Grandma Gertie always said there's not a savory dish that can't be made tastier by just a touch of tarragon.

Tsunami and Me

Tsunami and Me
too big to escape now....

Thursday, December 11, 2014

The Irresistible Kristy Tate

The Pretty Ms. Kristy
Sometimes you're lucky enough to pick up a book that simply makes you smile. So I was in luck, indeed, when my daughter-in-law, Mari Lou Elders, emailed that the guest for her upcoming writing group session would be one of her fiction-writing friends, Kristy Tate.

For the past few weeks I'd been reading heavy stuff, autobiography, including the California Reads selection, What It is Like to Go to War, by Karl Marlantes. and Cherie Currie's depressing saga of her years with the 1980s girl band, The Runaways, Neon Angel.

I'd been contemplating next dipping into Dickens, with my eye on Little Dorrit, already downloaded to my Kindle. But when Mari Lou mentioned Kristy, I thought I'd give her a try, even though I've never been much for chick lit or rom coms. In recent years I've shied away from time travel or paranormal themes, though one of my favorite all-time novels is Bid Time Return, Richard Matheson's 1975 novel set at California's hauntingly lovely Victorian Hotel Del Coronado.
Hotel Del Coronado

So I downloaded Stuck With You, and found myself grinning from ear to ear as I scrolled through the pages. Kristy's characters exchange such clever quips. Her preposterous situations somehow become wholly believable. To my surprise, I thoroughly enjoyed this novella, a perkily clean romp that readied me to meet Ms. Kristy in person.

Kristy showed up with homemade apple fritters, which she shared with us before she began to read from another of her novels, A Ghost of a Second Chance. It turns out that it's set in Rose Arbor, a place that links several of Kristy's novels.

Her books deal with love after death, love beyond the grave, with people "briefly colliding, before sailing away."

Kristy extolled the virtues of self-publishing. "There's no deadlines, no crunch or stress. Nobody really cares." Nonetheless, she admitted that she treats writing like a business, and has shifted her perception of her audience from friends and family to the world at large. The mother of six, all grown now, Kristy sticks to a strict daily schedule, and manages to fit writing into that routine, several hours a day.

"I've found that if I write for an hour or two, take fifteen minutes to do something physical, take the laundry out of the dryer, mop the floor, anything, I can sit back down and write some more." Good advice indeed for those of us who begin to sink into a computer coma after an hour or two of staring at a screen.

Kristy's ideas for her next novel usually strike as she is finishing her current one...and she begins to fall in love with her characters before they are even born on the page.

I have never written much fiction, other than an attempt at a novel in a creative writing course in the late '50s, and a couple of short stories that merged from tweaking true-life nonfiction that I couldn't place in any anthology.

As we washed our coffee cups at the conclusion of the morning, several of the members of the writing group agreed that Kristy's talk had inspired them to write more, to even attempt writing in a field outside their comfort zone.

Personally, I believe there's fiction in my writing future. In fact, FICTION might be my daily word of choice for 2015, just like CALIFORNIA was for 2014. I hereby resolve.

As Kristy said, "Look at your next five years and what do you see?"

Hmmmmm. At 82, could I be posing for a picture to be posted on my blog, holding a....novel??? If that's to be my fate, I wonder if my story will be set at a world-famous landmark, such as the Hotel Del, or in a more mundane but equally evocative place...such as Kristy Tate's elevator trap in Stuck With You. Something to jump start my imagination. Perhaps if I conjure up the setting, the characters, plot and structure will jump into place.


  1. I'd bet on your works of fiction. ;) I've been toying with the idea. Fiction is on my list of "Things to Try."

  2. There is a writer her in town who wrote a novel at 92, and it is selling well. You will do it. You have so much fun.

  3. Hey thanks! It was a kick to meet you and the rest of Mari--lou's band of writers. I'm so honored that you featured me on your blog!