A Honey Bee (and A Few Rockin’ Grandmas) Are Born

Higgenbloom and the Dancing GrandmasExciting news this week! The children’s picture book I’ve been mentioning for a few months now, Higgenbloom and the Dancing Grandmas, is officially out in the world.

My friend Katie MacGillivary did the amazing illustrations, and I am so proud of this project.  I hope everyone enjoys it as much as we enjoyed bringing Higgenbloom and his friends to life.

The book is suitable for everyone but was written with children ages 3 to 6 in mind.

The book is available as an ebook on Amazon right now. Other distribution channels will be online soon. And if it sells well as an ebook, a hardcover will be printed in 2014. You can purchase the ebook here for your Kindle, iPad, desktop, or other type of tablet. You can even read it on your iPhone. All you have to do is download the free Kindle app for your device.

The book is about a cute little honey bee who likes to be silly. A lot. One morning, Higgenbloom wanders off and finds himself in a heap of trouble — trapped inside a moving car and traveling away from the farm and everything he knows! The day becomes quite an adventure when Higgenbloom encounters some very cool Dancing Grandmas along the way.

Packed with abundant silliness and interactive questions for children, Higgenbloom and the Dancing Grandmas celebrates grandmothers who like to “rock and roll,” grandchildren who love being silly, or anyone who has ever wanted to boogie down — no matter what others might think.

Higgenbloom is on Facebook, of course. Isn’t everybody? Please “like” the book here to help spread the word and stay on top of news and upcoming contests! He also has his own website, too, at higgenbloomthehoneybee.com.

Thanks, y’all, for supporting this latest work. It’s my third children’s book, but my first one that’s released for the general public and available as an ebook. Please let me know how you like it!

PS: I love telling the world that the old stereotype found so often in children’s literature of a grandmother wasting away life in a rocking chair isn’t quite reality for most of the grandmas I know. Grandmas rock!


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Things That Happen to Me That Don’t Happen to Other People

You know how most people lose socks? That’s how I lose bras. Yes, bras.

I think it’s because I’m always taking them off. Which sounds like I’m a floozy-ho-slut (technical term), but really it just means I hate wearing them, so I tend to rip those suckers off the moment I think I no longer need an over-the-shoulder boulder-holder. (Thanks for the term, Judy Blume.) That might include in my car, my office, the kitchen, the backyard … you get the picture.

So they just … disappear.

olga bra

This is the bra that is missing. If you find it, please return immediately.

Right now, I have misplaced for several weeks my only beige-colored bra. That means I only have black bras to choose from, and one very bright red one with polka dots that hasn’t fit me since 1998. It also means that every time I dress for the world, I have to consider what shirt will work with a black bra. (Because I’m too cheap to go buy a new beige one when I KNOW the other one will turn up soon. And since I’m not really a floozy-ho-slut, I don’t want my black bra showing through my shirts. At least not all the time.)

This also means that half of my wardrobe is unwearable right now. And this means that I have to think too much in the mornings, which I try not to do.

This all leads up to one night this week when I was getting ready to go to see Bob Seger and the Silver Bullet Band in concert. I was choosing what to wear and of course did not have the aforementioned BEIGE bra. But I really, really wanted to wear a cute blouse that required a BEIGE bra.

In my infinite wisdom, I decided that going braless to a concert wasn’t a bad thing.

I mean, women do it all the time, right? At least they do at Willie Nelson concerts; there are usually tube-tops involved.

A rare moment on Willie's bus (not). I love the Internet.

A rare moment on Willie’s bus (not). I love the Internet.

Now maybe those women aren’t as, errr, well-endowed as me, but it’s a thing. People do it. Besides, I just knew Bob Seger would be able to FEEL the overwhelming presence of my braless boobies from onstage. They would inspire him.

That’s how I came to be talking to a couple of guys at the concert who were seated in front of me who will very likely never forget me.

You see, I was leaning over a bit to talk because they were BELOW me, and the sleeve of my blouse caught the edge of the arm of my seat. Which shall we say pulled the fabric a bit (a lot) to the left. Which in turn caused a gap. Which in turn gave these lovely men a tumbling sort-of-oh-my-god-there’s-a-large-dangling boobie right-in-front-of-me kind of view.

We’re not talking flashing a little side boob here. There may or may not have been  nipple involved.

I really hadn’t noticed anything was askew at first. Because I’d had a few adult beverages by this point. I was digging some “Turn the Page,” and I thought these two old hippie men were just really interested in my witty conversation.

But then I began to note that my chest was not the area where my witty conversation was emitting from, and yet that area was where they appeared to be focusing their attention.

I honestly didn’t know whether to laugh or cry at this point. I think I said something like, “Oh, wow, would you look at that?”

In retrospect, I should have just said, “It’s for Bob,” and left it at that.

It was probably in reality only a second of a flash. But I have learned my lesson now: Don’t try to make witty conversation after several adult beverages. It’s not worth it.

It was all for you, Bob.

It was all for you, Bob.

 


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Sledding Fail … With a Texas Accent

Like most moms of six-year-olds, I am constantly laughing at the things my son does and says. I feel like I should be following him around with a video camera every day just to capture and preserve all of the funny antics. (Perhaps to pull out and remember how cute he was when he’s a teenager and testing my last nerve.)

Luckily, my husband is a video-ing nut case and often DOES film our son. Such was the case this past weekend when a great snowstorm dumped a ton of fresh powder, and the kiddo decided to go sledding in the back yard.

The following video was the last take of many, where the kiddo was performing in his own version of the X Games, complete with commentary after each sled run. In this last run, he catches some air. But what’s even funnier is his Texas accent when he’s talking to his viewers afterward.

Have I mentioned this kid visits Texas quite a lot but has been raised in the Colorado mountains? I don’t know where he gets this drawl from.


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Update on My Crack Addition (Dr Pepper)

It’s been three weeks now, and I’ve had only one Dr Pepper in a moment of weakness. And here’s the thing. It’s not getting easier! I still crave it like crack. When will this end? I need a patch. (And it’s a helluva good thing I never got addicted to Virginia Slims.)

Current Problems of Life Without Dr Pepper (not an exhaustive list):

Eating a burger today without Dr Pepper was like eating warm, freshly baked bread without real butter. It just shouldn’t be done.

Dr Pepper is a connection to home; it’s the national drink of Texas (unofficial). Without it, I’m a tad bit unanchored. And trust me, no one wants to be around me when I’m unanchored.

Coke is not a substitute. Neither is Root Beer. And don’t get me started on juice.

Water tastes like … nothing. Adding lemon makes it takes like lemon-nothing.

Coffee makes me speak really fast in meetings and pee too often. And I can’t drink it past 5 p.m. or I’m up all night craving Dr Pepper (and peeing).

Tea tastes like grass. Not the good kind.

I’m having to go to bed early just to keep myself from going to the SitNBull Saloon down the street to get a take-out Dr Pepper from the mean biker-bartender. Note: I don’t even think they have takeout cups, but I could bring my own. The biker-bartender would love that, I’m sure. I can see the look on his face right now.

Drinking vodka and wine at the same levels as I was drinking Dr Pepper is not advised by the American Medical Association.

My old stand-by comfort foods just aren’t the same without my refreshing, fizzy DP. Now, when someone asks, you want to go to Noodles? How about a bowl of chili? I say, eh.

The real kicker? My husband has quit Dr Pepper, too. And weight is dropping off him like <insert good metaphor I can’t think of right now>. Me? I’m gaining weight. Because in my sick little head, if I can’t have DP, then I’m damn sure gonna have pie and peanut butter.


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How to Stop Drinking Dr Pepper in Five Days

Dr Pepper

Day 1

Announce to your six-year-old child and husband that you are finally going to kick your crack habit. Ask for their loving, non-enabling support. Tell them, with their help, your body will be pure once again! Tell them this isn’t like those 12 other times you’ve tried to quit. And tell them you are way stronger now — and not to think of that unfortunate time back in 2010. Post to Facebook and graciously accept sincere congratulations from friends across the nation. Post to Twitter and get several replies from high fructose corn syrup fanatics.

Day 2 – A.M.

Order a grande, double-shot mocha at Starbucks because you deserve it after not drinking Dr Pepper all day yesterday. And you need the caffeine to ward off the withdrawal headache. This is going to be a good day!

Day 2 – P.M.

Drink a glass of wine (health benefits) for dinner instead of your usual Dr Pepper on ice. Drink another glass of wine to congratulate yourself on being so health-focused. Drink another and decide the evening walk can wait; you’d rather watch HGTV.

Day 3 – A.M.

Try to convince yourself that Honey Green Tea really is just fine. It’s great! Really great. Sip it in gratitude.

Day 3 – P.M.

Beg husband to drive to a neighborhood café and get you a Coke. Not a Dr Pepper because that would be wrong. But just a Coke. You know, to get you through the crisis. Even heroin addicts get help coming off, right? Offer unmentionable favors in return. When he refuses, search the Internet for cheap divorce lawyers.

Day 4 – A.M.

Stop for gas at a convenience store on your way to work. Figure it won’t hurt to have one very small fountain drink of Dr Pepper to ease the developing headache and quiet the shakes. Make plans to hide all evidence of the purchase from husband and son by carefully disposing of receipt and cup. Learn the Dr Pepper dispenser is out of order. Say a curse word so loud people in the store look at you. Take a deep breath. Consider it a sign from the Universe, put down the cup, and walk away. Exhibit pride for your determination to beat high fructose corn syrup at its own evil game. Go through a drive-thru and get a bacon-egg burrito because it is now justified.

Day 4 – Noonish

Experience withdrawal irritation at maximum levels. When a man bumps into you while talking on his cell phone in the kitchen at work and does not even acknowledge the invasion of your personal space, resist the urge to yank the phone from his hand and toss it in the trashbin. Instead, give him a nasty look and walk away. Stare longingly at the Cold Drinks! vending machine on your way back to your desk.

Day 4 – 2 P.M.

Drink a lot of water and announce to your coworkers that you are on Day 5 of the New You. Then realize it is only sadly Day 4. Decide to take a break to get more fancy coffee, which likely has more high fructose corn syrup in it than a Dr Pepper. Argue vehemently with people on Twitter for no good reason about the People’s Choice Awards. Envision them drinking Dr Pepper and hate them even more. Tell them so in 140 characters or less.

Day 4 – 3 P.M.

Sext husband in hopes he will change his mind about buying Dr Pepper at the store. Get no response.

Day 4 – 5 P.M.

Repeat “I will not stop at Sonic. I will not stop at Sonic.” to yourself 20 times while driving home. Fight back road rage during worse-than-usual traffic. Listen to meditation music to soothe your soul, which is going through withdrawal, too. Flip out when there is no wine in the house for dinner. Read “If You Give a Dog a Donut,” to your son at bedtime and begin to think of writing your own book called, “If You Give Me a Dr Pepper, I’ll Lick Your Face for Free.” Hope your mom isn’t reading any blog posts you write about this.

Day 5 – A.M.

Post to Twitter that the first person to bring you a Dr Pepper over Sonic ice wins a million dollars. (Void where prohibited.) Ignore snarky responses. Lie to spouse about the reason you need to run down to the neighborhood café. When he doesn’t fall for it, have a really positive discussion about how you can fight this together. Cross your fingers behind your back when he’s not looking.

Day 5 – Noon

Throw bottled water at spouse when he suggests it for lunch. Then sit down, drink the water, write a post for your blog, and know, for sure, that you’ve really kicked it for good this time. After all, five days is a long time. Eat Bottlecaps candy while writing blog post. Make plans to buy a 12-pack tonight.

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THIS Is 40, or You Are the Wind Beneath my Bat Wings

There are a lot of things people never tell you about hitting age 40 and beyond.

A blog just isn’t legitimate until there’s a picture of the Ropers in it.

Sure, I knew about the wrinkles and gray hair coming my way. I knew my eyesight would begin to worsen and I’d be shopping for Mrs. Roper-style-hanging-around-my-neck drugstore glasses at some point. And my doctor kept warning me about the “belly roll” that would collect and be hard to get rid of in my 40s. (Can’t they come up with another term for it? Like Lower Abdomen Memory Foam?)

But here’s what they don’t tell you. They don’t tell you that the pimples of your high school years will start coming back and your chin is gonna start to look like your freshman yearbook picture. For no apparent reason. They don’t tell you that your joints will start making sounds reminiscent of old, haunted-house hardwood floors. And it’s scary. Really scary.

This is what came up in an image search on Google for a “complicated outfit.”

They don’t tell you that those ads you used to laugh at that targeted women with a “sudden urge to urinate” might one day not be so funny, especially when you happen to be wearing an awesome, complicated outfit that, well, takes a while to remove.

And yes, they may have told me that my skin would one day fight back from the years of baby-oil tanning, but they sure as hell did not tell me that the fight would include having strange-looking skin tags frozen off my body in a dermatologist office once a year. Seriously, no one EVER mentioned the freezing machine. That thing burns like a mother.

But mostly, they didn’t tell me about bat wings.

Listen, I’ve never been especially proud of my arms, but they weren’t hideous before. A few scars and red scales, but fairly firm, I would say. After all, I can hold my own tossing cattle feed bags and I’m a master snow-shoveler. We’re talking heavy, wet spring mountain snow, too. Not any of this dry powdery two-inch stuff down here in the foothills. (Mountain snob alert.)

These are not my bat wings. Mine are way sexier.

Regardless, something has changed. I now have a layer of bonafide flab hanging down on each arm, flapping in the wind like sheets on a clothes line. And as sexy as that sounds, it’s upsetting.

The first time I noticed them I was putting my hair in a ponytail in front of a mirror and actually looked behind me to see if someone else was possibly standing there with their own bat wings. No such luck.

Of course, my first course of action was to look online to see if I was the only one that this was happening to so early in life. I mean, I thought bat wings were for women in their 60s. Turns out, they indeed start in your 40s, as “middle-aged skin is like cotton with less snap,” causing sagging.

First of all, WebMD, don’t call me middle-aged. And secondly, I want Spandex arms back.

Experts say you can do boot-camp-style tricep exercises to help, but not completely solve the problem. Which does not in any way sound encouraging or appealing. Plus, as Sweet Brown says, ain’t nobody got time for that.

You can also have upper-arm liposuction. But if I’m not going under the knife for the aforementioned lower abdomen memory foam, I’m not risking my life for my breeze-making upper arms.

I tell my son that I love my muffin top (which he so generously pointed out to me after seeing a weight-loss commercial one day. It’s a good thing he’s cute.). I tell him that it’s a souvenir from lots of good food and good times. But these bat wings? I don’t know that they represent anything but old age and the lack of funds and courage to hire Jillian Michaels to yell at me.

By the way (ATTENTION: stop reading here if you are easily offended!) when I googled “bat wings” during my research, I came upon a horrible discovery. Apparently, according to Urban Dictionary, there are other slang definitions for bat wings that have nothing to do with arms. They include but are not limited to:

  •  A woman’s large vaginal skin
  • The spreading and sticking of a man’s testicles to his inner thigh. This usually happens at random in summer and is caused by perspiration and must be physically unstuck.
  • When a female neglects grooming in the pubic region and wears a bikini.
  • One that I just cannot bring myself to type right now.

Nothing like a little Urban Dictionary to make you 1) gag and 2) feel even older than 40. You’re welcome.

And …. now … I don’t feel so bad about my arms for some reason. Maybe I’ll just buy me some Mrs. Roper tunics. You know you want some, too.


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Readers’ Top 10 Blog Posts in 2012

I started this blog in early 2012, at the request of my publisher. I’ll admit I was worried about it. I’d written a weekly online column before, but that was different. This was a BLOG, something I’d resisted for years. Would I have time to blog and blog well? Would people (other than my mother) care enough about what’s going on in my head to read it? And what in the hell would I write about?

Well, I haven’t kept up with the blogging schedule I’d hoped for, but I have written a few fun pieces. Below, I’ve featured links to the 10 most popular posts, just in case you missed `em. Even I enjoyed rereading a few.

Oh, and just to recap this AMAZING year in publishing for me (because that’s what you do on New Year’s Eve-Eve) … after becoming an Amazon bestseller in the spring and summer, Blue Straggler (released as an ebook in August 2011 and in paperback in March of this year) remains in the top 30 in sales and customer ratings in comic fiction on Amazon. It hit #2 again right after Christmas and #5 in a different category (humor). Pretty cool. Or rather, a huge dream of mine come true. A Good Kind of Knowing was released in ebook in October and in paperback earlier this month. It made it to the #10 spot in its category (fiction/drama) on Amazon and remains in the top 30 in ratings. It also made the top 100 in customer ratings in literary fiction. Whew. That’s as good for this writer’s soul as crab legs, cheese biscuits and a Bahama Mama from Red Lobster.

I’m so thankful to everyone who has supported me this year and always. Having my work touch just a few people would’ve been satisfying. But this kind of success has been overwhelming. Thank you!

Now on to those posts, and here’s to 2013, y’all!

 #1  Our Dogs Are Going to Get Us Kicked out of the Neighborhood

#2  Saying Goodbye to My Dream, or the One-Year Experiment With Normal Living

#3  And This Is Why I Hate Dental People

#4  Friends Are Worried About My “Girls”

#5  What Happened When I Turned 30 …. and 40

#6  What Being a Texas Woman Means

#7  How Growing Up With Country Music Made Me a Better Writer

#8  21 Facebook Posts You’ll Never, Ever See From Me

#9  Open Letter to High-Fructose Corn Syrup

#10  Your Official Music-to-Read-By Playlist 


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Open Letter to High Fructose Corn Syrup

Dear High Fructose Corn Syrup,

Listen. It has come to my attention (my mama hates you) that you are a key ingredient in two of my most favorite things on earth: Dr Pepper and Cool Whip. If you were also in Cheetos, it would be a trifecta of incredible goodness. (By the way, I looked that up to make sure, and nope, you’re not on that list. There is, however, something called Disodium Phosphate, which concerns me, but that’s another blog post.)

But here’s the thing, HFCS (I can call you that for short, right? I think our relationship is at that point now) … you’re no good for me. You’re like that guy I dated for a few weeks in 1998 who drove a fast motorcycle and smoked The Mighty Herb for breakfast. He was fun and all, like a chilled-out version of Bandit from Smokey and the Bandit (Part 1, not the sequels), but I knew it would still probably end with me in a body cast at some point.

This is not the guy I dated. Mine wore pants. Most of the time.

You see, sugar (just kidding), people tell me you cause diabetes (in small studies, and only type 2). You make my cells into cancer-receptors (in even smaller studies, in adolescent mice). And I’m afraid you might be directly responsible for my muffin top that’s gotten so large it’s more like a wedding cake layer. One of the bottom ones.

In fact, did you know there is a website titled “Why High Fructose Corn Syrup Will Kill You?” Which made me so sad. Because I love you. And what hurts you, hurts me.

Of course, your PR team has set up its own sites, as well. I found one that I read for a really long time because I really wanted to believe in it all. You. Santa. Effing Elves on the Shelves. It all sounded so true! So right. So hoofs-on-the-rooftop magical.

You seem so innocent.

But alas (I’ve always wanted to use that word in a blog post), I know it’s only pot smoke and mirrors. I know the Real You, and you’re bad, bad, bad. You’re so bad that I won’t even let my kid near you, lest he fall for your mysterious powers. I’d push him away from you as quickly as I’d push him away from a growling pit bull. (I almost changed that to say “push him away from a falling boulder” because I really don’t want a bunch of pit bull people taking down my website because they think I’m a PB hater. I’m not. But a rolling rock didn’t sound nearly as dramatic as a snarling dog with a locking jaw, so I kept it in. I’m going for the visual here, people. Lay off.)

Random rusty nail picture to drive home the impact of my words.

Back to us, HFCS. You and I … we’re like fire and gasoline. We’re like oil and water. We’re like a rusty nail and a foot attached to a person who’s never had a tetanus shot.

And I’ll admit it. I think I may be addicted to you. You’re my crack. My meth. My scotch on ice. I need a 12-step plan. Or I need to go cold-turkey. (Typing that makes me get a little shaky in the hands. Hallucinations may be next.)

Even Dr. Oz tells me to stay away from you. And he knows stuff. He’s like Prevention magazine. Or maybe Wikipedia. But still.

This one’s for you, Mom.

So what are we going to do about this little situation? Are we just going to continue with this tango of no-goodness? Are we just going to keep driving into the night on that motorcycle and a cloud of weed? Am I going to keep this charade going on forever?

As Jack Twist says in Brokeback Mountain, “I wish I knew how to quit you.”

That’s right, High Fructose Corn Syrup. You’re my Jack Twist. I’m your Ennis. Only I’m a 28-year-old writer (no comment necessary)/future blues singer, and you’re just a common sweetener made by processing corn in some weird, unnatural way and subsidized by the government.

I don’t have the answers.

All I know is that for now, there is an ice-cold DP in the fridge calling my name, and the makers of Cool Whip now make a Cool Whip Frosting in three heaven-inspired flavors.

Damn you, High Fructose Corn Syrup. Damn you.

 


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Official Ebook Release Day for A Good Kind of Knowing

A Good Kind of Knowing ebook coverToday’s the release day for my novel, A Good Kind of Knowing, in ebook! (Paperback release is set for December.)

It’s available now for Kindle and iPad users here. (It’ll be up on BN.com soon; they’re having technical difficulties. Google Books and iBookstore are in the queue, as well.)

The ebook already has two reviews on Amazon, both five stars. Yeehaw. Off to a good start.

By the way, I was feeling stressed about releasing my second novel—until Hurricane Sandy decided to pull her stunt. She sure knows how to upstage a sista.

Now all I can think about is how worried I am about people out East. And I can’t really be stressed about a book coming out when there are folks with no power and flooded homes and worse. Thanks for the reality check, Evil Sandy.

So, yes, the ebook is out there. But I’m not worried about it anymore. No more of this “Will readers love it like they loved Blue Straggler? Is my writing good enough?” kind of thinking.

Don’t get me wrong. Yes, I hope you all like it. I hope it makes you feel something. I hope you dream about the characters; I hope they get under your skin.

I especially hope you don’t hate me for the ending.

But that’s it! No more obsessing about changes I would STILL make after all this time.

Thank you for reading, and for reviewing, if you can. Those reviews are so important to indie authors like me.

Stay safe out there, everyone! Hope your Kindles are fully charged!

(If you do have power, you might want to check out this slideshow featuring excerpts from the book and some awesome Texas photography.)

Click to play this trailer for A Good Kind of Knowing

 


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New Book Trailer Offers Instant Stress Relief (and I Won’t Even Charge You For It if You Buy the Book)

Hello all! Thought I’d give my blog readers a sneak peek of the new book trailer for A Good Kind of Knowing, which releases in ebook tomorrow.

I love, love, love it, even though it goes against all book trailer marketing best practices. (I’m such a rebel, you know.) It’s basically just a lovely slideshow put to music, featuring brief excerpts from the novel along with beautiful photographs of rural Texas. My husband told me that it’s like a little break from reality and stress.

So many of my friends provided photos for the slideshow, and I thank you! Ruth Parker, Austin Moore, Tammy Arnold, Scott Smejkal, I’m talking to you. Oh, and my sister Hope, whom I did not even ASK if I could use her stuff. Kinda like she used to do with my clothes in high school, come to think of it.

Tell me what you think! It’s about 2 minutes long, so sit back with a glass of wine tonight or a cup of coffee tomorrow and enjoy. Oh, and turn up your sound because the music feels good, too.

Click to play this trailer for A Good Kind of Knowing

 


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