Tag Archives: Becky Clark

My First Paid Gig

payThis was the very first piece of writing I ever got paid for. It was the first thing I ever submitted.  Fifty bucks that might as well have been fifty thousand. That’s how good it felt. The editor told me she bought it because I made her laugh and I made her think. High praise, indeed.

Since I’m guessing you didn’t subscribe to The Prairie Times at the turn of the century, here it is in all its glory.

Controlling an Uncontrollable World

I have control issues.

I have some weight issues too, but I’ll get to them in a minute.

You know how the jelly sometimes drips on the outside of the jar which makes your hand all sticky when, yet again, you have to put it away after the kids eat lunch? I hate that.

And how the refrigerator ends up being home to a gazillion little plastic containers of leftovers in various states of decay? I hate that too.

And how you go to the grocery store and some prepubescent man-cub (who, I’ll wager, has never bought groceries for a family of five) carefully arranges your bread at the bottom of the bag and then proceeds to load it up with four jars of spaghetti sauce, a two-pound bag of carrots, and a half-gallon of ice cream? Again, hate that.

And loud, obnoxious cell phone users talking about their latest run-in with their child’s soccer coach/teacher/pediatrician while shopping for cereal . . . don’t get me started.

So, you see it’s true. I have serious control issues and an obvious preoccupation with groceries, which leads me to tell you that I am trying to lose ten pounds.

In the greater scheme of cosmic events, it isn’t much of a crisis; the world certainly has bigger problems to attend to. But I turned forty recently and without any warning — POOF — gray hair, a map of the canals of Venice in blue veins on my legs, and an extra ten pounds.

I can’t control much of that, but I can control what I eat and how much I exercise. Theoretically anyway.

Therefore, of the three, the ten measly pounds seems like the problem to tackle. What’s the big deal, anyway? It’s only the size of a bag of flour. A really big bag of flour, but still.

I’ll count calories. I’ll exercise. Piece of cake. (Even my cliches are food-related. Do you see my cross to bear?)

In a perfect world, broccoli would taste as good as cheesecake and watching television would create negative calories.

But I live in an imperfect world.

Broccoli, while having many good qualities, does not taste as good as cheesecake. Watching TV with reckless abandon for so many years has helped to create this innertube around my mid-section. On the plus side, however, I can sing the theme songs in their entirety to both “Gilligan’s Island” and “The Addams Family,” including finger snaps.

And I could go on. And on and on. Ask my husband.

You’re probably thinking, assuming you haven’t already fallen from your chair from in extremis ennui, that I seem to have a healthy grasp on the situation and that I’m really no different from you. After all, we all have things in our lives we want to control.

But I’m guessing you’ve never demanded ice tea in your special Batman glass with a pre-determined number of ice cubes. Nor have you painstakingly demonstrated to your indifferent children the exact right way to vacuum the floor. And I’ll wager that you haven’t alphabetized your spice rack, your book shelves, AND your coupons.

Knowing this about me, you can now imagine what it’s like in the morning at my kitchen table while I read the newspaper.
Fires!
Drought!
Dirty politicians!
Teenagers rampaging through schools with guns!
Religious zealots!
Pedophile monsters plucking children from their homes!

I can’t control any of this.

Some mornings I give new meaning to the term ‘apoplectic.’ I have an opinion about all of it, and I’m always willing to share.

I want to control these things I read about. It would be so simple if everyone would just ask me first. I’d be happy to tell them how to solve each and every problem they encounter. I really don’t think it would take too much effort; after all, I don’t want much.

I want people to be smart and kind to one another. I want people to be honest. I want children, elders and pets to be loved and cherished simply because they exist. I want there to be fewer people using drugs and more people using deodorant. I want fewer people in jail and more people in school.

I want drivers to enter an intersection only when they can complete their turn. I want medicine to be affordable for everyone. I want scientists to figure out how to make cheeseburgers and brownies health food — after they cure cancer and the common cold, that is. I want medical providers to know everything and never make mistakes.

I want weather forecasters to be impeccably accurate at all times. I want underwear models to look like me and the rest of the women who inhabit the real world. I want teachers paid more and athletes paid less.

I want schools to be places where young people challenge themselves and learn from their mistakes. I want everyone to learn to read when they’re five and continue to do so voraciously for the rest of their lives.

I want teenagers to smooch and hold hands at the movies and let that tide ‘em over for awhile. I want everyone to have a mind-altering college experience without drugs. I want an end to babies being born to alcoholic and drug-addicted women. I want boys to know there is a difference between being macho and being a man.

I want people to cry when they’re sad and laugh when they’re happy. I want people to slow down — in their cars and in their lives. I want people to quit saying “I forgot” as an absolute defense, whether it relates to the toilet seat or their infant left in a sweltering car.

It may sound contradictory to tell you that I want people to accept different points of view since it must seem like I’m one of those dames who thinks she’s always right. But I’ll let you in on a little secret. I’m probably not always perfectly, in every instance, exactly right every single time.

I am, however, a dogmatic and opinionated dame, and you won’t believe this either, but I really don’t care when people disagree with me. Quite the contrary. I want people to be as passionate about their opinions as I am. I want people to be able to articulate why they believe something. I want people to tell me I’m wrong and to show me the proof. But if they won’t or can’t, then I don’t care what they think.

I come by this character trait quite honestly. I grew up in a large family and we ate dinner together every night. On the rare occasion that anything interesting ever happened to one of us, we would begin to chat about that. But then, when the conversation lulled, usually after about thirty seconds, my father would make some sort of proclamation.

It might be simple like, “Women should never be allowed to drive.”
Or “When a child gets to age thirteen, he should be sent away until he’s thirty.”
Or “Two-years-olds paint better than Jackson Pollock.”
Or “Mighty Mouse could never beat Superman in a fair fight.”

Straightforward, direct statements.

Or they might be more complicated like, “If it weren’t for those Bleeding Heart Liberals, the family farm would have survived.”
Or “As a direct result of Daylight Savings Time, crime has increased 68%.”
Or “Gideon v. Wainwright is a much more important court decision than Miranda v. Arizona.”

Huh?

You had to have a certain amount of basic knowledge of current events to jump into the fray. But that’s exactly what we were expected to do.

The point of the exercise, unknown to me at the time, was to get us to form and articulate an opinion about the topic du jour, regardless of how absurd or whimsical. I was an adult before I realized my dad never believed any of the weird statements he made. Well, except the one about women drivers.

While people tend to adore my father, I’ve come to the unfortunate realization that they seem a bit leery of me. Imagine. I’ve learned to form opinions, I can certainly argue my point of view, and now I just want everything the way I want it. I want to be able to control as many things as possible, yet know which can’t be controlled. Is that so unreasonable?

For instance, I can’t control wildfires, but I don’t have to cook my hot dogs over an open grill.

I can’t end the drought, but I can xeriscape my yard.

I can’t force politicians to be honest, but I can investigate as thoroughly as possible the candidate I vote for.

I can’t identify teenagers who are going to go shoot up a school, but I can make sure my own kids have a bucketful of self-control.

I can’t keep terrorists from exacting their brand of retribution, but I can live and preach tolerance.

I can’t brand every pedophile with a scarlet letter, but I can keep a watchful eye on my neighborhood.

Maybe it’s like that old adage “think globally, act locally.” If I can keep a firm grasp on the issues in my little world, maybe that’s enough. After all, you have to eat your elephant one bite at a time, right? (Again with the food!)

So ten pounds . . . big whoop, as the kids say.

Who knows? After I control these ten pounds, maybe I’ll try to tackle bigger issues in my life. Crooked politicians? Crime? Low SAT scores? The lack of a really good delicatessen in my neighborhood?

Maybe this will be harder than it seems.

What was the sweetest money you ever earned?

Mother’s Day

Because I only do for others every minute of every day … and because I’ve been named Mother of the Decade …  I was asked recently for advice on how to shower Mom with affection on her upcoming holiday.

As I think about it, though, I guess it could have been a ploy to keep me from talking about myself so much, but we don’t dwell on unpleasantness like that in BeckyLand.

At any rate, here are some inexpensive ideas for those of you hit hard by the recession. Remember, it doesn’t mean there has to be a recession of love.

• Get busy on a stylish macaroni necklace for the mom in your life. The more glitter the better. In fact, spill a bunch on the carpet. Moms love that.

• One year I brought a new baby boy home from the hospital on Mother’s Day. I had to return him a few days later at the request of the hospital administration … some legal mumbo jumbo about kidnapping and indictments. It might not be the right gift for everyone, but it was a fun way to celebrate before my prison sentence.

• Hand-letter some “Hug Coupons.”  These are best if you live near her. And have impeccable hygiene.

• Give her a six-pack of beer. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that there are six hours on Sunday afternoons. Mother’s Day is no exception.

• If you still live at home, move out. If that’s not quite feasible because you’re, say, between “this many” and 34-going-on-35, then at least give her a written timetable for when she might get her life back.

• Bestow upon Mom one of your grimiest, most used toys, elaborately and lovingly wrapped in the Sunday funnies. She’ll appreciate the humor that makes it look like you “forgot” Mother’s Day. Again.

• Bring her a carefully crafted breakfast in bed that includes a Mom-sized portion of Teriyaki beef jerky, a fruit roll-up with maple syrup dipping sauce, and a can of Mountain Dew. Include a straw and a couple of napkins from Burger King. Make it elegant.

• Everyone knows moms never get enough time to themselves to indulge in their favorite relaxation activities, so help her by managing her time for her. Read the current issue of Mad Magazine to her through the bathroom door while she soaks in the tub. Be sure to shout so she hears every calming word.

• Go to the mall with her and mock hoochie girls. That’s some good bonding time right there. Really, a gift for you both.

• Start doing your own laundry. But in a good way. Not the way that requires her to grab the mop and call the repairman.

• Transplant spider glands into your body so you can spin your own silk to make her a pretty scarf. (Granted, some of these ideas are more complicated than others. I guess it just depends on how much you love your mother.)

• Friend her on Facebook and make a conscious effort not to delete all the messages she writes on your wall. You don’t have to send her a L’il Green Plant though. Some things are obvious.

• Sneak a peek at the appointment book at your local day spa and smuggle your mom in as “the two o’clock.” Be sure to get there early. Oh, and before you go, remind her to wear sneakers as there might be running involved. Call it “cardio” if you must, but don’t refer to a police chase through the downtown streets.

• Quit playing wii for ten minutes so Mom can yogafy herself in the exertvputeraryden room. Or if you just can’t drag yourself away, would it kill ya to invite her to wii bowl once in awhile?!

• Clog her inbox with adorable videos of cute widdle puppies like this one …

• Put on a show! Act out all the parts in her favorite movie. Or Star Wars.

• Nominate her for Mother of the Year. This is really an idea for next year because, as I’ve mentioned, I’ve already won for this decade … But it will give you the jumpstart over your siblings a mere twelve months from now. THEN you’ll be her favorite.

• Better yet, let Mom agonize over and analyze every little thing in your life — from your poop to your diet to your clothing choices to the way you drive to your love life to how you raise your kids, whether you have any or not. Seriously. This makes her happy.

I hope I’ve helped make your Mother’s Day celebration special. And to my own mom I say, “Hey … Wanna wii bowl?”

What will you be doing for your mom this Mother’s Day? Which of these things are you hoping for from your kids?

I Never Learn

I just don’t. I am incapable of The Learning.

I’m one of the few native Coloradans still in existence. We really should be in a museum. But such an honor comes with responsibility. Like shoveling snow from driveways and sidewalks.

Let me just say, we’re absolutely blessed here in Denver. When it snows, which it does periodically, the next day the sun comes out and dries up all the snow so the itsy bitsy spider can drive her car in town.

I think all the sunshine has permanently erased some aspect of my long-term memory, perhaps my short-term, too. [Note … I literally had to stop here and check my scribbles to remember the point of all this. Sigh.]

My point is this. No matter how many times I have shoveled snow in my life, I forget EVERY TIME how to do it without hurting my back.

I never learn.

We had about a foot of snow over the weekend, so hubs and I split duties, roughly half and half. Once on Sunday and then again yesterday. [I loved our 3-car driveway when we got it poured, lo, those many years ago. Not so much when it’s covered with snow.]

Yes, my back is killing me. Why? Because I never learn.

This morning I was repeatedly reminded of this travesty. I get up around 5am most days and am able to read (novels! for fun!) in the quiet early morning hours. It’s also when I drink my coffee.

every damn timeI have a lovely antique table next to my purple armchair, where my writer’s clock and my Splat Stan coaster keep me and my cup company. But occasionally, I need to refill. Okay, fine, more than “occasionally.”

Every damn time I needed more coffee this morning, I twisted and reached for my cup the exact wrong way, sending me into paroxysms of pain equaled only by my shrieks of profanity.

Every. Damn. Time.

I never learn.

Top Ten Reasons To Sign Up For My So-Seldom-It’s-Shameful Newsletter

Top Ten Reasons To Sign Up For My So Seldom It’s Shameful Newsletter

10. Every time I get 100 new subscribers, everyone on the list is entered to win a fabulous prize

9. The longer you’re a subscriber, the more chances you have to win — I’ll say it again — fabulous prizes

8. When MARSHMALLOW MAYHEM (the sequel to BANANA BAMBOOZLE) is released as an ebook, you’ll hear about it first

7. When the MARSHMALLOW MAYHEM ebook goes free (and it will), you’ll ONLY hear about it if you’re a subscriber

6. You’ll make my mom happy

5. Getting your friends to subscribe (hmm, perhaps by sharing this) gets you a higher place in heaven (and more opportunities to win, even though you don’t have a single selfish bone in your body and would never be anything other than altruistic)

4. I won’t guilt-haunt your dreams

3. Your email inbox wants something delightfully non-work-related for a change

2. Subscribing to my list is better than a poke in the eye with a sharp stick

And the number one reason to sign up for my So Seldom It’s Shameful Newsletter …

1. You’ll get funny short stories to entertain you that will be not be published anywhere else. Consider it my gift to you as thanks for supporting my endeavors. Maybe backstory, like finding out what the heck happened to Dan and Cassidy in Las Vegas. Maybe part of a work-in-progress that doesn’t quite fit anymore. Maybe something that will change your life and leave you weeping in gratitude. Or perhaps an epic Homeric poem about scrambled eggs. Could be anything.

Do it. You know you want to. Clickedy click …. right here.

(Thanks. You’re the best.)

Tattered Cover Book Store

I finally have all my little booky ducks in a row with one of the world’s finest independent bookstores.

Tattered CoverAll of my books are available from Amazon, either in print or for your Kindle, or both.

But not everyone likes to deal with them, so I have a delightful alternative for you … Denver’s fabulous Tattered Cover Book Store. [Full disclosure, if you use my links to do your shopping at the Tattered Cover, whether you buy my books or not, I earn a penny or a shiny button or a pat on the head or something.]

The Tattered Cover rents and ships books, has three huge locations plus satellite stores at Union Station and the Denver airport, tons of author events, and a staff that knows, quite literally, every-single-thing.

And now, they also sell two of my books. There’s something quite special about seeing your book on a bookstore shelf. A long time ago, I was in my local Borders Books and stumbled upon my first book (out of print now) on the sale rack. The really, really on sale rack. You’d think that would be sad, but you’d be wrong. It was just as thrilling. Perhaps I’m a Pollyanna, but I thought, “Yay! Some thrifty, budget-conscious person can buy this for their kid.”

Thanks for letting me share my excitement. And, remember … buying books is an excellent way to support local businesses and your favorite writers. Plus, they make perfect gifts — always the right size and so easy to wrap! (Click on the covers and go straight to my Tattered Cover page.)

a funny mystery

Simple, healthy, no-fuss recipes

Happy Reading, Happy Cooking, Happy Shopping … Happy Happy!

(Nah, I’m not a Pollyanna.)

Book Club

I’ll be forever grateful to the ladies comprising the very first book club who read BANANA BAMBOOZLE. Insightful discussion, kind comments, enthusiasm … everything an author might want!

The ringleader asked the group about their secret addictions, starting with me, but I couldn’t think of any. Perhaps it was the word ‘secret’ that  threw me. But as each woman answered, I’d pipe up, “Oh, I do that!” … “Oh, I do that too!” … “And that!”

I won the coveted Most Messed Up trophy. Very proud day, indeed.

Look how cute they are! I think everyone was sitting because that was AFTER we bamboozled.

Bamboozle book club copy

Here’s hoping your book club is equally fantabulous!

Kirsten Vangness Gets Bamboozled

Wouldn’t you just die if Shemar Moore whispered, “Hey, Baby Girl” in your ear?

Because their characters on Criminal Minds have that flirty will they/won’t they vibe going, Kirsten Vangness gets that every week … and Moore! (See what I did there?)

But she still took time to give Banana Bamboozle a shout-out, which puts me over the moon. Practically as good as if Shemar Moore whispered in my ear.

She’s almost too adorable for the internet, but I’m going to post this anyway and hope nothing explodes.

Kirsten Vangness:Penelope Garcia

Six Things You Don’t Know About Me

If you’ve ever wanted to know which cartoon characters I channel, then you should read this cute little Q&A interview of me from the fine folks at Pikes Peak Writers.

I’m looking forward to speaking at their April 2014 conference. It’s a fantastic conference — educational, fun, and incredibly friendly. I’ve been to a dozen of them, both as an attendee and as a speaker,  and never fail to meet fantastic people who nurture my career as well as give me personal joy. I come home after four days, drunk with information and new ideas to move my writing and my writing business forward. If you’re not going this year, start making plans to go next year. It’s in a gorgeous setting, nestled at the base of Pikes Peak, always in the perfectly delightful month of April.

This year I’ll be doing a 3-hour workshop with the always charming DeAnna Knippling called THE FIVE Ws OF INDIE PUBLISHING: Who, What, When, Where, Why and WTH?! 

The second workshop I’m doing is Support Your Fiction Addiction – How NOT To Be a Starving Artist

Looking forward to both! Also looking forward to meeting bestselling authors and new BFFs Chuck Wendig, Gail Carriger, Hank Phillippi Ryan and Jim C. Hines. (Just don’t tell them. Wouldn’t want to spook ’em.)

If you’re there, let’s hang out in the bar or have a meal together! Be forewarned, though. I really love the Marriott’s cheesecake and am not above stealing yours.

Book Launch Day for Banana Bamboozle!

BananaBamboozle front coverIf you signed up on my mailing list, you’ve already heard that today is National Goof Off Day which is the perfect day to launch a fun, easy read like Banana Bamboozle. You’ve also heard all the merriment we have planned around the launch for the next few days.

And if you didn’t sign up on my mailing list, you’ve done gone and broke my heart! (But you can always redeem yourself by doing it now!)

I can’t tell you all the Super Secret Stuff since you didn’t want to join the club (sob), but I can tell you that we’re having a Comment Contest on Facebook tomorrow, (Sunday March 23) and Monday (March 24). I’ll ask a question, you answer with your funniest, most delightful answer, and votes will be cast by complete strangers* pushing the ‘like’ button. Winners get signed books.

[*Not that you’d be so crass as to manipulate your friends into voting for you or anything, but the most ‘shares’ over the two days wins a prize too. Just sayin.]

If you’re not following me over at Facebook, just click the blue icon that says “Follow” in my sidebar, over thataway→→→→→→→ and probably ↓↓↓ too.

Okay, since you twisted my arm and said ‘purty please’, I’ll tell you one more thing. The electronic version of Banana Bamboozle will be free today, tomorrow and Monday. Click here to download it. All I ask in return is that if you like it, you post a quick review on Amazon and/or Goodreads.

The print edition is available here, but if you’d prefer to buy it from your local bookstore or request that your library carry it, just give them the ISBN: 978-1-4944-9471-1 and they can order it easy peasy.

Happy Bamboozling … and thanks for helping make the BANANA BAMBOOZLE Book Launch so much fun!

PS — Take a picture of how you spent National Goof Off Day (or any of your personal Goof Off Days) with your copy of Banana Bamboozle. When I get some good ones, I’ll post on my blog. Email jpgs to Becky (at) Becky Clark Books (dot) com … do I need to tell you there are no spaces? I’m never sure.