Winners, Renovations and Revisions


Congratulations to Ola Norman, who was chosen by my old buddy to win a copy of Diane Chamberlain’s new book, The Dream Daughter.

Ola was lucky number 13, which just goes to disprove that particular superstition. Diane’s book has gotten great reviews and was chosen as a People magazine book club pick. Didn’t I tell you this one was special?

If you click on the title above, the link goes to Amazon where yours truly gets a wee bonus from The Great and Powerful Zon as a thank you. Of course  buy it at your favorite bookstore, wherever that is, because, heck, I can’t link to every single store and still have room to say anything here.


Because I feel a need to share my pain and also connect my life to my writing, I thought you’d like to see what’s happening to my summer cottage. Again, yes again. We walked into a disaster area in June after a leak during the winter. Our plumber–who we believe to be responsible–forgot to mention it and left soggy floor boards, moldy paneling and a mildewed ceiling above the trap door his worker left open to better allow varmints and wet, cold air inside our house while we were away.

Of course, I’m not bitter. And before you ask, yes, we do have a new plumber. I would love to tell you we learned something from this. Other than questioning the wisdom of having two houses, nope. We’d chosen a plumbing company who was widely recommended. We went over everything they needed to do in detail. We stayed in touch. We made sure they came to winterize when they were supposed to.So now, all the new wood floors and paneling from our huge 2013 renovation must be ripped out. Luckily our fabulous contractor was already scheduled to come in redo the bath and a half we hadn’t touched the first time. So he agreed to take on the floors and paneling, too. Luckily, too, we have insurance. And despite a large deductible, it will help.


You may be asking yourself what this has to do with writing?

I’ve written over 70 novels. And I have thoroughly enjoyed writing my work-in-progress, A Family of Strangers. Everything was coming along just fine until I hit Chapter XX. I knew, going into that one, it might be tricky. It’s a transition chapter, a chapter that moves the story forward while, at the same time, tries hard not to bore the reader to death. (See, we manipulate you, but we don’t want you to know. That’s in the Writer’s Code.)

I managed the first part fine. But the second part? I knew, as I struggled with it, that XX  was the chapter where readers would fling the book across the room and shout “You have wasted my time!”

You do that frequently, right? I know you do.

I’ve learned a lot from our cottage renovations. First, despite the guilty plumber’s suggestion that we just buy a few fans to dry the floors a bit, we were smart. We called our insurance agent, our contractor, our house-watch realtor, and a local company that assesses and remediates damages. Every one of these professionals understood the problem. Every one of them told us to get the wet floors out, or we might lose the house to mold.

Rather than lose my book to mold, I took this lesson to heart. Last week I ripped out the boring chapter and struggled with it for three days. And you know what? It’s a thousand times better. And I am a thousand times happier, even though the time I spent on both versions have put me very far behind schedule.

We could apply this lesson to many things. Are you in a bad relationship? Are you just going to buy a fan or two and hope you can live with it? Or are you going to rip it up and start fresh? Are you unhappy in a job you hate? Are you going to buy a fan or two or are you going to quit and find one you’ll like better?

I won’t go on. My lesson was learned. Bet you’ll enjoy photos of the new floors and bath once I have them.

Me, too!



  1. Delores on October 3, 2018 at 6:03 pm

    Really interesting! Gave me something to think about with a situation I am in. Give up and move on to something new or fight through and, hopefully, come out with something I enjoy!

  2. Lynn Ross on October 3, 2018 at 10:03 pm

    I’m sorry this happened to your poor house and your book. Yet you benefitted from the experience, so I would declare Divine Order. I’m glad it didn’t destroy your summer, but it would be difficult indeed to destroy a Chautauqua summer. May your winter be blessed.

  3. Denise A. on October 6, 2018 at 12:11 am

    Our hot water heater died, sprung a leak, went kaput. It started to leak, but we caught it before it totally flooded our basement. We went to a hardware store to get it replaced. It has taken them almost two weeks to even come close to fixing it. We finally gave up and called another company. They fixed it the next day. It took them about two hours. We should have chucked that other company a week ago. Living without hot water is not fun. Not at all. On of my many lessons from this experience? A cold bath can be invigorating, but I don’t think I will try that again if I don’t have to! I can’t wait to see your pictures! 🙂

    • Emilie Richards on October 6, 2018 at 9:53 am

      Wow, an “almost” disaster for you. Still too close. As for the hardware store? Glad you chucked them. We have very few choices near our summer cottage, but I found a new one who promises to be a much better plumber. Lesson to be learned, though. I’ve asked my house watch guy to come in after water’s been turned back on every year, to be sure that there are no other issues. Two sets of eyes are better than one. Hope you’re enjoying your hot water, Denise.

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