« May 2009 | Main | July 2009 »

June 2009 Archives

June 2, 2009

QUEEN OF THE ROAD in Traditional Chinese


Isn't it gorgeous? Courtesy of Marco Polo Press (and Marco Polo thought he got around) in Taipei, Taiwan, this is the Traditional Chinese version of... well, I don't need to tell you, do I? (Thanks so much to my fabulous editor there, Weijen Wu for emailing this to me.)

Yes, I know. How could it not be gorgeous with your Queen placed so prominently on the cover? Obviously, the Taiwanese are a people of exquisite taste.

Tim has not seen it, yet. On the one hand, he'll be thrilled to add "professional photographer" to his resume: He snapped all those pics of me (and me and Miles), and the burro on our trip. On the other... I'm not sure that posing on a book cover pretending to go to the head in the Headwaters of the Mississippi was quite the notoriety he had in mind. Oh, well. The diptych of disposal (this, plus doing the same in New Orleans where the river ends) was his idea.

So, to complete his humiliation, here's that pic:


Finding that one, I can't resist adding this taken at the same place. What's that about pet owners resembling their pets? What can I say. It was windy that day.


Back to the book cover:
From the left, your Queen riding a trusty steed-like jackalope at Wall Drug, in Wall, SD. Then, the best picture ever taken of me (I'm on the left), snapped at the very moment I whined (I know you're shocked I whine) enough on our Death March... er, Harbor Mountain hike in Sitka, AK for Tim to agree to turn around. I assumed I'd have a regular author picture for the back of the book, but when my editor saw this one, she wanted it. I had to agree: I've never looks so relieved... er, happy. Then, the aforementioned picture of Tim in Itasca, MN, and finally a picture of a burro he took on a solo hike (of course) in Beatty, NV (which I describe as "a one-whorehouse town and it shows.")

In Beatty, I also mentioned that our RV park happened to be conveniently situated just down the road from Angel’s Ladies, housed in a none-too-discreet, pink double-wide, complete with a large letter “A” branded on the hill above. I just dug up this picture of it:


According to the Pahrump Valley Times (which called QUEEN OF THE ROAD "a royal treat" so no snickering), Angel's Ladies, which billed itself as "the friendliest brothel in NV" closed its doors nearly two years ago. Not so sure that what the truckers along Highway 95 were lookin' for was friendliness. Maybe that had something to do with it.

June 4, 2009

What's In A Name?

When JoAnn contacted me to call in to her Peninsula, OH book club, she said it had picked QUEEN OF THE ROAD based on the "clever" title.

Oh my.

Although everything inside the book is entirely my creation (except for Tim's rebuttal chapter, of course - see the previous blog post. He thinks what he's saying in Chinese on the cover is, "I am not an idiot!"), the cover itself... not so much.

As is true for most books, the publisher changes the title in a (what else), "title meeting." And, a good thing, too: I suck at titles. My working title had been, "Leave the Driving to Him." You know, after that old Greyhound slogan. Believe it or not, it took me an entire year to come up with that one.

Told ya: Suck at titles.

I suck so bad, in fact,that I didn't even like QUEEN OF THE ROAD, at first. What an idiot. Fortunately, cooler heads prevailed.


JoAnn's book club originally saw my no-thanks-to-me spiffy title on Bookmovement, a fabulous site free to book clubs. Why fabulous? Isn't free good enough for you? Fine. I'll give you even more fabulousness: QUEEN OF THE ROAD has been in the top five (and recently even number one) on their Book Club Bestseller List.

I keep bringing this thing back to me, don't I? Whatever. It's my blog.

But, since this truly is fabulous book club, allow me to ramble on a bit more, this time (thankfully, I know) about the club itself:


Back row L to R Tina (congrats again on the engagement!), Linda, Laura, Brenda, Marsha
Front row L to R Diane, Terri, Sue, Terri, JoAnn

The club has been meeting for two years and know each other because their kids go to the same school. They also double as a recipe club, so pick a theme for each meeting. The food theme for QUEEN? Shish kabobs. Sheesh. I am truly honored to be a kabob! (From the picture, looks like they had kabobs and martinis - a more perfect combination plate has never been invented.)

Ladies, thanks again so much for picking my book. (And, if any of you want to post your kabob recipe in the comments, I'll get Tim right on it!) Here is a picture of Lake Eerie, Ohio we took at East Harbor State Park, in Lakeside-Marblehead on our QUEEN OF THE ROAD trip. Enjoy!


June 7, 2009


Don'tcha just love the name of that town? It's only about an hour from Boulder, but we've actually never been there. (Isn't that always the case? I mean, I grew up in NY, but the first time I ever went to the Empire State Building was when I took Tim there.) Anyway, if the town is as fabulous as the book club I called in to, we need to high-tail it over.

I suspect it is, because almost all the members of the club are long-time Evergreenians. (Yeah, you're right: I just made that up. What do you want from me?) A few of the members had even done RV trips or were planning to do one.


Donna Ritson, Linda Ater, Sue Morris, Linda Sulley, Maureen Grohlke - in front Linda Hendenberg

Here they are, enjoying Tea-tinis. (I know what you're thinkin', but they told me they were enjoying them.) Apparently, they plan to work through all the martinis in QUEEN OF THE ROAD. It's a tough job, but someone's gotta do it (and I should know). This club was very sweet to say they hope I'll write another book so they'll have more adventures to read about and martinis to drink. (Yeah, I know what you're thinkin', and yeah, I do a lot of that. I'm a psychic shrink. So, sue me.) I bet you're thinkin' they're really interested in the martinis. They were just sayin' that about the adventures to be kind, since Evergreenians are known to be very kind folk.

Anyone ever tell you you're cynical?

June 9, 2009

An Educated Book Club

This was the 3rd meeting of this fabulous club in Dover Plains, NY. The gals plan to alternate a classic with a contemporary selection. (QUEEN OF THE ROAD was the contemporary, but I know you're thinking, "soon to be a classic." Yeah, me too.)


Left to right, standing: Judy Wright, Ellen Turner, Lynne Bondi, Coleen Deon (the hostess with the mostess, as my father would say).
Left to right, seated: Chrissy Schmitt, Michele Simonetty, Ann Murray (I love that she's holding her Kindle).

These hardy ladies meet early on Sunday afternoons and still managed to drink two of my martinis. Note to other clubs: You got some catchin' up to do.

One gal even brought a sample of the Headwater High to her local liquor store, so the owner could taste it. Verdict? Approval, of course. (I've never minded second opinions.)

So, why is this an educated group? Besides the fact that they all seemed to like the book (look, that's what they said), they are, even more importantly, all teachers: of English, math, social studies and Special Ed.

I love teachers. All shrinks do. Even way back in residency we were told they make the best psychotherapy patients. And, true to form, this club was introspective, articulate and motivated (hey - they did make those two martinis) even while imbibing. Impressed? I sure was.

I particularly appreciated one member's saying she took a bit of inspiration from QUEEN OF THE ROAD due to some of her own difficult life changes ahead, especially the line about the importance of "living what you love, every day, rather than living with what you love." I thanked her then, and I'll thank her now: Thank you. (As I just reread that line, I realized that in the book, I said I wasn't there yet. Well, as we're about to put our house on the market and get rid of as much as we can... I guess I am quite a bit closer. It's good to be reminded of what one is aspiring to.)

And many thanks to this fabulous book club! (I hear the food was divine, as well. Hope you have a long driveway for the next time we're in NY.)

Although we didn't get to Dover Plains on our Queenly trip, I'm going to leave you with a picture of the bus taken nearby, in Upstate New York (one of my favorite areas of the country):


June 12, 2009


It's pretty cool, I think, that there seem to be so many book clubs forming - still. That was the case with another pretty new one I called in Denver. In all the clubs I've done, there have only been a handful of men, but it seems this one had an honorary Y-chromosome present - Lisa's husband, who she told me, was listening in. Apparently, he read QUEEN OF THE ROAD after she did. (Sorry about that, Lisa. See ya on the road! Ditto to Teresa who is about to retire and said that because of my memoir, she and her husband are thinking of RVing. Well, now that you gals know what our bus looks like, if you ever see us rolling down the road, feel free to say hello or run for your lives - whichever seems more appropriate at the time.)


Lisa Dahl, Dorothy Kreps, Sue Emil, Theresa Murphy and Betsy Holt. The other members, Julie, Linda and Jan, received royal dispensation for not being there that night.

Lisa herself said she read the book twice. I told her my own mom hadn't done that. (I'm right, aren't I, Queen Mother. What kind of Jewish mother are you, anyway? Sheesh.)

This club really didn't seem like they were terribly new, as they all appeared rather chummy (does anyone still use that word?). Maybe it was the Jubilees they were serving from the Coronation chapter of my book.

One of the more interesting questions was about friendship with one's spouse. Could you spend 24/7 together? And, if you did up and leave your home for a year or longer, how would you deal with missing your friends? Can a spouse fill the void? Can he be your best friend? Fascinating discussion that Lisa told me the group continued afterwards.

Anyone else care to weigh in? What are the different things you get from friendship with your spouse vs. girlfriends? And, could you leave your girlfriends for a year - or longer to be with your husband 24/7?

June 15, 2009

How Did I Ever Miss Barbeque?

When Wendy emailed me about her Once A Month Book Club in Lexington, NC, she said they always meet at a restaurant where the only requirement is that it serve alcohol and chocolate.

I knew I'd love this group.

This was actually the very first group I've call in to that met at a restaurant. I wondered how they managed that. Can you guess?


From left to right are: Karen, Julie, Jennifer R. and Wendy.

Easy, right? They met outside so as not to bother the other patrons with the whole speakerphone thing. Well, I'm guessin' that those tiaras and sepulchers helped to keep other diners at a distance.

The one thing I did NOT like about this group, was it reminded me of some fabulous food I've been missing: From their outdoor perch, they could actually see the Krispy Kreme hot light go on. Sigh. They also said their area is known for BBQ. Who knew? Don't answer that - you'll just make me feel even worse for missing it on our trip.

At least I can consol myself with other fond memories of North Carolina:



Rolling Hills Campground in Durham

And now, I have even more memories of that lovely state, thanks to the Once A Month Book Club picking QUEEN OF THE ROAD.

Why didn't I think of a sepulcher?

June 17, 2009

Queens of... Various Things

Oh, yeah.

Those Baltimore gals sure can party. (And occasionally, when they do, they're known as Baltimorons, like my college boyfriend - but never this group.)


L to R back row: Jen Eckstein, Pamela Steinik, Meri Bomse, Janet Garman, Jen Osterweil, Risa Huber
L to R front row: Jen Stein, Debra Woodward, Marni Rogow, Stacy Haynes

They all coronated themselves in honor of reading QUEEN OF THE ROAD. And what's more, these highjinks ensued without booze: These gals don't drink on weekdays. (Look, they're all in their 30s and 40s. Give 'em time.)

This didn't stop them from crowning themselves based on their occupations. Here's who they chose as the winner (can't say I blame them):


Unfortunately for them, one of the members is a Family Practice doc, so we just couldn't help devolve into a discussion on what to do about health care. And no, to everyone's detriment (including all of yours) no brilliant solutions were forthcoming.

In any event, many thanks to Janet for figuring out how to get me these fabulous photos and many, many thanks to these incredibly creative Baltimore Queens.

June 19, 2009



Joshua Henkin gives good book group.

Although my book club always meets at restaurants (as I've said, we're lazy), I recently entreated the gals to make an exception and meet at my house so we could "invite" Joshua Henkin. He's the author of MATRIMONY (a New York Times notable book - you know how I love to name-drop) and calls in to book clubs all over the country. I figured this would be a very hard sell (my house = I'm cooking, after all), but they readily agreed.

This was truly the best book club discussion we've ever had. We talked about MATRIMONY a bit before Josh's call, and normally that would have been it. (We're a bit more social than book-oriented.) But, his thoughtful comments about the book as well as the writing process stimulated even more discussion afterward: About how the decisions we make when we're young have repercussions we never anticipated later, about how relationships are made up of quiet moments, and about the creative process (several of the characters are writers). One of the members commented later that we were "invigorated" by the phone call. (Geez. And I thought it was my lasagna.)

The gals were particularly impressed with how warm and open Josh is. He teaches writing and we all commented that he must be a fabulous teacher, using words like: "astute," "conversational," "helpful" and "generous with his time". What was most interesting to me was that even for the one person who didn't finish the book (she never finishes any book, except mine - well... she said she finished mine. It's not like there was a test or anything), it was still an amazing evening. I truly had no idea how wonderful it can be to discuss an author's work with him and can only hope the clubs I call into have half the experience Josh gave mine.

As our "senior member" (in terms of time with the group, not age - although she did just have a milestone birthday), Susan, commented: It helped bring a new level of interaction and discussion to our group that otherwise wouldn't have happened. Having the author answer questions about his book was a great way to have more depth and understanding. All book groups should invite the author of their current monthly book at least once if they haven't already done so - and MATRIMONY is a great way to start!

I could not agree more.

June 20, 2009

Book Club Connections

I just love 'em. And, the club I called in to recently in Arcadia, California was a great example.


L. to R.- Linda, Susie (in chair), Rachel, Carla, Sarah, and Kathy (in chair).

Susie chose QUEEN OF THE ROAD because her son's girlfriend, Golda, had read it for her book club in La Jolla, and I had called in for their discussion. (I guess I didn't make too much a fool of myself - or, maybe I did and they found it highly entertaining. Fine by me.)

Anyway, Susie is married to her own MD-Project Nerd (maybe that's why she said her favorite part of the book was my relationship with Tim) and talked about a road trip she and her daughter, Katie, took:


Unlike us, they loved Graceland, can you tell?:


Well, there's no accounting for taste. (Oh, wait a minute: Susie said she loved my book. Oops.)

I do see some potential hate mail in my future from this group: Linda's husband is reading my book now (only real men read QUEEN OF THE ROAD, don'tcha know) and I have a feeling... (Although she has already done a three month RV trip with her kids, but still... Then, there's Sarah who said she'd love to do an RV trip for a year - and she's from NY. Go figure!)

To round out the group: Cathy was in Alaska last summer, so we got to compare some notes and Carla is one of few Los Angeles natives I've ever "met." (As is Linda.)

One of the most interesting parts of our discussion was the idea of getting rid of stuff. Several of the women mentioned that they had been doing that and we wondered if perhaps it's a middle-age thing, a metaphor for shedding some of the old and looking forward to the new.

What do you all think? Was there a time in your life when you felt the need to get rid of stuff? Why? How old were you? If there hasn't been, is that something you can foresee? Those questions are very much on my mind these days as I sort through stuff preparing to give up our stationary home. If this has also been on your mind, what has been the impetus for you?

June 23, 2009

Newport Coast Book Club


I feel terrible after seeing this picture.

For once, I didn't ask the book club what martini they were drinking. In my defense, I think it was because they were so organized, it didn't even occur to me they might be imbibing. I mean, they had written down their questions and gave them to their President, Marilyn to read. Don't believe me? Well, getta load a this:

(The placard in the clubhouse advertising the meeting. Told ya. Organized.)

So... my best guess judging from the color of the martini and the smiles on the faces of these lovely women is that it was the Headwater High. Whatcha say, ladies?

Let me back up.

I was quite tickled when Helen (who had arranged the call) told me that the club had had Franz Wisner, New York Times Bestselling author (there I go name-dropping, again) of HONEYMOON WITH MY BROTHER, call in several years ago. Franz was kind enough to give me a fabulous (and actually, my first) blurb for QUEEN OF THE ROAD . I had the opportunity to meet him and Kurt (the eponymous brother) while they were recently in Denver to promote Franz's new book, HOW THE WORLD MAKES LOVE, which I must say, is utterly fabulous. And that opinion has nothing to do with the fact that Franz and Kurt are both as charming in person as they are in the books. (And ladies: Kurt's still single. I'm just sayin'.)

I also had to laugh when the gals said they were looking forward to my next book, Porcelin Inspirations.(If you don't get the joke, you haven't read QUEEN and what have I told you about that? Geez).

One of the ladies asked about the nudist RV park. As I told the group, it's not far from where they live... could that be the reason for the question?

Another interesting question I'd never gotten before was if Wal-Mart , aka Chez Sam, charges for the privilege of parking in their lots. Answer: Don't give them any ideas.

Marilyn is apparently one busy lady: She's in two book clubs, and prior to this one's meeting, already arranged for me to call in to her other one. Marilyn - if you'd now like to change your mind, I'll understand.

But, if you're other book club is anything like the Newport Coast Book Club, I certainly hope not! (What will you all be drinking?)

June 26, 2009

A Boulder Book Club

My lovely neighbor, Susan, is in an equally lovely book club in our utterly lovely town. Although all the ladies work or have worked for The City of Boulder, I must say, they did an admirable job of not discussing super-duper, top secret government business when this Royal visited.


One of the ladies wanted to know if I the descriptions of myself in QUEEN OF THE ROAD were accurate. So, I told her what our contractor, Chris Legault (who, through no fault of his own, has been working on the house off and on for several years) said when he read the book: "Wow. You're really honest about yourself." Keep in mind, Chris is probably the one man in the world who has seen me in my PJs even more than my husband has.

You might think everyone in Boulder is an outdoorsy, hiking type. So, I was not surprised when the ladies asked if, after our year-long RV journey, I was now more into hiking. Nope. I still only hike with Tim about once a year - just to remind us both why I don't do it more often. I also mentioned that I really still didn't get the whole hiking thing - hours of climbing just to see more trees (they all pretty much look alike, anyway) or, to get to a view you'll appreciate for all of five minutes. Every lady but one laughed. She completely agreed with me. But, get this - she's not just any lady: She's the former Mayor of Boulder.

How she ever got elected here with that attitude is beyond me. (I forgot to ask if she at least did - blech -Yoga. I assume it's required by City Charter.)

In this fabulous book club's honor (they even go on a retreat together every year) I shall leave you with another fox photo from my yard. (I've taken many more since the last post. I can't help it. Have you ever seen such utter adorableness in your life?) I'll be posting the rest soon.

"Ah... this Queen doesn't do fox hunts, does she?"

She Hates Me

This book club in Longmont, Colorado found out about QUEEN OF THE ROAD from a member, Roni's, daughter.


Front Row: Erin, Karin, Roni, Jean
Back Row: Mary, Martha, Gennie, Barb

I'm multigenerational! Oy, I need a drink.

Anyway... I called in and we were having a lovely discussion, when Karin exclaimed, "I'm not done with your book yet, but I have to tell you, I didn't like you at all in the beginning." She went on to say that she hated me a little less as she read on, but since our call, wanted to drink all my martini recipes with me. (I guess she was saying I was driving her to drink.)


As hard as it is to believe, this is not the first time I've heard this from book clubs, although usually they'll say things like, "I found you really annoying." Frankly, whenever people in book clubs say that, I figure I must be some kinda great writer to have portrayed myself so accurately, because yeah: I am annoying. What do you want from me?

Karin's main beef seemed to be that as a Jewish American Princess, I reveled in the fact that I don't cook, clean, etc. I tried to explain (and Karin, please let me know if I was successful) that to me, there's a difference between refusing to do those things and expecting others to do them for you, vs. just not caring if they're done at all. I'm a pig. So sue me.

Here's a recent example: When my book club came over so we could have an author call in, Tim, of course, stayed away until the gals left. (Too much estrogen. Can you blame him?) Upon his return, he walked into the bedroom and promptly came out with a shocked look on his face.

"You made the bed?" He asked, incredulous.

Indeed, I had.

Normally, I think making the bed is a complete waste of time (much like getting dressed if you're just staying at home all day). I mean, really: Why does anyone make the bed unless company is coming over? (And even then, I've been known to... well, never mind.) Seriously, if you can answer that question, I'd love to know. Most of you would never (unlike me) even return to your bedrooom during the day, so who cares if the bed is made? Your cat? (OK, you got me there.)

And, as far as getting dressed every day, the best Tim can do to explain why I should is that, "Decent people get dressed in the morning." Frankly, indecency is fine by me. If anyone can come up with a better rationale than my darling husband has, I'd love to hear that, too.

So... back to the book club. It really was a lovely discussion, and I truly don't mind the "didn't like you" thing. Part of writing memoir that's different than any other genre is that people can hate the book, hate your writing and hate you. I knew very well I was opening myself up to this when I wrote QUEEN OF THE ROAD. And, I can certainly understand Karin's point of view. There are plenty of memoirists who I didn't like from their pages, either. (And no, I'm not sayin' who.)

Along those lines, this club asked me for book recommendations. I'm always happy to give them, but will never recommend bestselling authors or well-known books because everyone's heard of them, anyway, and those writers certainly don't need any help from me. Instead, I much prefer to mention relatively undiscovered jewels: Susan Breen's THE FICTION CLASS, Kristy Kiernan's CATCHING GENIUS and MATTERS OF FAITH and Joshua Henkin's MATRIMONY. (All of these authors call in to book clubs, too.) This prompted the book club to dub me, "The Jewish Princess Oprah." To which I say, "What could be bad?"

They also were kind enough to remind me (as I'm deciding on my next book) that in QUEEN OF THE ROAD, I mentioned I'd love to do a travel guide based on the crapper rating system, ie lid up or lid down. We decided I should call it (after the TLC show, What Not To Wear, and in honor of my Nick Arrojo haircut during our trip) WHERE NOT TO GO. If my editor or agent is reading this, don't worry. I'm not serious - yet.

June 30, 2009

Burly Men

I think I'll start a new series (to be continued until we put the house on the market), called, What Could Possibly Go Wrong?

Here's the first installment:


That's Tim and his bud, Samson (who, by the way is afraid of heights), hanging the chandelier* in the hallway.

I accompanied them on their lunch break (that's about all the pitching in I'm willing to do on Project Nerd's project days) and speaking of shoes, discovered something I did not know about Samson: He has a women's shoe fetish. Actually, it's more of an anti-fetish. While eating at Half-Fast Subs (just had to give them a plug, both because I love the name, and because the sandwiches are devine), several women in sandals strolled in. Samson became fixated on their feet. He told me what he hates most is to see a lovely lady, all dolled up in a lovely outfit, only to be ruined by shoddy shoes. Who knew? I thought us gals were the only ones who cared about what we wore on our tootsies.

Apparently not.

Samson went on to say that what he particularly finds offensive is when a woman's toe peeps through. He's just not that into toes. (He's not the only one who takes offense at exposed toes.) He then proceeded to tell me about seeing a picture of Paris Hilton.

"She has the most disgusting feet. She was wearing these sandals and her toes hung over the front," he shuddered.

At that moment, I was extremely thankful to be wearing sneakers.

He then listed what are for him, the grossest feet in movie history. I shall spare you the list in its entirety, but rather, shall only let you in on #1: Uma Thurman in Kill Bill - the part where she just got out of the coma and is getting into the car. Apparently, her toenails are rather long and gnarly. (Does anyone else remember this?) Samson was only mildly placated when I commented they were probably using a stunt foot.

Ladies, shoes are apparently not just for us. Such a discovery! Did anyone else know this? And if so, why didn't you tell me?

(Any of you with gorgeous feet out there - Sam is a honey. Sweetest guy you'll ever know. And, single.)

In the next installment of "What Could Possibly Go Wrong?" Tim tackles large mirror removal in small bathroom. A mallet and duct tape are involved.

* No husbands, helpers or elk were harmed in the making of this blog post. Sheesh. The antler chandelier is from shed antlers.

About Me
About My Book
Contact Me
Friend me on Facebook

AddThis Social Bookmark Button

 Subscribe in a reader

About June 2009

This page contains all entries posted to What Do You Want From Me? by Doreen Orion in June 2009. They are listed from oldest to newest.

May 2009 is the previous archive.

July 2009 is the next archive.

Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.

Powered by
Movable Type 3.35