Friday, June 19, 2009

Super Dude

My first published novel, WONDROUS STRANGE, is dedicated to my dad. He always knew, I think, that I would be published one day and was damn tickled by the idea, even if he didn't get to see the actual thing hit the shelves.

My dad, quite simply, rocked.

He was an engineer. He designed water-treatment plants. He was a fixer and a builder by nature. An analytical thinker with the biggest brain I've ever encountered who still panicked quietly every year over what to get my mom for Christmas. A straight arrow who wasn't above goofiness. A proper gentleman from whom I learned most of my better swear words (simply by virtue of hanging around him during bouts of home-repair or particularly stubborn pumpkin-carving sessions at Halloween).

He ostensibly hated it when I called him 'Dude' instead of 'Dad'. So I did that a lot (to this day, I think he secretly got a kick out of it).

One of my favorite memories of the Dude is the summer he taught me how to water-ski. He taught all of us kids out at the lake to water-ski; summer after summer, he'd drive the boat in endless circles taking my brother and my cousin and all of our friends on tours of the lake to greater or lesser degrees of success. I was, initially, the latter.

When it came my turn to learn the tow-ropes, as it were, I knew what I had to do, in theory. I'd heard my dad explain the process for three summers running: lean back (not too far), tips up (not too high), bend your knees (not too much)... My technique, such as it was, was flawless. My arm- and hand-strength, at the age of twelve, was... not great. I'd get up... get going... aaaannnd let go of the rope. Over and over again.

After I don't know how many botched attempts - a lot, I recall - my dad, almost as frustrated as I was, says to his (idiot) daughter: "Look. Just don't let go of the rope. Whatever happens, once you get up, don't let go of the rope."

Right. Check.

Idiot daughter tries again. Gets up. Falls. Leaving skis at the dock. Doesn't let go of the rope. Gets dragged through the water until she almost drowns.

Dude pulls the boat back around to the following exchange:

Dude (aghast at daughter's stupidity - and deathly pallor): "What on earth were you thinking?! Why didn't you let go of the rope!??"
Idiot Daughter (still spluttering and blubbering): "YOU TOLD ME NOT TO!!!"
Dude (infinitely patient): "....right. Well... good. Let's do that again and just don't fall this time, okay?"
Idiot Daughter: "Okay..."

And that time, it worked. In retrospect, it was pretty darn good advice. It's kinda the same sort of attitude that got me published. Which I think my dad always knew I would. Dude.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Of Fathers and Kittens

I know this post only loosely relates to Father’s Day, but since I blogged here before about my cats, and especially the one who passed away a few months ago, I thought this might be a good week to blog about my new kittens. After all, before we were parents of human children, my husband and I already considered ourselves parents to our feline children, and this Father’s Day, my husband gets to count two new kitty children as his own!

After my crazy, loveable cat died a few months ago, my husband and I promised our kids we could get a new kitten in the summer. And last weekend we went to PetSmart to check out the kittens from the local no-kill shelter, and my son immediately fell in love with one, a sweet white and orange kitty.

The only problem was, we left his sister behind at the store. While we were filling out the adoption paperwork, the two of them sat cuddled up in their cage together, and it nearly broke my heart to separate the two of them. Still, we only wanted one kitten, so we filled out the papers and took him home.

Later that night, my husband suggested that maybe we should go back the next day and see if his sister was still there. At first I thought he was crazy – I mean, having three cats is one thing, but having four? That seemed like just enough to put us over the edge from animal lovers to animal crazies. But, when I thought of that poor little kitten all alone without her brother, I had to agree that we should go back and at least see if she was still there.

So the next morning we went back, and she was still there, so we adopted her, too! Yes, we now officially have the same number of cats as humans living in our house. But I am so, so glad. It had felt a little too quiet since my crazy cat died, and it’s nice to have a little bit of the chaos back. Really, what’s the point of putting dinner on the table, if you’re not going to have to chase a cat away, or filling the bathtub for my sons if a cat isn’t going to try to jump in?

And just because this is really supposed to be about Father’s Day, I have to add that I’m lucky that my parents are visiting me this week so I get to spend Father’s Day with my dad this year. And he’s lucky, too, because now that my mom has spent a little time with my new little kittens, I have a feeling he’s in for some additions to his own cat family!

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

My Proud Papa

Thanks to Maureen, I at least have something to say in this week's post. When she talked about her dad picking up the bar tab at her launch party, it made me think, "That's exactly what my daddy would have done!" But alas, he's not here any longer and won't be sharing in the most exciting time of my life.

I sure wish he was, though. :-(

He would be loving the fact that his first born is only three and a half months away from having her own book published, and by a New York publisher, no less. I would be loving the fact that I could tell him, in person, that my University of Alabama degree prepared me for this, despite the fact that he never let me hear the end of his ranting and raving that I should have gone to Hollins (a prestigious all girls college in Virginia, for anyone who doesn't know.) "Well, well, well, Daddy," I'd say. "See, I saved you thousands of dollars a year and I still got the book published."

No offense to Hollins. It's an amazing school but I'd already done the all girls school route for the thirteen years leading up to college. Enough of the periods and panties already.

After dialing all of his friends to brag on me (I'd be horrified at this BTW), Daddy would have planned the biggest book launch party Mobile, Alabama had ever seen. It wouldn't surprise me in the least if he ordered 1000 copies of the book, either, and handed them out to everyone he knew on the golf course. Or the barber shop, or The Pillars - his favorite restaurant. The only thing he'd love more than my getting published is to be able to tell everyone at his country club that his daughter was a New York Times bestselling author, even if he did have to buy most of the copies!

My daddy was a mess, and I mean that in a good way. He always had the best of intentions even if he did brag a little too much about my sisters and me, or even if he never did own a pair of bluejeans. Bless his heart. If he could only see my blue-jean-heavy wardrobe today.

I sure do miss you, Daddy. Father's Day is just not the day it's supposed to be without you.

Oh and Congratulations, Maureen, on what seems to have been a great launch week! A Bump In the Road, is hilarious by the way, I'm on page 95 and I love it!

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

One Down, One to Go!

Is it Tuesday already? *wipes sweat from brow*

It can't possibly be one week since my book launched already, can it? Seriously?


This past week has been amazing, exciting, terrifying and mind-blowing all wrapped into one nice pink cocktail called A BUMP IN THE ROAD's release week. I've already had one launch party here in Chicago and this Saturday I'm doing it up Ohio-style in Cincinnati for Book Launch Party v2.0. Because one launch party just isn't enough, right? (Says she who still is sporting dark under-eye circles from Saturday.)

Now, I know this post is supposed to be about fathers, but I'm going to hijack it a little and talk about my launch party. But, I will make it relate to dads--watch how I can bring it full circle!

The evening was fabulous--we had about 50 people there at any given time. It was a good mix of family, friends and acquaintances. Borders was there selling books and I think they nearly sold all of the books they brought. I signed a bunch, feeling very strange as I wasn't sure what to say i.e. "I hope this book lives up to your expectations" or "Warning: Four letter words inside" or "Makes a great coaster when you're done reading!" Mainly I just scribbled stuff about my gratitude for their attendance. I think.

We had the event at a trendy, fun restaurant and bar. One of my favorite parts of the evening was when the valets chose to park my friend's Toyota CRV outside the restaurant--much like you would an expensive Ferrari or BMW. Then, the valets proceeded to lean against her car, chat and text all while we watched them from about ten feet away. It was awesome and so much more exciting than talking about how I found my agent.

I would post some photos, but they're all on Facebook and I'm having some kind of social-networking related computer issue and I have no idea how to pull them off my Blackberry. So, the pics will have to wait until later tonight.

Anyway, it was a fabulous event and I can't wait to do it all over again on Saturday.

Oh, right. Dads. Full-circle.

Here goes: My dad is the best dad ever because he picked up the bar tab at my launch party! Woo Hoo! Love ya Dad!

Edited to add:

Me with my very large book cover poster at the party:

Monday, June 15, 2009

Celebrating Dads

When I was little, I was most definitely "Daddy's girl." He worked nights at the time, and most every day, after his shift, would bring me home a Zero candy bar. Do you remember these? Heck, I'm not sure if they're still available, but I loved them. I also thought they were some sort of rare and exotic candy, because of the white chocolate, which made them (and the fact my dad brought me one so often) even cooler.

But my dad was a very cool guy back then. He had a corvette and a motorcycle, and I'd get lots of rides in/on both. He'd go out of his way to make me smile, and if I was crying--heck, he'd move mountains if he could to make the tears stop. He protected me, loved me, and yep--I was the princess of the house. Oh, and he used to go to my Brownie meetings with me! He may have been the only dad at those meeting, actually.

And then I became a teenager...and well, my dad didn't seem so cool any more. We had lots of disagreements in my teenage years, and sometimes I thought all I wanted was to get out of that house because we really did fight that much. But even in the midst of all that teenage angst, he still went out of his way for me. He bought me my first and my second car--both of which were surprises.

I moved away when I was eighteen, and we barely talked for years. Most of the time, when I called home, I'd talk to my mother or my brother. I really only talked to my dad by phone on his birthday and on Father's Day. Of course, there were visits over the years, but those were maybe only once or twice a year.

But as I talked about in my Mother's Day post, we eventually moved back to my home city, and now I see my both of my parents fairly regularly. My dad might not have a corvette or a motorcycle any longer, and he certainly doesn't bring me Zero candy bars any more, but he's cool to me again, and I realize I've never stopped being "Daddy's Girl."

So, to my dad, who has always done everything he knows how to do to make sure his family is okay: Happy Father's Day. I love you and I'm proud to be your daughter.