BEEN THERE, DONE THAT

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My husband (yes, the one who took a phone call from the front row at my book launch, loudly) watched me sigh loudly and open my laptop.

HIM:  Blogging?

ME:  Sort of.

HIM: What do you mean, sort of?

ME:  I have nothing to say. I have said it all. My mind is blank.

HIM:  You could write about being a grandmother.

ME:  Done it.

HIM:  Marriage?

ME:  A million times. Accordions, accordions, accordions.

HIM:  Recipes?

ME:  Are you kidding?

HIM:  Donald Trump?

ME:  Nobody wants to read about that. We are wallowing in politics, and my back is all seized up thinking about that stuff.

HIM:  Have you tried the heating pad?

ME:  Leaning on it right now.

HIM:  Cats?

ME:  Yup.

HIM:  Time to shut down the blog?

ME:  I might have to. Good grief.

HIM:  Have you tried being poetic?

The roses are still red, and the violets are still blue

I am taking a week 

To think of something new.

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TURNING PAGES

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Ever since my book Crossing the Street released May 9, books are all I can think about. The truth of the matter is, very few authors can make a living writing books. Millions of them are published daily on Amazon and other book sites. Due to self-publishing, it seems as if every John Q. Public who thinks “I have a book in me” is doing something about it.

I have no illusions about the New York Times bestseller list. It is a fact, however, that once in a while, an author who doesn’t have a bankroll of a huge publisher behind them breaks out and sells millions of books. The Fifty Shades of Gray author did it. Amanda Hocking did it. How did they succeed? Word of mouth.

If you like a book a lot, what do you do? You tell somebody about it. You tweet it. You Facebook it. You hand it to your friend, or loan it to a neighbor. Your book club talks about it. Thank goodness this happens to some of us.

Here is some “word of mouth” for you! I want to spread the word about some books I have read lately that I think you will really like, and if this results in one of these authors breaking loose and selling millions, then I will be happy!

  • North Haven by Sarah Moriarty. This book centers around siblings who return to their deceased parents’ summer house to decide whether or not to keep it. Revealing–about sibling friction, the strength of memories, and the power of place.
  • Please Excuse My Daughter by Julie Klam. Julie is hilariously self-deprecating, and this book lightened my mood by leaps and bounds. A wonderful memoir.
  • Julep Street by Craig Lancaster. Lancaster is one of my very favorite authors, and though I haven’t read this one yet, I have complete faith that it will be just as good as his other books.
  • Sisters One, Two, Three by Nancy Star. This one is another about family and secrets. I loved it.
  • As Close to Us as Breathing by Elizabeth Poliner. Another family saga. I guess that is what I am drawn to. This one concerns a Jewish summer enclave and a family and one terrible event that changes their lives forever.
  • The Children by Ann Leary. Another family, another crumbling lakeside home. There seems to be a theme here. But I loved this story of a family enclave threatened by the inclusion of an outsider. Wry and just a good read.
  • Family? Speaking of family, there is that delightful new novel about one burned-out writer, her mean girl sister, her eighty-three year-old best friend, and the seven-year-old girl who turns their lives upside down. Crossing the Street by me. Of course, that is a must read!

The beach, the cabin in the woods, your deck, or in a train or plane–any one of these books will make your summer reading list come alive. Incidentally, if you live in Dayton, come over to Books and Co. this coming Thursday evening, May 25. You can buy Crossing the Street right there, and I will sign it for you!

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WHAT SHE WAS BEFORE YOU

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She packed your lunches, changed your sheets, pretended to be the tooth fairy, and made sure you had clean underwear. She stood on the sidelines at all those games. Trucked you around to gymnastics meets, swim team, and tennis lessons. She found all that drek under your bed. Once in a while, you saw her kiss Dad, but my God, they never did it. Just those two times for you and your brother. Jeez.

She is the one you call for advice. She never wavers in her support. You think she envies you in your life and your future. Sometimes, you feel sorry for her, stuck in that house with all those antiques, house plants, and “good dishes.”

But guess what? Once she was 16. She was in love with a boy that isn’t your father. She still dreams about him sometimes. At 16, she had very long legs, wore cut-off Levi shorts that revealed very supple thighs, and her hair was long and glinted in the sun. She liked to run. In her diary there were entries about all the adventures she planned to have, and they involved having sex, going to Portugal, sneaking out of the house after midnight, and writing poetry. She knew that she would go to New York and live in the Village.

At least four men loved her. And none of them were your father. One was a soccer star, and another one had a Harley. These men thought she was wild, exciting, and just out of reach. She laughed when they pleaded. Then she skipped away.

Your mother polished her nails bright red. She experimented with drugs, but they made her feel unmoored, and she hated that. She despised the taste of beer, but she drank it anyway. She danced all by herself at parties, never afraid of who was watching. She was free.

She has memories of bonfires, lying in the woods and looking up at the sky, skimpy bikinis, and laughing boys. She remembers the time she went to New York City all by herself to meet that young musician, and the weekend they spent roaming the city.

Don’t look at her that way. She is more than that.

 

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THE BIG WEEK

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It’s here. The release of my second novel, officially out on May 9. Of course, the paperback has been shipping for about two weeks, but the eBook won’t release until the 9th. I cannot believe that this is book three for me.
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I didn’t even imagine when I started blogging over a decade ago that this would happen. There are many people to thank. They know who they are! I am starting on another novel, but as it takes me about two years to finish one, this is it for a while.

On another, more pleading note, do you know how important book reviews are to authors? Especially on Amazon, the titan of all booksellers. At 50 reviews, a book is boosted up in the algorithm so that more readers see it. Over 50, and the book gains credibility as one that is worth reading. Thus, more opportunity for sales. Let me tell you in a few short steps how to review a book there:

  1. Sign in to your Amazon account.
  2. In the search bar, search for a book you want to review: Crossing the Street, of course!
  3. At the moment, because the eBook is still not “out,” be sure you choose the paperback version of my book. After the 9th, this is immaterial
  4. Click on the little underlined Write a review.
  5. Write a short review. No need to summarize the plot. Just say what you liked about the book. A few sentences is all you need.
  6. Write a headline for your review.
  7. Give the book “stars” from one to five, five being the best.
  8. Click “submit your review.”

THAT IS ALL YOU NEED TO DO TO HELP ME AND OTHER AUTHORS YOU LIKE! If more people did this, I might be raking in the dough. That is an exaggeration, as dough-raking is definitely not something most writers get the chance to do. But this time around, I am hoping for some good sales. I put my whole self into this baby!

THANKS A MILLION FOR YOUR SUPPORT.

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IT’S DONE!

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Remember last week, when I lost the will to get the screened porch ready? Well, today, it is done!

It is a two-person job. The accordionist (for those of you who don’t know me that well, he’s my husband) and I worked together. Here is what it takes to achieve a Martha-Stewart quality porch for your cats to use more than you do:

  • Vacuum the floor. It is covered with dirt and dust. Your back hurts already.
  • Lug two brooms, Spic and Span, and a huge bucket upstairs.
  • Look around for the cats, because you have to shut them out of this wing of the house so they don’t track dirty footprints all over the place once you start washing the porch in earnest.
  • You can only find one out of four cats. You close off that part of the house (calling it a “wing” is a bit pretentious–it consists of the master bedroom and an adjoining bedroom and bath) anyway.
  • Open up the porch and move all the furniture to one side. Your back now is shouting “you are way too old for this sort of activity!”
  • Fill the bucket with water and Spic and Span.
  • Open one porch screen so you can haul up the hose from the deck, which the accordionist has tied to a rope. He looks sort of pale.
  • Start scrubbing the floor. Three cats show up from under your bed.
  • Chase the cats out of the area, screaming “Out, out!” One of them dashes across your bare foot, leaving big punctures with his back claws. You contemplate Googling cat scratch fever, but figure you can do that later, when this job is done; the incubation period must be at least a couple of days.
  • As you scrub, the accordionist flushes with the hose. Move furniture around as you work, in order to get the entire floor clean.  A lot of bending. Then you both sweep the dirty water towards the drain hole, onto the deck (which, by the way, you had to clear of all the furniture down there before you got started, so the dirty water wouldn’t get all over that stuff.
  • It takes about a half hour, but the porch floor is clean.
  • Have a cup of coffee while the floor dries and the accordionist mows the lawn. While he finishes that, lug two (what seem like forty pound) ferns up to the porch. Oh, incidentally, did I mention this porch is on the second floor?
  • Rest and groan while floor dries.
  • Ok. Now, get trash bags and take the covers off the furniture, putting them in the bags and carrying those up to the attic for the time when if you survive this, you will need them to cover the porch furniture for the winter.
  • Haul the furniture into place. Put on the cushions. Realize that they are covered with cat hair from last fall, when using the tape roller was just too much work.
  • There are also mysterious stains on the cushions. The accordionist is helpless in this department, and so he is dismissed to wander around the neighborhood with a beer.
  •  Use an entire tape roller on the furniture, then try to remove stains. Futile. Turn cushions over, vowing not to spill on the “B” side.
  • Open the cupboard and get out all the accessories: the lamps, the coasters, the bowl of seashells, the little frog candle holder.
  • Windex the tabletops. Arrange the accessories. Take two Excedrin.
  • It looks great! The cats will love it!

And next week, it will probably get so hot that you will have to close off the porch and turn on the central air conditioning.

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