Monday, September 28, 2009

In Memory of Kate

The publishing industry lost a giant this past weekend. Kate Duffy, editorial genius for Kensington Publishing passed away.

Kate was feared by some; revered by many; respected by everybody I know.

She wasn't my editor. I never even pitched a book to her. Instead, she was my friend and I'm proud to be able to say so.

I met Kate several years ago at a convention. We were introduced by mutual friend, author Heather Graham. It took all of ten minutes of conversation to realize that when it came to information or opinions, she could shoot straight from the hip with sharp aim and then settle back to savor her drink.

I can think of half a dozen times when I'd start to disagree and then stop because, again, Kate was absolutely right.

Intelligent, insightful, inspiring (although I bet she'd scoff at that one), intimidating, she could deliver a critique or pinpoint a problem in someone's work with laser-like precision. The truth wasn't always easy to hear, but a smart writer knew that if they listened to what she said, their work would be that much better. Even though I never worked with her, I saw her in action in numerous panels and workshops at conferences and learned from the experience.

Gracious, generous, funny as hell. An entertaining raconteur. I swear if you'd put Kate in the middle of a state dinner at the White House or at the famed Round Table at the Algonquin, she would not merely have held her own. She'd have held everyone's attention with her wit and stories.

I saw Kate mostly at conventions and conferences. I can't tell you how many times someone might pass by, realize who she was, and then widen their eyes with an expression very close to awe. The woman was a living legend, particularly among romance writers.

Yet, never once did I see Kate act like she was anyone special. Maybe she didn't feel it or realize that she was viewed as such by many. God, I hope that she knew what a major difference she made in the lives of many writers. And in the lives of those who are proud to have been considered her friend.

A couple of years ago, I threw a 50th birthday party for myself in my hometown Atlantic City. I'd seen Kate a few months prior at Heather Graham's Writers for New Orleans Convention, so I invited her to my party. To my delight, she immediately accepted. I will always remember her dancing in a group with me and several writer friends. We had a blast.

When I heard the news this morning that Kate has passed away I was shocked, although I knew that she'd been fighting illness since early this year. I prayed that it was an incorrect rumor and we'd find out that she was fine. Unfortunately, confirmation came pretty quickly. The shockwave spread quickly around the Internet. Heather Graham said it best in two words: Beyond sadness.

That's how those who knew and loved Kate feel -- a grief beyond sadness, but we also have our memories. One of the beautiful things about the Internet is that it really is a web that keeps us connected. Kate's friends and authors are spread out all over the country, and the world, but on the Internet, in blogs, on Facebook, on listserves, we can share our thoughts, memories, stories and tributes.

We lost a friend. Publishing and romance lost a legend. In the writers she taught and the books she edited, her legacy lives.

Rest in peace, dear friend.

I hope they have a Kindle waiting for you in Heaven.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Action & Adventure!

Well smack my mouth and point your fingers. I have been awayyyyy far too long from this blog. Now, it would not be illogical to assume that I haven't blogged in a month because my life was boring and completely lacking in bloggable material. That makes sense. It's not the case, however.

I've been busier than a one-armed paperhanger at a design showcase. Busier than a gang of sharks in a feeding frenzy. Busier than a troop of monkeys with one day to . . . okay, you get the idea. I've had a lot going on. I thought about blogging but in a time-honored tradition that's part Scarlett O'Hara, part pure procrastination, I kept putting it off until tomorrow. I apologize to all of you and thank you for not abandoning this blog all together.

So, just what has been taking over my days and nights? Where shall I start?

The day after posting the last blog, I left town for vacation. I stayed one night in New York with a dear cousin, enjoying Boeuf Bourguinon and the movie Julie and Julia with equal gusto and delight. I then visited with my aunt and uncle in Connecticut whom I haven't seen since I moved to Florida almost eight years ago. I am so glad that I did so. It was wonderful to see them, and another cousin, and spend several hours just talking.

From there, I headed to Cape Cod for the annual gathering of family and friends known as the Pasta Match. Food, fun, frivolity, conversation, camaraderie, cooking, music and mayhem. A good time was shared by all.

I got home and finished buying a boat. She's beautiful, handles well, and is going to be so much fun! I can't wait to take friends fishing and snorkeling. I need some additional practice on my boat handling skills but it shouldn't take me long to become more confident. Right now, she's at a marina getting cleaned, detailed and named. We're waiting for the permits to be approved and then the boat lift can be installed for easy access! Can we say Psyched!

Works has been super busy and my non-work hours are taken up with dog park activities. I am blessed to be involved with a group of people who know how to put the fun in fundraising as we work to obtain the money to build a dog park in our town. Last month we held a successful Yappy Hour. We have five additional events from now to Barktoberfest in mid-October including a yard sale, beach party, blessing of the animals, and Bingo night. It's a darned good thing that all of us can multi-task. Power to the Paws!

Last weekend I flew to New Orleans for the annual Writers for New Orleans Conference put on by my dear friend, and fabulous author, Heather Graham. Bourbon Street, riverboat, karaoke, workshops, fine food, delicious drinks, casino gambling -- it's amazing that we fit that much fun into less than four days!

You would think that after all this, I'd be ready for a restful weekend, right. Well, it might not be restful, but it sure will be fun. I have a dog and people party to go to Saturday afternoon. Then, Sunday night, it's BRUUUUCCCCCCCCCCEEEEEE. That's Bruce as in Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band, live in concert in Ft. Lauderdale.

That's so fitting. With a schedule like I've experienced this last month, clearly I was born to run!

So tell me... what have YOU been up to in recent weeks?