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Is It Just Me Or Is That Jay Carney Freaking Hilarious?

When I woke up last week, I had a new president. New, but the same, and I have to be honest, I wasn’t all that thrilled. It’s because my Commander-in-Chief doesn’t like me. I know! I was surprised, too. But the last thing I heard him say to a gathering of his devoted before the big ballot-casting began was: “Don’t boo. Vote. It’s the best revenge.” Revenge? Against me? Seriously, I’m the enemy? Cool! So because I have this great blog—that I’m certain my POTUS follows—I wanted to introduce myself. For your own safety, shield your eyes. I’m a 115-pound, married, employed, law-abiding, novel-writing, suburb-living, mortgage-owing, vitamin-taking, tax-paying, retirement-planning, capitalist-thinking, fast walking, fast talking, church-going, online bill-paying, mom.

AKA public enemy #1.

Wait. It gets worse. I’m married to a small business owner—need I say more? Nope. That’s all it takes to qualify the hubs as public enemy #2. It doesn’t count that he works endless hours, or that I razz him because his take-home pay is roughly 78 cents an hour–truly, we are the undeserving rich. He works a lot of really, really long days—hand to foreheadoh my, but life is so unfair. Sidebar: We were going to join the Occupiers, until we heard bowel movements in public places were a requirement. Clearly, only the revenge-worthy such as ourselves would draw the line right there…in the poop. Besides, we had responsibilities here in small business hell. Not sure my president was aware, (what with his busy campaign and grueling hobnobbery with the super-cool hollywooders) but it’s been a tough road for us small business reprobates who can barely keep our worker-bees out of the unemployment line.

If you can stomach it, further nefariousness can be found in my four children. All are grown up and have drunk the Kool-Aid. They’re married with families of their own. (See!) None of them live in our basement—Darn! None of them has broken the law—What? Nobody’s headed anywhere they can legally embark on the path to designer drugs—eye roll. They’ve each obtained an education for the sole purpose of offending those not educated. They work hard, I’ll be honest, just to bug those who don’t. They are evil incarnate. We’ve done all we can, but they still insist on paying their dues and their taxes, and none of them are getting much sleep. Worse yet, each is conscientiously rearing the next generation. Ridiculous themes abound in their homes such as: be responsible, be responsible, be responsible, hold the door open for old people, say your prayers, and don’t call each other fart-heads. When they get a bit older—get ready for more mind-blowing enemy-of-the state stuff—sex will be discussed. Sex is the big silk-sheeted lie in the sky for kids anxious to grow up and be all they can be in 30 seconds or less. Who are we to object to a world echoing the “you-should-be-having-sex-right-now-and-not-thinking-about-the-consequences”diatribe. What could possibly go wrong with kids having sex when they should be learning to tie their shoes? Is there a grown-up anywhere in the room? Anywhere? Sit down, Sandra!

Oh my, I’ve stepped in it now. Well, it’s like I always say; you can’t be a good enemy-of-the-state without engaging in a few things just this subversive. But how else can I prove myself revenge-worthy? She sighs.

Oh gosh! Look at the time! I’m gonna miss the Jay Carney show. Is it just me, or is that guy freaking hilarious?

Misery and Menopause Under The Big Umbrella (But It Makes a Good Story)

So the hubs and I went on a little vacation. We saved and planned and shopped and made sure our passports were not expired. (Sadly they were not, so we were stuck with mugshots worthy of America’s Most Wanted. You think I’m kidding). The hubs picked the trip and I packed accordingly. He chose a 16 day cruise. 16 days! When all was said and done I thought two bulging bags with industrial strength zippers, a bulging and conveniently expandable carry-on full of shoes, and a purse so full I had to carry my wallet in my teeth, were absolutely in order. I pack for all weather contingencies. My husband, however, packed one pair of shoes, a suit, some shirts, and a few socks. At the last minute, he smuggled his toothbrush into my purse. I shook my head in awe, as did he. But we were ready. Mail cancelled. Newspaper cancelled. Air conditioner off. Last Will and Testament taped to the door. But then we had a little scuffle regarding an umbrella that I asked the love-of-my-life to pick up because the forecast for the other side of the planet called for torrential rains. Now, I’m thinking 10 bucks, little retractable thing we could stuff in a pocket. Nope. With great gusto my man proudly introduced his 75.00 (on sale!) exclusive from Shapiro. What?? This umbrella was so big that two walls in my entry were damaged in the unveiling. It was an awning. Of course I had to razz him about it–because that’s what I do–and because I did, he was annoyed with me all the way to the airport.

Now it could have been the umbrella, but it might have been the double-my-weight-in-luggage that he had no choice but to help me with. And because I plan for all potential boredom with extreme grandiosity, I had surreptitiously stuffed several novels into my already overstuffed bag–big words, I know, but try to keep up. Of course the Kindle in Homer’s pocket holds his entire library, so naturally, he never broke a sweat. Me, on the other hand… Are you rolling your eyes? Rude.

Finally we boarded. And within mere moments the harsh, temperature-controlled reality of a 20-hour journey began to ruin my day. One hour in and I was weeping. Now you’d never know this about me because I am so good at hiding it, but I’m very hormonal—read riddled with hot-flashes and slightly irritable—so my position crammed between the hubs and the guy sleeping next to me with his mouth open made my hell exquisite. I think I’d rather have a 13-pound baby than reprise the experience.

I was tired, ugly, starving and my teeth had little sweaters on them when we finally landed in Copenhagen. And guess what? It was vomiting rain. (She sighs.) Needless to say, there was no more razz in me as the hubs made his way to the curb with his ONE bag and pushed the magic button on his magic umbrella thus creating a quarter-acre of shelter that nicely accommodated not only me and my steamer trunks of cruise essentials, but a forlorn family of three and their dog as well. I’m putting the scene in a book, I swear! But he didn’t say anything, he just grinned.

This is why I love him. And this is why I let him stow his toothbrush in my wallet. And this is why we had a fabulous time.

Do These Shoes Make Me Look Fat???

I lost the will to live a few days ago when I could not find an entire chapter of my WIP (work in progress). For two days I couldn’t sleep, and I couldn’t eat anything but cookie dough. I tore my den apart, raked through my C drive and Pen Drive and drives I had no idea I had. I read through all my saved copies and updated copies, forgotten copies and renamed copies of this novel in progress that is—get ready for drama—priceless to me. I’ve kept copies of everything even remotely having to do with my WIP for this very purpose: So NOTHING! would ever be lost. Clearly, that worked out well! After two days I finally brushed my teeth, took a shower and my Prozac and just accepted the irrefutable fact that I would have to re-create the entire chapter. You’re probably thinking waaa waaa get off your pity pot and get cracking! Rude. But rewriting lost pages is very much like re-cooking an amazing meal you’ve already eaten. Impossible in theory and headache-impossible in the details. So, ya know, I was bummed. But I picked myself up, whimpered a bit, then got to work.

Amazingly, two miracles occurred. First, the chapter flowing out of me was not half-bad. Upon my second re-write it was pretty darn good; it even sort of resembled the original as I remembered it. And upon polishing it to a high sheen I have to say I was down-right delighted. Phew. Now, I’m a reward-driven gal, and I always treat myself to new shoes when I clear a particularly gnarly hurdle and this re-write, by definition, was a gnarly hurdle. So, off I went to loll away the afternoon at my favorite shoe haunt–I’m on a first-name basis at DSW. I had a fabulous time and three hours later I was feeling pretty accomplished in my new orange cork-soled Kelly&Katie’s. And as I was admiring them on my tootsies, the idea for this post was born. (It really is true, for a writer nothing is ever wasted.)

So, I got on my computer where I keep–among other things–my ideas for blog posts in a catch-all folder I’ve named Random Brilliance. It’s several pages of ideas, names I like, descriptions of people who should not be seen in public, odd professions, recipes I want to try, over-heard conversations, grocery lists and all kinds of research. For example, I needed to know what trocar buttons were so I went cyber-trolling and the definition wound up in Random Brilliance. So did several great website addresses that boast all things mortuarial which is very important fodder for said WIP.

She sighs. Yep, there is some really, really good stuff in that folder. Including—wait for it—Miracle #2: My Lost Chapter.

It was laughing. I was not.

Dang! I think these shoes make me look fat!

Story Radar and a Really Cool Hero

So, I’ll tell you a secret about me; I have story radar. It’s true. It’s a talent and a curse and a little bothersome at times, but what can you do? Sigh. Maybe all writers are like this, but I can be anywhere, doing anything, when some random kernel of seemingly innocuous input burrows into my gray matter like a sliver in tender flesh. It refuses to be ignored–that’s how I know there’s a story afoot–and before long I’ve become wholly preoccupied with what-ifs.

Case in point: My very first novel was conceived when I stepped onto an elevator that reeked of Chanel #5. As my eyes watered and my throat burned and hacking ensued, I was beyond annoyed at the fool who’d clearly bathed in the pricey Eau De Parfum. But there was no one on which to inflict my umbrage since the only other passenger was a man who leaped (well, maybe leaped is a stretch–but he sure hurried!)out as I got in. I held my breath for 5 floors and when I got off the elevator I immediately thought: Oh my, what if I could still smell Chanel all the way to my apartment. What if when I got there my door was ajar? What if that smell permeated my home? What if something dastardly had taken place there? What if all my coupons had been stolen? Or my vast collection of leggings? Or, what if there was a dead plumber in the closet? What if the culprit was the leaper-outer of the elevator? Could I identify him in a line-up?

And on and on and on. It can be exhausting!

Happily that kernel became a novel–albeit one that I would never show anyone ever, even with a knife pressed at my throat, but I digress. The point is, I have irrepressible story radar. And even though I am currently hip deep in my WIP, and have a future WIP on the back burner, a sliver has again lodged itself in my gray stuff. It happened last week at the Air Force Museum. Hangars full of big ancient planes with big ancient bombs that were flown by amazingly brave men who did what they did so Hitler would not rule the world. Breathe. My path happened to cross with that of a delightful, now 89 y/o gentleman who’d been a prisoner of war some 65 years ago. He told a group of us that while he was a POW his wife thought he was dead, held a memorial service, and got on with her life. When he finally came home she had a brand new family. Wow, I thought as a rude dude cut in with a question about bombs. As I watched this cool old hero, I mulled and noodled ways to fill in the cavernous blanks he’d left in his tale. I imagined a 24 y/o soldier who’d just returned from hell looking at his remarried wife and her new fam thinking ‘Well this is a fine how-do-ya-do!’

But what happened after that? Hmmmm.

Hmmmm indeed! All I can say is I’m drowning in what-ifs. And I’m not getting much sleep, either.

Weapon of Choice: A Wet Finger

This is my fabulously funny first fam (say that fast 10 times). You can probably figure out who my little old gray-haired parents are. My dad will be 80 this year, my mom substantially younger—just ask her. They got married before I was born (novel, I know) stayed married through the poop, and are still married for which I am very grateful, impressed, and sometimes amazed. These three men are my brothers. They used to be merciless boys who lived to torment me. There should be an award for surviving weenies such as these—but I digress. Left to our own devices it’s likely we would have drifted apart since we have little in common (world views, religion, life styles, health of our lungs, to name just a few.) In fact we could not be more different. But we have this mom who likes it when we’re together, so we get together. On the day this pic was taken my only sis-in-law (fabulous woman!) was in another state on biz, and my hubs was in another country on biz—so as fate would have it, it was just my little family-of-origin. Not sure the last time so many memories yielded so many laughs. It was awesome, and as I looked around at the people we had all become I had new appreciation for where I’d landed–and with whom. It’s all my mom’s fault. She had a plan, worked every day building this family–teaching her four headstrong children the difference between right and wrong, good and bad, kind and cruel as she negotiated life with my criminally frugal father. One day at a time, sometimes one tear at a time, usually one laugh at a time. It’s a tedious journey, motherhood, and once you begin, it’s a lifelong proposition. But when it’s done properly it yields a resource more valuable to society than that of any other earthly profession. Sounds lofty, I know, but I’m hoping it’s true because I have four offspring of my own–all of them parents themselves.

Last week in the news a nasty non-mom derided moms everywhere when she derided Ann Romney for not working a day in her life. Hmmmmm, I thought to myself, what monumental ignorance, not to mention deplorable manners. I’ve been cranky about it for days. So much so that I think if I saw this derider on the street, I’d have no choice but to stick a wet finger in her ear.

There, I feel better now.

I’m Sorry, This Beach is Spoken For

I just got back from here (refer to picture left). To aid me in my writing endeavors, I have adopted this beach near charming Tillamook, Oregon. I’d tell you the exact location, but I don’t want to run into you there—it’s my beach. I share it with my writing group–two fellow novelists and one devourer of books—a precious and highly recommended resource for any story maker. We stay in a little house with an enormous view of the moody Pacific. And we are always spoiled by our Fairy Godmother of the Pacific Northwest who leaves us flowers and treats.

This is how it goes: We fly to Portland, rent a car at the airport, drive to Tillamook, but stop for chicken on the way. We shop for provisions—hazelnut bread is mandatory brain food as is cheese–it’s Tillamook after all, and bags and bags of chips. Oh, and caffeinated beverages. We then drive to the beach house, put our groceries away, pay homage to the ocean, and get to work. Friend One sets up at the kitchen table—laptop, notebooks, pens, and usually some photographs. Friend Two creates a nest of the same materials around a soft chair that faces the picture window. Friend Three—our book eater—takes the loveseat and gets to work on something beautiful—a quilt, a sweater, an insanely intricate cross stitch—and settles in to listen to a book on tape. Me, I’m in a corner of the back bedroom using an ironing board for a desk, my research material cluttering the space around me. It’s all very glamorous, and we’re all very productive.

In our regular life we meet every other Wednesday to read, critique and brainstorm. But twice a year we come here to slough off the world and immerse ourselves in our writing. It’s pretty astounding the stuff that can spill forth when nothing else is in the way. Between us, entire novels have been conceived here. Characters have been created, hired, fired, and murdered here. Plots have been engineered, manipulated and completely trashed here. Outlines, dialogue, love scenes, hate scenes, and scenes of just scenery—it all gets unleashed here. It’s really quite fabulous because they’re really quite fabulous.

I love my writer’s group. They have saved me from myself an embarrassing amount of times, for which I will always be grateful and a little humiliated. I can’t imagine getting by without this trustworthy inner circle to tell me the absolute truth of what I’ve written. The good, the bad, the stinky, the ultra stinky: I once had my heroin hack off the hair of a woman who was flirting with her husband. What? No! said Friend One. Definitely No, said Friend Two. Have you lost your blooming mind? said Friend Three. Twenty plus years together allows them this harsh assessment of my precious prose. And I have just two things to say to them: Thank you for your unfailing wisdom…and oh so righteous candor! And secondly, Thank you for not making me cook in Oregon. If it’s all the same to you, I’ll just keep my job as the scullery maid.

She smiles. See ya Wednesday! I’ll bring the Pepsi…and ten pages.

Every Debut Author Needs A Felicia

I am an admitted newby to the world of debut publication, totally dependent on high praise and word-of-mouth. Happily this is happening, and I’m humbled beyond belief by the reception Dancing on Broken Glass has been afforded. I’ve received the most generous notes, heartfelt, touching and deeply personal. Clearly I have amazing readers! I’m also getting to know Amazon and Goodreads and there is always happy news there. Who knew 5 little stars could induce such giggles, she giggles.

But this post is about a fan that stands out and up and over all the rest. She is an assistant community relations manager (should that be capitalized–I never know) at the Barnes and Noble in Naples Florida. She was sent an advance review copy of DOBG. She read it. She liked it. She liked it a lot. She got in touch with me to tell me how much she liked it and later we chatted for a good half hour. I love this woman. I LOVE this woman. She is an angel and my new friend, and I so hope to buy her lunch some day. Or maybe shoes.

Because she liked DOBG she set a goal for her store to sell 500 copies. She wanted to sell them within 1 month of its publication. She made it. To date (approx 6 weeks from release) that store has sold more than 600 copies of DOBG. It’s the staff pic. Here’s a picture of its place of honor–a coveted end cap display. Her efforts have landed me on their prestigious Summer Reading list, for which I am eternally grateful. I want Barnes & Noble to promote her and give a big fat raise. She has set such a fabulous bar that I shamed my own B & N with the challenge to duplicate what’s happened in Florida. And YAY–I have a signing on Mother’s Day weekend so, ya know, we’re off to the races. All because of one amazing woman. The only way I could think to thank her was to gush about her on my little blog. This is me gushing. Truly, I wish every debut author had a Felicia.

(I’m serious about the shoes, girl! You rock!)

My Big Fat Launch Party–Courtesy of the Hubs

Dancing on Broken Glass was published one month ago. To celebrate, my hubs threw me a big fat launch party. He even arranged to have my name lit up on the digital billboard. He’s quite a guy. I think I’ll keep him. He’s a very successful printer/binder by profession and using the tools of his trade he went a little over the top on my behalf. There were huge posters of my book cover and a life-sized one of me. (You haven’t really lived until you’ve seen yourself blown-up to obscene proportions. Sigh.) He even presented me with a museum quality, leather-bound copy of DOBG that I will be buried with. He printed bookmarks. He gave my mom a framed copy of my cover. He took care of every detail. He invited the world and most of the world came–and stayed. We ran out of food. It was great fun. I saw friends I have not seen in years. I made new friends. I was hugged and well-wished by the most fabulous people on the planet. The awesome King’s English took care of the sales and I signed books all night long. It was a fabulous party. It was all about me–which will forever feel a little weird. But it was the hubs’ night, too, and he made it absolutely perfect. In case you missed it, here’s some pics.

Feeling Gobs and Gobs of Gratitude

I’m feeling very grateful this week, more than a little overwhelmed and in need of proclaiming profound thanks to gobs of people. I will start with my biggest fan–and if I do this right, those several fabulous individuals who claim that distinction will all think I am referring to them and my list will be slightly whittled. I want to say first of all that I think every writer deserves the kind of peanut gallery I’ve been blessed with. People who will blatantly fib to spare you–for a time–the sad reality that you’ve written a steaming pile of dog poo. This is perhaps my biggest fan’s greatest gift. She has gushed over my pages for an embarrassing number of years. She has indulged every misspelled, misused, misinterpreted word, every plot that went haywire, every chapter that got lost in it’s own swill. She has smiled thoughtfully–at times a bit blankly, if I’m being honest–through the most unwieldy descriptions of utter nonsense. And like the true fan she is, has called it all fascinating. She has reveled in my every small success and prayed over my every query letter, every submitted partial, every boxed up manuscript. And when those were returned to me with the nicest (and not so nice) No Thanks, she has sent evil thoughts of bodily disrepair to the rejecters. Her loyalty to me is astounding, her faith in me unceasing. Her pride in me is way, way over-the-top. And if I believe her, she is not one bit surprised by what’s happening with Dancing on Broken Glass. Thanks Mom.

My Personal Weirdness Aside, I’m Getting To Know The Nicest People…

I’m a float-under-the-radar kind of gal. I’m very comfortable in my role as queen of my own world where my kids have to love me and the hubs has to love me and my brothers and parents have no choice in the matter, and of course trusted friends who are forced to take me as I am warts and all. But over the last two weeks I have stepped onto a larger stage, a bit reluctantly, if I’m being honest.

A few years ago I had a little thought that turned into an idea that wound up on paper—a lot of paper—that turned into an unruly pile that was disciplined down to a story that was later rewritten and rewritten and rewritten into what is now Dancing on Broken Glass which attracted a very hard-working agent who landed me a great deal with a fabulous publisher who released my little book two weeks ago. Breathe. Thus has been the trajectory of my little story which is now garnering the loveliest attention which brings me back to the large stage where there is no scenery, no curtain and no place to hide. It’s all about me. Me? Really? Me. Breathe again. The spotlight is on me and I so wish I hadn’t cut my own hair—it’s an illness, really… Despite my personal weirdness, DOBG is attracting the nicest people. Here’s what some of them are saying:

The book is about believing in what really matters – family, marriage, love, and faith, regardless of what life hands you. It is beautifully written and I finished in tears but filled with hope.

One of the most beautiful love stories I can remember reading. So often people struggle with the idea of unconditional, pure love and this story of two imperfect people coming together showed all the good parts of love as it overcomes the hurdles of life. There wasn’t a single character I didn’t connect with, which was delightful.

This book seriously impressed me. It had something for everyone. I was hooked from the first chapter to be honest, and I did not want to put it down.

Great flawed characters, family dynamics, love, hurt and redemption. Definitely worth reading. I look for more from this writer.

This book will break the heart of anyone who has one.

If you care about someone, read it and it will make you want to be a better person.

Dancing on Broken Glass is a heartwrenching exploration of the power of love, faith, and family centered around a truly inspiring heroine and her mentally ill husband.

Definitely a tearjerker. Couldn’t put the book down. Very well written.

I wasn’t sure what to expect when I started this book, but found myself fascinated beginning with the first line of the Prologue: “I met Death at a party.” While the book deals with tragedy, (and I will admit to crying a lot while reading it), it is tender, not depressing. I keep reopening the book and diving back into the story to prolong my experience with it.

Good Reads