Monday, April 30, 2007

How I Got to Third Base with Barnes & Noble

Yesterday, I posted in my book promotion blog about going to Barnes & Noble to see about getting The Search for the Million $$$ Ghost into their system. The book is in their online store and not doing too bad, but it's not in their bricks and mortar store and I wanted to test something out. I wanted to see if I could walk in and get it on their shelves, not knowing what in the heck I was doing or how I was going to go about doing this.

Well, today I made that trip.

For those who have never tried to get a book that isn't published by a NY publisher into a chain bookstore as big as Barnes & Noble, it's not exactly, "Here's my book. Now you can stock it."

There's a lot involved and the main thing is its returnability. Why that is is because if your book can't be returned, it's never coming close to getting on their shelves. So, that's a strike against you that equals three strikes actually because you're not even in the game anymore.

Another thing involved is whether they can order your book from their distributor which is Ingrams. Romancing the Soul, my previous book, was not in the Ingram system.

I was quite green when Romancing the Soul came out, and I knew it would be an uphill battle to get the book on B&N's bookshelves. Of course, that didn't stop me from trying.

I walked into the Barnes & Noble in Williamsburg, Virginia, a few years ago when I was over there on vacation. I thought, what the heck, let's just see if it comes up on their computer at least. The woman behind the desk said, "No, it doesn't seem to be in our system at all." I walked out and vowed that was the last I'd ever try to get the book into a bricks and mortar bookstore again. It was quite depressing.

Since then, my publisher has signed up with Ingram and is getting all our books into the system a few at a time, but it may be quite a while before Romancing the Soul gets in because they're starting with recent published books first. So, time will tell.

However, The Search for the Million $$$ Ghost IS in Ingram's system, so I thought I'd try it one more time and see what happens.

Before I got to the desk, I spotted a book by Jodi Picoult and it reminded me of the latest book by her, Nineteen Minutes, that I wanted to buy. I had found a hardback copy of The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold that I'd heard good things about that was on the bargain table for $5.98, so I snatched that up while making my way to the desk to ask about Jodi Picault's new book.

I got to the desk and I told her I had a couple questions for her and proceeded to ask her about Jodi Pocault's new book first. She looked it up on the computer and said, yes, she had it in stock. Before she walked away, I said, "Can you do me a favor while you're on the computer and look up a book called The Search for the Million $$$ Ghost?" apologizing for the fact I didn't have the ISBN with me. She ran her fingers over the keys and the page popped up. I recognized the book cover at the bottom as mine.
It...looked...GREAT.

I cleared first base!

"I'm sorry but we don't have it in stock," she said, "but we can order it for you."

Ahhh...second base...she can order it for me.

"Would you like me to do that for you?" she asked.

"Well, the thing is," I said, "I'm one of the co-authors of the book. I really am. I just wanted to see if you had it in the system. By the way, what's the chances of stocking it in your local author's section?"

"Well," she said, "she's the one you should talk to about that" and pointed to the other sales clerk.

The other sales clerk was very polite and to the point. "You see, the thing is, it has to sell."

I nodded, with images of me outside running around and telling everyone to go inside and buy my book.

"We could at least try," she smiled.

THIRD BASE, FOLKS, THIRD BASE.

"But," she adds, pointing at a number on the screen, "this number is a generic number (it said 100). We're not sure how many we can order so we'll just have to play it by ear."

"I have another question," I asked. "Do you hold booksignings?"

"We don't do the single author booksigning anymore," she replied. "What we do is hold events with many authors at one time."

Now, that was music to my ears being as I hate doing booksignings alone anyway.

Then, she handed me a card with a number on the back. "What I would recommend you to do is call this woman. She handles events for Barnes & Noble and perhaps you might want to be included in that."

I took the card and put it in my pocket, paid for my The Lovely Bones, and walked out.

Not a home run, but third base isn't too bad for a newbie novelist who doesn't know beans about getting books into bricks and mortar stores. I have no idea if I should have done anything differently, but that's the way I did it anyway. I'll keep you informed as to whether they get stocked.

Oh, I ordered one of my books to stay on the safe side. Now, they have actual record of my book being bought at their store and when the book comes in and I go back to get it, I'll check to see if they really did try to order it. Meanwhile, I'll be giving this woman a call and get things rolling.
So, that's the story of how I made it to third base with Barnes & Noble. Now...if I can just make it to that home plate.

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Sunday, April 29, 2007

So Much for Living in a Small Town

Everyone's read my past posts about how much this place is getting to me, but this broke the camel's back.

A week ago, I sent off my electric bill. As the post office was closed, I taped two quarters on the back like I've always done in the past when the post office was closed, knowing that the postmaster who knew me well and had even bought my books from me as Christmas presents, would stamp my mail and leave the change in my box.

Today, after a slow day at work (three tables total) and not in a particular jolly mood might I add, I walk in and there's my electric bill laying on my desk. No stamp. And the quarters? Someone had taken them off and God knows where they are but I'm presuming someone's pocket.

I know it wasn't the kind lady I've always dealt with and I'm presuming someone new.

Now, how low can one person go to steal fifty cents? I had deposited the letter into the inside slot so I'm very certain the quarters had not come undone and, even if they had, they would be lying there in the little box where all the mail drops (this is a small town so there's just so many that would be lying there between 5 in the afternoon and the wee hours of the morning when the postmasters arrive).

What it basically boils down to is someone had taken my fifty cents and put my electric bill back into my mailbox.

How low can someone be? I know it's not their priority to go to the trouble and take my money to buy stamps and stamp my envelope for me, but take the fifty cents off the back and pocket it?

Am I being unreasonable here???

And this only adds to the frustration of living here. It's pretty bad when your local postmaster is a thief, too, and it only leads me to wonder just what else might have been stolen there, and gives me more incentive to find a place I can call home where maybe, just maybe, you can trust those that deliver your mail.

I'm quite frustrated and will let them know this Monday morning.

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Saturday, April 28, 2007

HOME ALONE

Does anyone else besides me actually come up with blog posts while doing mundane things such as going to the bathroom?

Serious.

Actually the idea came earlier when for some odd reason, I realized being home alone isn't as much fun as it used to be when I wanted everyone gone so I could finally get some work done in complete silence.

Oh, sure, I have loads to do. I've got tours going out in three days with three authors depending in making sure everything runs right. I've got promo to do on The Search for the Million $$$ Ghost. I've got a radio show ebook that I've given myself a deadline of May 1 so I can go on, get it out there, and get it selling. I've got a relationship book that should have been at the publisher's as of...yesterday. I've got loads of work in my "to be done before I croak" pile.

But...you know...for some odd reason..it really hit me tonight...one day...one day in the not-so-far-off future...I might really be alone with NO ONE and it really freaked the living sheep doo right outta me.

How in the world does one live alone each and every day and stay sane?

You know, we don't think about this earlier in our life. I asked my daughter tonight after she got home from work, "Wouldn't you hate living alone?"

She looked up at me and said, "Nope."

She just doesn't realize how scary it would be, I suppose. I mean, what if something goes up and you are the only one who is supposed to fix it? What if the dogs bark because maybe someone's outside? What if it's snow on the ground and you need a necessity you forgot? What if the car breaks down and you have no one to fix it? What if? What if?

Doesn't that scare anyone?

And...I find...that the older I get, the more scarier it becomes.

Well, my daughter is home now. I fixed spaghetti and we sat out in the living room together, eating our meal, and talked about the idiotic guys in her life. But, you know, this time, I really really listened instead of staring at the computer screen.

One day, this will be gone, you know? And I don't think I'm going to like it one bit.

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Friday, April 27, 2007

Me & Bookseller Chick Hanging Out

Sigh...it's terrible to be famous.

I humbly direct you to Bookseller Chick where she is interviewing Shel Horowitz and just happens to mention...get this...the Boomer Chick and Boomer Chick's new business adventure....sigh....it's so hard to be humble, you know...but......

IT'S FREAKING COOL!!!!!

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Saturday, April 21, 2007

The House on Oak Street

As most of you know, I'll be taking a trip back home in September. It's not your usual going back home journey. It is a trip that will be filled with bygone memories and, hopefully, new beginnings that will help cleanse my soul of past haunts, so to speak.

If you look in the right hand sidebar, you'll see past posts of why it is that I am to make this trip, so I won't get into that, but there have been new developments that I must blog about so that I can remember all the friends that have helped me make this dream of going back home again possible.

I was driving home from work today thinking about how much I really don't care for where I live now. It's not a horrible place, but with the recent robberies in my area, it's a place where I really don't want to live anymore. I know this happens around the world...god knows I watch it every day on the TV about how sick this world is, but after the massacre at VA Tech and the robberies at gunpoint that has taken place the week before and yet no one has been caught, it makes me not even want to go out of my own house. And it shouldn't be this way.

I had a co-worker come into the restaurant today and we were talking about the recent events being blasted on TV and she said, "You know, this used to be a nice place to live."

Anyway, when I was ten, I was dragged across country to live here. Three-thousand miles away from the home I used to live and was forced to blend in with people and a lifestyle that I just wasn't used to. It was hard. Being an army brat, I was used to living all over the place, but this time was different. This time, I didn't have my mother beside me.

My grandmother was like a mother, though, and I loved her very much. But, I couldn't help to think of my mother 3,000 miles away and I couldn't do a thing to bring her to me.

Ahh...that was many, many years ago. And, I really can't blame this area for the way I feel...it's probably a nice place to live...for someone else.

I have managed, though. I got married, had two beautiful children who I love to pieces and am very proud of. But, in all the years I have been here, there was always this haunting urgency to go back home.

Of course, it wasn't that easy. California was all the way across the country; not exactly a short road trip. So, I suppressed this urgency to go back to my roots and have tried to ignore the fact that there was always some kind of emptiness that just couldn't be filled.

I was telling an online friend about this one day and she told me I really needed to go back. Neither one of us knew what would happen once I did, but she could tell this was really bothering me. After all those years, I still couldn't chase it.

So, because of this friend, I am going back.

I had planned to make the trip last year, but something came up and I couldn't go. Looks like this September, it's going to happen.

When I found out I was going for sure, I began to do some searches on the Internet for my home town. I lived on Oak Street in Burbank, California. I attended Abraham Lincoln Elementary School there. And this is my intended destination.

As a boomer, I think a lot of us are looking into our pasts for different reasons. My reason is to find my inner child again because once I do that, I believe I'll get a better understanding of why certain things happen and will stop questioning what could have been and go on from there.

I have had a lot of online friends help me and that's the reason for this post. There is a woman named Kimberly Robella who just happens to be one of the best artists out there and who just so happens to be a member of one of the online groups I moderate for authors. When I mentioned this trip in my group, she emailed me offlist and told me that she passed the Buena Vista Library (what used to be my old school) every day to work and would be more than happy to send me pictures with her cell phone.

I was elated! Thank you, Kimberly! ;o)

So, this is the first one she sent. This is a picture of the Buena Vista Library where the Abraham Lincoln Elementary School stood. Even though my old school no longer stands, it is the same ground I walked upon in my childhood. Can you imagine how emotional it is to see this?



I mean, this was my childhood! Right in front of my eyes is the place where I walked to, day in, day out. Oh, the memories. I remember one time I was walking home for lunch and this bully kid decided he'd try to scare me and run me down with his bicycle. Just as he was about to hit me, I jumped over to the side. Guess what. He veered to the side, supposedly trying to avoid me, but never the less, he got me. Limping home, I begged my mother not to let me go back to school that day. I was humiliated.

Now, the next picture is Buena Vista Street. This is supposed to run past the library and supposedly to the first house I lived. I'm still sketchy on where that house was, but at least this gave me an idea of the route I took to go home.

But, it wasn't the first house that held the most memories. It was the second one. The house on Oak Street. To get there, I would have to take the road opposite the school, which wasn't Buena Vista and I can't figure out just exactly what that road is called, but I know when I went out the back of the school, I veered left, walked down the street, then cut a left. My house was a little ways down that road but intersected Oak. I'm trying to figure out what the name of that street is, too, but I'm thinking it's Olive Street.

Anyway, Beverly surprised me today with two shots of Oak Street as it is now. Keep in mind it's been about 45 years since I've been there, so I know a lot of change has taken place. But, even though buildings come and go, the streets usually stay the same. Usually.

So, here's what Beverly sent me today from her cell phone...

It's looking to me that that corner you see there to the left is where I used to live. The house is different, as I presumed. But, that's the corner of my childhood.

This next picture is Oak Street heading toward Buena Vista.


If you could just imagine what it's like to be staring at these pictures. The things that are going through my mind. The trouble I'm having trying to get my memory to latch onto these images and remember. The memory of my mother standing in front of the stop sign in the first picture and me taking a picture of her. The memory of a life I once had.

I feel as if my body was transported to Virginia, but my spirit still lingers on Oak Street. I can hear my mother's laughter and all is well again. I am that child again. There is no massacre with someone brandishing guns and shooting innocent children who were to embark on a new life. There is no fear.

It was a time in life when you could roam the streets and not worry that someone would harm you. Don't we all wish we could have that again?

Unfortunately, that place does not exist anymore. But, what if...what if for a brief time...you could transport yourself back to that time?

This is what I'll be doing in September...visiting that child again...that child who lived on Oak Street.

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Thursday, April 19, 2007

American Idol Barbie

Has anyone seen this? Isn't that the cutest thing? If my kids were younger, I'd fall right into the commercialism trap!

Anyway, how depressing. Sanjaya is gone. I know he should have been gone months ago, voice-wise, but I felt such a connection with that kid. I couldn't bear to watch him up on stage with tears streaming down his face...it broke my heart.

But you know, I told my daughter that his last performance sucked and that's the first time I've ever said that. He was on stage singing like it didn't matter and you just can't do that, you know? If you listen real good (he has such a soft voice), he really does have a good voice. Maybe it's his age. Wonder if he'll go back next year?

I can see it now...Simon will go "ohhhh noooooo."

Ah well.

So, that leaves a bunch of good singers left. I was surprised to see Blake in the bottom three. He's not my favorite, but I thought he had a pretty good following. He flunked country music big time, but then, no one rocked the house as much as Phil. That guy is a natural at country music. I'm kinda thinking it was his last performance that kept him out of the bottom three. Jordin is my favorite...she could make it but I thought Sanjaya would last longer, so I'm not being a very good judge this year. Actually, I thought Lakesha was going to get the boot, but nooooo. Chris Richardson, our local contestant sort of, made it in the top 3...surprised the heck out of me because I really didn't think he had a good performance the night before. And Melinda..man...that girl is awesome. I'd be curious to see how far she gets.

So now we have to wait until week. What'll I watch when this is over???

I'm not a big TV fan only because I don't have a TV out here by the computer. Well, I do, but it's not picking up the satellite receiver. Worked when they left, then I had to go and try to work the remote one day. Big mistake. Screwed the whole thing up.

I'm not very technically-oriented.

But, it's okay because I have tons of work to do. I'm tying up the tours for the three wonderful authors I have going out next month - Sandi Shelton, Caridad Pineiro and Pamela Thibodeaux. If you'd like to see their tour pages, go to www.virtualbooktoursforauthors.blogspot.com and look in the right hand sidebar.

I'm also working with Heide to see what kind of promo we want to do for The Search for the Million $$$ Ghost. I'm aiming for online, she offline, but we'll both be doing a little of each. Jamieson Wolf gave us an excellent review yesterday at www.thebookpedler.wordpress.com.

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Wednesday, April 18, 2007

The Book Pedler Loves The Search for the Million $$$ Ghost!

NEW REVIEW! Hop on over to Jamieson Wolf's review blog, The Book Pedler, to see what he says about The Search for the Million $$$ Ghost! Here's a snippet...

"I can’t stress enough how incredible The Search for the Million $$$ Ghost is. At first I was a little sceptical, as different writers have different writing styles and multi-author books are usually pretty choppy. I needn’t have worried. From page one, this book flows beautifully and you can’t tell where one author started and another author continued. The writing is flawless and the story pulls you in until it absorbs your entire world. I loved the idea that, essentially, it was a book about spirituality and the existence of the spirit world..."

If you'd like to read the rest of the review, click here!

Thank you, Jamieson!

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Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Tragedy at VA Tech - The House of Horrors

I was going to blog about something entirely different this morning, but I am saddened and frustrated by the events that happened yesterday in my home state of Virginia and in one of the biggest and most beautiful colleges in the country...a tragedy that many news reporters are saying reminds them of 911 because no one knows the names of those who were brutally murdered in the safety of their classroom where something like this is just not supposed to happen.

Media is crawling the place. Students are being interviewed. The footage of the swat team as they are entering the college property is being replayed over and over.

Some say it reminds them of Columbine. The first thing out of my mouth was that it reminded me of Kent State back in the sixties when students were shot down as they were fleeing the campus, only the bullets were coming from the police force and not a foreign exchange student who was part of the student body.

I'm hearing it's because of a domestic incident which made this young man go ballistic on the rest of the student body at VA Tech, but we're not even sure of that just yet.

They're saying it was hard to determine the identity of the young man because he shot himself in the head and he didn't have any ID on him. Recent report is that they found fingerprints on the gun which matched his man's VISA records. He's from South Korea, over here legally, and about to graduate.

I remember passing VA Tech on the way to Tennessee last year. I turned to one of my friends who was thinking about going back to college and I said, "You know, if I had to go back to college, VA Tech would be my choice because this has to be one of the most beautiful places to go to school."

And now, the school only represents a house of horrors.

BF was playing poker with someone last night whose niece was enrolled at the school and he found out that she had been one of those shot in the leg, but survived.

Yesterday, before I heard the tragic news, I took my son and daughter out on a shopping trip and it was one of the most wonderful times I've ever had with the both of them. Some of these parents will not ever experience this again. I pray for the families of the children who perished yesterday and hope they can find the strength to recover from this horrific experience.

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Sunday, April 15, 2007

My Latest Ailment - Writer Angst

I'm getting writer-antsy. I'm doing a lot of promoting for people for these virtual book tours and I'm dying to get back to my paranormal comedy I started on months ago. As you know, I have a paranormal romance I've written with two other authors, Heide Kaminski and Pam Lawniczak, called The Search for the Million $$$ Ghost which is going up at Amazon any day now. Heide just emailed me saying she's received twenty copies of the book and I'm dying to get mine!

I just have to wait, but I'm not so good at waiting!

But, anyway, to get back to the subject, I'm DYING to get myself back in my WIP. It's basically about a twenty-something (think paranormal chick lit) chick named Ashleigh Pemberton who finds herself dead and slips away from Heaven to finish where she left off before the Mr. Whippy ice-cream truck had other plans for her.

On the other side, she teams up with an older woman, Amelia, who helps her get back to earth to find Ashleigh's fiance so that she can tell him good-bye, which is one of the reasons she wants to go back. What happens thoroughout the rest of the story is that she finds out that the second time around is much more fun than the first when she finds out that her fiance has taken up with another woman. Hell hath no fury than a woman scorned.

The book takes place in California where her fiance is a big movie producer and was going to turn Ashleigh into a movie star. However, she gets run over by a Mr. Whippy ice-cream truck and the rest is history. Ashleigh's mission? To get back what was rightfully hers.

It's a fun little book actually because Ashleigh is such a spirited, fun character. She has that chick lit attitude for sure. Here, this is what she thinks of being killed against her will...

“Grrreat. God has freaking killed me.”

Ashleigh Pemberton, soon-to-be co-star of Unbridled Obsessions, and the latest Hollywood protégé, carefully eased herself out of the bed of gravel that was carving permanent indentures in her once-picture-perfect-thirty-six-inch posterior.

For the first time in her twenty-eight-years on earth, she felt an incredible sense of not being connected to a body that was so beautiful, even she found it baffling that someone from the wrong side of tracks could have turned out as well as she had.

And, now, she was dead.

This is so not cool, she half-heartedly mused. One stupid mistake and I’m dead as a doornail. This can’t be happening. It’s a dream. Yeah, it’s a dream, and I’m going to wake up any minute!

So, anyway, that's the beginning. I'm only 30,000 words into it, lots more to go, but I'm dying to get back.

Okay, gotta get back to work. The virtual book tour for The Search for the Million $$$ Ghost will be in June. If anyone is interested in hosting me, leave a comment or send me an email and I'll fill you in on the details.

Happy writing to you!

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Thursday, April 12, 2007

Sanjaya Malakar is Holding on Strong

What a show! If anyone out there are American Idol fanatics like me, you gotta admit Sanjaya is really holding on strong. I was trying to guess who they'd cut and for the life of me, I couldn't figure out just who. None of them really did that well, but singing Latino songs has to be pretty hard if you're not Latino.

Actually, I thought Sanjaya did pretty well Tuesday night. I'm not surprised that Haley was cut, though. I think she was rather miffed about what Simon said about her lack of clothes and lack of singing voice. Ouch. Chris Richardson, although he's from my home state, really isn't doing it for me. Blake is my daughter's favorite and you gotta admit he's got a pretty good chance.

All in all, I wonder who is going to be the final winner?

The way I'm seeing it, it's going to be a toss-up between Blake Lewis, Sanjaya and Jordin Sparks. I'm thinking they are going to be the final three, too.

I can't wait until next week!

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Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Thanks for the Memories

All's well again. For now, anyway. My son IM'd me and we got everything out in the open. He did tell me he loved me which meant more to me than anything in the whole wide world.

I'm still recovering from his non-appearance on Easter, but at least I'm able to get some work done now. I played all day yesterday...just couldn't concentrate on a thing. Today, it's work, work, work.

But it was something that dawned on me while we were talking yesterday that really blew me away and something I didn't realize before. All these naggings for my son to get out of the house and do something with his life, or at least SEE life, were fruitless because my son didn't actually realize why he needed this.

Until yesterday and I really think I might have hit home.

I was talking to him about the trip to California - you know, trying to make small talk - and he was kind of hesitant about going...in other words, it was hell no I'm not going sort of thing...and I told him why it was that I was going back in the first place.

I told him how, as a child, the place meant so much to me and I needed to go back to clear up ghosts from the past which were still to this day bothering me, whether I wanted to admit it or not. And, I brought up the Tennessee trip and I told him how if he hadn't gone, he wouldn't have had that memory and I really think I hit home with that. I really don't think he realized that because he forced himself to leave the house to go on the trip with us to the Smokies, he wouldn't have had that memory that no matter how long he lived, he would never forget.

Let me tell you what I saw when we went to the Smokies. I saw someone who barely smiled, not only smile, but laugh again. I saw someone who I never see anymore, lay his head on my shoulder on the way down and keep it there (I cried to myself when he did that). I saw someone who didn't complain about back pain one time throughout the whole trip and we did some walking, too.

I saw the son I used to have and that's the son I want back.

So, I'm thinking, what he needs are more trips like this so that he can have these memories. I'll not be around forever and at least he'll be able to say he did this, did that, with his mother. He'll say it. Maybe not yet, but he'll say it.

My son is not adventurous. His father is not adventurous. But, I am. I want to show my son the world. I want him to see that there's more out there than staring at four walls. I want him to have a life and, by golly, he's going to have that life if it's the very last thing I do on this earth.

He may complain. He may try to back out. But, I'm not going to let him, Marfans or not, I'm not going to let him.

Oh, I've got to write this down for the history book. He told me he loved me. That's twice this year. I'm on a freaking roll.

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Tuesday, April 10, 2007

ONCE A BRAT VIRTUAL BOOK TOUR ' 07

I am honored to have Marilyn Celeste Morris as my guest today at Over the Hill Boomer Chick! We're the 6th stop on Marilyn's virtual tour for her book, Once a Brat, and it's a pleasure to have her here!

We're going to do a little something different today with Marilyn. Instead of asking her questions about her book like everyone else has done so far, I'm going to tell you about her book myself, along with pictures!

I'm running PUMP UP YOUR BOOK PROMOTION VIRTUAL BOOK TOURS, as you may or may not be aware, and I have to tell you Marilyn's tour has been a blast. She kicks off our tour launch and what better way to do it with a book that really hits close to home.

Once a Brat is an autobiography of sorts about Marilyn's life as a military brat after WWII, but before the Cold War. If you haven't seen the book's trailer, click here. I made this for Marilyn in the hopes that people can really get into what message Marilyn is trying to convey. She's a legend in her own right.

But, it's the pictures she sent me that really made me understand what she went through. I can't imagine the fear having to move to war-stricken countries right after WWII. Of course, as a child, adults keep a lot from you and try to make you think that everything's okay, but you have to admit, those memories left marking impressions that will follow her the rest of her days.
So, without further ado, here's a pictorial history of the makings of Once a Brat. If you could just put yourself in her shoes and really concentrate on the pictures, you can imagine what life must have been like for an eight-year-old child to recieve orders from the War Department and have to leave the life she once known.... (click on images for a larger view)...

This first picture is the actual orders from the War Department for Marily, her mother and brother to join her father in Korea in 1946.










Here we have the passport picture of Marilyn (8), her brother Gary(3) and her mother(25).



















Here she is with her brother, Gary, at Inchon Harbor, which MacArthur was to make famous a few years later.
















This is a picture of one of the Korean troops scavenging wood from her former quarters in Camp Sobingo near Seoul. Notice the pock marks on the walls and the boarded up windows.
















And here we have the former Hapsburg Empire's hunting lodge, Bluhnbach, near Salzburg Austria. Marilyn had a class trip to the lodge, one in the winter and one in the summer, when she was in the 8th grade in 1952.














Well, there you have it. There are a lot more pictures like this in Marilyn's book, Once a Brat. Hop over to Amazon and order it...believe me, you'll enjoy it as much as I did!

Monday, April 09, 2007

Still Not Doing Well

Today's not going so well.

You know how like you envision the whole human population as this one gigantic forest of trees and shit happens, and the trees get cut down one by one, but you're one of the strongest trees because you're sending off these "Don't touch me, dude, or you're going to be wearing that saw up your arse?" kind of vibes and you consider yourself one of the lucky trees because no matter what shit happens, you're still going to be standing...forever and ever...

And then...

They get you.

But, you're not completely down...you're only wounded, but you're not sure if you just want to go down in defeat or mend those broken limbs and limp on through the rest of your life with a broken spirit and deflated heart.

Do you give up in defeat or do you harbor the hurt and the pain the rest of your life?

It's a toss-up.

I woke up crying this morning, but it's not for pity. The tree may be wounded, but she still has pride. Somewhere beneath the bark, there's that strong entity that will show its face as soon as I can get past this hurt and feeling of abandonment.

My son. It's all about my son. Why in the freaking name of Sam do I let him get to me like this?

I don't think he hates me. Sure, he hates BF, but not to the point where he would write me off.

And I don't even think it's that. He and BF have had "moments," but I think he's really over that and, besides, he doesn't even see him anymore, although I'm sure he's not forgotten the quarrel.

I really think it's because when his dad left the family, he went into this thing, not sure what thing, but I'm sure that this "thing" did something to him.

Cripes, he's 23 and that was fourteen years ago, for God's sakes.

I'm not sure how I'm going to get through this.

But, I cry for my son and I have no idea how to get him back.

I screwed up somewhere, but this old tree is tired of trying to figure it out.

And where in the hell is Spring anyway?

Sunday, April 08, 2007

A Sad Easter

I'm kinda sad tonight. And I really know it's no treat to go to someone's blog and it's not all fun, fun, happy, happy, and I really didn't want to post because this isn't fun, fun, happy, happy, but I think if I can get this out in the open and be done with it, I can get past it.

Since the kids were little, I've always tried to make Easter as special as I could. They'd each get Easter baskets, of course, but I'd go the extra mile and give them a few little presents besides. It was usually clothes they could wear to school after spring break, or maybe it was something special that I knew would bring smiles to their faces. No, they weren't spoiled, this was just something I liked doing.

And I'd always have a big feast just as if it were Christmas or Thanksgiving.

Even though my kids are grown now, I still like carrying the tradition. The Easter basket idea has been replaced by a gift certificate to the tanning bed for my daughter and I was planning on taking my son shopping for some new jeans and a shirt either Monday or Tuesday.

And, of course, there would be the big feast - ham, crab cakes (my son's favorite), baked macaroni, baked corn, regular corn (for my son because he hated baked corn), asparagas and potatoe salad. I went all out.

I had even bought my son a couple of chocolate Easter bunnies that was the tradition I have carried on since he was young, and even though he's 23 now, he still looks forward to them (or, at least he humors me).

Dinner was going to be kind of late since my daughter had to go in at 4 and would be off at 8. I figured she would pick up her brother on her way home from work and we could just eat a little later than usual.

I cleaned as if a guest was coming, tearing through the place in record speed while the food is cooking and I'm working on my virtual book tours. Everything was coming together. Or so I thought.

I told my daughter to call her father and tell him the plans so that he could tell my son when he woke up that I had Easter dinner with crab cakes (his favorite) and the whole shebang. She said she would.

Now, keep in mind the last time I saw my son was Christmas...let's see...four months ago. It's not like he's halfway across the world either. He lives about 10 - 15 minutes away with his father right now.

I've blogged about him before, but to refresh your memory, he has Marfans, but to look at him, you would think he was pulling your leg because he looks perfectly normal. He gets tired easily and his back hurts occassionally, but so far, knock on wood, that seems to be the only thing wrong. Yet, he insists on not getting out there and living a normal life, and he puts up a brick wall when you try to talk to him about it. I gave up preaching to him and, to be truthful, I'm at a loss as to what to do anymore.

Well, it got to be 8:00 and no word from my daughter who was supposed to call me when she was to get off work. So, I picked up the phone and dialed my son.

His father answered and got my son on for me.

The conversation went something like this....

"Did Melissa call you?"

"Call me?"

"Yeah, she was supposed to call you to come over for Easter dinner. I'm having crab cakes and macaroni & cheese."

"She didn't call."

Then, I hear him asking his father if she'd called, and then he got back on and said, "Dad's fixing steaks, though."

I feel the lump forming in the base of my throat and my breathing starts accelerating and I'm trying real hard not to cry.

"But, Ryan...it's Easter."

"I didn't even know it was Easter. It's just another holiday."

He's not smart-assy or anything and truly feels bad about it, but when I ask him if he's coming or not, he just says, "I don't know," after sighing like this is the biggest decision he's ever made.

"I'll call you back later," I told him and hung up without even an I love you or anything.

I get up to check on the crabcakes and tears are stinging my eyes. I have waited four months to see him and he disses me again. On Easter. Not that it being a holiday makes a bit of difference, but freaking still.

My daughter calls a few minutes later and I tell her to come on home, that I didn't think Ryan was coming. She calls her father and he really feels bad about it, but he forgot to tell Ryan that she called and that he was "scheduled" to eat Easter dinner with us.

Well, I'm at the point now that there is no point in having a son and being a mother if one of the partners aren't willing.

So here I sit eating crabcakes and macaroni and cheese and thinking where in the hell I went wrong. What's the point in being a mother if you can't BE a mother? I mean, isn't seeing your child one of the dividends?

Life royally freaking sucks right now.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Going Back to California

For those who haven't been keeping up with my going back to California posts, there are links in the right hand sidebar to catch up, but I'm heading back to California in September. Don't know at this point how I'm going to get there (either RV or plane), but I'm going to get there.

I've been doing a lot of thinking about this trip, just haven't posted much about it because I had so much going on, but I'm becoming obsessed with it once again being as it's going to happen in FIVE months. Five months actually isn't a long time and there are so many plans to be made; but, meanwhile, I've met some wonderful friends who are helping me find my roots again that I will be blogging about.

To begin with, I'm looking for answers. I'm not even sure what answers I'm looking for, but I know I will find them when I get to California.

I'm an army brat and California was my last home before moving to Virginia in the early sixties. I was seven years old when my mother married Robert Manders from Rhode Island. She was ecstatic of course because he had just joined the army and had orders to report to Fort Ord in California. The trip there was awesome and I know she felt the same as I, that it was our chance to have a real family again.

My father walked out on my mother when I was a baby (I've talked about him, too, in the right hand sidebar) and "Bob" meant I could finally have a daddy again. He wasn't quite what I expected, but I never expected too much out of anyone anyway. He ruled with an iron fist, but I'll get into that later.

After Bob did the stint in Fort Ord, we moved to Burbank. My first home there was near St. Joseph's Hospital. It was within walking distance to my school, Abraham Lincoln Elementary School.

The second home I lived in was on Oak Street, again walking distance from my school which I did every single day of life, back and forth, back and forth.

But, this school is one of the key points in my search to find my roots because it is one of the few memories I have that mean so much to me. It is where I had my first crush with a boy name Bruce (can't remember his last name). It is where I discovered trolls, square dance classes, riding bikes without worrying someone was going to molest me, friends I'll never forget and a life where my family was complete. It is also the last stopping point before my aunt grabbed my sister and I in the middle of the night, taking us away from our mother, to live with my grandmother in Virginia where I grew up until I got married.

It's really bothered me all these years because I felt I was ripped of not only my childhood, but of the one thing that meant more to me than life itself, my mother and the family life I had.

I guess I'm forgetting the harsh reality of it and that it was in the best interests for my sister and I to live with our grandmother, but if you're ten years old and not only have you lost all your possessions, your life you once had, and the mother who you loved with all your heart, it's quite devastating.

For some reason, I shrank into a shell and I felt like my soul had been ripped out of me. I didn't make friends easily, but that could be because I was an army brat and if you've ever been an army brat, you know not to get too close to people because you never know when you're going to have to leave them.

When I thought I was going back last year, I contacted the superintendent of Burbank Schools to ask him if he knew if the school was still standing as this was going to be one of my stopping points. I wanted to walk that same walk and try to see if I could cleanse myself of the ghosts that have haunted me all these years.

It's hard to explain, but I felt I needed to do this.

The superintendent was super nice. He emailed me to tell me that my school had been torn down and there was a new library in its place - the Buena Vista Branch Library. He thought it would upset me, but being an author, it gave me an idea.

I emailed the librarian and asked her if she would accept a donation of my book, Romancing the Soul. She was super nice, too, and told me not only would she accept it, she would give me a super tour of the library and show me pictures of my old school. One was on the wall opposite her office!

So, I'm elated and all that, and then I asked the LA Times if they would be interested in this story and the woman I talked to said yes and to let her know when I would arrive in town.

This was last year and I sure hope she remembers this conversation.

So, things have been coming together for me in that regards, but there are still questions I have and I'm bugging my Internet friends who live there or who lived there with questions about my school and the street where I lived. One even went out of her way to take pictures of the area with her cell phone (I'll be blogging about that, too, along with the pictures!).

If there is anyone out there in cyberland who lived in the area in the early sixties, or even who lives there now, will you please contact me at thewriterslife(at)yahoo.com? I can't get enough information about the area...it's like I have this hunger that just won't go away no matter how much I feed it.

I want to go back home so bad, I can taste it, and whatever information anyone can give me about the area, I would greatly appreciate it!

I will be blogging about the friends who have helped me, but I'm saving it for upcoming posts. I will also be blogging about how this is all going to happen. It's five months away, but time goes by so fast. Forty years went by fast, but I'm determined to find out why this trip is so very, very, very important and I believe it will finally come together in the end why it is that this is one of the most important things I have ever needed to do.

I just know that when I step on the soil, I am going to bawl my eyes out. So, I'm figuring it's going to be one of those closure things. I can't wait.

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