Contrary to the advice of other authors, I tend to read my books’ reviews. Yes, even the (blessedly few) negative ones. Often one of my books gets a review that makes me smile. I found this one about Mayhem at the Happy Valley Motor Inn and Resort on Amazon this morning and can’t stop giggling.
If you need something “stupidly fun” to read this weekend, may I suggest one of my novels? (Links at the end.)
I haven’t been faithful in writing posts for the blog lately. My mind is on book three of the Happy Valley series and I just haven’t had the time or the inspiration to focus on Praying for Eyebrowz. So it was a shock one day this week to see that my stats were booming.
On the 13th I hit a new daily high by a wide margin. Prior to that I think my best day was 290-ish. Of course I hit a new low the next day, but still…. I celebrated with an extra bite of hummus. Life is good.
Tallahassee, in the Florida panhandle, might not qualify as a winter wonderland, but that’s not to say the city is totally lacking in Christmas charm. Residents here just have to seek out festive places throughout the holidays and perhaps imagine sitting by the fireplace on a cold winter night.
One of the best locations to put one in a Christmas mood is Tallahassee Nurseries on Thomasville Road. A pleasure to visit year ‘round, the place really shines at this time of year.
I spent an hour yesterday wandering around Tallahassee Nurseries and thought I’d share some of my photos with you. Enjoy!
On Saturday morning I rose early and drove across Tallahassee to stroll around a Christmas craft fair at Dorothy P. Oven Park. I didn’t buy anything, but I enjoyed the misty morning while wandering around the expansive grounds of this beautiful park. I’m not the greatest photographer, but maybe you can get an idea of how lovely this place is.
A few days ago I shared with you all that I’d agreed to speak at a newcomers’ group luncheon in Tallahassee at a date to be determined later. Well, later has arrived. The date is February 9, so now I can begin working on my speech, and more importantly, over stressing.
If I were to share my speech thoughts and rough drafts here would my readers offer creative and constructive criticism? I really have no one to bounce them off of, except the cat, and she adores me, so objectivity isn’t her strong suit.
“What about Studly Doright?” You might ask. He’d just tell me to show more cleavage or leg or something. Since I’m fairly certain the group is made up almost entirely of women, I highly doubt that showing more skin would help. Besides, I’m 65. Showing even a hint of cleavage or an inch of thigh can go horribly wrong in the blink of an eye.
When I was writing my third novel, Wedding at the Happy Valley Motor Inn and Resort, I pictured a scene in which one of my favorite characters, Martha Murray, would recite, or have another character recite, a poem she’d written for her wedding ceremony. For several weeks I wrangled with writing a poem for Martha but nothing felt right. I was pulling my hair out and getting nowhere.
Then one afternoon my lovely friend and trusted confidant, Flora Diehl, called to visit and during the course of that call I said something like, “Maybe you could write Martha’s poem.”
I’m not sure what prompted me to say that. It wasn’t premeditated, it just popped into my head and immediately came out of my mouth. Regardless, it was one of the best things I’ve ever done.
Flo thought about it and responded several days, maybe weeks, later with the perfect poem for Martha’s wedding. I cried the first time I read her poem, “Now,” and every time I read it I get teary-eyed. Flo perfectly captured what I wanted Martha’s poem to feel and sound and even look like.
I’m not printing it here. Maybe one day I will, but I feel like the poem fits best within the context of the whole story. There are also a few gentle spoilers embedded in Flo’s contribution to my tale, and we’d hate to give anything away.
Readers can find the poem “Now” on page 302 of the paperback and again after “The End,” but before the acknowledgements. In the e-reader version it’s anyone’s guess since font size matters you know, but it’s near the end of the book.
If you haven’t yet read the first book in the series, Mayhem at Happy Valley Motor Inn and Resort, I suggest you do so before reading Wedding, but I think there’s enough backstory in book two that one wouldn’t necessarily have to read book one. (Although that would make me happy…)
Due to COVID, I haven’t seen Flo in person in over two years, but when I do see her again I’m going to ask her to read the poem while we enjoy a glass of wine. I’m stocking up on Kleenex for the occasion.
For two days I’ve been waiting patiently for Studly Doright to return home so he can put the angel on top of the Christmas tree. I briefly flirted with the idea of getting out the step ladder and doing it myself, but I’m a klutz and at my rather advanced age I don’t heal quickly anymore.
I left the angel on an end table in easy reach of Studly’s chair, so he’d quickly make the connection once he had an opportunity to shower and relax a bit over dinner, but so far he’s managed to ignore it. Finally I asked, “Will you put the angel on the tree?”
“I’m too tired.”
“But, it’s right there and you’re tall and the tree really needs its angel. It’ll take two seconds.”
Now, that’s tired. maybe I should get that stepladder….
I’m not a terribly skittish person—and that’s a really good thing considering that during my 45 years of marriage to Studly Doright I’ve spent a good many nights without him. Between his years working different shifts and then the extensive periods he has had to travel to different locations, I’ve become fairly comfortable on my own. Last night, though, I almost had a complete meltdown.
Studly had just called from somewhere near Hattiesburg, Mississippi, to tell me what time he’d be home today. We’d said our good nights and I went about my normal nighttime routine. I’d just turned out the Christmas lights and had begun washing the makeup off my face when the house went dark. And folks, when you live in the forest, dark is DARK. I literally couldn’t see my hand in front of my face.
My mind began racing: What if someone cut the power off to our home? There was that random couple walking down the middle of our street today. But even so, our generator will kick on anytime now. Unless they disabled the generator…
On that last panicky thought the generator did kick in and I went in search of candles just in case I lost power again, I’m not going to lie, it took me a while to relax afterwards. I wonder if I could develop better night vision for any future occurrences. It’d be a great latent super power.
Today would have been my mom’s 83rd birthday. We lost her to cancer just a couple of months before what would have been her 56th birthday. I miss her every single day, but especially at Christmas.
Mom made Christmas special —something I’ve never quite been able to replicate, and I don’t believe I ever properly thanked her. We just took for granted that she’d always be there to work her magic and that it would never end. She left a bit of it in our memories of her, though. That’s what I call a blessing.
I opened up the Christmas closet yesterday and started my annual decorating routine. The tree is up and adorned with new and indestructible cat-proof ornaments. The table looks festive with a small tree and candles. And the Nativity scene is perfect this year with all the figurines present and accounted for—unlike a certain year in which a major player went missing. A year I chronicled in the heartwarming tale of The Case of the Missing Mary.
So grab that bottle of whiskey from your desk drawer, pour yourself a stiff drink, sit back, and relax.