Valentine’s Day in Colorado:
Valentine’s Day in Texas:
Both are pretty darn good, eh?
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Valentine’s Day in Colorado:
Valentine’s Day in Texas:
Both are pretty darn good, eh?
I recently visited with another book group that read Blue Straggler, and I always love it when I hear how animated and passionate readers are about the characters in the novel.
This particular conversation revolved around Adam and Rudy — two very different male characters in the story — and which one of the two was more likeable as a long-term romantic interest for Bailey (and for the book group members …).
And then one of the members asked me who MY favorite character in the novel is. That’s a pretty tough question. After all, I created them all and they lived in my head with me for a very long time before the story was complete and out in the world. It’s kind of like asking me which of the many dogs I’ve had in my life is my favorite. I’ve loved them all in different ways. I can’t pick. Ever.
I will say, however, that I plan to write a sequel to Blue Straggler, and Rudy will have a big part in it. Because I think I might miss him the most.
Now – your turn. If you read Blue Straggler, comment below and let me know which character in the novel was your favorite and why. I’ll choose a winner based on which comment I like the best. (I’m queen of this little world/blog, you know.)
Best part: Winner will receive a signed paperback copy of Blue Straggler – in its original 2012 cover (those are in limited supply, baby!)
Now, don’t let me down. Comment away!
Here’s a recap of the some of the characters for you:
Bailey — Directionless female protagonist approaching 30; uses self-deprecating humor to deal with life; enjoys Cool Whip and alcohol on frequent occasions; can’t keep a relationship longer than it takes milk to expire in the fridge
Rudy — Bailey’s best friend since college at Texas A&M; will kick your ass at Jeopardy; Bad at dating and financial management.
Idamarie — The third and oldest member of the friendship triangle; shells out good diner food and mostly good advice. Fourth-generation Texas woman with the hair and sass to prove it.
Adam — Moody mountain man with a beat-up Jeep and heart, plus a lot of dogs and a barn for rent.
Francis — Coffee shop owner and Bailey’s first friend in Colorado. Nice Southern accent.
Stella — Feisty mail carrier and mayor of Gold Creek, Colorado. Don’t look at her prosthetic ear.
Tuck — Tow truck driver, originally from Texas, now living in Gold Creek. Has a Jesus bobblehead on his dash.
Bailey’s Mother — Enjoys throwing backyard parties and yard sales, and berating Bailey. Co-owner of family’s fiberglass cow business.
Bailey’s Father — Rancher. Values beer, old outlaw country, gambling, and good dogs.
Lawrence — Librarian with Skills.
Weasel – Bailey’s cat she believes is out to get her.
Willie and Waylon – Bailey’s family’s dogs
WHO WILL YOU CHOOSE?
My latest observation …
Denver Foothills people: Wow, a mountain lion. How big? Male or female? Adult or juvenile? Be sure to knock on your neighbors’ doors to tell them. Bring your dogs and children inside for two weeks. Be on the lookout and report all evidence!
Colorado Mountain people: Yep. Heard him last week on my roof at 2 a.m. Went outside, heard him hiss at me, went back to bed.
Texas people: Honey, where’s the camera and my gun?
By the way, I wrote about my own encounter with a mountain lion once for my now-defunct online mountain living column. Here’s an excerpt, for posterity.
I think I’ll always remember his stare. His black-brown eyes locked on the front end of my car and didn’t flinch. The muscles along his jaw moved, but his face and eyes did not. He didn’t glance away, not once. His ears didn’t move, either, as I thought they might. His tail was black-tipped and as long as his body, and it switched back and forth, as he seemed to be considering his options. It reminded me of how a house cat might swish his tail before pouncing on a toy mouse. I actually wondered at one point if he might lunge toward my Subaru.
His face was sharp and angular and surprisingly small compared to the rest of his body. A black line continued from his nose to his mouth, and combined with his long whiskers, he looked like he had a thin, handle-bar mustache. His stance was slightly crouched as he looked at me, his sleek body lines sloping to the back feet. He was wary of me, but there was definitely a sense that he was in control.
It seemed like five minutes or so that we stared each other down. I thought about fumbling for my camera phone, but that seemed somehow wrong. Besides, one movement on my part would have shortened our time together, I think.
Finally, with a swift decision, he leaped from the right side of the two-lane road to the left. And in one long and graceful jump, muscles rippling under his tawny fur, he disappeared into the brush and trees leading to the creek behind our home.
Afterward, as I continued along the road toward our house, I shivered a bit, literally, thinking of all the times my husband, son and I have walked that same path along the creek. Had he been there any of those times, after grabbing a drink from the water, watching us? Swishing that tail?
In some ways, I kind of hope so. After all, he’s one of us.
[photo credit – St. Mary’s College of California]
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.
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.
There are a lot of things people never tell you about hitting age 40 and beyond.
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.
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.)
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:
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.
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!
If you ever see any of the following status updates on my Facebook page, call the authorities because I’ve been hacked! (Wait. Are there authorities to call for that, by the way? Is it even illegal? Are there fines? And what is in that huge box at the top of my closet? These are the kinds of questions that keep me up at night.)
And now for posts you will never see from me:
So … what update would NEVER come from you?
Come on, spill below! It’s fun and a good way to waste about 15 to 20 minutes depending on how fast you type.
* Disclaimer: If you are considering purchasing 1,000 copies of my novel, Blue Straggler, and any of these fake posts offend you, I completely and utterly apologize and also I take Visa.