For the past month or so, I've been "invited" - and sometimes even invited (as in, truly invited, like in person and all, which means I have to get dressed, but, oh, well) - to book groups around the country to discuss QUEEN OF THE ROAD. It's been tons 'o fun. Herewith, highlights from one such book group:
My first one (other than my own book group, which I blogged about already and which, as I said, didn't count because... well, really. They kinda had to read the thing, didn't they?) was with the "Naples Divas Book Club." With a name like that, I just knew they'd be bunches of fun. Judge for yourself:
Starting on the left, going around the table: Nancy Siegal, Karyn Conrath, Sue Bankosky, (holding QUEEN OF THE ROAD, so she has a special place in my heart) Joyce Thornton, Tanya Oosterhous, Kristy Kiernan, Pat Kumicich, Betty Keigler. Terry Knight and Ellen Schmidt.
Ellen is the one who initially contacted me about "appearing." I'm so glad she did. Not only was it a fun evening, but I made a new writer friend, Kristy Kiernan. Kristy is an amazingly talented novelist. For her first novel, Catching Genius, she was hailed by Sara Gruen (and what book club hasn't read her book? Oh, fine. Water For Elephants, people!) as a "writer to watch." Publisher's Weekly gave it a rave review. In addition to being a gifted novelist, Kristy is just a sweetheart. You'll have to take my word for the latter, but don't for the former: Her new novel, Matters of Faith, which just came out last week, has already been deemed an IndieNext Notable Title. Yeah, I know. What in the world does that mean? Well... it means that independent bookstores all over the country have weighed in and LOVE her book. My copy just arrived from Amazon - here's the link. I (and my book club) can't wait to read it.
Anyway, Kristy got into the Divas because they did Catching Genius when it came out. She liked the group so much, she asked to join it. (Sounds a bit like that razon commercial, huh?)
Now, about that cake. Sometime after Ellen contacted me, but before the actual group, Kristy had "friended" me on Facebook. The day before the book group met, I got notification of a Facebook "gift": Kristy had baked me a cake. OK. Yanno, she had seemed so, like, normal and all before that. I mean... yeah, I'm on Facebook, but it's kinda lame, in my opinion, to be "sending" people virtual "gifts." So, Kristy baked me a cake. Fine, Kristy... I've built you a city! Whatever.
Then, during the group (which I attended by speakerphone), Kristy shouted out that everyone was enjoying my cake. Too bad I'm not licensed to prescribe in Florida. Whatever.
Oh, my. It was only when I got the picture I realized: Kristy is an accomplished baker and actually had baked a cake for the book group - a QUEEN OF THE ROAD cake complete with a bus! (She later informed me she never jokes about cake. Smart girl.)
That's Ellen holding the cake, with Kristy standing justifiably proud of her creation.
The book groups I've "attended" have been ultra-fabulous. It's wonderful to connect with women all over the country - and even make some online friends in the process. I'll be blogging about more of the groups, soon. For now, I'll just say that the Naples Divas Book Club may have spoiled me for other book groups. As for Kristy - she's an accomplished novelist, apparently fabulous baker and even writes a fashion column. I think I hate her.
Way back in June, I was going around the Front Range (for those of you who don't live in Colorado, I'm not saying we have two stoves. Geez.) signing stock of QUEEN OF THE ROAD. As I was talking to the manager of the Borders in Park Meadows Mall, a woman overhead us and said the book sounded interesting. Never shy about making a sale, I quickly closed the deal (to the delight of the manager, I might add), offering that if her book club read QUEEN, Her Royal Personage would attend.
So, Sue's book club happened to be the first I went to in person (other than my own, but as I've already said, they had no choice now, did they?). Upon my arrival, I was delighted to see that Sue had printed out several of the martini recipes (have I mentioned that one begins each chapter to commemorate whatever disaster has befallen us on the road?) and hung them over her kitchen island. She had also procured the necessary fixin's, so I knew this would be a particularly well oiled (and lubed) group. And it was. See for yourself:
From left to right: Front - Bonnie, Cheryl, Sue, Me, Lisa, Mary Ellen
Back - Cathy, Anne, Laurie, Shelly and Sue (the hostess).
While I do especially love doing book groups by phone (the whole staying at home in my PJs thing - did you really think I was exaggerating?), doing them in person has a few added benefits I hadn't considered. Yeah, yeah, it's nice to hang with a group of women and eat fabulous food (like, WOW, Sue!), and drink fabulous drinks (ditto), but... this group actually gave me a gift! I mean, as if it wasn't enough of a gift to read my book and invite me over to discuss it.
So, what was the present? A lovely bottle of wine that I wish I could show you, but is long gone. (Surprised? Guess you haven't read my book.) However, I can show you the ultra-fab accoutrements it came with - QUEEN OF THE ROAD luggage tags:
How cool is that?
OK. I'll tell you. Too cool to waste on the few times I use luggage. They now hang on my purses. (Yes, that's a Chanel and a Kate Spade. I got them on Ebay eons ago. What do you want from me?) Sue was kind enough to get me two, so when I change purses, while I may have to dig everything out of one to put in another, I don't have to untie the luggage tag. Only a woman would know to be so thoughtful.
What a wonderful group of women! (And not just 'cause of the presents. Really.) I wish they were a little closer to my home, because I'm sure I'd be foisting myself on them monthly to discuss other books. (Although judging by the standard set by Sue, the first time I hosted I'd probably be kicked out - unless I got Tim to cook.)
Thanks so much again, ladies!
Actually, I've seen his picture, and he's neither big nor fat. But, he is a mensch. How do I know? Glad you asked.
I recently got the following email from him, quite out of the blue: "Dear Doreen, This is psychologist/crime novelist Jonathan Kellerman. During a recent vacation, I read QUEEN OF THE ROAD. Several times, I found myself laughing out loud – and drawing quizzical looks from my wife. Funny book. Congrats. Best, JK."
I don't know Jonathan Kellerman and I don't know anyone who knows him. (At first, I suspected my mother put him up to it, somehow. After all, she's the one who announced she was going to give a copy of QUEEN OF THE ROAD to her doorman because, "His cousin is David Letterman's floor manager!" Oy. But, after a thorough interrogation that would do JK proud, I can state beyond a reasonable doubt that she did not - put JK up to it, that is. The David Letterman thing... not so sure.) I don't even know how he found my book.
Mensch point one: He's such a mensch, did he identify himself by saying, "This is mega-bestselling novelist..." etc? No. He did not.
Mensch point two: It's a huge deal for a mega-bestselling writer like him to reach out like that. But, was that enough for me? No, it was not. (And, here is where I lose several mensch points for myself. If you get the feeling I don't care, you'd be right. What do you want from me?) My response (after gushing about how much of a fan I was and now, always will be): "As a crime novelist (not so much due to your being a psychologist) you should know that no good deed goes unpunished." I then proceded to ask for a blurb.
Blurbs are even bigger deals for any, let alone mega-bestselling writers. As a recent essay in the New York Times Book Review explained, "Book blurbs are a tangled mass of friendships, rivalries, favors traded and debts repaid, not always in good faith." Since I researched all 113 agents who rejected QUEEN OF THE ROAD (not because it sucked, people. Haven't I told you before? The common refrain, "I love it. I just don't think I can sell it."), I have a pretty good working knowledge of who represents whom in the writing biz. So now, when I pick up a book I'm considering reading and look at the blurbs, I have to chuckle thinking, "No wonder she blurbed him. They have the same [fill in the blank: editor/agent/publicist]." Even lowly me has been asked to blurb a few first-time authors (though obviously not from their agent/editor/publisher - after all, they would know better).
JK (yeah, I'm on an initials-only basis with a mega-bestselling author, so deal with it!) had no reason to reach out to me, no debt to settle, and did not ask anything in return. (Silly him. I would have had Tim do his and Faye's laundry for the rest of their lives.)
So, what was JK's response?
"A charming, insightful and – most important – hilarious book that evokes the best of Bill Bryson and David Sedaris, but spotlights the unique voice of a gifted memoirist."
What a mensch - thrice over.
His new book, Bones: An Alex Delaware Novel, is already below 1000 on Amazon and it's not even coming out until October 21st. His wife, Faye Kellerman, had her new novel, The Mercedes Coffin, debut last week at some insanely low (that's good, folks) Amazon number. So, not that they need my help, but if you want to support a mensch...
(My copies of both just arrived and I can't wait to delve in.)
- DO. (Yes, you may be on an initials-only basis with me. I'm a mensch that way - and only that way.)
I'm 49 today. (Really.) Big Whoop.
Actually, that's what I'm sure Tim thinks, as my poor Royal Consort has to put up with much more than just my birthday: I use my queenly powers (self)-bestowed at birth to declare an entire Royal Birthday Week. Watch and learn, Ladies-In-Waiting....
Especially since this year, as my birthday falls on a Sunday, We wondered just when the week should begin. Sunday you say? Silly commoners. Shant We celebrate prior in Royal Anticipation? Ah, but if We start the Sunday before, what about the post celebratory festivities? Quite correct. This year (and every year when Our - and by "Our," We mean mine and only mine - not to include Sir Tim) birthday falls on a Sunday, We hath hereby decreed a Birthday Fortnight. Herewith, some highlights:
Last week, had hair done with Tonya Auville, the Royal Coiffer at Salon Bellissimo. Tonya is also known as the Curl Whisperer. She had me over to her book group a few weeks back to discuss... me:
Saw Willie Nelson (and his biodiesel bus) at Red Rocks.
Had lunch with good bud, Susan. Suffice it to say, we had a delish dish (thinking of you, Katie). I mentioned in QUEEN OF THE ROAD, that Susan was my most gorgeous friend. (She tried to get me to go to a yoga class, and I figured, if it works for her... Unfortunately, didn't do much for me.) She's the type of woman who just gets even more gorgeous with age. I'm going to have to rethink our friendship.
Had my memoir called, "Brilliant" by Jerry Wexler on his blog and he didn't even know it's my birthday fortnight.
Last night, my lovely neighbor and friend, Lauren, had her former book group, the "Bad Girls" of Longmont (only "former" since Lauren moved to Boulder) over for a fabulous Queenly party to discuss QUEEN OF THE ROAD and just have fun. She didn't know it's my birthday, either. (Well, at least beforehand.) This was the second book group Lauren arranged for this QUEEN. The first was one we went to in nearby Firestone, hosted by one of her clients, Tara:
Aren't we all resplendent in our tiaras? That's Tara in front and Lauren behind me in the pink scarf. (Looks like there are several friendships I'm going to have to rethink.) Unbeknowest to me, this club read both QUEEN OF THE ROAD as well as my first book, I KNOW YOU REALLY LOVE ME. Since IKYRLM was published 11 years ago, I felt rather court jester-ish, as it was far easier to answer questions about QotR. I mean, I am 49, people.
Lauren is an ultra-fabulous hair stylist in her own right (nearly all of the dozen or so women last night get coiffed by her) as well as an amazing photographer. Unfortunately, I forgot to take pictures last night for you to judge the former, but as for the latter, take a gander at these she did for my website.
Today, the Big Day itself, I slept in (that's what the rest of the world calls staying in bed until 10:30 am, right?) And, finally (well, only finally for this blog post, not my birthday fortnight), Sir Tim and I strode down (where's the liveried help when you need them?) to the Boulder Creek Hometown Fair...
... where we had Royal box (as in crated) seats for the Zucchini Races:
Attended a Royal Joust:
as well as The Theatre:
Sir Tim is now resting up in the Royal Chambers prior to resuming his driverly duties to take Us to dinner tonight.
To all who have already wished me a happy birthday: Thank you! To all who have not... yeah, yeah. What do I want from you?