Publishing. Then I went looking for similar mystery titles on Amazon and found Carl Hiaason's Basket Case and Ralph McInerny's Basket Case. I wasn't going to try to compete with those two! So, after some brain-storming with my Five Star editor, we settled on the title of A Real Basket Case.

After a successful title pick with the second book in the Claire Hanover gift basket designer series, To Hell in a Handbasket, I was back in the dog house with another lame choice. This was for the first book in my now-titled RM Outdoor Adventures series, which my second agent sold to Midnight Ink (who then promptly picked up my Claire Hanover series, too). I thought alliteration would be interesting, so I titled the first book (released as Deadly Currents) as Wicked Whitewater and the second book as Evil Eddies.

Midnight Ink’s sales staff nixed those titles for a couple of reasons. First, they felt alliterative titles were more for cozy mystery series, not soft-boiled series. Second, with my proposed series name (the Whitewater River Ranger series), the blurb for the first book would have been, “Wicked Whitewater, the first book in the Whitewater River Ranger series written by Beth Groundwater.” There were just too many “waters” in that! After asking my editor three times if Beth Groundwater was my real name and if I was willing to use an alias (yes and no), they changed it to “Deadly Currents, the first book in the RM Outdoor Adventures series written by Beth Groundwater.”

Again, I managed to squeak out a winning title for the second book in the series. I kept the Wicked and the Eddies and tacked those two together to be the title of my May release, Wicked Eddies. But, I struck out again on my proposed title for the third book in the series. Since it is set in Cataract Canyon on the Colorado River in Utah, a well-known, challenging whitewater run, I suggested the title of Cataract Canyon. (I have trouble with alliteration, don't I?)

Of course, Midnight Ink voted that choice down. It didn't match the precedent set by the previous two titles of the first word being associated with death and murder and the second word being a whitewater rafting term. They came up with the title of Fatal Descent instead. I'm still getting used to that new title, but it's really growing on me. I can see the reasons for the change. The book is about a descent down the river and it also includes some climbing action as well as a murder, so the title has multiple layers of meaning. Very cool!

Titles are sooo important, because they give readers a quick glimpse into what the book is going to be about. The title is your first--and often only--chance to hook a reader into purchasing the book. It has to really rock! Not really suck--like many of my title choices do. I've almost gotten to the point of throwing up my hands and turning in book manuscripts untitled. I'm ready to let others who have a better eye for sales and marketing pin a label on my books. I'll focus on the characters and the story instead.

Do you have a book title story to share? I hope you will, in the comments!

Saturday, June 23, 2012

INKSPOT NEWS - June 23, 2012

On Sunday, June 24th, Beth Groundwater will head to Denver, Colorado, to sign copies of Wicked Eddies, the second book in her RM Outdoor Adventures mystery series, at two locations. From 10 AM to noon, she will be at the Murder By the Book booth at the South Pearl Street Farmer's Market, 1500 block of South Pearl Street. Then from 2 - 3:30 PM, she will be at Who Else! Books in the Broadway Book Mall, 200 South Broadway. If you live in the Denver area, please stop by one of these fun events!

Wednesday, June 20, 2012


Public Library, Newark, NJ

Hot town, summer in the city
Back of my neck getting dirty and gritty
Been down, isn’t it a pity
Doesn’t seem to be a shadow in the city

The Lovin Spoonful sang those lyrics back in the summer of 1966. For those of us who grew up in the city, the song certainly rang true.

Today marks the first day of summer, and as I thought about a topic for my Inkspot post, my thoughts drifted to those hot summer days of my childhood.

I grew up in Newark, NJ back before community pools or recreational centers. Swimming involved families either sending their kids to camp, driving down the shore, or paying to belong to either a private swim club or the local Y. My family had no money for any of these luxuries. Six of us were crammed into a tiny two-bedroom apartment. My parents slept on a sofa bed in the living room. My sister and I shared one bedroom; my brothers shared the other.

Summers in the city were brutal. Fans were nearly useless. All they did was blow around hot air. Eventually, my parents bought a small air-conditioner for the living room, but it did me and my siblings little good since we were all sent outside first thing in the morning and only allowed back in the apartment for lunch and potty breaks.

What I remember most about those summers were the hours and hours I’d spend at the library. The library was such a magical place for me that I never thought twice about having to walk over a mile in 90+ degree heat to get there. Once I arrived, I was transported to far away places, sometimes wonderful, sometimes not so wonderful, but always an escape from the realities of summer in the city.

What did I read? Everything. Back then the librarians ran summer reading programs and kept track of the books we read. After finishing a book, we’d give a brief oral report to the librarian. She’d record the book and hand out certificates at the end of the summer. I don’t know what happened to my certificates. My parents probably threw them out when we finally moved to the suburbs. What I do remember, though, is that every summer I read the most books of anyone taking part in the summer reading program. Perhaps those long ago summers of reading at the library played a role in me becoming an author. I’d like to think so.

How did you spend the summers of your youth?

Lois Winston writes the critically acclaimed Anastasia Pollack Crafting Mysteries series. The first book, Assault With A Deadly Glue Gun, was a January 2011 release and received starred reviews from both Publishers Weekly and Booklist and has been nominated for a Book of the Year Award by ForeWords ReviewsDeath by Killer Mop Doll, the second book in the series, was released in January. Visit Lois at and Anastasia at the Killer Crafts & Crafty Killers blog,

Monday, June 18, 2012

What's in a name? A heck of a lot actually.

by Jennifer Harlow

Recently I accidently commented on a Facebook post under my real name. A very nice person (Thanks, Sarah) then wrote me an e-mail letting me know I'd done this. I didn't see the big deal but she mentioned I should be concerned about stalkers. I did a little double take. Stalkers? You're talking to the girl whose nickname in high school was, "Hey you!" I can't even get the cute dude a Blockbuster, who I've known for ten years, to pay attention to me even in low cut shirts, there's gonna be someone who's obsessed with me? Who follows me around and wants to wear my skin like a mink? Not in a hundred million years. But my mother was aghast. "You pen name protects your anonymity," she chided. "Don't do it again." When I decided to use a pen name, this thought never crossed my mind. 

My real name is Jennifer Kathryn Do**s (sorry, I can only take one chiding a week) but everyone calls me Jenna. I was named after a character in Robert Ludlum's book The Parsifal Mosaic. Jenna was a Russian spy. My parents always had high hopes for me. It would have been my official name but my parents wanted to give me other options (Jenny, Jen, J-Woww) so they went with Jennifer. Strangely they thought they were being original, that is until my first doctor's appointment. The nurse called, "Jennifer" and three mothers stood up. (We are legion.) I never minded the Jennifer part, but my last name was always a problem. Davis, Dowie, Dallas, no one has ever gotten it right. The one time I've ever won an award in 3rd grade, they called "Jennifer Davis" and I didn't know they meant me. I didn't find out about it until after. I stopped correcting people around that time. When my feminist friends asked if when I got married I'd take my husband's name, I responded, "Hell yes! Unless it's like Winklebottom or Titsipoop." (Though I am not adverse to Cumberbatch as I once was). So I jumped at the chance to change my name when I became an author.

A lot of thought came into my nome de pluume. Here was my chance to completely reinvent myself like I was in the Witness Protection program. I could go sophisticated: Genevieve, Helena, Gwendolyn, Madeline. Exotic: Natasha, Vivienne, Jasmine, Nathalie. Old school: Nora, Iris, Elizabeth, Jane. There were too many to choose from so I chose to stay with Jennifer. But the last name had to change, no question. 

For the longest time I was going to be Jennifer Schaffer, my grandmother's maiden name, which had died out with her and her sister. But then even I had problems getting the spelling correct so I went farther back and asked for another to another extinct family name. I was given Reilly, Stern, Alape, then Harlow. I loved Jean Harlow movies (Bea got it from somewhere, right?) so I know people would never get it wrong thanks to her. But beyond sentimentality and ease, the real reason I chose it was far more business minded. Ask yourself, who are the biggest names in the Urban Fantasy genre? (Cue Jeopardy music...and done). That's right, Laurell K Hamilton, Kim Harrison, and Charlaine Harris. I'd be shelved in between them on the bookstore shelves. When I realized that I knew I had a winner. Jennifer Harlow was born.

A large majority of authors have pen names. We spend our days inventing people, giving them names, why not ourselves? I like Jennifer Harlow. She's simple yet elegant, not to mention easy to remember. And she, not I, can take on the stalkers. 

What about all of you? What would be your pen name? Why?

Saturday, June 16, 2012

INKSPOT NEWS - June 16, 2012

Today Beth Groundwater will appear at the First in Boating on the Arkansas (FIBArk) whitewater festival in Salida, Colorado, the locale for her RM Outdoor Adventures mystery series. She will sign copies of the recently released second book in the series, Wicked Eddies, at The Book Haven, 128 F Street, from 10:30 - noon after the conclusion of the parade. In the afternoon, she'll sign copies at The Book Haven booth near the FIBArk festival grounds from 1:30 - 4 PM.

On Thursday, June 21st, from 5 - 8 PM, Beth Groundwater will sign copies of Wicked Eddies, the second book in her RM Outdoor Adventures mystery series, at the Covered Treasures Bookstore, 105 Second Street, Monument, CO 80132-1066 during the town's monthly Art Walk.

And the final BIG news about Midnight Ink author Beth Groundwater is that the Kindle ebook edition of her mystery, Deadly Currents, the first book in the RM Outdoor Adventures series, went on sale yesterday at Amazon for the amazingly cheap price of $1.99. The sale lasts two weeks, so hurry over to HERE to buy yours!

Today, Jennifer Harlow will appear at Supernatural Saturday: A Mysterious Adventure put on by The program lasts from 11am-5pm with Buffet Lunch, Author signings, and panels. She will be on the Fun and Challenges of Writing Horror Fiction panel from 1-2pm with signings at 4pm at The Holly Inn, 31 South Baltimore Ave, Mount Holly Springs, PA 17065, (717) 486-3823. To register call 1-866- MY ALIBI. 

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Docent Duty

by Kathleen Ernst

My husband Scott and I are recently back from our 4th stint as docents at Pottawatomie Lighthouse in Rock Island State Park, WI. 
lighthouse KAE SCM lilacs fullRock Island is situated off the northern tip of Door County in Lake Michigan, and Pottawatomie is the state’s oldest light station.
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The current lighthouse, built in 1858, was magnificently restored by the Friends of Rock Island in partnership with the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources.  It sits on top of a bluff on the northern end of Rock Island, over a mile from the boat landing and campground.  There are no roads on the island, and it takes two ferry rides to get there.
Lighthouse 12 151
As docents, we give tours to guests from 10 AM to 4 PM each day.  Since Scott and I both love history, and telling stories, it’s a great gig.  We’re also responsible for housekeeping chores.

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Otherwise, we get to live at the lighthouse.  How cool is that?

Lighthouse09.4 There’s no electricity or indoor plumbing.  (That’s Scott filling an Igloo at the old pump, in the rain.)  But we have a fridge and stove powered by bottled gas, and we get to sleep in the keepers’ bedroom.

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We have lots of quiet evenings.  Lots of time for an impressionable writer to ponder stories of long-gone keepers, and to imagine the lighthouse as it once was.

lighthouse twilight 09
lighthouse shadow
So it was pretty much inevitable that I would write a book about the lighthouse.

Lighthouse 11 085
In The Light Keeper’s Legacy (coming in October), my protagonist Chloe Ellefson is invited to serve as a guest curator at Pottawatomie Lighthouse.  She’s excited about the job and eager for some solitude in such a beautiful, remote place.  Needless to say, since this is a murder mystery, her time on Rock Island isn’t quite as peaceful as she’d hoped.
Lightkeepers cover reduced
 Writing the book let me explore some new personal issues for Chloe, who is struggling to figure out what she wants from life.  And it let me write an homage to the strong individuals who lived on Rock Island in the 19th century.  The Light Keeper referenced in the title is Emily Betts, a real  and totally awesome woman who served as Assistant Keeper at Pottawatomie.  (In the National Archives photo below, that’s Emily barely visible in the doorway.)
lighthouse Emily Betts NARA
 The book also showcases the complexities of managing natural resources over the years.  And it let me share a very special place with readers—some of whom will, I hope, decide to visit Rock Island and support ongoing restoration projects.

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 It doesn’t get much better than that.

Monday, June 11, 2012


By Deborah Sharp

Like a good film nerd, I rushed to see Prometheus over the weekend, as soon as it opened in theaters. I've loved the director, Ridley Scott, since 1979 when I cheered for Sigourney Weaver kicking extraterrestrial butt in Alien. (See, children, there was a spaceship named Nostromo, and Sigourney/Ripley was on board in her underwear, suspended in a deep state of sleep . . . )

Scott has directed a long list of hits since Alien, including Blade Runner in 1982; Thelma and Louise in 1991;  and Gladiator in 2000. Prometheus is likely to be another boffo blockbuster. I absolutely enjoyed the film. Spectacular effects. Scary thrills. The acting was good, verging on great. Standouts were Swedish actress Noomi Rapace, the original ''Girl with the Dragon Tattoo,'' as the scientist Elizabeth Shaw, and Michael Fassbender as David, the very best thing in the movie. See him pictured here.

So what was the problem? The story. In making this movie, Scott got away with things that even a writing-class novice would know not to do: Plot holes so gaping you could launch a spaceship through them. Big questions, but no answers. Characters without motives. A one-dimensional villain (Yeah, yeah, I know it was filmed in 3-D). I shudder to think what my editor or critique group members would say if I turned in a manuscript like this movie. I'd see a sea of question marks on my pages:

Why is this character doing this? 
Did I miss something? Has the plot addressed THIS???

I think we're more forgiving of movie makers than we are of novelists. The action and visual elements carry so much weight in films, that the story often gets short shrift. Sitting there in the darkened theater, eating popcorn and hiding my eyes at the scary scenes, I loved the show. (In brief, a team of earthlings take the spaceship Prometheus into space to try to discover how human life came to be. Very bad things ensue.)

It was only after the credits rolled that I felt cheated, when my husband and I tried to figure out what the heck happened -- and why. For me, that wtf? moment occurs a lot more frequently at the end of a movie than it does when I close a book.

How about you? Do you find flawed (or absent) plots more common in movies or books? Have you seen Prometheus? What did you think?

Friday, June 8, 2012

Summer Reading

by Sheila Webster Boneham

I confess. I’m a bit behind the total word count I plotted out months ago on my fancy schmancy spread sheet. Not far behind, mind you, but a bit. Summer is not a good time for me to write, you see. I need winter, the colder and nastier out the better (unless I need to go out for something, in which case a chinook is good). But summer is seductive. I want to be outdoors. I want to go play. Ride my bike. Lie in the grass and watch the clouds. Travel. Walk on the beach at sunset and watch the sand change colors.

Sit on the porch under the ceiling fan and read some good books. And that’s another thing I’m a bit behind on – reading. I read a lot, both a lot of pages and a lot of things made for reading. I read mysteries, literary nonfiction, thrillers, memoirs, biology, mainstream novels, ethnographies, short stories, new stuff, old stuff. There’s just so much of it, isn’t there?

As usual, I currently have several books going. Here’s what’s on my night stand with bookmarks somewhere inside right now. (Don’t laugh at how far behind I am getting to a few of these, okay?)
  • Running with Scissors by Augusten Burroughs, which I didn’t want to read but have to for a workshop I’ll be attending in July, and I like it better than I thought I would
  • The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion, ditto everything above except I don’t like it much at all
  • Delights and Shadows by former Poet Laureate Ted Kooser. As a collection, I like it a lot. A few individual poems I absolutely love.
  • Wicked Eddies by Beth Groundwater, which I’ve barely stuck my toe into but I’m already hooked.
  • Entering the Stone: On Caves and Feeling through the Dark by Barbara Hurd, which I’ve also just started but, knowing how much I loved her Walking the Wrack Line, I expect to like this one.
    In the past week I finished a novel, The Cyclist by Viken Berberian, and a memoir, Tender at the Bone by Ruth Reichl. I recommend both of them.

    What will I read the rest of the summer? I’m sure I’ll be adding more, but here’s what I have on my pile so far:
  • Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail by Cheryl Strayed
  • Love is Murder, the new Thriller Writers’ anthology edited by Sandra Brown
  • The Edge of the Sea by Rachel Carson
  • At least one book by each of my co-Midnight Ink authors, which I expect to enjoy immensely
  • So, what’s on your summer reading list?

    Sheila W. Boneham, Ph.D., is the author of the forthcoming "Animals in Focus" mystery Drop Dead on Recall (now available for pre-order) as well as award-winning books about pets including Rescue Matters! How to Find, Foster, and Rehome Companion Animals (Alpine, 2009), The Complete Idiot's Guide to Getting and Owning a Cat (Alpha, 2005), and fifteen others. Sheila's books are available from your local bookseller and on line. Learn more at or on Facebook at , or at Sheila's Blog.

    Wednesday, June 6, 2012

    New Beginnings

    In the past three weeks, I have experienced what can only be called a blessed maelstrom of life and career cycle events. As I seem to be one for list making, mainly out of necessity lately, here's some of what went down in my household in May:

    1. My eldest son graduated from high school. 
    2. My little one graduated from kindergarten.
    3. Both of my boys competed in state diving championships, where Andrew (the graduate) was awarded Colorado Diver of the Year.
    4. I turned in copy edits on THE BIG BANG, for November 2012 release.
    5. I turned ETERNALLY 21 into Midnight Ink for a spring 2013 release.
    6. My mother-in-law was hospitalized.  (Thankfully with a non life-threatening condition.)
    7. We hosted a cocktail party for the parents in my daughter's kindergarten class.
    8. We hosted high school graduation party.
    9. Andrew turned 18.
    10. My husband and I celebrated our 20th anniversary.
    11. We remodeled the front hall bathroom.
    12. We went to an out of town family wedding. 

    I capped off the month with the most life altering event of all-- the morning after my son's graduation party, we hopped on a plane and the next thing I knew, I was getting him settled in at Indiana University to start training as a Division One diver. I arrived in Bloomington on Thursday night with a wide-eyed recent high school graduate and left a college kid behind by Sunday. Not only was he enrolled in a summer Comp 101 class and already had two practices under his belt with the team, but was on the front lawn of his apartment, shirtless and hanging with his new teammates in the midst of one of those co-ed barbecues we all remember so well. So much for teary goodbyes!

    Back at home, the whirlwind that was May and a few of the inevitable tears are now behind me. With one boy and two manuscripts out the door, things are bittersweet and eerily quiet. Well, as eerily quiet as a house can be with another teenager, a seven year old and a main character looking for a new adventure lurking about. I am left with a few seconds to breathe, one empty (albeit clean for the first time in years) bedroom and a blank word document entitled Book 2.  

    Ahh, transitions...

    Monday, June 4, 2012

    You Can't Win If You Don't Play

    by Shannon Baker

    “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.” – Wayne Gretzky

    My father was an optimist and a risk-taker, a meticulous planner with an analytical mind. He was a product of Zig Zigler and Norman Vincent Peale.

    Now days, I think they call it The Secret or maybe See it, believe it, achieve it.

    Me? Not so much. I learned early that if I visualized success in detail it wouldn’t come true.

    At the end of my eighth grade year I tried out for the pom-pom squad. I don’t mind telling you, I was great. I learned the moves and had the smile. I saw myself in those cute uniforms, hanging out with the cool kids and having a boyfriend—because all the pom-pom girls had boyfriends.

    When they announced the new squad I sat on the bleachers knowing the next name called would be mine. I believed in the very fiber of my being. They called name after name and none of them was mine. There had to be a mistake because I was destined to be on that team. Days later, when I had to admit they weren’t going to bring me from class and tell me about the terrible misunderstanding of my votes being tallied wrong (I visualized this scene in detail also) the pain of failure crushed my heart. Oh, it was okay, I told everyone. I was moving to another state anyway and it didn’t matter.

    A few months later they had try-outs for freshmen cheerleaders at my new school. I was new and the student body voted so there was no way I’d get picked. I didn’t hope for it. Guess what? I got it.
    Lesson learned. Don’t want it too badly. Don’t visualize too intricately. If you win it will be glorious. If you lose, no big deal.

    The youngest of three kids, I have this idea the Universe functions sort of like my family. If the Universe finds out I want something really badly, it will tease me and thwart me and I’ll end up getting hurt.
    Although I never really believe I’ll win the jackpot, it doesn’t keep me from putting in my chips. My life philosophy has always been: You can’t win if you don’t play.

    Almost every good thing in my life happened not because I believed it would or even dreamed about it. Mostly, things happen because I think, “Why not try?”

    I might as well put an effort into my day job. I’ve got to spend at least eight hours a day somewhere earning a living; I ought to make it enjoyable and challenging.

    I never thought I’d get a novel published but why not keep writing and sending stuff out? What else was I going to do with my spare time since I’m really bad at crafts? While I was going to write I might as well study craft and become versed in the way the business works.

    I know I should write goals and plan timelines. I’ve gone to enough inspirational speakers, read Covey’s advice, taken management courses that Lebowski’s Little Achievers would envy.

    I don’t do any of that. I keep my future plans vague in case the Universe is plotting against giving me what I really want.

    What I do is show up. Work hard. Be adaptable. Try not to take myself too seriously.

    I’ll never know what it was like to be a pom-pom girl and it might always hurt just a little. But since then, I’ve had a really great ride.

    Saturday, June 2, 2012

    INKSPOT NEWS - June 2, 2012

    Today from 2 - 4 PM, Beth Groundwater will sign copies of her May release, Wicked Eddies, the second book in her RM Outdoor Adventures mystery series, at the Next Page Bookstore, 409 Main Street, #101, Frisco, CO 80443. In keeping with the river-based theme of the series, this event will be a fundraiser for the Gore Range chapter of Trout Unlimited. You can read an article about the event HERE.

    Tomorrow, Sunday, June 3, from 7 PM EDT (5 PM MDT) to 9 PM EDT (7 PM MDT), Beth Groundwater will be a guest at The Writer's Chatroom on-line. Please join the conversation HERE!

    Friday, June 1, 2012

    Birthday Buddies --

    by Vicki Doudera
    We probably all know at least one person who shares our birthday, but living in a small Maine town for nearly three decades (can that really be?) means that I know quite a few.

    I’m not talking about the celebs, who, like me, were born today on June 1st --  Marilyn Monroe, Pat Boone, Morgan Freeman, Andy Griffith, Heidi Klum, Ron Wood, Alanis Morissette  – I’m talking about the REAL stars in my world, all of whom make life on the coast in Camden the better for their birth on June the first.

    Allen Fernald
    Take Allen Fernald, for instance. I’ve been fortunate to know this great guy for most of my 26 years in Maine. We chat at church and the yacht club, have served together on committees and capital campaigns, and  and work out in the exercise room he and his wife Sally endowed at the Penobscot Area YMCA.  Like the rest of the folks born on this day, he has an interesting story. Allen came to Maine for college, worked in New York City at Holt, Rinehart, and Winston, and bought Down East magazine in 1977.  The company he went on to found -- Down East Enterprise – published my first book, Moving to Maine.

    Sue Hopkins is another June First baby. She and her husband Bob Carter live around the corner from us in a lovely old home filled with antiques. Like me, she is a lover of Nancy Drew Mysteries and has a collection of vintage volumes by Carolyn Keene. (The one she gave me occupies a place of honor in my writing space at the camp.)  Sue has the sharp mind of a lawyer, having practiced law before she moved to Maine from California, but uses it now to help organizations run more efficiently. I know firsthand what a good friend and tireless worker she is as well. Happy Birthday, Sue!

    Jory Squibb and Moonbeam
    Another neighbor who will be blowing out candles today is Jory Squibb.  Known in our town as the guy who built and drives Moonbeam, a tiny car no bigger than a go-cart, Jory is a fellow cyclist who’s pedaled with Ed and I in the Trek Across Maine.

    I can’t recall when I first met Jory and his wife Brenda, but it was probably through kids.  Our son Nate and their daughter Chloe started kindergarten together, and both ended up in Burlington, Vermont, for college. (In fact Chloe made the waffle batter for the graduation brunch we had for Nate a few weeks ago.) It was my pleasure to help Jory and Brenda sell their home on Pleasant Ridge and then purchase another around the corner. In getting to know them better, I realized what caring and involved community members they are. 

    Pat Jones also celebrates her birthday today. She is one of those enviable women who seem to have found the fountain of youth.  Not only have her lovely looks remained unchanged, but she is just as sweet as back when I met her in the 1980’s.  Like me, Pat sells real estate, and I’m dying to sit down with her and gather more stories for plot ideas for my Darby Farr Mysteries. I just know Pat has some juicy tales to tell!

    Allen, Jory, Sue, and Pat are people who share my special day, folks we used to call “birthday buddies.” Apparently that term has gone the way of “hook up,” as the online Urban Dictionary gives a second definition of the term, one that I’d never heard:  a friend, most likely a lover, that lives far away and on your birthday comes to your house and bangs you.  Not to worry -- my birthday pals all live nearby – bot where do these phrases come from?

    Lupines blooming in a Maine field
    At any rate, today is a very good day to be born. When I was a kid, the first of June meant not only my birthday, but the start of the month when school would end and summer vacation begin, and I still feel some of that excitement.  Hooray! The lilacs still linger, the lupines are blooming, and Maine’s black fly season is nearly behind us.

    Happy Birthday to my fellow June Firsters! I hope that together we will celebrate many, many, more.