Category Archives: The Glamorous Life of a Writer

I’ll See Your Hair, And Raise You A Book

I’ve had a couple of harmonic convergences in the last few months.

Last year I toyed with the idea of shaving my head. I’ve wanted to do it for quite a while—just for fun cuz I’ve never done it before—but the timing never quite worked out. There was always a family wedding (with photos!) or conference season (with photos!) getting in the way. Since I’d never done it before, I had no idea if it would be so ugly that I’d scare children and the elderly. So, timing was important to me.

Another thing getting in my way was the annual fundraising party I throw to raise money to fill backpacks with emergency necessities for foster kids suddenly removed from their homes. I’d been procrastinating setting a date because I had some events up in the air and the Backpack Party date requires finesse. I like to give people enough time to take advantage of back-to-school sales to buy clothes and backpacks, so I can’t do it too early in June or too late in August or when everyone is on vacation in July. Complicated!

Seemingly unrelated—but stick with me here—is that in February, an independent bookstore Books Are Awesome opened in my town, a glorious, glorious occasion as we haven’t had one here in twenty years. Finally, I’ll be able to send my readers to a dedicated indie store to buy signed copies of my books! I’ll have a local place for book launches! I’ll have a bookstore 1.38 miles from my house! O frabjous day!

(Books Are Awesome is abbreviated to BAA, so their logo is an adorable cartoon sheep. Definitely my kind of place!)

But then in March, the whole world shut down. No conferences. No Backpack Party. And potentially no bookstore.

Using the full force of my little grey cells, I tried to figure out how to help the foster kids and Books Are Awesome … and myself, if I’m being totes honest. It would break my heart to get a bookstore yanked from my little grubbies when it took so long to get one here.

One of the things we put in each backpack for the foster kids (along with new pjs, a couple of new outfits for school, a sweatshirt, toiletries, and a small stuffed animal) is a new book. But how could I get people to buy books specifically from Books Are Awesome for my foster kids project?

And then it came to me.

I’ll shave my head!

A shearing for BAA, if you will.

People would pay to see the aftermath of that, right? Then I could turn around and use the money to buy books for the backpacks from Books Are Awesome.

So that’s the plan, folks … if you want to see what Bald Becky looks like, all you have to do is donate to the Backpack Party GoFundMe page. In return, I’ll send you pics from all angles of my knobby head, perhaps even getting my stylist to create artistic and fun shapes as she goes shorter and shorter and …. gulp …. shorter. Maybe you’ll see something fabutastic like a Reverse Mohawk, or the rarely seen Three-Quarters Head of Hair.

Just like with the Wells Fargo wagon, it could be anything!

Click here to donate!

Any amount is welcome, but please be as generous as you can. Perhaps I’ll have a sliding scale … the bigger the donation, the more photos you’ll get of this potentially disastrous—and definitely ridiculous—event!

My appointment is tentatively set for Monday May 4th , which seems like it should be okay, but these days you can’t be too sure, eh? Regardless, the sooner you donate, the sooner you’ll see photos.

I promise not to be visible in public for at least a couple of months, which, at the rate my hair grows, might be enough to be back to normal. Rest assured, nobody will get to see my glorious noggin without paying.

So … who’s ready to help foster kids and a brand-spankin-new indie bookstore as well as have a hearty laugh at my expense??

Tap Dancing Fool

I’ve wanted to tap dance forever, it seems.

Musicals make me swoon with joy at the dance numbers. Those flying feet, the percussion, the precision. I wanted to do it so bad.

As a kid, though, I don’t remember even asking if I could take lessons. Maybe I didn’t even realize that was a thing. Maybe I knew there was no money for that. Or maybe I was afraid to find out I was no good at it and would never be another Shirley Temple.

But I’m old now, and have my own money and a car to get myself to lessons. I also try to do things that scare me these days.

As the Ghost of Christmas Present says to Ebenezer Scrooge, “There is never enough time to do or say all the things that we would wish. The thing is to try to do as much as you can in the time that you have. Remember, time is short, and suddenly, you’re not here anymore.”

In early summer of 2016, I was at a party and a friend of mine mentioned that she had been taking beginning tap lessons at our local arts center. I perked up immediately. The more she talked, and the more I drank, the more eager I became.

I bought some black lace-up taps shoes and registered for the next 6-week session. I wasn’t very good and the class wasn’t really a start-at-the-beginning kinda thing. The same people (mostly middle-aged women like me) just kept signing up and so the instructor just moved ’em all along and tried to drag the rest of us newbies with them.

The few sessions I took were hella fun, though, and I learned lots of basic steps. We did some routines that I could mostly follow along with, as long as I stood in the back where I could see someone who could actually remember all the steps. After a time, I even managed a passable time step!

But in the autumn, I started having weird pains in my back, which, long story short, turned out to be that pesky tumor in my spine. I went under the knife almost exactly two years ago today.

Cut to ”” I can say that because I watch movies ”” a couple of weeks ago. I’m still feeling the effects of surgery, which mainly manifests as numbness in my left leg. I thought it would be gone by now (heck, I thought it would be gone about ten minutes after surgery because I’m delusional like that!), but it’s not. So I thought, “Screw it. That ghost is right. Time IS short.”

The arts center still offers adult tap lessons, but they are at a completely inconvenient time for me, so I started searching for online resources. Lo and behold, I found one!

For the cost of two sessions at the arts center, I bought this online tutorial package. I can do the lessons in my basement whenever it works for me and go back over the stuff I find difficult.

There’s also a Facebook group for the subscribers of the class and it’s inspiring and encouraging to see the videos they post, and to hear their stories.

So far, I’ve only been doing the warm-up, which I can alllllmost do ”” *shakes fist at paradiddles* ”” and the first lesson, which was a breeze up until the end. And then the delightfully optimistic Aussie instructor told me to go faster. Which is hilarious. Partly because I’m not that graceful, partly because my numb foot doesn’t always do what I say, and partly because my balance is iffy sometimes.

But guess what? I’m tapping! And it’s fun. Maybe there will be videos of my progress, yanno, when I progress!

What have you always wanted to do? What’s stopping you? Can you tap dance? Any tips to help me speed up?

I Need Your Opinion

I need your opinion.

pre-orders available now – just click the beautiful cover!

I’m gearing up for the release of FOUL PLAY ON WORDS in April 2019 but I’m not sure what kind of publicity events I should do. They’re all fun for me, but a girl only has so much time!

What kind of book events do you like?

  • Launch parties
  • Readings
  • Panel presentations at libraries or bookstores
  • Facebook parties
  • None of the above
  • Something else?

Tell you what … if you comment on this post and tell me what kind of events you like and what you like to hear authors talk about, when I get my Advanced Reading Copies (ARCs) of FOUL PLAY ON WORDS, I’ll pick a lucky commenter (maybe more) to get a copy hot off the press!

Also …. I’m contemplating a southern California book tour, maybe in June. If I was in the vicinity of The Book Carnival in Orange, would you come see me?

Comment below! And thanks … you’re the BEST!

 

Resiliency

I’ve never thought of myself as a particularly resilient person. I mean, it’s not one of the top ten words I’d use in one of those job interview questions, “describe your strengths.”

To me, resiliency means rolling with the punches, landing on your feet, changing gears when necessary.

But I like order. Outlines. Lists. Calendars. Plans. Itineraries. Knowing, for example, on Sunday ”” tomorrow ”” I’m going to be on my way to Bucharest to begin our 26-day Danube River cruise, bracketed with a few days at the beginning in Transylvania and a few days in Amsterdam at the end.

Except that on Thursday ”” two days ago ”” they cancelled it due to no water in the Danube. Who knew the river was the most important thing for a river cruise? I’d been convinced it was the free booze on board.

Thursday evening I was honored to sign books at the Mountain and Plains Independent Booksellers Association convention. Everything was still up in the air while I was there. On Wednesday I had bought our nonrefundable tickets to tour the Anne Frank House. This book was directly across from me, mocking me. The lovely author signing next to me saw me take this photo and misunderstood, offering to take a pic of me signing books, so in a lull between traffic, I explained what had happened and why I was taking that particular picture. She gasped and said, “That’s the saddest story ever! I nodded at the Anne Frank book and said, “Well, maybe not the saddest.”

 

So, resiliency.

I read the cancellation email that morning while my husband was getting ready to go to work so we were able to debrief somewhat. Stunned, we made a weird tentative plan to see if we could step into some other tour going, well, anywhere. I mean, we’d spent months organizing dogsitters and arranging to be gone from work. Surely that couldn’t have been all for naught!

After a few hours of checking and refreshing my email obsessively, the tour person finally emailed and told me she found one going to southern Spain, Portugal, and Morocco over the same dates. Nice, surely, but not on my bucket list.

While obsessively and frantically googling things about the Danube River, I stumbled on this. If only we’d known, we could have booked our cruise for Octo”” Hey! Wait.

Our travel agent scrambled to put together an alternative itinerary for us, using the same flights and general areas along the Danube. But that wasn’t what we wanted either. We wanted other people to be in charge for a few weeks, so we told her no thank you to this also.

We both felt utter disbelief. I had expected we might need to portage around some sections of the river due to low water, but complete cancellation wasn’t even on my radar.

All day it was an odd combination of mourning as well as a little bit of relief. Twenty-six days is a long time to depend on others to care for quirky little Nala. Also, we own a small print shop and out of the blue two weeks ago, one of our employees quit, leaving two perfectly capable employees to do the work of four. And all of a sudden, a ton of unexpected work walked in the door, a small part of which would keep four people very busy.

Aren’t these the saddest luggage tags ever?? All dressed up and nowhere to go.

Now, I’m going to stop my sad tale of woe here, lest you think I’m whining, because I’m not, not really. Yes, this was a disruption. Yes, we’ve been looking forward to this trip since summer of 2017 when we booked it. Yes, I’ve enjoyed saying, “Oh, I wish I could do [that thing you invited me to], but I’ll be in [Vienna/Bucharest/Prague/other exotic locale] that night.”

I was looking forward to being out of the country before and during the election. I wanted to send my daughter a birthday card from Romania or someplace cool. I wanted to turn off my brain and have people do and think for me for a few weeks. I wanted to work on notes for my next books while gliding by castles and Old World charm.

But the drought in Europe doesn’t seem to care about any of that.

This is truly the first worldiest of first world problems. Oh no … our 26-day Danube River cruise was cancelled and I got all my money back plus some travel vouchers when we rebook! And how awful … I had to spend Saturday morning creating a 10-day replacement vacation to the Oregon coast where we get to stay in a lighthouse, visit with our daughter and SIL, and spend a few days at an oceanfront resort! Woe is me, how will I ever cope??

We didn’t have much choice but to make lemonade out of this climate change fiasco.

Or did we?

At least 200 other people, just on our boat, got that same cancellation email. How did they react? Did any of them scream and yell at the poor woman who had to sign her name to it? Did any of them faint and need smelling salts like delicate women of yore? Were there threats of lawsuits? Clenching of fists? Rending of garments?

Or was there resilience? Are there 200 alternative itineraries whirling in motion now?

I mentioned that we booked this trip in July of 2017. That was about six months after the tumor was removed from my spine and I’d relearned how to walk.

Maybe I’m more resilient than I realize.

So tomorrow, the first day of our non-vacation, we’re making mimosas with a bottle of champagne I found shoved in the back of the liquor cabinet when I’d stocked it for my house and dog sitters. We’ll toast what might have been, we’ll await the rebooking of our cruise for sometime in 2019, and we’ll thank our lucky stars that we weren’t already in Europe when they cancelled the cruise.

The only question now is … how resilient are inscriptions in books to be donated to the boat’s library?

The Real Truth

Mostly I hang out with other writers or people who absolutely don’t care that I’m a writer. (I’m looking at you, Dad.) But occasionally I find myself in the company of someone who thinks I am simply fantastic for no other reason than there are books published with my name on them.

It inflates my ego more than a summer supply of beach toys.

But that doesn’t last long, for I know the truth about my “glamorous writer’s life.”

For instance, I know that sometimes I must hand-deliver a sandwich bag full of dog poo to the vet’s office.

And that is not a glamorous dog I own, either. Trust me.