Close Call in Alexandria

As I embarked on my journey to Hemphill, Texas, I had this brilliant idea: I was going to take copies of my first novel, Mayhem at the Happy Valley Motor Inn and Resort, and place them in Little Free Libraries as I neared my destination. Since the series is set in that part of the country I could picture readers being excited to find a book about a fictional campground on Lake Toledo Bend.

So, when I drove through Alexandria, Louisiana, near the Texas state line, I googled the nearest Little Free Library and headed to that address.

The route took me away from the interstate and into a neighborhood that grew less and less savory with every turn.

I told myself I wouldn’t get out of the car if I didn’t trust my surroundings. Sure enough, when I found the right place, the little library was sitting well back on the property—near the front door, and it didn’t appear to have any books inside at all. So I pulled over to the curb and reset my GPS. When I looked up, there were three law enforcement vehicles there with me. 😳

My heart kind of stuttered for a moment, but they didn’t have their lights on, and no one approached my car, so I kind of waved and drove away. As I headed down the interstate I kept glancing in my rear view mirror wondering when they were going to come after me.

I wonder if they’d have accepted a book or two in exchange for a ticket? Guess we’ll never know.

Peace, people!

Angst

I wonder if I’m too old or too dumb to understand all the stuff I need to know to get my author website up and running. The website is there, it’s just missing important stuff and even after a thorough and wonderful tutorial from one of the smartest guys I know, I feel like I’m trying to put together a 500 piece puzzle in which more than half the pieces are missing.

Things I need:

1) A Reader Magnet—that’s a free story offered to folks who sign up for my newsletter.

2) An Automated Onboarding Process—these are the emails that are generated automatically when someone signs up to receive my newsletter.

3) A Newsletter—exclusive information about my books delivered at regular intervals to those subscribing.

Now, I can write that darned newsletter, but I’m struggling with the reader magnet and the onboarding process. The reader magnet needs to be a peek inside my stories. Maybe a tale told from the perspective of a character other than my main protagonist. Or maybe a prequel to the whole series, say, perhaps a look back at my characters during their teenaged years. I’m told it can even be an outtake—a scene I cut from the published book. I’m wrestling with this mightily, y’all.

And once I have it written, then what? Do I save it as a word document? Do I publish it and make it available for free to my subscribers? Do I send up smoke signals? At this point, option three sounds simplest, and I’d need to learn how to make smoke signals.

But that’s nothing compared to my angst over the automated onboarding. I took copious notes during a tutorial session. I’ve watched multiple YouTube videos. And yet, I’ve still got next to nothing. I am clueless; hear me sob. I think I need to hire someone to come sit beside me as I learn how to complete the task.

In the meantime, I’m going to continue working on that reader magnet. Maybe Paula and Cassie as cave people? Circus performers? Heh. Maybe not. But just in case you’re wondering who Paula and Cassie are, check out my Happy Valley series on Amazon.

Peace, people.

Swiss Cheese

I woke up at 3 a.m. I’d say it was exactly 3 a.m., but Studly Doright’s clock runs fast, so it was likely only 2:57. At any rate, it was early.

Of course I’d gone to bed around seven last night because I hadn’t been able to sleep at all the night before. Do I lead an exciting life or what?

My brain and I have been having some intense discussions lately. The old girl just isn’t as sharp as she used to be. I always dreamed of being one of those elderly women that people would describe as being sharp as a tack. Instead, I fear they’ll compare my mental capacity to a slice of Swiss cheese or worse, a dull knife.

And as they carry me away to the memory care center, I’ll protest that I once was able to memorize Shakespearean soliloquies with the greatest of ease. And they’ll ask, “Did you say Swiss cheese?”

Peace, people.

About Last Night

James Patterson and Mike Lupica stopped by Tallahassee to promote their newest collaboration, House of Wolves, last night. And even on a cold, blustery January evening, folks left the comfort of their homes to hear what these two accomplished gentlemen had to say.

I think it’s safe to note that most were there because of Mr. Patterson’s hugely popular body of work. The woman beside me had talked her unenthusiastic husband into bringing her from Orange Beach to Tallahassee for her birthday so she could see her favorite author in person. I told her husband he’d gained sainthood and set a new bar for all spouses.

Now, as a long time fan of the ESPN show, The Sports Reporters, I was equally excited to see Mike Lupica in person. His wit and wisdom on that talk show always made it a favorite for me. I cried when it ended in 2017.

He and Patterson were terrific last night. Lupica is hilarious and Patterson has a dry delivery that makes them the perfect duo.

When it was over I turned to the saintly husband and asked what he’d thought. “I didn’t realize Mike Lupica was going to be here! He’s great!”

I imagine there were quite a few pleasantly surprised husbands in the audience.

Peace, people!

Not In Kansas Anymore

Remember when Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz learned she’d had the power all along to return to Kansas? All she had to do was click her heels together and say, “There’s no place like home. There’s no place like home.”

So, I’ve been fortunate enough to have a mentor who’s been helping me create an author website. We’ve had numerous zoom calls in which he’s guided me, with patience and humor, through all the pieces and parts and today I said, “Okay, I think I’m ready to take the wheel.”

“Okay…”

“So right now, I can view the website, I just don’t know to get in and make changes.”

“Um, sign into Squarespace and…”

And just like Dorothy, I realized I’d had the power all along. I am such an idiot. Someone should drop a house on me and be done with it.

Peace, people.

Like Molasses on a Cold Day

In the course of waiting

Seconds don’t click by,

They drag.

One small movement

Oozing after another.

When anticipating the arrival of

Family, grandchildren

On a cold winter’s day

Before Christmas

Try to think about anything else

Good luck with that.

Hurry, but safely

Cookies? We Don’t Need No Stinkin’ Cookies

I tried. I really did. Someone gave us a sugar cookie kit for Christmas, so I dug out the cookie sheet from its hiding place beneath the kitchen island. I found a cooking rack, so the cookies could relax for a while when they came out of the oven. I even dug out the rolling pin I received as a gift thirty or so years ago. I purchased cookie cutters thinking that finally, at the advanced age of 66 I’d be able to successfully roll out dough and cut it into Christmas shapes.

Following the explicit directions on the package, I mixed the dough until it clogged the beaters on my mixer. I scraped it out of the beaters with a knife, then rolled it into a large ball and chilled it for over an hour.

Then I sprinkled flour on my workspace and rolling pin and on my hands and the cat and every other place I could think of. I even dabbed some behind my ears for good measure. I began to roll.

The dough was uncooperative. I used more flour. I rolled and rolled until the dough surrendered and allowed me to cut a snowman. Alas, the snowman fell apart when I attempted to move it to the cookie sheet. The same thing happened with the Christmas tree and the candy cane.

Fine. I decided to just make round cookies. Apparently, my idea of a teaspoon sized ball is warped. And inconsistent. The cookies varied wildly in size. The cutest was just about a quarter of an inch in diameter. I ate it.

Studly Doright said they just need to be decorated. I handed him the icing. And washed my hands. We don’t need no stinkin’ cookies.

Peace, people.

Accidental Makeover

I had places to go; things to do; people to see. I needed placemats, blue ones, for Christmas dinner, and I had just a little over an hour to find and buy them before heading to a casual luncheon with my friends from water aerobics.

Having already looked in likely places, I headed to the mall. Dillards, to be exact. I went in through the parking garage entrance, up the escalator, and smack dab into the middle of the cosmetics department.

Had I gone up one more floor on the escalator or taken the elevator and pushed two, I’d have learned in short order that Dillards had no suitable placemats. I could’ve then turned around and headed to Macy’s.

But, no. I was in cosmetics and remembered I was almost out of foundation. Might as well get it while I’m here, I thought.

And that, ladies and gentlemen, but mostly ladies, is how I ended up getting a full-blown makeover that took a good ten minutes to take off when I got ready for bed this evening.

I kind of looked glamorous for a few short hours, but I prefer my no-hassle “dab and go” routine. No matter the occasion, I’m ready in fifteen minutes or less.

But I didn’t say that to the adorable young woman who carefully primed and brushed and blended and tsked. No, I nodded and smiled and plopped down my hard-earned money for the products she was selling because she treated me like a queen.

There’s a lesson in there: Always take the elevator.

Stitchless

Today I had the stitches removed from my knee. I’d waited patiently since my surgery two weeks ago, wearing compression stockings and keeping the little threads bracketing my kneecap dry.

The waiting is always the hardest, isn’t it? Waiting for Santa. Waiting to get your drivers license. Your first car. Maybe your first drink. All the other firsts.

But today the waiting was for the doctor. I waited, appropriately enough, in the waiting room. Then I was moved to the “SUBWAITING ROOM.” I’m not making this up. I waited for a good ten minutes to see a sub, but none was forthcoming. Not even a periscope came into view. False advertising, I say.

Eventually the doctor arrived. He’s quite a nice young man. Earnest and capable. Definitely worth the wait. And my stitches were extracted by a competent young assistant, rendering me stitchless.

Still, I’d have given a lot to see a sub.

Peace, people.

What Goes BOOM-BOOM in the Middle of the Night?

Studly Doright and I met our daughter and her family at an airport in Orlando yesterday. They’re spending today with us at a hotel in Cocoa Beach before boarding a cruise ship from Port Canaveral. I’ve tried to get myself included as a chaperone for the trip, but so far have had no luck. It didn’t help that I came down with a case of food poisoning last night and puked in the parking lot of the hotel. Now no one wants to take me along. Not even Studly.

There was some excitement around 2:43 this morning when an incredibly loud double sonic boom rattled the windows of our room. Grandson Garrett and I rushed out to the balcony to see if we could get a glimpse of the rocket as it broke away from the earth’s atmosphere. For one weird moment we stared in rapt attention at an extra tall flag pole, thinking it was the tail of the rocket’s trajectory. Sick as I was it made me giggle when we realized that the pole was stationary.

Then I returned to the bathroom where I continued to retch. Good times.

I think I feel better this morning. At least I can now identify a flag pole.

Peace, people!

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