What do I Hear About That Audiobook?

We were hoping to announce today that the first Lula Flann Mystery, "Buckled Down," would be available on Audiobook. Sadly, we've just heard from our producer that she has a conflict that makes it impossible for her to record. 

So, we're off to find another producer. One who will be able to bring to life with her audio voice talents the different personalities of all those all-important book groupies, the good and the gracious and the very human weaknesses and strengths of all the characters. We know that person is out there...if you have that talent, or know someone who does, let us know! We're anxious to get this option out to you.

Librarian Love


We just learned that the first two books are going to make their debut in the Washington State library system. As a long-time library lover (this must be true of all readers, right?!), this is a hallmark, indeed. 

I’m looking forward to a back-of-house tour of the Vancouver library before the summer is over, and know I’ll be taking notes. Who knows what mysteries those mistresses of the stacks might dream up?

Moving On

Big news from the home front! Before the end of the year, we will be putting down roots in Bellingham, Washington. 

What does this mean for Mata Morrow and her book group? The third book in the series is well under way, and I’ve completed the outline for the fourth. As such, I expect (although..characters, like life, can surprise you!) Mata & Co. will remain in Portland for the foreseeable future. 

Work between now and the end of the year will include production of Audiobooks and e and print versions of the third and fourth in the Mata Morrow series. 

What is life, but change?


Thanks for your Input!

We so appreciate the feedback we’ve received during our time on the road. Based on what I’ve heard, most of you prefer e-mail updates to blog posts. We’ll continue to share eye-candy Instagram photos on Facebook, to touch base on favorite reads and walks on Twitter and let you know as the new clothing line launches and any Mata Morrow Mystery updates. 

We’ll tweak our blog posting schedule based on your feedback. As always, thanks for reading AND…I love hearing from you! Many thanks.




On Book-Love & Being a Meristem Memphian

As we head to Memphis (half-way through the #30Friends30Days tour) we reached out to MGLCC to find out more about the organization's ideals and ongoing outreach in this political year. Have a listen to our chat with Memphians Audrey May and Elokin CaPece. 

LF - Thanks so much for the invitation to join the group on Wednesday evening to talk about indie publishing and the Mata Morrow Lesbian Mystery series. It seems like everyone I know from Memphis is familiar with Meristem. Can you give me some background on the group…how it began, number of readers, and so on?

AM - Meristem Book Club is named for the lesbian feminist bookstore I co-owned in Memphis from 1990 to 1998.  It was a wonderful gathering place "for women and their friends."  About five years ago, MGLCC had been doing more intentional outreach to women and more women's programming.  I became involved at the Center and saw doing a women's book club as a way I could contribute to making more "women's space".  The group has changed and evolved, but our focus is still the same -- to be a space for all women (however defined, cis-or trans, etc.) to come together to support one another and our experiences through talking about books by women and LGBT writers. 

About twice a year, we bring in titles we'd like to consider and vote on the ones we want to read in the coming months,  We read in a variety of genres -- fiction, nonfiction, mystery, fantasy, biography/autobiography, etc,  We rotate leadership in the group so each month someone different facilitates the discussion..  And we don't always agree -- some of our best discussions are when group members express differences of opinion or experience.   Occasionally we have gone on outings -- to a poetry reading, play or book-related film.  For the past three years, the group has been a partial sponsor of one of the "women's films" at OUTflix, MGLCC's annual LGBT film festival.  But mainly, we are book-lovers who love to schmooze about women and books.  

LF - To what do you attribute the success of the group? What’s the connection between the group and the Community Center?

AM - The growing diversity -- and hence, shifting perspectives -- of the group is what's most interesting to me.  We try to find books that have some common ground (i.e., growing up in the South) to explore in depth or that delve into a new topic we'd like to know more about.  Some of my favorite books have been titles or topics I would not have picked to read otherwise.  Some of the members are women who have been friends for 30 years; others just met when they came in the door and sat down.   The group is one of the "social groups" of the Center.  We are a peer-led group but can ask for assistance from Center staff if we need it.  

LF - And what’s on the slate for the upcoming year? What kind of outreach is the Center currently working on? From what I’ve read, there has been good work being done in a number of quarters. What projects are you most excited about?

AM - Wow -- there is sooooo much going on at MGLCC.  I used to refer to us as "the little Center that could" but we may be about to outgrow that description.  We now have six staff members (amazing!) who work out of our tiny bungalow in Cooper-Young in Midtown Memphis -- and we have numerous volunteers who support and help lead the groups and programs that function out of the Center.   Some significant things that have happened in the past year:

* Development of our innovative Metamorphosis plan to house homeless LGBT young adults
* Expanding Transgender programs and services
* Development of a Multicultural Advisory Committee to help guide us in serving a diverse community
* Development of a Senior Services Committee to develop programs for LGBT seniors
* Significant growth in grant funding, from both local and national sources
* Significant community partnerships, such as one with a local hospital which supports us in doing sex education, anti-bullying work and education about LGBT youth issues in the public schools

Audrey May, MGLCC Board Chair

Audrey May,
MGLCC Board Chair

EC - That's right. To Audrey's note, MGLCC is expanding so fast that it is hard to bullet out all of the new programming, social events, and services we offer. The best way to take all that in is to check out the 31 Days of MGLCC campaign where we try to touch on a little bit of everything MGLCC does.

Elokin CaPece - Manager, Operations

Elokin CaPece - Manager, Operations

AM - MGLCC serves a diverse community with a radius of about 250 miles throughout the Mid-South.  Our mission is to empower, connect, education and advocate for the LGBT community of the Mid-South.  For some of the folks coming to us from rural west TN, north MS or east AR, we may be the only in-person LGBT-affirming support or resource available. 

Our vision is that LGBT people live in a world where everyone has equal rights, and is safe, respected and celebrated.  In the still-deeply conservative South, making that vision a reality is still  challenging -- and we know that the safe space, services and programs we provide at the Center are sometimes literally life-saving.  We also know that the times they are a'changin', and MGLCC plays a crucial role in continuing to help steer our community toward that vision of equality and celebration of our rainbow nation.  

So, that's why our little book club matters.  I believe through valuing our lives and reading and talking about them, we are helping change the world.  

LF - So looking forward to seeing the whole Meristem crew on Wednesday night at 7. Until then!

Join Meristem on April 13 at 7 PM - Author Lula Flann book group guest

Join Meristem on April 13 at 7 PM -
Author Lula Flann book group guest

Trip Tip #3 - Pack Like Madam Secretary

Like me, you may be a huge fan of Tea Leoni in Madam Secretary. You may be a big fan of the woman currently running for US President who was formerly called "Madam Secretary." And/or, you may be a globe-circumnavigating travel connoisseur of how to just do it ("it" being "travel"...such a big part of the whole Secretary of State gig) the right way. 

Whether you are an international voyager or an aspiring inveterate vagabond, Madeleine Albright (another former Madam Secretary) is spot-on in the quote above. We like the quote so much we consider it part of Mata Morrow's travel wear credo. 

Go with a open-mind. That part can only be improved on by going with a bit of homework under your belt. Go with a sturdy carry-on, or "never pack more than you can carry." This part makes it all the easier to grab the brass ring of an unexpected carousel, with no concerns dragging you down - worried where you're stowing the steamer trunk you schlepped. And last - bring care-free clothes. You'll feel better, and when we feel better, we look our best.

Thanks, Madam Secretary, for the worldly words of counsel. We'll see you on the road.

Scene Stealer - Laurelhurst Park

Can you see Mata and her book group potlucking beside this path? I sure can. In Buttoned Up, the group's selection for the Middlemarch discussion takes place alongside a communal nosh in Laurelhurst Park, one of the city's finest outdoor destinations. Dog, kid, community and writer-friendly, it's also host to free Shakespeare in the Park on summer nights.

Photo Courtesy Instagrammer CuddleUpToMe

Photo Courtesy Instagrammer CuddleUpToMe

As Portland grows ever-larger and travelers to the Pacific Northwest visit and re-visit this diverse landscape, I'm reminded again to be grateful for the planners, bureaucrats, voters, and tax payers of the past and present who have had the foresight to carve these precious spaces out of the cityscape. I appreciate the "Friends of..." orgs who shoulder the additional responsibilities of stewardship that well-loved places require to thrive into the future. Whether you're a lone-walker a lit-loving woman who wants to parse Victorian and present-day pathways of love with friends, Laurelhurst Park's landscape welcomes you.

Oregon Shakespeare Festival Costumers don't Play Around

Spoiler alert - Book 3 in the Mata Morrow mystery series primarily takes place in Portland and in the Southern Oregon town of Ashland, home to the long-running Oregon Shakespeare Festival. When I contacted the folks at OSF to see if I might be able to get some face-time with someone in the costume shop (you see where this is going, right? Mata --> clothing design --> costume pros = giddy researcher), I was bowled over by the generosity of the team. Before I knew it, I was furiously scribbling notes over lunch at Standing Stone Brewery with Nancy, Alison and Betsy, three OSF Costume staffers well-versed in clothing creation from concept to final curtain. I had constructed my initial line of inquiry to ensure I understood (so to accurately portray) how our heroine and her book group, might find themselves enmeshed in a mystery that involves this particular aspect of the Festival. 

Couture methods are de rigger in the costume shop, dress forms are customized for each piece.

I've excerpted a bit of the Q&A that transpired prior to our interview in the piece below. Happily, Nancy, Alison and Betsy are all die-hard mystery fans, so their fact-filled answers to my prosaic questions were peppered with ways in which characters might meet his or her painful demise at the end of this or that sewing implement, might secret themselves in a large cupboard or small hidey-hole in the event of a chase scene. They were unable to help me come up with a motive for murder, but that's just as well, because then the surprise would be out!

Oregon Shakespeare Festival Elizabethan Theater seen from backstage

Oregon Shakespeare Festival Elizabethan Theater seen from backstage

A behind-the-scenes look at the various makers and artisans in Costume and Props made abundantly clear that this team is made up if the finest craftspeople, most accomplished in skills that only the very few now possess. Milliners and dyers, pattern makers and fabric specialists all work seamlessly (yes, I said that) to balance a gargantuan set of competing time demands in order to ensure that OSF's ambitious schedule is kept, the actors well-outfitted and the audience properly enrapt by all. If anyone supposes the costumes are created using Simplicity patterns and a bit of nip and tuck, this one answer should soon erase that notion.

Q: What are the steps in costume creation…from concept to sketch to draft to finished garment? How does this timeline mesh with that of the production?
A: All of our costume designers are brought in- contracted show by show to design for us. The selection of the designers is made over a year in advance of the show coming into the shop. Designers are selected by the artistic department- Artistic director and directors. We do not have resident costume designers. Designers will meet with their design team long before we meet with them- 6-9 months before the shop gets involved. The design team includes all of the designers- costume, lighting, scenery, music and the director. The designer has due dates to submit costume roughs to our costume department director- discussion happens about the number of costumes, what can be pulled from stock, what can be built, the complexity of the built items and so on. The designer then goes back and finalizes the sketches. The designer puts the show into the shop one to three months before fittings start. Putting the show into the shop consists of meeting with the show team and discussing every sketch in detail. Discussions include fullness of skirts, undergarments, fabrics, seam lines and placement, materials and so much more. There are separate meetings with the designer and assistant with the cutter/drapers, the crafts team, the dyer/painters and the wig team. Putting the show into the shop usually takes three-five days depending on the size of the show. Again, Alison can give you more specifics on this. A month to two weeks later the designer comes back into town for the first fittings. These usually are scheduled over one to two weeks. Fittings can take up to two hours and there are often five people in addition to the actor involved with the fitting. We have second fittings a couple of weeks after the first fittings where we finalize the fit of the costume in real fabric with real wigs and facial hair and real crafts pieces. On large shows it is possible to have three fitting sessions. After that, the designer is back in Ashland for the week of tech/dresses, costume dress rehearsals and preview performances. Designers are in and out of town for months. Designers do all of the sketching, research and fabric selection for the costumes. Costumes are built based on their sketches and research.
Simply amazing, yes? 

Simply amazing, yes? 

Let me hear it - Last Saturday Survey

Have feelings about your clothing's construction? Take the survey now.

Give us your Words!

Give us your Words!

Questions can be seen below, but you'll need to click the link for us to get your input.

How important is it to you that your clothing is constructed in the USA? *

  •  1 - Very Important
  •  2 - Somewhat important
  •  3 - A consideration before fabric content
  •  4 - A consideration after fabric content
  •  5 - A consideration before price
  •  6 - A consideration after price
  •  5 - Of very little consequence
  •  Other: 

How important is it to you that the fabric used in your clothing is produced in the USA? *

  •  1 - Very important
  •  2 - Somewhat important
  •  3 - A consideration before those of domestic construction
  •  4 - A consideration after those of domestic construction
  •  5 - A consideration after that of price
  •  6 - A consideration after that of price
  •  7 - Of little consequence.
  •  Other: 

How important are trends to you in your clothing purchases? *

  •  1 - Very important. I want my look to reflect styles of the current season.
  •  2 - Somewhat important. I want my look to be on trend within the most recent year.
  •  3 - A consideration only after it passes the "It's my style" test
  •  4 - A consideration only after it passes the "It's a classic" test
  •  5 - Very rarely or Never a consideration
  •  Other: 

As always, thanks for your time and thoughts. 

Love, Lula

Lula Flann Last Saturday Survey

    Trip Tip #2 - "Pack your Ruby Slippers" or; "You Left Home for a Reason"

    If pragmatic Paige (see: key characters in the Mata Morrow mystery series) were offering packing advice, it would undoubtedly be that you have to pack around your shoes. They are the foundational aspect of preparation for any travel endeavor. So - go ahead and think about packing your ruby slippers, then consider the possibility that they are one of the very good reasons to leave home.

    Check out Fashion Girl's excellent post (with a wealth of links!) about shoe selection, domestic or international, logging miles urban or outdoors. IGNORE the image with those ruby-red stilettos, bringing to mind the folly of showy shoes when on the road.

    These carried Dorothy down the yellow brick road, but will they hold up on Hadrian's Wall?

    These carried Dorothy down the yellow brick road, but will they hold up on Hadrian's Wall?

    As always, comfort and versatility are key. You'll thank yourself for stowing those shoes in a separate waterproof bag. My dream travel footwear includes Naot boots for winter, Bjorn loafers for spring, Ecco sandals for summer, Dansko ankle boots for fall and Crocs (really - they come in so many different styles and colors now) for every trip and season.

    What's your go-to footgear for the season ahead?

    Scene Stealer - Cherry Picking Settings

    I love this image of Portland's Tom McCall Waterfront Park. I see runners, cyclists, dog-walkers and book readers. I see myself and my friends in this frame, even though we were not there when the shot was taken. I know we have reveled in glorious days at this very spot, though, as have other Portlanders and visitors from around the world. If you're sitting on that bank, you're probably also taking in a good view of Mt. Hood in the distance. Nice, eh.

    Writers are often asked where their inspiration originates. When I first saw this picture, I knew I wanted to capture in words this very vignette. When you read Button Up and meet the characters Eva and Seamus during their picnic with Mata, you'll know the exact inspiration for the scene. The ornamental cherries are out in full force. It is ridiculously, truly beautiful.

    Photographer Namascar Shaktini has taken to traveling the state, recording many more ridiculously wonderful sights. Keep an eye out for her name on this and future photo postings. We love being able to share these settings of the Mata Morrow mystery series with you. Cheers to springtime, flowering trees and budding inspiration.

    Trip Tip #1: Pack your Pareo

    We're Kauai-bound, so it's time to put away the mittens and boots in favor of sandals and sarongs. In fact, sarongs, or pareos, are the subject of today's post. What is the difference between the two? According to Shaka Time Hawaii:

    Pareo-a MUST

    A sarong is a piece of fabric usually between 4-5 foot in length that is worn as a loose fitting skirt or dress. The name sarong comes from the Malay word “sarung” meaning sheath or covering. These fabrics are often dyed in rich colors and were traditionally made with batik fabric.

    The Pareo on the other hand was developed in Tahiti and adapted to Western fabric when it was introduced by European explorers in the 1700. In Hawaii, the names are often interchangeable. The modern day fabrics are often colorful vibrant and detailed with floral or some other type of tropical print representing the island lifestyle. Fabrics can be sheer or heavier depending on style.

    Any 4 or 5-yard swath of such fabric is indispensable, no matter the season. A pareo fits the MmPorium number one rule of travel wear, that of versatility. My pareo will undoubtedly be called to serve at minimum quadruple duty: skirt, dress, shawl and beach cover-up. I have been known to employ them alternatively as picnic blankets and turbans. For the fastidious among you, I suggest packing two. They are light-weight and cheerful, washable and wonderful. 

    When venturing out, remember. Pack a pareo - your picnic mates will be glad you did.

    Check out "Four Chic Ways to Tie a Sarong" from Harper's Bazaar, or put in some time on Pinterest or YouTube for another dozen or so alternatives. 

    Let me Hear it @ Last Saturday Survey

    Thanks for taking part in this fashion fact-finding survey series. Buckle Down's heroine, Mata Morrow, designs a specific and sensational line of travel wear. Travel wear that will get you on the road with flare and without stress. All input is considered and appreciated.

    1. What is the one article of clothing in your closet you currently most value?

    2. Describe a most-fondly recalled spring/summer garment from your past.

    - When did you own it? 
    - What was the garment?
    - What was the fabric?
    - How did it make you feel?
    - Any additional information you'd like to share

    3. What is the one ensemble you wish you had, but don't.

    4. Where do you usually buy your clothing (top 3... list brands, brick & mortars or online venues)

    5. What qualities make for a positive shopping experience. 

    Each survey submitted gives you an opportunity to receive a downloadable copy of Buckled Down on your e-reader of choice. Email your responses to info@lulaflann.com

    As always, thanks for your time and thoughts.



    Lula Flann - Last Saturday Survey

    The Ten Item Wardrobe

    Mata Morrow's Mmporium travel wear line is certainly inspired by some of the same observations Jennifer L. Scott makes in this TEDx talk. Specifically, the freedoms that are found in fewer pieces and the distinctive style that can more thoughtfully cultivated without the distraction of "too much."

    That said, I fall in that category of women who are captivated by variety and adoring of options. I continue to work on de-cluttering my closet and keeping the pieces that make me feel most fabulous. For all of us, I continue to hone the MmPorium Travel Line so that women can travel with hit the road with minimal baggage and maximum brio.

    Highsmith - Criminally good

    Expectations are running high here with the November 20 release of Carol. We expect to see drop-dead period clothing and crackling chemistry between Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara, but the sharp end of our interest lies in the resurgence of notice in author Patricia Highsmith. 

    The Bechdel clip offers a fine peer review of PH's strength in psychological detailing. I've added "The Blunderer," as well as the recent "The Talented Miss Highsmith" to my MUST READ shelf. 

    Do you have a personal favorite character from these uneasy tales?

    Moving on Monday

    I mentioned this before - we're getting very close to publication date. In fact, my partner in crime is sitting across from the table from me as I write, securing our first Copyright. She's madly checking items off her project management list. Can you see her?! Yay! Cheers! Huzzah!

    As Buckled Down is heading out for launch, however, her younger sib Button Up will begin the rounds of editorial review by this weekend. 

    You will see a number of the core characters as you've met in Buckled...the book group (with a couple old members moving on to new pursuits and a couple of new members stepping into different roles), Mata of course, and Eliot, the youngest of the Remarkables. 

    Button Up includes explorations from Portland's neighborhoods through Oregon Wine Country and along the winding roadways of one of Oregon's signature annual bike rides, the Pioneer Century. How do we feel about progress on all the #LulaFlann works, ongoing and upcoming?

    Dahlia Farm, near the Willamette Valley Scenic Bikeway

    Yup. Pretty #groovy.