Go With the Flo

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.

Peace, people!

http://Wedding at the Happy Valley Motor Inn and Resort (The Happy Valley Series Book 2) https://www.amazon.com/dp/B09MDRSDZF/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_api_glt_HQEY2690EWD7XG9C9Y1K

The One About the Time I Forgot to Save my Edits

I had big plans for yesterday. Before I settled down to continue working on writing the sequel to Mayhem at the Happy Valley Motor Inn and Resort, I was going to tidy up the most recent edits for chapters 21-30 in that original manuscript.

It had taken me two painstaking days to get the chapters fleshed out and whittled down and, in some cases, exorcised, and I planned to spend some time looking at spacing between paragraphs and sentences. Making sure there were no orphans or widows lurking about—even though those really won’t be a concern until it’s time to publish.

It wouldn’t take me long, I thought, and soon I could be delving into the continued stories of my characters in and around Happy Valley.

But, if you read the title you’ll understand that instead of tidying up, I was redoing all the editing I’d already done because I didn’t save any of it! Grrr. Thankfully, it went faster this time. I remembered most of the changes I’d made using my editor’s guidelines. And now it’s triple saved, just in case.

Some days I think I’ve wasted too much time on this novel writing enterprise. What if my debut novel is awful and nobody wants to read it? That’s a looming possibility. But then I think, “Goofball, what else would you have done with your life these past few months?” and I shrug and keep working,

Almost irrelevant photo.

Peace, people!

A Sweet Kick in the Pants

Friday morning I sat down at my laptop to work on my novel. Folks, I was at 83,902 words, and yet I couldn’t get a single thought on the electronic page.

I’d type a bit, then delete. Type and delete. At the end of two hours I had 83,899 words. Yikes! I was going backwards. Studly Doright called around 9:30 a.m. to ask how the writing was going, and I just laughed.

He said, “Take a break.”

I reminded him that the last time I took a break from working on this novel it lasted seven years. This time, he laughed.

I went back to the WIP (Work in Progress) and sat staring at the screen. I picked up the book I’m currently reading and let it carry me away for a couple of chapters. Sometimes that gets me unstuck, but not this time.

Finally it was lunch time. Okay, it was only 10:30, but close enough. I put on some eye makeup and my mask (the one with books and a cat on it) and called Sweet Pea Cafe to order their daily special. I sat in their parking lot eating a sweet potato wrap with a side of hummus and veggies. So good.

Back home, I checked the mailbox and there was an oversized envelope addressed to me from my good friend, Flo. But not addressed to JUST any old me, to this me. Author me.

This little psychological boost was enough to give me a kick in the pants and I ended up writing over a thousand words that day. Flo, thank you!

The clippings she sent were ones Flo had found while going through her late sister’s memorabilia.

I remember reading about this woman who claimed to be Anastasia Nikolaevna Romanova, the youngest daughter of Russian Tsar Nikolas II.

According to Wikipedia: Anastasia was the younger sister of Grand Duchesses Olga, Tatiana, and Maria, and was the elder sister of Alexei Nikolaevich, Tsarevich of Russia. She was murdered with her family by a group of Bolsheviks in Yekaterinburg on July 17, 1918.

And yet many people believed that Anastasia somehow escaped the fate that befell the rest of her family and made it to the United States where she lived out the rest of her life. I need to reread the whole story. There are several movies about the young woman, at least two are animated.

Thanks to Flo, I not only got a boost for my writing, but much to ponder. If I ever get this thing finished and published, she and Studly get mentions for sure.

Peace, people!

Nashville Bound

Thursday, November 14. I’ve been looking forward to this particular Thursday for two months now. Why? Because I’ll be driving the eight and a half hours to Nashville, Tennessee, to spend a weekend with some of the coolest women I know.

These are women I’ve ridden motorcycles with, cried with, argued with, and laughed with. They’re good women and great friends.

Studly Doright and I have moved so many times that it’s been hard to maintain friendships through the years. The core members of this group of women, though, has been there for me for at least two decades. And even though we don’t see each other more than once a year, I know they’d be there for me in a heartbeat. All I’d have to do is call.

Most of us are in our 60’s now. For some of us, our motorcycle riding days are over, but the ties that bind us together remain. We’ve made some wonderful memories, like the time we bought fake ponytails that caused us to speak in weird foreign accents. Or the impromptu talent shows that have resulted in fits of uncontrollable, pants-peeing laughter. I could go into more detail, but I’d likely be uninvited to Nashville, and nobody wants that.

I’ll pack my bags this morning. Should I pack that ponytail? I think I can still pull off the accent.

Peace, people!

It’s Raining FRIENDS, Hallelujah!

Characters Ross, Monica, Rachel, Joey, Phoebe, and Chandler first came to the small screen as FRIENDS 25 years ago. I watched the series sporadically, but was never one of those super fans who never missed an episode. I’ve most likely seen every installment by now, though, given that the popular series has never exactly gone away.

My daughter, Ashley, IS a super fan, and she’s shared her love of the show with her middle child, McKayla. So, when Ashley learned that the 25th anniversary of the popular series would be celebrated with exclusive showings of select episodes in movie theaters she got pretty excited.

I’m at Ashley’s home in Illinois this weekend, and coincidentally, one of the showings of FRIENDS was scheduled at a Cinemark theater in nearby Davenport, Iowa, on Saturday night. Well, how could we not go? Ashley bought tickets, and away we went.

(Waiting for the first of four FRIENDS episodes. That’s daughter, Ashley, on the left, granddaughter, McKayla, in the middle, and yours truly on the right.)

It was such fun to see these small screen characters on the big screen in four episodes. Ashley’s favorite episode in the series “The One Where No One’s Ready”

was among the ones shown, as was one of my favorites, “The One with the Embryos.”

I had a great time laughing at the familiar antics of the friends on FRIENDS while enjoying movie popcorn and candy with two of my own best friends. The evening was practically raining friends, don’t you know. As Chandler might ask, “Could there BE anymore friends?”

Peace, people!

The Need for Speed

Are you an adrenaline junkie? Do you feel the need, the need for speed?

Not me. I’m the opposite of an adrenaline junkie, but not quite a couch potato. I don’t feel the constant need for speed, but I do enjoy having a bit of horsepower at my beck and call when the situation requires a burst of power.

I like cars that can get up to interstate highway speeds well before the entrance lane ends, but that don’t always feel like they need to be running at the Indy 500. I felt the same way about my motorcycles when I was riding.

After my car was rear ended by a distracted motorist back in November of last year I suffered from a bout of mild PTSD. Certain traffic situations made me flinch, and I couldn’t sleep without having vivid nightmares of being smushed between two vehicles. I sold my motorcycle as a result, knowing that had I been riding it the day of the accident I’d likely have been killed.

So, what’s the point of all this you ask? Well, Studly Doright and I are at a motorcycle rendezvous with some of our favorite people in the whole world. None of us are youngsters anymore. Most of the husbands in our group are still active riders, while some of the women, like me, have either stopped riding altogether, or have become passengers on their husbands’ bikes.

I’m okay being a non-rider most of the time, but when I hear the sounds of sport bikes my heart skips a beat and I start wondering if I gave up on being a rider too soon.

Yesterday I helped at one of the events at the rendezvous, pointing out the direction bikers needed to go for lunch. And I have to say I was eyeing bikes with a bit of desire. There was one BMW that stole my heart, made my pulse beat a little faster. All I’d have to do is mention to Studly that I was ready to ride again and I’d have a new bike within a week. So, I won’t, and I trust my readers won’t breathe a word of this to him. Shhhh.

Peace, people!

Non-fatal Public Speaking

Last night I read my piece, “Adventures in Jet Skiing” to a small, yet dare I say, appreciative group, at 621 Gallery in Tallahassee. Oddly enough, I wasn’t terribly nervous. I’d had to edit my original piece to better suit a live reading, and I believe it worked well.

The most difficult part of the evening was waiting my turn while several gifted, published poets read their own pieces. I was entertained and enthralled and ultimately concerned that my piece would be out of place in the setting. Still, when my name was called I rose to the occasion and gamely delivered my tale of surviving my first, and hopefully last, jet ski ride.

Thankfully those in attendance laughed in most of the right places. It helped that I had three lovely friends show up to support me. Julie, Denise, and Lisa, you ladies rock.

If you’ve got a few minutes to waste, Julie filmed most of my reading. I definitely need to slow down my delivery and enunciate more precisely. I chose not to use the microphone because the speaker had an odd and distracting thrum going on, so my recorded voice is a bit too quiet. Thanks to Julie I now have a checklist of things to work on for the next time I am brave enough to step in front of an audience.

Peace, people!

https://nananoyz5forme.com/2016/08/23/riding-a-jet-ski-the-good-the-bad-and-the-ugly/

Almost Christmas

Like a good many people I struggle with sadness around the holidays. To be honest, my emotions take a steep dip around the 23rd of October, (the date of my mother’s death) and they stay low until around December 7th, (her birthday). I do some strange stuff during the low times–things that seem counterintuitive to one who needs a good pick-me-up.

Take this past week as an example. A friend invited me to attend a concert with her, her mom, and another friend. My very first inclination was to say no. Socializing just seemed too heavy a weight to bear. But instead of immediately replying in the negative I made myself count to ten before responding and discovered I could indeed attend this event. That’s how I found myself in the company of three lovely women on Friday evening at Theatre Tallahassee for the “Almost Christmas Concert.”

Apparently the concert, produced by local singer/songwriter, Del Suggs, is an annual holiday staple in Tallahassee. He, along with Pierce Pettis, Warren Sutton, and other local musicians, including the incredibly talented guitarist, Jerry Thigpen, rocked the house on Friday night playing holiday favorites along with songs from their own playlists.

For two and a half hours I was immersed in the spirit of Christmas, and it felt incredible. I even got up early this morning and decorated the house for the holidays. Maybe the doldrums are lifting, thanks to lovely Julie for inviting me. It feels good to feel good, you know?

Peace, people.

Stumped

We had a lovely and dear friend from Virginia spend the night with us at Doright Manor on Friday. She and I stayed up late drinking wine and solving all the world’s problems, and I have to admit I had no time to ponder, let alone write, a blog post.

After our visitor left for further adventures along the coast on Saturday morning, I took a nap thinking perhaps a blog idea would come to my subconscious. Nope. When I awakened I noticed that Studly was out in his shop working on one of his motorcycles. I joined him, still hoping for some inspiration, but came up blank.

As I walked around the house, skirting hurricane debris, fallen leaves, and upended trees, trying my best to latch onto an idea, I finally came to the conclusion that I was stumped.

Completely and

utterly

stumped. Oh well. I’ll try again tomorrow.

Peace, people.

A History of Klutziness

Why is it that some folks are blessed with a natural grace and others, like me, are natural born klutzes? Is klutziness genetic? Or is it environmental? One thing’s for certain, klutziness is hazardous to one’s health.

I’ve fallen down stairs. I’ve fallen up stairs. I’ve slipped on wet bleachers and slid on my bottom from row eight all the way down to row one. I’ve fallen out of a bus and into the snow. In one week I slipped on ice two days in a row bruising my left knee on the first day and the right one on the second. I’ve fallen in various kitchens three or four times over the years. Is it any wonder I dislike cooking?

As a kid I fell out of bed on a regular basis, and I’ve exited a tree ass first on occasion. Once I was knocked into the middle of a Tilt-a-Whirl carnival ride when the car I was exiting swung around and sent me sprawling. I hit my head on one of the support bars hard enough to see stars circling alá Sylvester the cat.

I’d like to think I’m resilient, that I take a licking and keep on ticking. The truth is, I’m so astonished that so far none of my escapades have led to injury or even death that I can only assume I’ve been living a charmed, yet clumsy life. It’s a good thing I’m not a cat. If I were I’d be all out of lives.

Peace, people.

Here’s another of my favorite klutzy scenes. I give you Ross and the leather pants from Friends.

https://youtu.be/MsDzkZk_NFI

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