Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Plotting the Next Move

Having done it myself, I know the mechanics of plotting a novel, but when I read someone else's work I marvel again at the genius of different authors to make plots airtight, believable, and compelling.

Josi Kilpack has done it so well in her Sadie Hoffmiller culinary mystery series. In Lemon Tart, English Trifle and Devil's Food Cake, things happen fast, which is what keeps mystery readers involved. I've never been a great mystery fan, although I'm married to one, so this normally isn't my genre. However, these are published by Deseret Book so they're clean, and I appreciate that. It's one thing to go for gritty realism, but it's such a relief to read a good story without foul, offensive language.

Sadie is fastidious almost to a fault, and that's what makes her such a good detective, albeit amateur, able to know what to do when she finds herself in situations where the police may be absent or incompetent or resentful of her involvement. She doesn't really try to inject herself into police work, but somehow things happen to Sadie that keep her life from getting dull. Once involved, she knows when to dance around the truth and when to be unrelentingly honest.

Usually the surface is calm for Sadie, the 56-year-old widow just trying to keep up with her two college-age children and her charity work, but underneath is a layer of uncertainty and impending catastrophe that keeps a mystery reader going. There's a good balance of dramatic tension to move the story along and laugh-out-loud humor to give relief and keep the characters interesting. Although I haven't tried any of the recipes scattered throughout the text, some of the less caloric have practical appeal for my lifestyle. These dishes are an integral part of the story.

There's also an ongoing hint of romance, although that isn't as important as the food. Sadie knows some interesting men and isn't entirely opposed to having a close relationship again, but even after twenty years as a widow she hasn't forgotten her first love. Her ambivalence gets in the way at crucial moments.

Extraordinary things happen to ordinary people in these books, and that's the subtle brilliance of plotting an imaginative piece of fiction. I look forward to the next in the series, Key Lime Pie, which is due out in the fall. In the meantime, I'm going to pick up another Kilpack novel next time I'm in the bookstore.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Sailing Away Again

Well, they talked us into it. We thought he was kidding when a brother-in-law, Gary, asked us if we were going on the Panama Canal cruise with the rest of the family. But he wasn't. Howard, the other brother-in-law, is really good at finding deals and doing all the business end of things for us, so he's booking it this week. They already have 50% occupancy. We're going to get veranda staterooms this time. Howard's parents are going, too, and he's notifying the rest of the family. Six of the seven Williams siblings and their spouses went on a one-week cruise a couple of years ago. For me it was BKRS (Before Knee Replacement Surgery) so I did okay on the ship but not so much on shore, especially in the heat. (HATED Jamaica!) Now I'm doing really well and will probably get along much better with various activities, so I'm looking forward to it. Isn't this what people are supposed to do when they're retired?

Here's the rundown:
Friday, April 29 - depart Miami FL
Saturday and Sunday - at sea
Monday, May 2 - docked at Cartagena, Colombia
Tuesday, May 3 - docked at Colon, Panama
Wednesday, May 4 - cruising through the Panama Canal
Thursday, May 5 - at sea
Friday, May 6 - dock at Puntarenas, Costa Rica
Saturday, May 7 - at sea
Sunday, May 8 - dock at Puerto Quetzal, Guatemala
Monday, May 9 - at sea
Tuesday, May 10 - dock at Acapulco, Mexico
Wednesday, May 11 - at sea
Thursday, May 12 - dock at Cabo San Lucas, Mexico
Friday, May 13 - at sea
Saturday, May 14 - arrive at San Diego CA

We'll need passports, and new luggage, and… Excuse me while I start making lists.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Moving On

Okay, folks, move along, nothing to see here.

Yep, the surgery came and went, annoying while it lasted. Waiting is the worst part when television is boring and you can't concentrate to read. All I could do was stare at my toes and contemplate the terrible pedicure I had. It was supposed to be at 3:30 Monday but I finally got into the OR about 5:30, out by 8 or so, and left the hospital at 3 Tuesday afternoon pain free. Still a little swelling in the throat and some hoarseness but nothing serious. Haven't tried to sing yet, although while in the hospital I had a dream about singing – remembered the alto line of The Lord is My Shepherd, but not the right sequence of verses.

Having been from my primary to a specialist to a surgeon in this little adventure, I have to say I'm very impressed with the quality of medical care I've found here. If I still lived in Sevier Valley, I would probably still not yet be diagnosed. My primary saw the bulge on my neck the first time I consulted with her. She sent me for tests, palpated, and recommended an endocrinologist. It took me two months to get in to see the specialist, but she did an ultrasound and needle biopsy to diagnose toxic multinodular goiter. Nodules sometimes develop in the thyroid and start sending out mixed signals. Mine were huge. So the endo sent me to a surgeon, and less than three weeks later I was in surgery. Today I go for a post-op checkup and expect to get onto thyroid hormone treatment soon. Then we do the dance of getting it balanced which takes a few weeks or months.

For my next feat of derring-do, I will conquer the known world.