On the Road: Cincy and Dayton

I know, I’m a slug and should have done two different posts here but you have no idea how tired I was. (Somewhere, Bob is saying, “Wimp.”) The Cincinnati signing was fabulous, even more fabulous because Lanie wore her flamingo shoes, just a great crowd with great questions. I honestly don’t remember what we said; we get up and talk and I have no recall when we’re done. So if we insulted anybody, I apologize profusely. You could probably make something up and I’d believe you (although Bob was there . . . no, he won’t remember, either).

Then we went back home (well, my home) and we meant to get some work done but pretty much said, “Good night” and went our separate ways because we needed sleep. The next morning, Bob was still trying to figure out the start of the next book, but I was having trouble choosing a heroine–our conversation was long and not very interesting–and then I said, “Well, what about Petal?” who was a supporting character from another book I’d intended to write and then got sidetracked on. Petal was an astrologer/tarot card reader, and Bob said, “Tarot cards, I know nothing about tarot cards, that’s good.” So I dug out all my tarot books and decks while he went out to the road and installed my new mailbox and complained about the ants that were crawling up the post–they’re evidently the kind that bite and he was fairly indignant about them–and then looked at all the tarot stuff I had spread out on the kitchen table and said, “Uh huh.” So never mind on that.

But in a huge violation of his basic personality, he decided he wanted his new Mac now instead of being sensible and waiting until Leopard came out, so we called Kathy, the fabulous Cincy/Dayton escort, and left a message that we’d meet her at the Union Center B&N where we were doing a stock signing with Linda Keller so that I could take him to the Kenwood Apple store to buy a new computer. And by God, he did. I thought for sure his normal cautious, better wait and see and just talk about buying it for two years, sensible self would overrule him, but he bought the computer. And then didn’t open it. I’d have been playing with it in the car, but when he left for the plane, it STILL wasn’t open. Oh, and I bought a new ergonomic keyboard to keep him company buying things. Which I opened immediately while he snorted.

Then we drove up to Union Center and had something fattening at the Panera there while he haranged me about this idea that he was fixated on about some island and a hundred million dollars, and I kept saying, “Theme park. They don’t leave the theme park. This isn’t a thriller they don’t have to go all over the world. THEME PARK.” And then he’d say, “Get a heroine, then you can tell me no island.” We were still arguing about it when we met Kathy, who has been with us before and is used to the arguing, and I kept saying, “Well, I like the librarian idea,” and he kept saying, “A hundred million dollars is not too much,” and we signed a lot of books. And that was pretty much the afternoon, Kathy schlepping us from book store to book store while we argued about who the heroine was and where the book would be set and who the hero was (although Bob pretty much had that down) and every now and then one of us would say, “We don’t even know if we’re going to DO another book,” which is still true. At some point in there, Bob suggested that I do a stripper nun, but I think he was just really tired. And then we did cable TV in Kettering, which is always a great show to do, and then it was time for the Last Signing. Five days. It seemed short but we were holding on by our fingernails by then. Thank God for Kathy, a goddess among escorts.

Kathy dropped us off at the Cheesecake Factory where we were supposed to meet a couple of Cherry Bombs, but it turned out they’d taken over the whole place, Cherry Bombs to the right of us, Cherry Bombs to the left of us, zillions of them, all bearing flamingo gifts (except for one rebel who brought us another Moot, which made Bob look at me and say, “You know, I have no idea what I did with Moot” and for the first time, I believed that he’d really lost the poor baby) and chocolate, and Dee and Gret had hit every Cracker Barrel between here and Canada to find pink flamingo T-shirts with gold sequins, so I changed into mine and it’s fabulous. And bright. But we got to see everybody before the signing including Jill who’d managed to spill something that looked like coffee or Coke all over her Agnes t-shirt but she looked fabulous anyway (we can dress her up but we can’t take her anyplace; sigh). Such nice people, really. Well, strange, of course, but LOVELY.

Then we went to the new Books and Co. which is fabulous, and there were a zillion people there, many of them from my past life including great people knew from Beavercreek Schools like Mollie’s first grade teacher who was so good to her (Hi, Linda) and Stephanie, one of Mollie’s best friends from high school, who said “Thank you, Mrs. Smith,” when I signed her book and made Bob snort his KitKat and choke. He keeps forgetting I had a life before I met him. “Mrs. Smith? MRS. SMITH?” Yes, Bob. I was married, I taught elementary school, junior high, and high school, and I raised a kid all in Dayton, OH. You have no idea of the stuff you missed. “MRS. SMITH?” I’m going to be living with that one for awhile.

But the signing was great, and Bob even had an epiphany in the middle when he was explaining that DLD had a High Noon theme and that some of Agnes was based on Shane, and then he stopped and said, “Oh. Maybe I should look at a Western for the next book, too,” and I was in Speaking Mode and just kept talking. So this morning, he said, “Westerns,” and I said, “Uh, Stagecoach, The Searchers, Liberty Valance,” and he said, “Liberty Valance, John Wayne, Jimmy Stewart,” and we’d already talked about belief as a theme, and there’s a line Bob loves from Liberty Valance that some journalist: “When the legend becomes fact, print the legend,” and we’d been talking about a paranormal theme part with legends like the Bermuda Triangle and the Marie Celeste, and it started to feel like a book, depending on whether we go with Petal or the librarian, although I’m starting to think maybe I’ll make Petal a librarian, and of course, we still don’t know if we’re going to do another one since we don’t know how Agnes will do and if she tanks, it’s back to solo novels.

And then I drove him to the airport, and since he hadn’t bitched about the wastebasket (which I’d emptied) or the coffee pot (which was clean), I actually stopped the car and helped him get his stuff out of the back. And now he’s gone and I’m curled up in bed typing on the laptop (I love wireless) and tomorrow I will go back to Always Kiss Me Goodnight and Dogs and Goddesses and clean my office.

So we survived the Flamingo Tour. A huge thank you to anybody who came out to see us–you all made us feel wonderful–and another thank you to anybody who bought the book. And don’t forget to save your receipt to get the $3 rebate from the coupon on the website. It’s the least we can do for you.

Starry, Starry Suitcase, Smelly, Smelly Dogs

It’s the night before take-off and all through the house is stuff I still have to do.

Among other things, I’m packing again, and since I’m going to be gone awhile, I needed a bigger suitcase. And since I am a seasoned traveler, I knew that I wanted one with four wheels (two wheels are so five minutes ago) which meant I had a choice of black. If you’ve ever tried to pick up a black suitcase at baggage claim, you know what a hassle it is. Everybody packs a basic black. Sometimes people put tape on them or fancy colored luggage tags–I know somebody who put a florescent green luggage tag on his and thought he was living on the edge–but I’m used to red flowered luggage that’s so bright that the check-in people say, “What great luggage!” I know, I’m a whore for attention.

But now I have this big black suitcase. It has four wheels and it’s really light and it came with all kinds of bags and things inside, and I like it a lot, but it’s plain black. So I got it home and stared at it, and it stared back, and I thought about painting pink hearts on it to match the red luggage but I am so not a pink heart kind of person. Then I thought about painting spirals on it and realized it would look like upholstery. Then I thought about putting Mare’s butterflies all over it and realized that I’d get tired of those real soon. Then I thought about doing a checkerboard pattern, but you know I’d get off plumb somewhere and it’d look like bad op art.

So I went with freehand stars. They’re cheerful and I like them and they don’t have to match each other. I’m pretty sure the check-in people are not going to say, “What great luggage” since I did the stars in silver Sharpie, not the most high-end application, but by damn I can find it at baggage claim. I think it’s brilliant, but I have to tell you, it was really hard doing the first star. I kept thinking, “I’m drawing on a suitcase, that can’t be right.” This from a woman who painted her television blue and orange, but that was an old television and this is a new suitcase. Okay, it’s a new suitcase that cost $99 at T.J.Maxx, we’re not vandalizing designer luggage, but still I hesitated. Once I started, though, it was great. My starry suitcase, the only one like it in the world. So I’m putting that on my to-do list for the future: Paint More Luggage.

And while I was doing the stars, I thought, I’m going to Australia and New Zealand. It hadn’t hit home before, I’ve had so many deadlines and so much stuff happening–three books out this summer so far and a fourth in two weeks–and then there was the trip to NYC and some career convulsions, so it wasn’t until I was sitting there drawing stars that I thought, “I’m really going.” So that’s another thing on the list: Slow Down and Pay More Attention to How Good Your Life Is.

Then I picked up dog food and new dog collars because everybody here is getting a bath so the dogsitter can stand them. Lucy’s collar has daisies on it that will immediately become filthy but it was so cute I don’t care.

And then I finished the handouts that were supposed to be in Australia and New Zealand the second week in July and e-mailed them to Anne Gracie and Joanne Graves, two women with the patience of saints.

After which I looked for my glasses only to discover them fifteen minutes later. On my face.

Now I’m down to:

Sweep the TV room where the dogs mutilated a bag of potato chips Bernie counter surfed for them.

Get the books off the couch and the floor in the living room so the dogsitter can sit down without breaking a leg.

Go upstairs and dust the guest room so Krissie can nap after her ungodly 4:30 AM flight to Cincy before we both get on the plane at 5.

Find my hose. You’re supposed to wear hose on a plane to keep from stroking out, and I know I have some. I just haven’t worn any for so many years that they’re probably defunct by now.

Finish the laundry so I have clean underwear. I understand the people Down Under are very open minded but I think clean underwear is probably a must.

Clean the bedroom. It’s pretty much clean, I just need to move the old dog beds out (new dog beds! new collars! they’re going to be very suspicious) and get all the books off the bed so the dogsitter can get some sleep without anything falling on her.

Pack the cord for my laptop. Yes, I have an adapter for Australia and New Zealand. I’m disorganized but I know where the power for my Mac is at all times.

Clean the kitchen. It’s basically clean, I just have to get all the books off the kitchen table so the dogsitter can eat sitting down.

Bathe all three dogs because it’s time. I’m saving that for last because after that, I’m going to collapse. And I have to leave here at eight AM tomorrow to get Krissie, so no sleeping in.

I know there’s something I’m missing. And since it’s quarter to eleven at night, it was probably not a good idea to take that hour to put the silver stars on my suitcase. Not to mention I didn’t get any of the real work done, like work on AKMG so I can finish it by January (there’s a hope), or refill the dog and cat feeders and water bottles or . . .

Maybe I’ll stay up all night and sleep on the plane. Secure in the knowledge that when I land, I will be able to find my black suitcase. It was a good thing to put those stars on today. See? (No, that’s not a fur rug in the corner, that’s Bernie who refused to move.)


Nothing but good times ahead in Australia and New Zealand. How cool is that?