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It has been one very busy week with sizzling temperatures in the early part of the week that coaxed the pool water temperature up to 86 degrees. Nicest side effect. On Wednesday night, I headed to the pool for some reading (I love the extended daylight hours for this). I read I WILL SEND RAIN by Rae Meadows, which will be in stores on August 9th. The story is set in Mulehead, Oklahoma in the mid '30s during the early years of The Dust Bowl. Annie, the protagonist, has a lot on her mind as she chases the dust swirling around her, and struggles with who she is and who she wants to be. Her daughter is going through those same motions. It’s one of those books I was immediately drawn into. A future Bets On selection has been lined up.

On Monday afternoon, I drove to the beach (for those of you who live in New Jersey, that would be “down the shore”) to meet up with my friend Beverley at her vacation home. The two of us then made our way over to the Stone Harbor Women’s Civic Club, where Jennifer Gensemer and Deb Martinelli had invited me to speak about Summer Reading and Book Group Books. For Beverley and me, this was like our old-home days at Mademoiselle magazine where we did “On Location” events. Then, our focus was on hair, makeup, clothes and accessories, and we were on stage at Saks Fifth Avenue in New York; now, it was books and authors at the beach.

When we left off last Friday, I was headed back to ThrillerFest. I caught a panel with Linwood Barclay, Andrew Gross, John Lescroart, Walter Mosley, Daniel Palmer and Kate White, where they talked about writing both series and stand-alone books. Later I learned a lot about penning legal thrillers. I confess to a lack of knowledge about how different the legal system is structured in cities and states across the country. Getting the details right in a book is as important as getting the gun details correct. At that panel I met Larry D. Thompson, whose DARK MONEY was featured on the site earlier this year. Surreptitious meetings are what these conferences are about. I grabbed tea with Keith Raffel (who was right that I would not like jasmine tea), and he had me read two pages of his next book. The last line had me saying “More!” He’s polishing the manuscript now.

Last weekend was a three-book weekend, with time off in the middle to prep for Cory’s pool party. I, who was told “I did not need to do anything for the party,” found myself making three kinds of dip, brownies, chocolate chip cookies and a roasted corn poblano chili pasta salad. Before you ask for the recipe for the latter, you can find it here. His party theme was Christmas in July, thus the pool was decorated with holiday lights, and our Santa Countdown was set to 175 days until Christmas. Now we will see if said decorations make it back to the attic before November; right now they are neatly stacked on the kitchen floor! Oh, and because the party store did not have Santa hats (something “we” were not surprised about in July, but he was), leis were part of the party attire.

Last night, Greg and I shared a memorable evening seeing Paul Simon at the Forest Hills Stadium. I first saw him there with Art Garfunkel on July 18, 1970 (it was my eighth-grade graduation present from my parents). That was the last time he sang there and, except for reunion tours, the last time he sang with Artie. This week, in an article in the New York Times, he talked seriously about this maybe being his last go-round recording and touring. Thus I savored every single moment of the night. He was bathing in the love of the crowd and then pouring it back over us. The band was soooo tight. If this was goodbye, it was perfect.