While In the Doghouse is a work of fiction, I did draw from my personal experience as a pet-parent to create Skip’s personality and escapades, such as GETTING SPRAYED BY A SKUNK.
My dog, Kimo, who I pet-parented and adored for fourteen years, was a labrador-mix and was sprayed multiple times by skunks in San Francisco (yes, there are many skunks within the city limits).
People, tomato juice does not work–that’s an urban legend. Multiple baths won’t work–water makes the smell worse. But thanks to the dot-com era and the world wide web in 1999-2000, I found a De-Skunk formula that worked like magic. The first time I tried it, I was shocked by how quickly it worked; the smell was gone immediately. I channeled the memory while writing a scene for In the Doghouse. I’ll share the scene at the end of this newsletter. Right now, I want to share the De-Skunk Formula with you:
Everyone deals with a change to normalcy differently. There’s no right or wrong way to find your footing. Here are a few things that resonated deeply with me while offering a much-needed smile during these super abnormal times.
If you can handle a few well-placed F-bombs and Sh-bombs, I love how author Chuck Wendig explains what he is feeling and thinking during COVID-19 and #stayhome in his blog, “It’s Okay that You’re Not Okay.” Okay, I just read it for the fifth time. Even if you don’t like F-bombs or Sh-bombs, I hope you’ll still read it.
I keep seeing posts and emails telling me I should calm my mind and worries by meditating. I finally found a meditation recording that works for me, and some of you might like it too: F*ck That: An Honest Meditation.
Until next time thanks for staying home, staying healthy, and for being you.
P.S. April 1st is the day that my novel, Tiger Drive begins. Here is the opening scene and reference:
Chapter One HARRY Hello, my name is Harry. —Sobriety meeting
Saturday morning, April 1, 1989
Harry opened his eyes and waited for his vision to clear. He was dressed and lying in bed—his bed. He recognized the quilt pattern on the damn twin mattress Janice had moved into their room six months before—and after seven kids and thirty years of marriage. The finality behind her action had made it one of the worst days of his life. They hadn’t slept together since.
So he’d made it home, but how and when? He rolled onto his back and stared at the bedroom ceiling.
What did he do last night? Or was it more than one night? He was no stranger to drinking binges and running blackouts that could last up to a week at a time. They had become part of his genetic makeup and bad habits over the past several years, increasing at a disastrous rate. He looked at his watch: April 1. So one night was lost forever, and he was waking up on April Fools’ Day.
He was a fool.
What had he done between the blackout and bed? Part of him wanted to know, and part of him didn’t. Nothing good ever came out of being so drunk he couldn’t remember a damn thing.
Freebies for Friends #StayHome #MakeSomedayToday #MaketheBestofit
I’ve got freebies for my friends to help during these strange times so I’m emailing you early this week. And since your friends are my friends, please feel free to share this newsletter.
First, print out this “Procrastinate No More” blank checklist I’ve created for you. Make your “someday” today and knock off some of those to-dos you’ve been procrastinating about for whatever reason. Maybe it’s learning to meditate. Maybe it’s a dream: “I’m going to write a book someday.” Maybe it’s updating your resume. Maybe it’s finishing a quilt you started ten years ago (guilty). Maybe it’s sparking joy and watching Marie Kondo on Netflix and shredding old documents, putting old photos in an album, and cleaning your closets and more. Two days ago, a friend cleaned out her mother’s garage. It has needed to be sorted since her father passed away seventeen months ago. #Stayhome gave her the time to focus. List out your to-dos and pick one at a time (anyone who has read my novel, Tiger Drive, knows how much the character, Carrie, would love this idea). Choose projects that don’t require additional supplies or leaving the house. Keep me posted. Let me know how I can cheer you on!
Second, a chance to win a bundle of 25+ books in literary, historical, and women’s fiction and a brand new e-reader from Booksweeps March 23-Apri 1. To enter, click the image below or click here. I’ve contributed both of my books to this drawing, and you’ll also recognize my first AYLOBC pick is in the drawing too. And while you’re visiting Booksweeps, check out other contests such as those for sci-fi and romance. Whatever floats your boat.
Please share this newsletter far and wide, let me know if you win the Booksweeps drawing, and keep me posted on your Procrastinate No More accomplishments!
Until next time, stay home, stay healthy, and thanks for being you.
P.S. My “Procrastinate No More” Checklist includes: Finish quilt; Shred old tax records; Clean out the closet; Hang up pictures; Finish first draft of third book, Imogene. These are all projects that don’t require additional supplies or leaving the house.
I lost my wallet in Tucson, but I found so much more.
Last week I shared a story about my brother’s wallet, but also while we were visiting in Tucson, I lost my wallet for the first time in my life. I had my driver’s license in a separate place and wouldn’t struggle to get on the plane home the next day, but I was upset because I had a sweet note in the wallet from my best friend’s dad claiming me as his adopted daughter. Forget the cash inside. Forget the credit cards I’d need to cancel. I did not want to lose that priceless note.
Fortunately for me, the kind woman at the San Xavier Mission Arts & Craft store had put it aside for me hours before. I raced back to the mission. The woman was helping a couple with their purchase, but she gave me a huge smile when I walked in.
She said, “I thought you’d be right back.”
I began to babble incoherently, gushing with gratitude while she finished with her customers. If not for the glass counter display between us (and coronavirus guidelines), I would have hugged her multiple times.
She handed me my wallet and said, “I didn’t look inside or touch anything.”
I wouldn’t have cared if she did, but I was sad that she felt the need to say so and as if her honesty and kindness demanded explanation due to my carelessness.
I pulled out a fifty-dollar bill and slid it toward her.
She immediately raised her palms. “No, I couldn’t.”
We exchanged Please, and No, I couldn’t several times.
I was desperate to exchange her kindness, to express my thanks for her thoughtfulness during these often unfriendly times. “Please,” I said. “Thank you for being you.”
She smiled and nodded.
I am glad I lost my wallet. I am grateful we could reconnect, not over a purchase, but as caring individuals.
To my surprise, the couple ahead of me was waiting outside the store for me. Smiles on their faces, they were touched by the woman’s thoughtfulness and how she recognized me despite having hundreds of visitors that day. Over the next fifteen minutes, the man proceeded to tell me his “lost and found” story, where he also gave someone money for returning his belongings. “Not to reward him, but to reciprocate and connect,” he said.
I knew exactly what he meant.
Sometimes losing things helps us find what we’ve really been missing.
Recently I met up with some of my family in Tucson, Arizona. The mix included my younger brothers and sister. Anyone who has read my life-inspired novel, Tiger Drive, knows that my love for my three younger siblings motivated me during a time in my life when I needed motivation the most. When I was a teen, they were the reason I believed in a brighter future and pushed on. They are the reason I went to college—even when I was scared to death to leave them behind. They were—still are—my hope.
It’s rewarding being a big sister to three loving, kind, nurturing, and hysterically funny people despite their not-so-loving, not-so-kind, not-so-nurturing, and not-so-funny childhood.
Case in point (no pun intended): my brother K’s wallet.
There’s something in this novel for everyone, and this is my first military sci-fi read. I wanted to read John L. Lynch’s book after I heard about New Persia: Before the Storm on a Kirkus Reviews podcast, Fully Booked*.
At Your Leisure Online Book Club (AYLOBC) is a pressure-free book club where I will share a book I’m reading and you can decide if, when, and how you will read it. When possible, I’ll try to get a special sales price or coupon.
Who will like AYLOBC?
At Your Leisure Online Book Club is for anyone who wants to belong to a book club for book suggestions but doesn’t need another commitment or deadline.
Not sure if you want to read each book? No problem.
Not sure if you want to finish a book once you’ve started it? No problem.
Like one of the suggestions but not sure when you’ll read it? No problem.
Not sure if you want to chime in or not? No problem.
Two years ago today, my first novel, Tiger Drive, was published. I know without an absolute-frigging doubt that I would have never published Tiger Drive without the belief and support most of you showed from the beginning.
When I started this newsletter, I only said I’d publish a book someday, yet almost one hundred of you signed up then and there, patiently waiting for me to walk my talk. And over the following years (yes, plural), more tigers joined this list, and none of you gave up on me (okay, maybe a few people unsubscribed). You waited me out. And I’m so thankful you did.
I also couldn’t have published Tiger Drive without this incredible village of people (music included):
I’m serious when I say that there is no me, the author, without you, the reader. Thank you for being you.
And now for some NEW fun! I’m starting the At Your Leisure Online Book Club! I plan to continue to post book reviews from time to time, but it would be so much fun to share your thoughts too–in a future newsletter. So let’s get started with Coming Home to Greenleigh by Cassandra Austen. Coming Home to Greenleigh is American Literature and takes place in New England. The tone and content of this novel remind me of the author, Fannie Flagg’s work but with a northeastern setting instead of the southern states. Like my novels, Coming Home to Greenleigh is told from multiple points of view and deals with identity and life choices. The author is offering an ongoing discount to my subscribers for 99 cents (her prices elsewhere will be going up). You can order it here, and if you want to share your thoughts, please send me an email at your leisure. Please feel free to share this newsletter. The more the merrier.
We have a condo in Florida. The previous owners decorated it with tiki bars, surfboards, and lots of mustard-yellow and dark brown paint. The tiki-ness and boards are gone, and we began the battle with the wall colors last week. As always*, we are using Behr’s Beach House White, and as always, I painted a heart for Ted on the dark brown wall. It’s a tip I learned from my dad, Dick. I used it in my novel, Tiger Drive: