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Thursday, February 16, 2012

Today's Special - - Elizabeth Bevarly

I first discovered Elizabeth Bevarly in 1990 when I picked up a copy of her Silhouette Special Edition book, Donovan's Chance.  I've since followed this prolific writer (according to her website, she's working on her 60th novel!) through a variety of formats and publishers from those first categories to single title contemporaries to her wonderful new women's fiction novel from Berkley Trade, The House on Butterfly Way.  She's smart, savvy, a bundle of fun and a walking, talking encyclopedia of some of the best, and most eclectic, music around.  Please give her a warm welcome to The Romance Dish!



The Best Laid Plans of…
Revealed at Last! The Reason Why…

Dammit, Why Do Books Never Come Out the Way You Think They Will?

            Probably the most common question asked of novelists is, “Where do you get your ideas?” Fortunately, that’s an easy one to answer. We get our ideas everywhere—personal experience, song lyrics, overheard dialogue, magazine articles, you name it. A more difficult one to answer is one we—also fortunately—never hear from readers, but is one we often ask ourselves. Namely: “What do I do with all the stuff I thought was going to be in the book but never left the synopsis?” For that one, I never have an answer, even though I always have a lot of such material.

            The idea for The House on Butterfly Way was spawned when my family and I looked at a house that was for sale here in Louisville. What made the episode so memorable was that the house in question was in a horrible state of disrepair in a very upscale neighborhood where houses were normally showplaces. As we wandered through the house seeing room after room filled with peeling wallpaper, crumbling plaster, filthy carpeting and blackening mold, the writer voice in my head kept asking, “How did such a gorgeous estate home in such an expensive neighborhood come to this? Who lived here? Why didn’t they take care of the house? Why didn’t someone take care of them?” More to the point, I asked, “Hey, house, what’s your story?”

            Although the house never told me its story, I left fully confident that I would write about it. For weeks, my mind percolated, until I had a boatload of information about the story I would tell. By the time I sat down to write, I knew without question that the following aspects would all be integral to my story:

1. The house would be French. (Even though the house we looked at was a Tudor.)

2. It would be purchased by a brother and sister, both recently single, who were assuming the care of their aging mother and combining their families for both personal and economic reasons.

3. The previous owner was a French war bride, brought to this country by her WWII veteran husband, and her figurative—not literal—ghost would still pervade the house. My protagonist would spend a good deal of the story learning about the woman from the remnants of her home.

4.  The neighborhood surrounding the house would be filled with quirky characters who would add color and humor.  (In fact, the synopsis detailed six such neighbors.)





5.  The family cat, named Havoc, would, in almost every chapter, bring home something from one of the neighboring houses that would identify said neighbor in some way and further the story along.











6.  There would be a block watch group who made their own "superhero" type uniforms, all of whom already had names/identities in my head. 

7.  The book would be the first in a series, all set in this fictional neighborhood, a la Jan Karon's Mitford or Janet Evanovich's The Burg.  

         





So how many of these tidbits, all of which I was positive would be in the book and were in the original synopsis, do you think actually made it into the book? The answer? Only numbers one and two, which were the least detailed and, to me, most uninteresting. The rest all fell by the wayside, to be replaced by other characters and other themes that developed as I wrote. Havoc the cat didn’t even appear as window dressing. And the book isn’t the first of a series. It’s a complete stand-alone.

             That’s not to say, of course, that all these things won’t appear in future works. I’m sure they will. But why did they all come to me at one time for a story in which none of them appeared? Was I trying too hard? Was my brain on creative overload? Was my diet at the time inundated with exotic spices? Was I not getting enough sleep? Who knows? There are a lot of things about the creative mind that even those of us with creative minds can’t understand. So we’ve learned not to ask too many questions. Or, at least, we’ve learned not to expect too many answers.

            So how about you? What are your best laid plans that went awry? What was an event or experience you imagined materializing right down to the last detail that ended up being nothing like you thought it would be? And, just for fun, if you were a member of a superhero block watch, what would your identity/costume be? :o)


Elizabeth has brought three great giveaways with her today!  She'll be giving away a copy of The House on Butterfly Way, her Kentucky Derby Trilogy and a set of her two most recent Harlequin Desires.  The three winners will be randomly chosen from all comments left on the blog.  



Once upon a time, in Manitou Hills, there was a home so radiant and vivacious it was christened with its own name: Fleurissant. Now it's in ruins, forgotten and neglected-except by a woman who sees her own life reflected in the broken windows of that house on Butterfly Way...

As a child, from afar, Eugenie Dashner loved Fleurissant and the elegant, youthful fantasies it provided. Now, with a failed marriage behind her, a troubled son at her side, and a contentious and bitter mother to care for, Eugenie returns to the Louisville neighborhood of Manitou Hills to fulfill a dream: buy and renovate the house that once meant so much to her, and maybe, in the process, rebuild her own life.

Day by day, as the house reveals more and more of its forgotten beauty, Eugenie sees her dream come to fruition-especially when the attentions of two men help to reawaken in her feelings of romance and passion she thought were gone forever. As she navigates her rediscovered emotions, Eugenie comes to realize that there is no such thing as irreparable damage-not in herself, not in the house on Butterfly Way, and not in the family who now calls it home...

56 comments:

  1. Most of my plans seem to take a left turn down the line, but they usually work out.

    I seriously want a super hero costume. We have Neighbourhood Watch here. Just imagine if I turned up for the meetings in spangled, sparkly lycra & tights.

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  2. I have read only "Married to His Business" by Elizabeth Bevarly & I enjoyed it a lot. I will have to look for more of her books.

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    1. Natalija, she has plenty of wonderful books out there for you to find. Happy Reading!

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  3. I've never had anything major plans go awry. If I were a superhero I would probably choose a costume like the one Wonder Woman wore including the lasso of truth and the bulletproof bracelets.

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    1. I love Wonder Woman's costume! I always wanted to be taller so I could look like Lynda Carter in it. (Like that's the only change that would have to be made) ::Snort::

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  4. What a great concept for a book. I have been in empty houses that seemed to have a life of their own, a story to tell.

    Superhero of my choice would wear something long and flowing. Someone old and wise.....:-)

    I can't think of any plans that didn't go my way but for the most part I don't plan, I am a fly by the seat of my pants kind of person.

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    1. Dianna, we toured several old houses in Savannah a few years ago. Talk about having stories to tell. You could almost feel the characters swirling around you as you walked through the rooms.

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  5. I have learned NEVER ever to plan anything, because SOMETHING always goes wrong. I can't even plan a weekend getaway without the world turning upside down. The last time we went on vacation (real vacation) was 10 years ago and we went with friends of my husband. For months, me and my husband's friend planned out this entire vacation right down to where we were going to eat, what we were going to see. That all died the second the plane landed in Las Vegas where they proceeded to lose their weeks worth of money within the first 24 hours at the slots...pouted the entire rest of the week and ruined everyone elses vacation.

    If I was a superhero I would be catwoman! But only if I could magically be able to put on the catsuit and look 1/100th as good as Haley Berry did...

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    1. My first experience with slots was enough to convince me that I cannot be left alone in a casino. Scary places! ;-)

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  6. I love this book already, just from reading your descriptions so far and want to move to that neighborhood! :-)

    Well, back when mom and I were planning a family reunion in 1991, it was a case of Murphy's Law to the Tenth Level - things going wrong, delays, blood pressure problems, other physical complications - you name it - as far as an experience I imagined down to the last detail that turned out to be nothing like I imagined - well, that is the story of my life, it seems - LOL - I imagine ALL sorts of things and they never turn out the way I imagined!

    And now onto the Superhero Block Watch Question - that is a good one - that topic was part of this past Tuesday's NCIS episode - I would LOVE to be Wonder Woman, too, with all of her magical weapons - or one of Charlie's Angels - I loved that show and thought they were so cool -

    Felicia Ciaudelli
    mrschopchop@verizon.net

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    1. Felicia, it's a wonderful book; filled with humor, hope and a deep well of emotion.

      Wonder Woman seems to be a favorite among many of us!

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  7. I love the concept of this book. I am such a planner, lists for EVERYTHING. Of course, after number 3 it all gets tossed, but I still make those infernal lists. If I were a super hero I guess I would be The Shadow, I'm not very adventurous so I would be slinking around in the corners.

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    1. I'm a list maker too, Trish. Trouble with that is, I always seem to forget where I put my lists! lol!

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  8. Hi Liz! Welcome! It's wonderful to have you with us today.

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  9. I think I would love this book! I grew up in an old Vistorian with lots of brothers and sisters. We all have such wonderful memories of that house. ..anyhow, best wished with the book!!

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    1. Betty, sounds like you had a wonderful childhood.

      I highly recommend this book! Hope you give it a try.

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  10. Good morning, everyone! Sorry to just be checking in. We completed a whirlwind--unexpected and unplanned, as is usually our method of operation--road trip Tuesday and yesterday, so we let ourselves sleep in a little this morning. My coffee is brewing, so I'll make more sense in a bit, but I wanted to say hello and thanks for the warm welcome. :o) It's good (or maybe not *G*) to see that I'm not the only one whose plans don't always (um, ever) turn out the way they're supposed to.

    Natalija, I'm so glad you enjoyed MARRIED TO HIS BUSINESS. That was a fun book to write, because it was part of a series I and a bunch of my writer friends put together. We had a blast.

    Jan, I LOVED the Wonder Woman TV show when I was a kid. If I could look half as good in that costume as Lynda Carter did... Sigh.

    Dianna, are you an old house lover, too? Sometimes, I feel like I spend as much time watching HGTV as I do at the computer.

    Dtchycat, this is the reason I've never been to Vegas. I know I would be one of those people at the slots saying, "Just one more dollar. Just one more dollar. Just one more dollar. I know I'll win the next one. Just one more dollar..." ;o) When my husband and I lived in Puerto Rico after we married (he was in the Coast Guard, stationed there), we lived in an area that was rife with casinos, which were great fun to visit because of all the interesting-looking characters. But he would take my wallet and give me a roll of nickels and say, "After that, you're done" because he knew of my, um, extravagant personality. And, yep, that roll of nickels would be gone in about ten minutes. :o)

    Felicia, what is it about family reunions that they never seem to work out the way you envision them? Your family must be as uncooperative as mine. :o)

    TrishJ, I make lists, too. But then I always seem to put them somewhere where I can never find them. Hmm...

    Okay, must have coffee, but I'll check back in a bit.

    Thanks again, PJ, Gannon, Buffie and Andrea, for having me today. I've really missed the blogging experience!

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    1. Liz, my first experience with slots was in the Bahamas. Let's just say it was not pretty. I didn't lose but when my dh tried to take money from the tray - there was quite a bit - to hold for me I turned rather feral. I won but it was about $200 less than it would have been if I hadn't been frantically feeding five quarters at a time back into the machine. On subsequent business trips to Vegas I forced myself to enter the casinos with $20 and no more. Once that was gone, I was done!

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    2. Yes, I would love to live in a big old house, one where my furniture fits would be nice. I mentioned a house that has a story to tell but I just want to clarify if it starts talking to me literally I am outta there...

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  11. Thanks for coming today.Your book sounds wonderful.

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    1. Rebekah, THE HOUSE ON BUTTERFLY WAY is a wonderful story! I thoroughly enjoyed it.

      Thanks for stopping by!

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  12. X-posted with PJ and Betty.

    PJ, thank you again for the invite. It's going to be a fun day.

    Betty, my dream house would be an old Victorian. Maybe by the time my teenager has kids, we'll have one he can bring our grandchildren to. Thanks for the luck! I'll take all of that I can get. :o)

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  13. Hello and welcome, Liz! We're happy to having you dishing with us. :) This book sounds lovely!

    What an interesting question. I've always loved Wonder Woman's costume, but would like to have a magic wand a la Harry Potter.

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    1. LOL @ Andrea! I knew Harry would find his way in there! ;-)

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  14. Thank you, Rebekah! It's nice to be here. :o)

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  15. I love the book for the cover alone. That is my dream house. I know I have read some of Beverley's older books, but know that I have read any newer ones. I am looking forward to this one.

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    1. Regencygirl01, THE HOUSE ON BUTTERFLY WAY is a wonderful story, deeply emotional but also filled with Elizabeth Bevarly's delightful sense of humor. I highly recommend it.

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  16. Thanks, Andrea! Yeah, the magic wand would be exceedingly good to have. Especially on laundry day. :o)

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  17. Regencygirl01, I hope you like it. The house is a big part of the book. :o)

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  18. Okay, I've been thinking about it and I've decided my costume will be Cookie Woman. Neighborhood watching is hard work and everyone will undoubtedly work up an appetite. Think of how handy it will be to have a superheroine among us who can whip up your cookie of choice with a snap of her fingers? Yep, that's me. COOKIE WOMAN!

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  19. We bought all types of pretty baby hats in preparation for our baby... However, when she was borned, she hated wearing hats... The only hat that she was willing to wear was the one from the hospital....

    Love magic wands...

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    1. Magic wands are so hand, aren't they, May? I have to chuckle at your baby hat story. They never seem to go along with our plans, do they? ;-)

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  20. I love your books, Elizabeth! I just started twitter for the first time again in years, and I have no idea how to use it, but I saw someone's tweet about you blogging over here today! Childbirth was nothing like I thought it would be... my wedding was nothing like I thought it would be. I'll have to think about what super hero I would be haha. I can't wait to read this book. The cover is gorgeous!

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    1. Hi Laura! Great to have you with us today!

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  21. Hi, Liz! I love The House on Butterfly Way. It's different, but it still has the combination of humor and heart that have made me a Bevarly fan for many years. I won't say much to avoid spoilers, but I particularly love the ending of the romance in THOBW and the twist on convention. And Seth! I have lived with teen boys a lot like Seth. :)

    I think Jake's Christmas was my first Bevarly book, which means, I believe, that as reader and author, we have a 20th anniversary this year. LOL Maybe you could write another Monahan book to celebrate--or add First Comes Love and The Secret Life of Connor Monahan to your ebook reissues. (grin)

    I agree with PJ about Savannah houses. When I'm in Savannah or Charleston, I believe in ghosts. She's not a super hero, but I'd love to have the powers of Professor Mcgonagall, although I'd choose to be a younger version and dress a bit more stylishly.

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  22. What a wonderful story that is captivating and special. best wishes on your release which is a winner. Family weddings that have been nothing but fun and frantic. saubleb(at)gmail(dot)com

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  23. Liz, great to see you here! The new book sounds fab. I know exactly what you mean about a house taking root in your head and making your imagination work overtime. I remember going to a very rundown but once very swish apartment overlooking Sydney Harbour when I was house hunting about 15 years ago. 15-foot ceilings. Huge rooms. No kitchen because when the building was put up, there was a whole floor that basically serviced the rich people who lived there including cooking all their meals. Beautiful parquet floors that your footsteps echoed upon. Peeling brocade wallpapers. It felt like it was full of benevolent ghosts and it was flooded with light and reflections off the water. Just gorgeous. Sadly, not terrifically useful for someone who writes Regencies, though! ;-)

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    1. Anna, that apartment sounds right up my alley! I love gorgeous old places with high ceilings, lots of light and a family of benevolent ghosts. The reflections off the water would be the cherry on top! :)

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  24. PJ, Cookie Woman would be a hugely helpful superhero to have around. :o)

    May, our son's head was so big when he was born, the hospital cap wouldn't even fit him. He did grow up to love hats, though (he's wearing a fedora in his senior yearbook pic *G*), but he's been wearing a men's size since he was a little kid.

    Hi, Laura! Long time, no see! Thanks for popping in today! (And for the nice words. *G*)

    Hi, Janga! Thank you soooo much for the nice words on BUTTERFLY! I'm so glad you enjoyed it. It was a big departure from my other books, but I tried to be true to my voice in the hope that my regular readers would still like it. I kept thinking Seth was going to be a lot like my son, but although there are some traits the two share in common, Seth was definitely his own character. Which was cool to have happen. :o) Wow, Jake DOES go back a ways. And funny you should mention the Monahans. Silhouette declined to take the last two books in the series, but now that I'm able to epub on Kindle and Nook and such, I could write those books and release them as ebooks. Stay tuned... Can't reissue the originals, though, unfortunately. Silhouette will have the rights to those, pretty much forever. :o/

    Hi, Anna! Isn't it funny how houses feel like people sometimes? I firmly believe that, especially for old ones, something lingers of its occupants after they're gone. I definitely prefer old places to new ones for that very reason. New homes don't seem to have much soul--for lack of a better word--the way old ones do. Maybe the place you saw is a sign that you should write a time travel or dual reality type book. :oD (I miss time travels. Does anyone writer time travels anymore?)

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  25. Wait...aren't the best laid out plans the ones most susceptible to going awry? I think the best thing is to expect the unexpected and to be flexible and able to easily adapt to changes. In other words, get ready to roll with the punches. I have had some plans not go as planned but I took them in stride and things weren't so bad. It's worse when you're locked in a resistant mentality I've found.

    My superhero identity costume would be Sailor Moon. Those girls were a big part of my TV childhood.

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    1. I think the best thing is to expect the unexpected and to be flexible and able to easily adapt to changes.

      I like the way you think! I've found that the older I get, the more flexible I am about plans changing. Major events in my life have taught me not to sweat the small stuff. ;-)

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  26. As a Louisvillian, I am very interested in local authors and reading their books. I haven't come across this author not these titles before but will look them up. And of course, hope I win them in this giveaway!

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    1. Basichs, I hope you give Elizabeth's books a try. The House on Butterfly Way is set in Louisville, as is her recent Derby trilogy.

      Thanks for stopping by!

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  27. I don't think I have ever read your books before but they sound awesome. It just seems to me if I ever make plans they always go south. So I try not to make a lot of plans. Since I am from KY I really enjoy reading books set there. You just don't find that many books set in KY. I would love to read any of them.

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    1. Quilt Lady, you have lots of wonderful stories ahead!

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  28. The best laid plans are the ones most susceptible to going awry, Na? Dang. That explains so much... ;oD Hi, bas1chs! How cool to see a fellow Louisvillian! Yep, BUTTERFLY WAY takes place in Louisville. I included a lot of local color. (And having grown up here, there was lots to choose from.) I've actually written about Louisville for several books, and the one I'm working on now takes place here. I'm planning a number of others here, as well.

    Quilt Lady, what part of KY do you hail from? I have deep roots in this state, east and west both. Thanks for popping in!

    And, PJ, thanks for all the nice words about my books. You're a big sweetie. :o)

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  29. I just bought The House on Butterfly Way and can't wait to dive in! Even though I'm not eligible for the giveaway, but I can't resist your Super Hero game. I want to be Bathrobe Woman. This would provide me with an explanation for the UPS man when he drops a package by at noon and I'm still in my...Well, I'm sure you get the picture.
    Your fan girl,
    Virginia

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    1. LOL! I love it! So happy to know I'm not the only one who does that, Virginia. Of course, I don't have the (very legitimate) excuse of still being in my pjs at noon because I'm hard at work on a fabulous novel. ☺

      Thanks for stopping by today! We're all looking forward to your visit in July to celebrate the release of your next book, CAROLINA HOME!

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  30. Thanks, Virginia! I hope you like it! (Says one of your fangirls.) LOL about Bathrobe Woman. I think our neighbors all suspect I'm Nutjob Woman, since I go out to get the mail around 3:00 PM and am still in my pajamas half the time. Hey, sometimes when the creative juices flow, we don't have time to do silly things like get dressed. Brilliant work beckons! (I mean, I THINK it's brilliant. Probably. Perhaps. Maybe. Then again, it might need a bit of tweaking...)

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  31. Hey, Liz! I've been gone all day, so I'm popping in to say a late, but heartfelt hello!! Can't wait to read THE HOUSE ON BUTTERFLY WAY. :-)

    Oh, yeah, Virginia, I could be Bathrobe Woman, too. Or Pajama Girl. Take your pick. LOL

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  32. Hi, Gannon! Thanks for the nice words about BUTTERFLY WAY! I hope you enjoy it. :o) Funny you should mention Pajama Girl. I'm this close to turning into her right now. :oD

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  33. Liz, thanks so much for visiting with us today!

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  34. I love old houses. When we travel we always look at the old buildings and neighborhoods along the way. There is a special charm and grace in them. Even those that need a lot of TLC often have a stately grace. They just deserve to be loved and fixed up. We found one such house when re moved here. It isn't anything special just an 1898 victorian farmhouse. We had no idea how much time, effort, and money we would spend on the renovations. Luckily we have been able to do much of the work ourselves. Our son was in 4th grade when we moved here and learned to be quite capable in all aspects of construction. Sad to say, we are still working on the house 20 years later. We have slowed down due to age and enthusiasm or rather the lack there of. The odds and ends of former residents' lives that we have found have been interesting. We are enjoying it now and will enjoy it more when we are finished. Surprisingly enough, we still look at houses that need fixing. It must be a sickness.

    To your questions, I figured it would only take a few years to renovate the house and relax and enjoy it. It is turning out the way I envisioned it, but has been much more work. The problem is, I am the dreamer and planner. I can see just what I want. My poor husband is the one that has to figure out how to make it happen. The wonderful man succeeds most of the time.

    As for superheroes, I would be Mother Goose and dress in the typical Mother Goose fashion. She is the defender of children, sworn to protect them and calm them when they are upset. I'll have to think about a trained goose. If you have ever been attacked by one, it isn't fun. Great watch animals.

    I have enjoyed your books over the years. This one sounds like one I can relate too and will definitely enjoy. I hope the release of THE HOUSE ON BUTTERFLY WAY does well for you.

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  35. Hi my best laid plans that go awry happens when I cooked for my mom's birthday, the cake gone explode and the chicken Is overcooked. After all the times I spent in kitchen finally we went outside to have dinners to celebrate mom's birthday:). Cheers aretha zhen, aretha_zhen@yahoo.com

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  36. I love your books and this one sounds really great. I enjoy a book where a house or a dress or jewelry is a character on its own.
    patoct@yahoo.com

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  37. Egad. I'm sorry to have bailed last night. I went to bed intending to stay up and read for a bit, then check back in before I called it a night, but my brain had other ideas and fell asleep anyway. How are we doing the giveaway, PJ? I want to send out some books! :o)

    Librarypat, good for you on fixing up an old house that needed some love. My in-laws used to live in a house whose first two rooms were built before the Civil War, and which later occupants had added on to. It was an amazing old house. Like you, it was a constant labor of love, though. The house that inspired BUTTERFLY WAY was finally purchased and refurbished by its new owners. I used to drive by it occasionally to see how they were doing, and there would be all kinds of trucks in the driveway, and people scrambling all over it, working. It looks wonderful now. Thank you for the nice words and well wishes on my books. I hope you enjoy BUTTERFLY WAY. :o)

    Aretha, your cake and chicken episode sounds like more than one I've had myself. Then again, if it gets us dinner out... ;o)

    Pat L., thank you. I hope you like the new book as well as the old ones. :o)

    A million thank yous to PJ, Gannon, Buffie and Andrea for letting me hang out with everyone yesterday. I'll keep checking in today and promise not to fall asleep on you. :o)

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