The Detective’s Daughter – The Importance of the Dinner Table.

On Sunday I met my mom for Mother’s Day brunch at one of my favorite coffee shops, The Filling Station. As we sat around the table chatting with my children I was reminded of all the happy dinners I had growing up. Our kitchen was always filled with people and everyone was welcome.               .FullSizeRender (1)

There is something magical about a table. You gather around to share stories and secrets and many times the meal becomes secondary to the conversation. It’s the gathering together of friends and family that remain in our memories long after the menu has been forgotten.                FullSizeRender

As we grow older and families move away or pass on, we gather with friends. My book club meets each month around one of our tables, regardless of how cozy and comfortable a living room might appear, it’s the table we gravitate to.  I look forward to the evenings I spend with friends and family, whether it is the girls I grew up with or my wickedly wonderful cozy sisters here on the blog. Though our times together are infrequent, they are meaningful and cherished by me. FullSizeRender (2)

So, dear reader, make the time to share a meal with someone you love or like or maybe even just want to know a little better. It is the community we find around the table that really nourishes us.

 

What was your most memorable dinner conversation? Who is the person, living or dead, you would want to invite to your dinner table?

 

Comfort

Jessie: Serving time in book jail on the coast of Maine

You know those times when you start to think about your health? Your allergies never seem to stop flaring? Your energy is flagging? A friend receives a shattering diagnosis? Lately, Ive been thinking a lot about all of those things.  Unfortunately, becoming healthier isn’t something I can subcontract. So, for the past couple months I’ve been making some hard choices and cutting out  things from my diet I suspect aren’t in my best interest.

I feel like it’s been, on  balance, a good decision but there are things that I miss. Especially now that my deadline is looming and the craving for comfort food is like a gong in my head. I’ve managed to muffle it with walks on the beach and glasses of water but every now and again I’m plagued by the desire for freshly baked bread. Or a cheese plate. Champagne bubbles. A reuben heaping with sauerkraut. Buttered popcorn.

Lately, I’ve come up with another sort of solution. I’ve been giving my characters meals filled with all those things I’ve been avoiding. Glasses of milk, slices of cake. Fudge and taffy. The strange thing is how much vicarious pleasure I am taking in their meals. It’s the perfect solution. As I imagine and describe the treats I am giving them I feel like I ate them myself. After a good morning at the desk I’m happy with a salad for lunch. Sweet potatoes taste as good a fries from the Pier when I’ve spent the afternoon allowing my protagonist to have her fill.

Will it always work? Probably not. But for now, I’ll take comfort food any way I can get it.

Readers, do you have any comfort foods you turn to during times of stress? Writers, do your characters eat more or less healthily than you do?

The Wickeds Retreat to Maine – Again!

IMG_20150614_110459_990The Wickeds adjourned to Old Orchard Beach again for three days of powow – schmoozing, discussing the publishing industry and the blog, and ignoring each other to churn out word count. This is the fourth Wicked Cozy retreat for some of us, the third for others. Here’s how the weekend shaped up!

Edith: I didn’t have a super productive word count weekend, but I made steady progress on the book and mapped out a number of future scenes. I loved hanging with the other Wickeds, though. And our wide-ranging discussions of how to  manage our blog, where to take our careers, and OOBeachnew trends in the industry were really valuable. Liz and I squeezed in a long walk on the beach, too, and used part of it to talk through our plots. So many thanks to Jessie for hosting us year after year.

IMG_4076IMG_4043Barb: Excuse the gushing, but our annual retreat has become one of the highlights of my year. Jessie pointed out how much things have changed since that first one. There were only four of us, for one thing, and the big problem on all our minds was–can I complete a commercial-quality, novel-length piece of fiction on a deadline? Since then we’ve all learned so much about writing and about this crazy business. It never ceases to amaze me how we’re all writing in the same genre and the same length, but our processes are so different, and yet we all support one another. I was proofing, not writing, but got plenty of that done, plus help with the plot for my forthcoming holiday novella, the next writing task on my plate.

IMG_4065Julie: I do not take these five women for granted, at all. They are my cheerleaders, my teachers, my shoulders to cry on, and my kicks in the ass when needed. I had a good word count weekend–book #2 is due July 15, so I am in the home stretch. But I also had naps, talked through launch strategies, and helped brainstorm a few ideas. I also ate well, drank a lot of coffee, and laughed. A lot. We are all in different places in our careers, but all there for one another. Plus, the location is great, and the host could write a book.

IMG_4071Sherry: The weekend started on Thursday night doing a panel with the Wickeds (we missed you Jessie) and Ray Daniel at the New England Mobile Book Fair, dinner after (we have a funny story about following the wrong car — thankfully they didn’t call the police on us), a night at Barb’s house, and then on to Jessie’s lovely home in Old Orchard Beach. I got help with plot ideas for my proposal. I started reading Plot Perfect by Paula Munier. But the best part was staying up until 2 am two nights in a row, talking about everything. And the food — it was delicious! I always cry when it’s over — maybe I’m overly emotional from lack of sleep or maybe it’s the large number of carbohydrates that I consumed — no it’s just that I love these women and live too far away.

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Edith’s fish enchiladas – yum!

IMG_4091Jessie: The weather was utterly delightful which meant we spent a great deal of time gathered around the patio table talking. I’m not entirely sure the neighbors will ever recover if they overheard any of our conversations, especially those concerning plotting.  Most people within IMG_4066earshot would have thought us completely nuts.  But that’s one of the benefits the retreat bestows, the gift of complete understanding. I hope all of our blog  readers have places and groups where they feel as connected and as understood.

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Is Liz showing us her latest dance moves?

Liz: Just for the record, I don’t dance! But I did, like everyone else, have a fabulous time. This retreat really rejuvenates me every year – the food, the writing, but especially, the friendship. Love all of these ladies so much.

Readers, do you have people with whom you like to close the door on the world and just get away for awhile? Do you have creative work you find a way to carve out time to pursue?