summer goodness

by Toni McGee Causey

You know what? I had a grumpy post for today, but really, who wants to read a grumpy post? Besides, it’s difficult to finish a grumpy post when you take a break from it and go off to write and then the writing starts sailing like you own the ocean. I posted earlier this week on Facebook that I’d been listening to a lot of Peter Kater’s Piano CD — if you go to his website, the song titled “Spirit” loads and plays. It starts slow, but about 1:12, the cascade of notes… beautiful. That is how I wish I could play. I put this CD on (God, I love iTunes) and start writing and I feel like this:

Happy. The writing, flowing. (Which is weird in that I’ve never written much to music before this book. I had occasional moments on the third Bobbie Faye book where I listened to music, but mostly a drum cadence when I was writing that insane climax at the LSU / Alabama football game. I’ve been listening to music this entire book, but then almost everything has changed with this book.)

Anyway, I deleted the grumpy post and I decided that today, I’d rather hear from you–what you’re doing, what’s going on that’s good in your life. (C’mon, there are some good things. Please share!)

Here are a few things which have put me in a good mood:

The above mentioned CD. Particularly the songs “Thanksgiving” and “Anthem.”

Books on my TBR pile… I’ve just started one that came out a couple of years ago titled THE LACE READER. I don’t usually like first person present tense, but she captured me from the beginning, so I’m fascinated to see where she’s going with Towney, and especially with the supernatural elements to this mystery. Next up on deck is Chevy Stevens’ debut (hi, Chevy!) titled STILL MISSING. Several people have raved to me about this book (hi Fran!) and I’m always thrilled to read a gut-punching, great first novel. After that is Don Winslow’s SAVAGES, which has also come highly recommended. 

Is there anything better than great books when the heat index outside is around 106? (Um, no.)

This morning (if you’re reading this in the morning), I’ll be having brunch with my parents and husband and granddaughter–we’ll be having omelets, bacon (I think it’s against the law in the south to have brunch without bacon), biscuits, and, just for kicks and giggles, waffles with either blueberries or strawberries (fresh). By afternoon, I will be in a carb coma, so if you hear a loud thunk, that’s me landing on the floor.

So what about you? What are you reading? What’s your favorite summertime food? (Mine is fresh strawberries, followed closely by an ice cold watermelon.) What movies are you watching? (I saw INCEPTION a couple of weeks ago and hope that Alex is going to write about this one–I thought it was brilliant.) Are you looking forward to football season? (That would be a resounding yes over here in SAINTS / TIGER land.) What will you write about in your “what I did over the summer” essay? 





26 thoughts on “summer goodness

  1. Dudley Forster

    What I am reading – Finishing up CHARMED AND DANGEROUS and have Nevada Barr’s BURN on audio. Selecting a book out of the TBR pile in the morning is going to be hard. I have a number of next book in series stuff but want to jump around – I have both ORIGINAL SIN and PREY by Allison; THE CLOVIS INCIDENT by Pari; Alex’s BOOK OF SHADOWS and THE FAULT TREE by Louise, oh and Alafair’s 212. Then there’s the other 60 or so. So it could be any of them, I’ll find out tomorrow.

    Favorite summer food – I have go with you Toni, but I have to add peaches.

    Music – listening to Within Temptation now they are light symphonic metal I like to write with them or Evanescence. In a more mellow mood then its Sarah McLaughlin, Loreena McKennitt or Miles Davis or something classical like Chopin’s Nocturnes or Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition etc…

    As for your weather, anything above 85 and my brain melts. Going to be pleasant in the 70s for a few days

    I don’t follow Pro Ball anymore. I stopped when the owners started blackmailing cities to build stadiums with tax dollars. Hockey is my sport.

    Summer Vacation: Worked, read, wrote, and took couple short trips to see family – Just call me Mr. Boring.

  2. billie

    Reading: Joshilyn Jackson's Backseat Saints – a really good read so far.

    Music: Eva Trout.

    Summertime food: My first garden since we moved to our farm has kept us fed so well this summer – four kinds of tomatoes, staggered so we got the little sweeties first, then the sandwich-perfect German Johnsons, then the lemony zebra stripes, and now the sweet heirlooms. Lots of gorgeous basil, sweet peppers in all colors, dragon tongue beans (purple and cream colored, amazing sauteed lightly with garlic and butter) and cucumbers, zucchini, and crookneck squash. Funny – each thing was my favorite as it ripened and we began to eat it, and then about the time I started to get tired of something, another thing came into season. We got strawberries from the farmers' market, then peaches, then blueberries, then watermelon. Now we're waiting for the fall muscadines and scuppernongs. I have had so many favorite meals this summer with fresh produce I can't begin to list them all.

    I haven't been anywhere this summer. Between horses, donkeys, garden, and new puppy, it hasn't been possible to leave. I prefer taking my vacation time in the fall anyway, and have a little trip to the mountains planned for September with a writing friend, and hopefully a mountain camping/hiking trip with my children a bit later in the fall season…

  3. Barbie

    I'm reading SURRENDER TO A SIREN, by Tessa Dare. Super Cute 🙂

    Favorite Summertime food?? I got a new favorite, even though summer here is only in December. Frozen Yogurt. Better than life. Best. Thing. Ever.

    Movies… we rented movies yesterday. UP was torturous! (The story just wasn't worth the heartache, and the six hours of non-stop sneezing, and allergies that are still here this morning). ICE AGE 3 was cute! 🙂 We're watching more movies today, but I forgot which ones. Hopefully nothing that will make me cry (I'm allergic to crying. Essentially, I'm allergic to myself!).

    No American Football for me, thanks. I can't see the fun of it. I, tried, once, to watch the Superbowl. I got Superbored. It stops every 30 seconds. Not my thing.

    It's not summer here. And I did "nothing" over my vacation. Read few books, wrote mere ten pages, didn't go out much… BUT, I'm SO glad to be back to school. I have THE BEST classes and professors and I'll take this school semester over vacation any time! 🙂

  4. BJ Wanlund

    Reading: Well, nothing really at the moment, but I do have a couple books in the TBR pile (love that BTW Toni, will have to adopt it myself): The 1st book in the Riftwar saga by Raymond E. Feist, Magician: Apprentice and Heat Wave by Richard Castle (got it in paperback).

    Fave Summertime food: It's tied between watermelon and gazpacho, but if I had to choose one, I'd say gazpacho.

    Music: Waiting patiently (or maybe not so much) for Heart's new album, coming out 8/31.

    Movies: None of any note whatsoever.


  5. PK the Bookeemonster

    Summer food: sweet corn. It had a late start this year but local farmers are now selling it.
    Reading: a minor slump when I lost momentum on INSTRUMENTS OF DARKNESS by Imogen Robertson but I'm setting that aside for now and I think I'm going to start POISON by Sara Poole
    We went to Inception last night. I wish that Hollywood would wake up to the fact that movie goers like intelligent, ORIGINAL movies. Not remakes of 80s television, not adolescent humor, or vampires. end rant
    What I did this summer: took the plunge to start the newsletter but otherwise no vacations or trips. Last summer I was unemployed and ill so I''m not complaining. 🙂

  6. Cathy

    Books – an eclectic mix; a few Murderati selections (Boulevard paperback finally arrived & just started Down Among the Dead Men) along with some stories set right after WW2. Aside – yes, Toni and Alex, I decided to go with the editor’s revision suggestions, except the new beginning showed up in first person so I have to completely rewrite the relationship subplot. But I digress…

    Food – can I go live at Billie’s farm? If I may only pick one, it’s peaches. Hard for this southern girl to admit, but the peaches out here are to die for.

    Music – current protag loves Nirvana and Finger Eleven, so yeah. Other story, looking forward to old beach music. Bouncing along to Sugarland while I write this. Music is essential to life.

    Sports? Since Washington probably has the worst teams in the universe, I love ESPN and a few web sites that understand the SEC owns college ball. Here? Well, the rodeo starts next weekend. Anybody up for some bull-riding?

    Vacation? Non-stop work until 10/15 then two weeks to Australia. Can’t wait.

  7. Barbara_NY

    I am forever grateful for your sharing the mode transferring music of Peter Kater. Thank you.

    I, too, love ice cold watermelon and ripe strawberries. Especially strawberries! For breakfast, I can't resist a couple slices of toast layered with creamy peanut butter, and topped with thinly sliced strawberries. Yum!

  8. Fran

    Oooh, "The Lace Reader" and "Still Missing"! You've got some great reading there, gotta say, And I'm a big fan of "Backseat Saints" as well, now that you mention it. And "The Good Son" by Michael Gruber as well as "City of Dragons" by Kelli Stanley.

    Summer foods? Strawberries the size of eggs and zucchini latkes with Mexican sour cream. Not together. I'd love to have grilled sweet corn, but that's not in my dietary stars any more, I'm afraid. Technically I shouldn't have the strawberries either, nor should I have Yakima cherries. But it's summer, and there's only so much I can give up.

  9. Debbie

    Finished Lawrence Hill's The Book of Negro's and am working my way through Dickens-I'm only at Nicholas Nickleby and I often break up complete works with recomendations or books that land on my radar.
    As for summer, visited the zoo, went camping with the kids for a week, and the CNE's this Friday which for me means back to school is around the corner.
    As for music, depends on what I'm writing-not so much to create mood, but the books themselves seem to ooze music from the atmosphere into my head like a reverse stream from the keyboard to my head.

  10. hollygee

    Summer hasn't arrived in the Bay Area yet, even though there are a few trees and the poison oak beginning to change color. I've got lots of fruit on my tomatoes, but I don't know if they'll ever 'sweet up'. thank goodness the farmer's market has tomatoes from warmer parts of the state and I've gotten lovely tomatoes there.
    Books: Jill Mansell and Jackie Winspear
    Movies: We're watching West Wing. Again. And I'm doing <a href=""&gt; the deconstruction</a> of classic romcoms with Jennifer Crusie and Lucy March (aka Lani Diane Rich).
    Sports: God, no.

  11. Cornelia Read

    Just finished Geoffrey O'Brien's THE FALL OF THE HOUSE OF WALWORTH: A Tale of Madness and Murder in GIlded Age America. Wonderfully gothic true crime story about a family in Saratoga completely falling apart. I want BIllie's garden too!

  12. Karen in Ohio

    Love that Peter Kater music! Thank you, Toni. When I wrote my first book I found that piano music like that helped send me right into the The Zone. After three hours I would look up and realize I'd written excellent prose without conscious thought of any kind. As opposed to laboring over the work and having not much to show for it at the end of the same amount of time.

    No movies here at all this summer. Might be time to go see one, although I would rather shell out $10 for a book then for a two-hour movie.

    Tons of books this summer, including Maisie Dobbs and one of the other books in that series. Very well done. Right now I'm rereading Edgar Sawtelle for book club on Thursday night.

    In addition to nectarines (my absolute favorite summer food), sweet corn and tomatoes from Ohio (the very best anywhere), and the wild blackberries I picked at our farm. Oh. My. God. They were spectacularly good. Wish I could share with y'all.

  13. Eika

    I'm rereading The Hunger Games and Catching Fire in preparation for the third book (MockingJay) coming out Tuesday. Yay for good books!

    Favorite summer food is ice cream. Haven't really watched any movies this summer, so I can't weigh in on that discussion.

    I don't care about football season so much, but it means I'm going back to college soon. Yay, a way out of this madhouse!

    And over my summer, I did plenty of things: worked way too much, made too little money, spent a week in Florida, and didn't kill my most annoying family member (though there were moments…).

  14. Dudley Forster

    Debbie – Love Dickens, The Pickwick Papers and Tale of Two Cities are my favs, but you have to read Bleak House it has the greatest description of the practice law I have ever read.

    Barbie You didn’t like Up?! You must now wear the cone of shame! The movie is so – squirrel; that scene where – squirrel and that part in the – squirrel. And how can you not love Dug “My name is Dug. I have just met you, and I love you.” “I was hiding under your porch because I love you.” Beside the whole movie is worth the setup of having the planes attack in a real dog fight – I love puns.

    Dang it Karen you went and reminded me I have an upcoming book club meeting so sometime this week I’ll have to start reading THE GUN SELLER by Hugh Laurie. It is supposed to be funny but I’m afraid it’ll be inane like BIG TROUBLE by Dave Barry

  15. Alexandra Sokoloff

    Eika, I loved Hunger Games – looking for a break to get to Catching Fire.

    Oh, God, Cathy – you too with the first person? What is it, a virus?

    Now I can't figure out which parts of my YA to put in present and which to put in past. Aaaaaaaaaaah.

  16. Peg Phifer

    Toni, thank you for introducing me to Peter Kater's music. I like it because the melodies are nothing I recognize so I'm not tempted to hum or sing along! That's quite a blessing when trying to write. 🙂

    I'm currently reading the ARC of T.L. Higley's "PETRA" – amazing, as I've found all of her other books to date.

  17. Pari Noskin Taichert

    I just finished writing my post for tomorrow, Toni. And it felt great. Honest.

    Early this morn, I gardened – – harvested some cherry tomatoes, okra and patty pan squash. Admired the fennel plants and the three artichokes. Felt the figs to see if they were ripe yet. Weeded and watered and grounded myself by touching the earth. Got out of my head . . . just wonderful.

    Later this afternoon I'll be writing fiction, cleaning, then taking my younger child to a school event. Maybe I'll even fit in a practice session on the cello. In all a very pleasant day . . .

  18. Debbie

    Just went to Peter's site and OMG! Tethered me to a scene in my second book: autumn, two characters walking in the bright foliage, little puppy tugging ahead and a stream rippling through the woods as the sun filters through the leaves and sparkles on the water… It also screams montage not of time passing but perhaps memories or, perhaps a relationship developing but more as a set up for a mature relationship…I dunno, it's just what I see. Thanks for the link.
    Current opening to my second novel:

  19. Paula R.

    Hey Toni, love the tone of this post. It is definitely light and upbeat. Thanks for the link. I will check that out after I am done here.

    I am reading, Captive by Joanne Rock, Child's Play by Cindy Myers and The Sinner by Tess Gerritsen. I need to read those other books to lighten the mood for me. Tess' books have got me scared to sleep at night. Great reads everyone. My favorite summer time food is mango, any variety, but preferrably the ones I grew up eating in Jamaica. Pineapples are a close second followed by watermelon. I haven't been to the movies lately, but I have been sucked into Rizzoli & Isles, Cold Case, NCIS, Burn Notice and Army Wives. I hope to go to the movies before school starts up again though. I am not a big football fan, though the kids get crazy when it's superbowl time, so I may watch it then. Right now, I have been watching the semifinal and final rounds of the US Open and the USA Basketball team. Another great thing for me is that I am writing more, and a little Vivaldi gets me through when I need it. Now off to listen to Peter Kater. I hope everyone has a wonderful day. It's rainy here, so I might be curling up with one of my books for now.

    Peace and love,
    Paula R.

  20. toni mcgee causey

    I am getting back much much later to your great answers than I had meant to. (It is extremely difficult to tear away from the stunningly cute g-kid who is, right now, /manipulating/ talking to her grandfather.

    Alex, I've caught the first person virus, too. Isn't it weird how many of us have it, all of a sudden? I wonder what it is in the air.

    Thank you all for the great answers… I kept dipping in to read while the family was visiting, but couldn't stop long enough to answer. I love the collection of books you all recommended. I wish we had a feature here where we could do something like 'Rait Recommends that would come from all the visitors here. That would be lovely, to see.

    The food–geez, now I'm hungry again, and there's no possible way I should be!

    re: Peter Kater — that whole album is just amazing, so I'm thrilled so many of you enjoyed it. I'd *love* to find more like this–something with classical skills but not actually classical music. (I have a lot of that already.) He's got a really unusual album which is the score of a documentary on Native Americans that has other instruments (wood winds, etc.) — I haven't listened to the whole thing, but it's hauntingly beautiful. Very different from the piano one, though.

    I'll be here the rest of the evening, checking in. Hope to see some more book recommendations!

  21. Chevy Stevens

    Hi Toni!

    I read this blog ALL the time, so I just about fell off my chair when I saw my name! You made my day 🙂

    I'm not reading anything at the moment because I'm editing and my eyes are shot by the evening. My favorite summertime food is ice cream! That's a food, right? Movies? Well, we just watched HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON last night. It was cute. And I really want to see EAT PRAY LOVE. Football season? Not so much. I'm Canadian so it's hockey all the way!

  22. Jeanne in MN

    Right now I'm in the middle of reading The Lace Reader. Also Star Island (Hiaasen's latest) and The Whisperers by John Connolly.

    Saw Eat Pray Love last week. I could fall in love with Jaiver Bardem, but the character played by Julia Roberts is shallow and boring. Actually fell asleep during the Eat section. Saw today The Girl Who Played with Fire. It is fascinating to me that the director could make so many scenes where the characters are alone driving or alone with a computer interesting and even tension filled. Now that I have seen the first two Swedish movies, I am even more worried about what Hollywood is going to do to them. I'm sure the journalist role will be beefed up, because you don't hire Daniel Craig to just ask questions and talk on a cell phone. He will probably be turned into an action hero (unfortunately).

  23. Spencer Seidel

    Hi Toni,

    I have used that Snoopy pic as my Twitter avatar for several months now. I love it! It's a little known fact that Snoopy was/is a frustrated novelist.


  24. cathy_IA

    Funny, I'm currenty reading When a Man Loves a Weapon! Favorite summer food? Fresh veggies from the garden; tomatoes, cucumbers, zucchini, etc. chopped up with a little fresh mozarella? Perfect fresh cold summer salad.

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