What’s Up With You?

It makes me sad that I can’t play in BeckyLand as often as I want. But I remind myself it’s because I’m busy doing other things I love.

I teach a time management workshop where I advise my participants that when they feel overwhelmed they need to prioritize. There are many ways to do so, but my favorite, by far, is to concentrate on that which makes you money.

I’ve been taking my own advice lately.

You probably don’t know, but I’ve taught myself how to make delightfully funky purses out of recycled items and I’m trying to tweak the process and create enough inventory to open an Etsy store. Not there yet, but soon, I hope. It’s fairly intricate and takes me for-freakin-ever so I hope I can get better at it.

I’ve also been writing and marketing some of my non-fiction books — four low calorie cookbooks, “How To Lose Weight and Get Healthy Even If You’re Lazy,” and “Reading Maniac – Fun Ways to Encourage Reading Success” (for parents of struggling, emerging, or reluctant readers). All of them can be found on my author page at Amazon. (I did mention ‘marketing,’ right?)

Part of this endeavor includes blogging at my website Lazy Low Cal Lifestyle. It takes up much more time than I imagined, but I really love doing it. I investigate new foods, exercise concepts, and much of the silliness that confronts me every day in my righteous quest to fight middle-aged weight gain. If you’re interested, you can subscribe to the RSS feed over there or join my mailing list. You get freebies when you do. Just sayin. (Again with the marketing! Shut up already!)

In addition to making purses and selling these non-fiction books, I’m back to writing fiction. God bless those folks who can work on wildly different projects at the same time. I’m not one of them, however. I need to focus on the task at hand.

I didn’t know this about myself until my first child — a very sleepy girl — was born. I would sit around and wait for her to wake up before I could do anything. What if she woke up while I was in the shower? What if she started crying when I was washing dishes? What if she got hungry while Mommy was making her special Vodka Smoothie?

But then I went back to work and my husband stayed home with her. Who knew you could put a bunch of dirty dishes in the sink to soak, vacuum the den, AND take a shower every day with a completely immobile infant in the house? I KNOW, right??

At any rate, I’m still pretty compartmentalized like that but now that she’s 24 I’m back to taking showers on a fairly regular basis.

I’m also back to working seriously on my fiction. In the past, mostly I wrote young adult and middle grade books. But I’m loving the digital revolution so much and can hardly wait until most kids have e-readers and are interested in e-books. THEN I’ll get back to whipping them into shape. The manuscripts, not the kids.

For now, though, I’m working on a series of funny mysteries with a friend. We’ve finished the first draft of the first one and are mulling revisions, cover design, and marketing ideas. But if you’re interested, here is the opening scene. It might stay, it might go, but as of now, this is the opening of BANANA BAMBOOZLE —

Cassidy measured the coffee for her morning pot, trying to avoid looking at the pan of twelve perfect brownies she baked last night. Their aroma beckoned to her the same way she imagined George Clooney would — perfect, unrelenting and oh-so chocolately. Maybe not exactly like George Clooney, but it was her fantasy. She knew she was powerless, but she’d play it cool. This time.

Beg me. Beg to be eaten, you perfect square of deliciousness.

“You know you want us,” the brownies whispered. “We’re chewy in the middle and firm at the edges. And remember those extra chocolate chips you threw in? We’re all here, just waiting for you.”

Cassidy moaned. Ah, the extra chocolate chips. To distract herself, she filled the water in the coffeemaker to the 8-cup line and turned on the TV. She tried to concentrate on the news anchors’ blindingly white teeth and overly-produced hair, but only lasted 12 seconds.

“Sweetheart,” the brownies whispered. “We’d be delicious with a cup of coffee. Brownies and coffee go together like bacon and eggs … trashy novels and cheap wine … you and George.

Cassidy glanced at the coffee pot as the hot, brown liquid dripped sensuously down, down, down into the—

“Oh, for pete’s sake.” She yanked the foil off the pan of brownies and dug a corner piece out with her fingers. She took a huge bite, dropping crumbs on the counter. She swallowed, sighed and smiled. “Oh, brownies. How I’ve missed you!”

She hadn’t baked anything in several months in an effort to lose her baby weight. She’d never been pregnant, of course, but had carried twenty extra pounds since she was a baby, going on fifty years now.

These were special brownies to celebrate her new employee’s first two weeks on the job. She finished off that brownie and had two more while she drank her coffee and did the crossword puzzle in the paper. She filled in as many answers as she could, then gave up. Dismayed once again with her lack of self-control and crossword prowess, she covered the brownies with the foil. As she reached to turn off the TV she heard them mention Pino Point. Her small town never made the Los Angeles news so she perked up and listened.

“—run out of leads. If anyone has any information about these hit-and-runs or knew any of the Russian victims, please contact the Pino Point police department.”

Cassidy searched for a scrap of paper and pen but before she found either, the phone rang. A glance at the caller ID showed it was her younger sister.

“Hey, Summer …not much. Made a pan of brownies last night for Samantha’s 2-week anniversary. No, I haven’t had any.” Cassidy pushed the pan away and turned her back on it. “I should have just bought some from Natalie’s bakery on my way in this morning. But she puts black beans and weird organic shit in hers.” Cassidy inched the pan closer and closer, finally digging out another brownie. She broke off half then broke that piece in half and popped it in her mouth.

By the time they had finalized plans for Summer’s upcoming visit and Cassidy had found a pen and paper to write down Summer’s flight information, she had forgotten all about the hit-and-runs and eaten the other three-quarters of the brownie. And two more. With a queasy sigh she grabbed her cookbook, flipped to the page with the brownie recipe and started another batch.

When she got to the hallowed offices of the Weekly News Chronicle and handed them to Samantha she said, “Ohmygosh, Cass! Thank you! These are still hot! You shouldn’t have gone to so much trouble this morning!”

No, you’re right. I shouldn’t have, she thought.

So, that’s what I’ve been up to lately. How ’bout you? What’s been sucking up all your time?

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