Book Groups Archives

March 25, 2008

Borders Picks QUEEN OF THE ROAD as a June Book Club Selection!

Nothing snarky about today's post. Nope. Nothing, indeed.

I realize I haven't posted much about the whole publishing process thing. That's 'cause it's a mystery to me. To wit:

My editor, the fabulous Stacy Creamer (Lance Armstrong's IT'S NOT ABOUT THE BIKE; Elizabeth Edwards' SAVING GRACES; Lauren Weisberger's THE DEVIL WEARS PRADA) gave me the news yesterday that Borders had decided to make QUEEN OF THE ROAD one of its June book club picks. This means it and the other picks (four this month - two fiction, one young adult and one nonfiction - that'd be me in June) are placed in the front of the store with special reading group guides. Random House had to push the publication date up from June 10 to June 3 because of this. Made no difference to me. My (writing) work is done. I sent back the final corrected proofs over a week ago.

How did this happen? I had no idea this was in the works, or that it was even possible. I'm thrilled beyond belief and so grateful to... I have no idea who to be grateful to, but thank you, whoever you are!

I've been pinching myself to see if I'll wake up. Then, I didn't sleep all night. Go figure!

And, while I'm on the subject of the whole writing thing, blurbs were due a week ago and the winner is.... me! I was lucky indeed to get such fabulous blurbers. Thank you, all!

"Two psychiatrists driving a motorhome around America, and you're still wondering whether to buy this book? Step on the gas and go straight to the register." – Jeff Arch, Academy-Award nominated screenwriter, Sleepless In Seattle

“Doreen Orion has a fresh, wry voice that's all her own and she works it like a rodeo rider in her light-hearted and yet tender new memoir 'Queen of the Road.' ” - Jacquelyn Mitchard, bestselling author, The Deep End of the Ocean

"Doreen Orion and her handyman husband Tim prove, with abundant laughs and martini shaker in hand, that sometimes the best way to enrich home-life is to leave the home...or, better yet, just put it on wheels." - Franz Wisner, bestselling author Honeymoon with My Brother

“His dream – he’s always wanted to see America in a converted bus – and her nightmare –she has a bus phobia – and their mid-life crisis on wheels, make for a hilarious reading adventure.” - Mary-Lou Weisman, author of Traveling While Married

“You will never look at a psychiatrist the same way again. And you will never take a bus driver for granted, either." - John Robison, bestselling author, Look Me In the Eye

April 15, 2008

My First Book Group

OK. It's not that I'm like a book group virgin or anything, but I just got my first real book group request! I say "real" because my own book group - the one I've been in for over a decade - is reading my book off galley copies in May. (I'll be posting pictures of the gathering on the book group page of my website.) But, they kinda have to read it, ya know?

Not this group. Nope. This group contacted me! And, I don't know any of them! How cool is that? They are local and we scheduled for early August, so I can even go in person and not just by speakerphone. (You can bet your tiara I'm bringing my camera and will post pictures right here on the blog.)

I can't tell you how exciting it is to have the first, real, tangible evidence that SOMEONE other than those who must - like my agent, editor, mother and friends (who want to stay so) actually wants to read QUEEN OF THE ROAD.

Oh, lord. What if they hate it? Maybe I SHOULD appear by speakerphone?

Wait. They promised alcohol. Never mind.

May 21, 2008

My Fabulous Book Group

Last night my very own, fabulous book group (the one I've been in for over a decade) did QUEEN OF THE ROAD off galley copies. Thanks, ladies!

Of course, they were very complimentary. (What else were they going to say? They knew my onion rings would have made great projectiles.) And, for once, everyone finished the book! (Ditto - well, at least they said they did.) But, I was particularly gratified that in addition to the humor, they also "got" the underlying themes:

Don't wait - live your dreams NOW.

Keep challenging and stretching yourself.

The most important thing is to spend time with the people you love.

So, without further ado, here's my fabulous book group:


(Photo taken by our knights in shining armour, Peter Gail and his friend Michael, who had a camera in his cell phone, and saved the day when my camera refused to work.)
Jane Ann Hebert, Dina Horwedel, Sheryl Allen, me, Robbie Barr, Susan Wientzen at the Dark Horse, whose sister restaurant, The Bum Steer is mentioned in QUEEN OF THE ROAD as the place Tim and I had our first date. (He tricked me into going - the name couldn't be more appropriate.)

A few of the women are mentioned in the book:

Jane Ann has worked with Tim. Last night, she had to answer the question: "Is he really as great as Doreen portrays him?" (Hmmm. Wait'll I do that next edition.) Answer: "Yes." (There's that whole onion ring thing, again.) But then, she added, "And, what's really great, is you can tell how much he loves Doreen." Made even my cold, shrivelled heart melt. Thanks, Jane Ann.

Susan got some ribbing because in the book, I call her, "the most gorgeous woman I know." So, of course, she had to point out that I've had PRK - twice. (Maybe that explains my blinking in the picture.)

Sheryl, I term my "insane" friend, because her dream is to hike the Appalachian trail - 'nough said.

Robbie is mentioned in the acknowledgements as one of my beta readers, because I very much appreciated her judgment. (She's a judge - get it?)

Dina, who has had a fascinating life, providing aid in destitute, war-torn areas around the globe, had been in our group years before, then left to do her good work. She came back only recently and we're selfishly thrilled to have her with us, again.

Acknowledged, but not present, are Eileen GIlday and Deborah Ramirez who couldn't be there last night. We missed you, ladies! See you next time! (Geez. I hope it's not something I wrote.)

PS - Mom. I know you're going to be royally P.O.'d as only a Queen Mother can, that all these ladies have read the book and you have not. But, I wanted you to read the real book (you know, not a typo-filled, mistake-ridden, no blurbs yet galley copy) and I only got those last week. Yes, I know, I haven't sent you one of those, either. And, yes, I know in desperation, you ended up ordering one on Amazon.

I'll be happy to sign it for you.

June 26, 2008

Sir Celestial's Ultra-Fabulous Contest!

Living in Boulder, you kind of have to believe in Karma. It's in our city charter. And, since I refuse to do yoga - also in the charter (what's the point in putting that much effort into doing something just to think about nothing, when I'm already so adept at thinking about nothing without making any effort at all? I mean, if my mind were any clearer, I'd be dead.) I sort of have to go along with the Karma thing: Boulder's not likely to let that slide, too. (At the farmer’s market, Tim swears he once saw the result of what occurs when Boulder’s penchant for political correctness collides with its extremist attitude toward health: eggs labeled “vegetarian fed, cage free and voluntary.”)

When Tim and I were in wintering in "lovely" Modesto late last year, Karma intervened (no, not when we got stuck in the mud. What I'm talking about was a good thing that happened. Geez.) Since I thought we'd only be gone twelve weeks (yes, wishful thinking on my part) and I really and truly (really and truly) drink gallons of Celestial Seasonings various delectible flavors of Green Teas at home, I thought I'd brought enough with me. Not so much for five months away. Since we don't live far from their store in Boulder, I usually go there about twice a year (roughly equivalent to how often I'd leave the house) to buy the teas in bulk. When I ran out of tea in Modesto, I went on the Celestial Seasonings website for the first time and discovered... they have a book club! In partnership with my publisher! Well... what else could I do but ask if they would consider a local author. The rest is queenly history.

But, Celestial Seasonings has done so much more than simply select QUEEN OF THE ROAD for its Adventure At Every Turn Book Club, which would certainly have been wonderful in and of itself. However, Celestial is doing some incredibly additional things for this local author of theirs:

Wednesday, July 2nd, Celestial Seasonings is having me over in the a.m. (and you know how I must feel about them to get up so early) to discuss and sign copies of QUEEN OF THE ROAD for their employees. (Obviously, this is a company that treats its employees well.) Then, between 2-:3:30 pm, I'll be in their ultra-fabulous gift shop in Boulder (it really is. I love going there, not just for the wonderful teas and smells, but the creams, lotions, apparel, treats and books - and I don't even mean mine - gifts, etc) to sign copies of QUEEN OF THE ROAD for customers. Sir Tim shall park the Bus (With a Will of Its Own) in Celestial's parking lot to give tours of the Royal Rig to anyone who would like one. (I think next to actually driving it, that's his favorite thing in the world to do.)

But, wait! There's more: Since every chapter of QUEEN OF THE ROAD begins with an original martini recipe commemorating one the many disasters on our trip, Celestial Seasonings, in its infinite wisdom, asked me to come up with a tea-tini recipe which they are promoting on their website and through their book clubs! I had a lot of fun concocting it - what I remember of the process, at least (peach schnapps was involved). Furthermore, forthwith and foresure, Celestial Seasonings has also launched a contest for anyone to develop his or her own QUEEN OF THE ROAD iced-tea drink recipe for fabulous prizes. (Grand prize is a $500 American Express gift card, a signed copy of QUEEN OF THE ROAD and a $100 gift basket straight from the Celestial Seasonings shop!) I wonder if I can enter? But more importantly, can I knight an entire company? I'll have to do some research on that and get back to you.

Wait a minute. I'm Queen of the Road. I can do whatever the heck I please.

Celestial Seasonings, I dub thee... Sir Celestial! You have the eternal and undying thanks of this Sovereign. (Cheers and thanks to my royal publisher, House of Random, as well!)

July 3, 2008

A Celestial Seasonings Day

Yesterday, Tim and I spent the day at the ultra-fabulous Celestial Seasonings. Why is the company ultra-fabulous? You might think it's simply because it makes wonderful teas (not to mention because it picked QUEEN OF THE ROAD as its Adventures At Every Turn book club selection this summer). After spending the day there, I can tell you it's an ultra-fabulous company because of so much more: What a great place to work! I was told this again and again by the employees, although it was easy to tell - the whole ambience of the place, don'tcha know. (Yeah, yeah. The teas are the best. I know this. That's why they're the only thing I drink - before 5pm.)

Herewith, our Celestial day:

It started with a reading/signing/royal shtick in the cafeteria. Celestial Seasonings, in its infinite wisdom, purchased 300 copies of QUEEN OF THE ROAD for employees and their families. Now, isn't that a company that cares about the welfare of its workers? (And, I'm not just saying that because it was my book purchased. No place I've ever worked for has bought me any book! Uh... not you, House of Random. You made me a book - and a Queen - after all.)

Prior to the signing, I handed out boas to the employees in attendence - actually just the women. (The men, not so much - not secure enough, eh fellas?) It wasn't that I was being nice (really, don't we know each other well enough by now?) I just didn't want to feel overdressed myself - it was 10 o'clock in the morning, after all. (Sorry for all the feathers shedding all over the place. If you end up with one in your tea, you'll know why.)


Then, David Ziegert introduced me to the crowd...


... who, you can see, was already excited. (I had to remind myself they make tea. I mean, they probably get this excited... er, caffinated... every morning.)


This is me shticking. Yeah, I get into it. What do you want from me?


But, the audience seemed to, as well. (Maybe no one bothered to tell them I'm not real royalty?)


Afterwards, they had lots of questions about our story. My favorite was, "Since you're planning to sell your house and full time in the bus, where will you park?" I told them, "In the Celestial Seasonings parking lot, of course" and Dave did nod his approval, so we're all set! Hope they sell lawn gnomes in the Tea Shop.

Then, I signed all their books. They kept asking if I was getting writers' cramp. Were they kidding? Any potential pain was totally medicated by the adrenaline buzz I got soaking up their energy. (I'm way too lazy to produce my own. So, I soak. So sue me.)


By 11 am, Tim had parked the bus in front of Celestial Seasonings to give employee tours.


Then, Tim and I were treated to a fabulous lunch in Dave's office, with various of the wonderful staff. Part of the fabulous QUEEN OF THE ROAD promotion Celestial Seasonings is doing involves a recipe contest (what are you waiting for? Click that link and enter for "prizes fit for a Queen.") For dessert, they served an utterly divine Chocolate Raspberry Bliss Mousse made with their Chocolate Raspberry Bliss Herbal Tea (just reading that makes you sigh, right? Just wait 'til you try it.) The recipe (which I just printed off their website) is in the archives of the Celestial Seasonings Adventure At Every Turn Book Club. I can't wait for Tim to make it!

This is Dave, Tim and me. (Note our waaaaay cool official badges!)


And, with Jennifer and Tracie who were responsible for picking QUEEN OF THE ROAD for the book club in the first place! (Eternal thanks! You are now, officially, Ladies of the Realm.)


So, what to do... what to do after lunch. We had a little while before the signing in the Tea Shop. Hmmm....

Months ago, when we knew we'd be spending the day at Celestial Seasonings, but before we knew the itinerary, Tim (aka Project Nerd: Domestic Superhero, for those who haven't read QUEEN OF THE ROAD, and why haven't you?) informed me, "I'm going to get them to give me a private tour." I responded, "You can't ask them to do that!" But, Tim was adament. Fortunately, it didn't come to that, as when we got the day's agenda, it actually said they would be happy to give us a private tour, or we could just rest for a bit. I informed Tim about the offer, saying, "So, I told them we'd be tired and just wanted to rest." A divorce nearly ensued. Here's Tim in PN heaven with the adorable (and very patient) Jessica:


Afterwards, I headed to the Celestial Seasonings Tour Center where I signed books for visitors to the tea shop (one woman was heard to tsk tsk as she read the back cover, "They went to a nudist RV park!") and the public tour. (If you've never taken this tour of the world's most advanced tea production site, it's a must: The mint room alone is worth the price of admission - which is zero. Oh, and you also get free tea samples. Really - what are you waiting for?) While I signed books, Tim gave public tours of the bus:


Talking about the love of his life is probably Tim's favorite thing in the world.

Then, as if the company hadn't done enough for us, they gave us each presents: A Depot gift certificate for Tim and a spa package for me. (Someone there obviously already read the book.)

All that was left before we left, was to exact a promise that if a position as Company Shrink ever opens up (doubtful - everyone seems so happy, but still: It doesn't hurt to ask), Celestial Seasonings will hire one of us.

August 10, 2008

Fabulous Book Groups

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.

August 17, 2008

Another Fabulous Book Group

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!

September 11, 2008

Cousin JT's Got Fans (And I Don't Mean In His Radiator)

Somehow, a wonderful book group in Ketchum, Idaho, decided to read QUEEN OF THE ROAD, even though (as they pointed out) there was nary a mention of their fabulous state in any of my book’s pages.


Back row from left: Monica, Ramona, Julie, Chrissy
Front: Heather G., Jennifer T., Jennifer S., Mary, Alee.
Heather D. took the picture.

The group did provide some serious criticism, however. To wit, that I do not proffer a “Cousin JT’s been run’d over by the tractor” mug in my QUEEN OF THE ROAD shop. I merely have the t-shirt.
(Poor Cousin JT – he was run’d over by the tractor and all he got was a lousy t-shirt.)

For those of you wondering, Cousin JT is still doing well. And, how did he feel (ah, the shrink in me) about that episode being portrayed in QUEEN OF THE ROAD? Well, we recently got a picture of Cousin JT posing – in one of those very t-shirts – in front of that very tractor. Lookin' good, Cousin JT! (And my favorite book group in Idaho.) Ladies, Cousin JT thanks you for your concern and fandom!


September 15, 2008

Fun in the Workplace

OK. So, this is the first time I have EVAH even had the genesis of the thought, "Hmmm. Maybe it wouldn't be so bad getting out of my PJs, getting dressed and going to work."

Don't worry. I said it was just a genesis. This book group works at, channel 5 in Green Bay, WI. (It's the CBS affiliate.) I guess with RV in the station's call letters, they really couldn't help but pick QUEEN OF THE ROAD, no?

They even took the picture on their news set:


From left to right standing: Mauree, Erika, Vicky, Gretchen, and Kathy.
Seated/kneeling left to right: Dana and Erin.

Seems like a very fun work environment, no?

October 3, 2008

Make Mine a Double

A little while back (oh, who am I kidding? Quite a while, actually - I'm hopelessly behind) the Brookfield Library (in Brookfield, natch - that's Connecticut, people), chose Queen of the Road as that month's (I'm embarrassed to say which) book club pick. They have two groups that meet on the same day, one in the afternoon and one in the evening. I'm not sure which picture goes with which group, but we did have two lovely discussions.


Adele Brudnicki, Carolyn Nuzzi, Elena Goletz, and Jan Furlong smile for the camera with their copies of Queen of the Road!


From left to right, Library Director Anita Barney, Wendy Youngblood, Kathleen Olivieri, Judith Fisher, Ann Dupree, and Norma Fogarty pose with copies of Doreen's book.

(You can see several more pictures of the lovely ladies and their discussion on the library's flicker page.)

November 5, 2008

All Aboot (Sorry Ladies) My First Canadian Book Group

A little while back, I did a fabulous book group in Toronto by speakerphone. (Here's how to invite me to thusly appear at your own group. Oops! Just invited myself, didn't I? How rude. Oh well. What do you want from me?)


The ladies were very well-read, asked incredibly thoughtful questions to which I tried to provide intelligent answers and even gave me some wonderful ideas for my own book group, including Snow Flower and the Secret Fan by Lisa See, and The 19th Wife by David Ebershoff. (I haven't gotten to either yet, as I'm also behind on my reading. Anyone else want to weigh in?)

Although we had been to Canada during our QUEEN OF THE ROAD trip, we hadn't gotten to Toronto. (I did spend a week there on my first book tour and I must say, Canadian publishers are far more evolved than their U.S. counterparts. In Canada, I stayed in Toronto the entire week, doing one event per day. I got to spend the rest of the time exploring that lovely city, which of course, included eating at fabulous restaurants. A lot of eating. At a lot of fabulous restaurants. U.S. book tours are more notable for doing a different city every day with little sleep, and, if you can imagine, I was even too tired at times to take myself out to eat - at fabulous or any other type of restaurants. Sigh.)

Anyway, when I was in Toronto that time, I wish I had known about the Bata Shoe Museum.

I think it deserves a trip all its own, don't you?

November 20, 2008

First Methodist Supports the Monarchy!

First Methodist Church in Hurst, TX has a book group! Who knew? And, despite a few of the... shall We say... questionable words in QUEEN OF THE ROAD, these ladies of impeccable taste, decided to discuss it, anyway.

I think this group has the right idea: Meet at a fabulous restaurant first (no wonder they call themselves, "Food for Thought") then return to a church meeting room to discuss the book. When the food is Tai and the book is QUEEN OF THE ROAD, how could they go wrong?

Some of the ladies apparently thought the food a bit spicy. As the book group leader said, "I should have told them about your website!"


So, thank you, Clara, Lorraine, Nancy, Sarah, Phyllis, Carrie, Nancy, Roseann, Bobbie, Barbara, Clarita and Peggy (and especially to Nancy Nelson for setting this up) for your thoughtful questions.

Next time I'm in Hurst, Tai is on me, ladies!

December 18, 2008

Mentor Me A Book Club

OK, I'm not sure what that title means, either. I really suck at titles. One day, I'll do a blog post about the title I suggested for QUEEN OF THE ROAD. Suffice it to say, my editor found it so... innappropriate (to put it mildly) that she immediately phoned (not even emailed) my agent to see if she could talk some sense into me. It certainly would have had people picking the book up from the shelves (that's my rationalization and I'm sticking to it).

Anyway, a little while ago I did a fabulous book club in Mentor, OH. (Get it now?) Holly was the one who contacted me about phoning in by speakerphone, saying I was the first author to "attend" their group and she planned to surprise the rest of the gals. I think we did! (Hopefully, their surprise wasn't caused by my calling immediately after one of them said, "That was the worst book I ever read. Holly, how could you suggest such trash?")

Holly also mentioned that having been to Graceland herself, she could really relate to what I wrote about it:

We went to Memphis specifically to see Graceland, something we’d both always wanted to do. We’re not the only ones; it’s the second most visited residence in the U.S. (The White House is number one.) The fourteen-acre, 17,000-square-foot estate turned out to be a colossal disappointment. I thought it would be far more grand. Maybe it’s just that, as a museum left exactly as it had been when the King died, it can’t help being a fashion victim of the ’70s. But, really. One of the richest men in the country, a cultural icon no less, and he had Formica countertops?

Anyway, the group asked about our time in Ohio and I was able to reminisce about the gorgeous Ohio State Campground

from whence we headed over to Cedar Point Amusement Park. There, we were treated to (some might say, "endured") several of the craziest "amusements" in the States.

I'm usually game for any ride (look, I live on a bus, people) but one of the seventeen (yes, that's 17) coasters in the park had me begging Tim not to make me do it. He did anyway, saying, "If I'm going, you're going." Nice.

I think the most terrifying part of the entire experience was the anticipation, waiting in an hour-long line for the Top Thrill Dragster, of which the park boasts, "Reaching a stratospheric 420 feet tall and topping out at an unheard of speed of 120 mph, this new steel screamer helped Cedar Point reclaim the title of owning the tallest and fastest roller coaster in the universe." On second thought, I'm not so sure if this is a boast so much as a disclaimer.

Anyway, it's set up like a dragstrip, complete with bleechers and view stands. While we sat watching, trying to figure a face-saving way out of yet another mess Tim had gotten us into, each car paused, strategically situated so that the unfortunates it carried could very clearly see the horrors awaiting them. The adults among them burst into tears. (The youngsters were just too ignorant to know any better, methinks.) Despite our advanced degrees, neither Tim nor I could formulate a reasonable escape plan. But oh, I assure you, we tried.

So, with Holly's lovely book group, I got to, as therapists say, "Re-experience the trauma."


(standing from right) Jan, Margaret, Holly, (sitting from right) Laura, Susan, Debbie, Kathy, and Kim

January 4, 2009

A "Pleasant" Interlude

We're headed to Southern California, so needed to find a place to land for a night along the way. How to decide... how to decide. Well, turns out there's not much at about the half-way point (south of the Bay Area) - especially when one of the criteria is that there's an In 'N' Out nearby. (You all know how I feel about my Double Ds.)

Although this was our (OK, my) idea all along, it was only reinforced by one of the "new" (ie to us) restaurants we tried in Crescent City (and I'm not naming the place, which should tell you something) just before we left. Tim asked the waiter how the hamburgers were. He replied, "Well, they're not In 'N' Out." Unfortunately, great customer service is no substitute for good food. 'Nough said.

So, we're staying in an RV park at the Pleasanton Fairgrounds for the night. Didn't see much of the town. The In 'N' Out, however, was superb.

And, guess what awaited me in my inbox? This fabulous (and much needed after a long day of driving - not that I drove, of course), pick-me-up from Angel, who I sent autographed Queenly bookplates to (so she could, as she wrote, "give a special gift this holiday season….the gift of laughter.") - her lovely family with their gifts:


(That's Angel's dad, Pete, then clockwise: her mom, Barbara, her aunt, Rose, her sister, Ann Marie. Sitting down on the chair is her grandmother, Ann, and that's Angel, herself, kneeling in front.)

I was so touched she got them all an autographed copy of QUEEN OF THE ROAD for Christmas, but then I realized: You do actually like your family, right, Angel?

January 22, 2009

Indiana Goes Royal and Some Book Recommendations!

A little while ago, I did my first book group in Indiana (Carmel, to be exact). A lovely lady emailed "I chose this book for our club and you know the pressure that brings." Oh, indeed I do! She continued she then noticed, "you love calling into book clubs," (indeed I do, as well), and we arranged the "meeting." Although I cannot verify, Lori assured me that one of the martinis from the book would be served. Judging by the laughter on the other end of the line, I tend to believe her.


Lori says, "I'm the short one." Ah, yes. I can relate.

It's so interesting to me that every book club I "visit" has different questions and we get into different discussions. Why is this surprising? Well, every radio interview (at least those of the standard 10-15 minute length) I do is basically the same. Same questions, same answers. No wonder I can (and, for the EST am drive shows do), do them in my sleep. (No matter what time they are - I do them in my Royal PJs, of course. Right now, my favs are pink flannels with black poodles on them. OK, OK. I'm as predictable as those radio shows.) I can always tell if the host has actually read the book, because then, even for the afternoon drive shows, I get the question, "Are you in your PJs right now?"

In any event, one of the things this book group and I discussed were other books we'd read. I shall trust the gals not to divulge which ones I didn't care for (ah, Lori, I do hope I spared you that embarrassment), but I did recommend a few they might not have heard of that I've recently read: Susan Breen's THE FICTION CLASS and Kristy Kiernan's, CATCHING GENIUS and MATTERS OF FAITH. All three would make wonderful discussion books, and indeed, I hope to blog about my own book group's thoughts about them once we return to Boulder.

And no, alas, I do not call in to my own book group to join the discussion while we're on the road. As you can imagine, I'm in a lazy book group - we always meet in restaurants. For all the gals that cook for each other - I tip my crown to you!

What are some of your favorite discussion books?

February 16, 2009

The Most Hated Man in Denver

I recently called into a lovely book club in Centennial, CO, The Queen Bees. (How come my book club doesn't have a cool name like that? Well, I said we were lazy.)

Several of the gals purchased their books at the Park Meadows Mall Borders, in Lone Tree, CO. It's one of only a few Borders "Concept" stores across the country, and is absolutely gorgeous, along with having a wonderful staff.

Julie told me when she got the book and informed the manager, Michael, that I was going to call in to her book club, he said to tell me, "Hello." I'm glad he took that tack, as he could just have easily have exclaimed, "She better not darken our door, again!" You see, when QUEEN OF THE ROAD first came out, I drove around the Front Range signing stock. While Michael helped me at this particular store, I took the opportunity (surely you know by now I'm not shy), to tell him about the book. A couple of customers overheard and (remember: not shy) I started handselling to them! Truth be told, Michael was rather amused by the spectacle. He was such a good sport, I asked if there was a staff member who might like her own autographed copy. Although I didn't get to meet her in person, I've since heard from Beth Ann, the Sales Account Rep, that she enjoyed the book and has been handselling it herself. Didn't I say this was a wonderful store?

So, here, without further ado, are the fabulous Queen Bees:


Starting top left: Julie, Lori, Dawn, Lynne, Kathleen.
Starting bottom left: Michelle, Celia, Krista.

The gals concocted their own martini recipe which they were toiling over (arduously toiling, I tell you!) to perfect during our discussion.

They were kind enough (and somehow managed to remember), to forward the recipe so that all in the Kingdom may enjoy:


2 parts vodka
2 parts OJ
1 part Passionfruit liqueur
Squirt of Agave honey to take the sting out...
"Buzz" around your girlfriends, "hive" a great time!

I haven't tested it yet, but, from what I heard that night over the phone, can attest to the fact that it certainly sounded like a libation fit for a queen - or in this case - queens.

As often happens with many of the book clubs I call into, this one also commented on how "wonderful," "marvelous," etc. etc. etc. (yawn, whatever), Tim is. (He certainly didn't help matters by giving me a message to convey to the group: "Tell 'em I hung drywall for you by day and am cooking for you by night." 'Tis true, I must admit.) However, this club went one step further: They informed me that they had read their husbands sections in QUEEN OF THE ROAD about Tim.

I am now proud to be married to the Most Hated Man in Denver.

February 20, 2009

Book Club Virgins No More

A while back, I was invited to "do" a book club in Ft. Myers, FL. While this was my second book club in Ft. Myers (is it something in the water?) QUEEN OF THE ROAD was this club's very first book.

Oh, the pressure. Even more so when I was informed that the group consists of lawyers, judges and mediators. (Can one be sued for snark? How about causing the breakup of a book club before it really even gets started?)


"Judging" by the picture, I need not have worried, as the gals certainly got into the whole Queenly scene. Besides, I'm quite certain they would have granted me diplomatic immunity, especially while they were imbibing my patented (hear that? Patented. And just look at the legal muscle I have now to enforce it!) Jubilees:


Doesn't that make you want to go out and get one right now?

See ya!

(And gals, if you're still meeting, please let me know. Yes, we had a lovely discussion, but I need to be reassured I wasn't somehow single-handedly responsible for the demise of your fabulous group!)

March 1, 2009

A Really Fantastic Book Club Wanted Me

Seriously. (I know you think I'm kidding, since we've already been through the "I can't believe she has fans" thing. Well, now I have... more than one. Deal with it.)

Anyway, I got an email with the subject line: "A Really Fantastic Book Club Wants You." After making sure it wasn't some particularly cruel, author-specific form of Nigerian spam, I learned that this Manhattan group meets monthly, the women "totally rock" and most are in the kids entertainment industry. (Several work for Nickelodian, and I'm sure I spied some Sesame Street email addresses! Hmmm. "Queen" would make an excellent "Q" word, no?)

Turns out, my friend, Joshua Henkin, author of the fabulous, New York Times notable book, MATRIMONY, recommended me to the club.

And, aren't Jordana, Severine, Christine, Carol and Robin a stylish bunch? (Truly, what did you expect from a Manhattan book club?):


The nice people at Sesame Workshop provided the conference room, and we chatted via speakerphone. Jordana, the organizer (in the fabulous, sparkly Nanette Lepore dress), mentioned that she had three greyhounds and didn't think they would at all enjoy a prolonged bus trip, which surprised me, for surely they have busing in their blood? She also had a list of very interesting questions, the most difficult of which was "What question do book clubs ask that you dislike answering the most?" Difficult, as I truly couldn't think of any. I'm still trying to think of one. Although (as you know), I'm sick of the book clubs commenting on how "wonderful" Tim is, that's not really a question (and rolling my eyes, not really an answer). So, I'm still mulling.

One of the women commented that I'd made my hometown of Boulder sound so lovely, she wanted to move here. That's fine - we don't mind New Yorkers immigrating to the People's Republic (I am a former Princess from the Island of Long, after all) - it's the Californians we try to dissuade.

The ladies also discussed what they might want to try if they could do anything for a year: Travel the world, do a trip like we did, live in Italy and grow grapes were a few of the answers. (I'd do the Italy thing, but without the gardening aspect. I much prefer my nature through a window. Wonder how Tim would fare as a vintner?)

What would your dream year look like?

March 11, 2009

Mind Readers

Last month, I called in to a book group in Houston that calls itself the M.I.N.D. Readers, ie Moms In Need of D. They bring their own "D" - dessert, drinks, downtime, whatever. Obviously, I was going to love this group. Even more so, when Cherisse, who arranged for the call-in, announced since the book club was meeting in February, I was now a "Miss February," too. (For any of you who haven't read the book - and really, why is that? - since our bus was a centerfold for Bus Conversions magazine, I'm fond of saying that my proudest accomplishment is fulfilling my life-long ambition of becoming a Miss September.)

As if all that wasn't enough to love this group, Cherisse further informed me they would be enjoying some of the chapter titles from QUEEN OF THE ROAD (again, for those of you in the dark - and aren't you tired of being so? - these refer to martini receipes), in chilled glasses "while soaking up the few hours that our husbands have our children." (They're all moms of young kids.) Clearly, after meeting for four years, this group has it down.

Don't they look happy? Was the it book? Or, the martini recipes? Perhaps both? You be the judge:


From far left: Lisa, Cherisse (the short one - her description), above her is most of Mistye, next to her is Kristi, below her is Briggitte, above her is Cynthia, behind her is Angela, in front of her is Deanna (a fellow, er... lady RV'er and her first night in the book club - hope I wasn't responsible if it turned out to be her last), next to her is Lisa (also new and just moved back to the States after 2 years in Italy) and finally, Jill.

Absent: Kelly wasn't able to come as she was home with a brand new baby (congrats Kelly!) and Brenna just moved to an obscure island in Russia, where she is currently braving some unimaginable snowstorms. Gee, Brenna. You didn't have to go to such lengths to avoid reading my book. A simple, "Not my cup of borscht," would have sufficed.

Note the lone star over the fireplace. Cherisse purposely included it in the shot, because in the book, I make fun of Texans putting their Lone Stars all over the place. Glad Texans have a sense of humor. Even more so, as if I could have come in person, Cherisse assured me she had a "huge yard with a big gate." I certainly hope she was referring to our bus. And, in that case, Cherisse: Be careful what you wish for!

March 14, 2009

Island Life

When Jules emailed that her book club on Lopez Island in the San Juan Islands, WA, wanted me to call in to its discussion, I warned her I might have more questions for them than they for me. Turned out to be about right.

This is a group of neighbors who live on Whiskey Hill (don'tcha just love it?) and call themselves the Fisherman Bay Book Club. Lopez, aka The Friendly Isle, is 15 miles long, 8 miles wide and has 2,200 year-round residents. The gals in the club originally hail from such far-flung and varied places as Key West and not-so-varied - except foreign language-wise, Scotland. (If you've been there, you know what I'm talkin' about.) Well, at least her husband hails from Scotland. That's why this particular group member moved to Lopez - it reminded hubby of home. (You don't suppose Tim lived on a bus in a previous life? That would explain a lot.)

Lopez is about a 40 minute ferry ride to the mainland, but this Whiskey Hill Gang (sorry, but I really love that name - can you tell?) say they try not to go in the summer, when the ferries are crowded with tourists. Of course, that's the time of year you wouldn't want to be gone, anyway, I would think.

Tim and I had been to the San Juans years ago, taking the ferry to Orcas Island from Anacortes one summer. All I really remember is how gorgeous it was. The gals confirmed it's cold and wet in the winter (notice how they're bundled up), but, still beautiful. (Trust them on this. Or don't and check out the Island's webcam.) Although, in talking to them, they didn't seem to mind the weather all that much. Perhaps it's because these Islanders are quite savvy about how to make it through the long winter - Martini Monday at the local restaurant just down the hill - yep, that'd be Whiskey Hill. (Now, if they had a hill named, "Martini Hill," I might just move there, myself.)


I, for one, had a fabulous time with this most unusually-situated club, my most Northwestern, yet. (Come on Canadians. You're falling behind! And, Alaska? For shame.) I assume the feeling was mutual, as I'm "doing" a member's sister's book club in CA next week. (Although I suppose it's possible she hates her sister and only recommended QUEEN OF THE ROAD to torment her. With a mind like mine, it's a good thing I'm an only child.)

March 18, 2009

A Wild and Crazy Group!

Who knew there was so much fun to be had in Livermore?

Trust me. This was the wildest group I've called in to, yet. Maybe it's because it was a Friday night. Maybe because Ann, who arranged my "visit" is from Scotland. I'll let her explain: "We too like a wee drink - that's what we do as a hobby." Although I guess comparitively, it wasn't too bad, as Ann emailed afterward, "My neighbors didn't call the police."

She is also responsible for the first and only time this Royal has become a bribe: Apparently, Ann recommended QUEEN OF THE ROAD to her son's teacher. Again, I'll let her explain: "She too has a book group and I'm trying to keep her in good books as my son keeps getting in trouble for talking in class, what can I say, it's in the blood!" Works for me, Ann. (Although what will happen to your son if she hates it? Oh, the pressure of having a wee life's future in my hands.)

I'm guessing this picture of this group's meeting was taken around the time they marveled the neighbors hadn't called the police:


Ladies, I'm serious: Next time I'm in Livermore....

March 22, 2009

Joisey Goyles

When Cheryl, from a book club in New Jersey, emailed to invite me to call in to their discussion, I was particularly pleased: I'm often homesick for the sounds of my youth. Somewhere in college (in Upstate New York), I lost my very heavy Long Island accent. Now, when I listen to recordings we made as kids, I don't even recognize my own voice. So sue me if I get nostalgic sometimes.

What was also particularly lovely, is that one of the members of the group heard about QUEEN OF THE ROAD from another book club that I called in to in Florida. Word-of-mouth has been why this book is in 6th printing, and I love hearing first-hand examples. Thank you. Really.

OK. Enough with the sentimentality. Wait - one more thing. Cheryl mentioned that another member, Donna, is a fabulous cook and baker, and actually offered to send me some goodies. I mean, they read my book, invited me to call in AND offered to feed me. Who said we East Coasters aren't nice? Well, OK. I'm not a great example, but still...


Linda, Donna, Audrey, Marcy, front row- Cheryl E., Cheryl M.(the Cheryl who arranged the meeting), and Karyn.

Thank you so much for inviting me, ladies! I thoroughly enjoyed our discussion.

March 27, 2009

They Were Really Into It

I'm not the most energetic person in the world. We all know this. But, these Book Club Queens of Great Falls, VA would put anyone to shame.


Top left to right: Michele Verity, Karin Brown, Tammy Irving, Bari Zimbrick, Fran Scofield, Susan Grow, Lauren Mullen. Bottom left to right: Linda Matz, Karen Doody, Mary Wiltse, Patti Hulett, Bina Clark, Laura Lopez.

Linda, who was hosting that day, has good friends, Jane and Ken Tholan, from Louisa, VA, who travel the country in their super-duper RV, so persuaded them to come on over, park in her driveway, and allow the book club to meet in the rig for their lunch:


But, wait! There's more! The ladies were all required to wear their favorite couture shoes:


How many can you name? Which is your fav? (They should be glad I wasn't there in person, 'cause if any of these beauties were size 8, the wearers would be going home barefoot. You know I mean it.)

They also made two of the martini recipes in QUEEN OF THE ROAD, although assured me they waited until noon to imbibe. As Michele (who helped arrange the whole thing) put it, "The ladies were 'extra happy' at carpool." I bet. They also boasted (or lamented, I couldn't be sure), that amongst all the neighbors in the group, they didn't have to go to the store to buy any of the ingredients.


Headwater High and Prevost Princess.

And, as if that wasn't enough, they were all provided with shoe box lunches:


That's Michele on the left and Linda on the right.


As Michele emailed me afterward, "Since we alternate hosts, there's now a lot of pressure! " I would certainly say so. Just seeing these pictures made me think I should at least get out of my PJs today. Fortunately, the thought passed.

Don't know if it was the booze, rig, box lunch, shoes, or even the book, but Michele also said that this was the most they've ever discussed a selection. Nice for me to hear, but maybe not so nice for any other book clubs out there, as with everything else going on for this group's meeting: you should consider yourselves served.

March 30, 2009

A Superior Book Club

No, I'm not being a snob (for once). They meet in Superior, CO. Geez.


The gals were lovely, the food was amazing and the martinis looked soooo good. Wish I could have imbibed, but I can barely drive, so drinking and... no. As it was, the navigating left a little to be desired. Laura (in front, in gold), whose lovely home we met at, gave me excellent directions (better than Map Breath's), but when will I learn I need these things spelled out coming and going? I'm really not good with keeping the whole right-left thing straight.

So, Tim was rather surprised when, upon my return, I phoned him rather accusingly and demanded, "Did you know McCaslin Boulevard dead-ends?" I mean, he could have warned me. (Although, in truth, he didn't know. I don't think many Coloradans do, as I must have been almost to Kansas.)

Before I left Laura's, this Superior group actually gave me some gifts. I was rather amazed. I mean, they read my book, fed me and gave me stuff?

And, yeah, yeah, we discussed QUEEN OF THE ROAD, of course. But, when one of the gals mentioned that a local Macy's was going under and selling everything, well, my ears (and some other parts of me) perked up. I haven't really done much shopping since the "bus thing," but as many of you know, Tim and I are putting the house on the market as soon as we (well, OK - he), finishes fixing it up, so we can live in our rig full time. Some chatchkies for staging would be lovely. So, Tim and I headed to that Macy's the next weekend, but by then, the chatchkies (and most other stuff, including the fixtures) were long gone. But, I did pick up this fabulo robe:


Why in the world had it been overlooked by everyone else? Couldn't be related to the fact that Tim calls me "Champ" whenever I wear it, could it?

Now, notice I'm reading a book of martini recipes, drinking from a martini glass and wearing anti-slippy, slippy socks (which perfectly match that robe), all gifts curtesy of this truly Superior book club.

April 2, 2009

Temecula - Don't Worry, It's Not Catching

As I mentioned in a previous post, one of the gals in that fabulous Lopez Island, WA book club recommended QUEEN OF THE ROAD to her sister and I hoped that didn't mean she hates her. Well, I guess she doesn't, as Kristy (sister of Jane from Lopez) liked it enough to bring it to her book club in Temecula, CA. (It's a lovely town in So Cal; it only sounds like something you'd want to be innoculated against.) Although, I suppose it's possible that Jane hates Kristy and Kristy hates her book club, but really. Let's just assume the best for once, shall we?

This book club has sisters of its own. Can you tell?


(That's Susan on top, then L to R: Lisa, Diana, Dana, Linda, then bottom row L to R: Becky and Katie. So, nu? Who are the sisters? Susan and Becky.)

While almost all of the book clubs I call in to comment on how "wonderful" Tim is (yawn), this one also mentioned how nice it must have been for him to "have a wife who made him laugh and was such a good sport about going on a trip she didn't want." They really said that. And no, they didn't sound too drunk or anything when they did. Of course, I told Tim (conveniently leaving out yet another night of Project Nerd-directed superlatives). His response?

"Oh, yeah. That's exactly how it happened." Fine.

Diana leaves May 4th for her own RV adventure - four months in Alaska. She doesn't want to go. (Sounded like she was having some anticipatory RV anxiety of her own, but as I always say, "I gave at the office" - sorry, Diana.) Her husband just retired and this is his dream. Sound familiar? Might I suggest that you do what I did: Grow a prodigious bus butt to show your darling hubby that living one's dreams can have its nightmarish aspects.

April 8, 2009

Semper Paratus

I didn't know what it means, either.

The book club I called into last night sure does: Always Ready. (It's the U.S. Coast Guard's motto.) Why would they, you might ask? Well, here's how DesaRae described her club when she first emailed me:

Our common denominator is that we are all spouses of Coast Guard active duty members stationed on Staten Island, New York or Bayonne, New Jersey. Every year a third of us move to a new duty station, so each year the composition of our membership changes dramatically. Because most of us are not near family, we rely heavily on each other for support and friendship. Our book discussions are usually liberally sprinkled with what is going on in our homes.

She signed her email, "President, CG Spouses Club Book Club." Good thing, too: As Queen, I only deal with heads of state. The VP or (shudder), treasurer would never do.


From left to right: DesaRae, Rhonda, Jada, Sonia and Brett.

When we started the discussion, each of the women told me where they had lived and I do believe amongst them, covered most of the states. DesaRae has orders to leave for San Francisco in a month, and although seemed sad to leave her friends, was also hoping the move would help cancel out the Staten Island accent her twins had picked up. (Good idea - the younger the better. You should have heard my Long Island accent growing up. Oy.)In addition to being married to a Guardsman, DesaRae herself graduated from the Coast Guard Academy in 1994.

Sonia was once stationed in Sitka, AK and I informed her that was our favorite Alaskan town. She proceeded to one-up me, saying it was her favorite place to live, ever. In fact, when she and her husband left on the Marine Highway's ferry, he grabbed her waist so she wouldn't be tempted to hurl herself overboard and swim back.

I thought I'd post a couple of pictures of Sitka from our trip. Can you tell why we liked it so much?


Harbor Mountain


Hangin' at the RV park.

Brett has also lived all over the place, and hails from one of my favorite parts of the country, Upstate New York. Rhonda's husband has been in the Coast Guard for 24 years and she also works for the USCG as a civilian employee. Jada grew up on a small Island off the coast of ME, and it seems hadn't traveled much until she met her Guardsman husband, who has been in two branches of service for a total of 20 years.

Because they've been... well, everywhere, the gals particularly enjoyed the descrptions of places and sights in the book. I think they could also relate to being reluctant travelers at times, as I was at the start (well, OK - for a bit more than just the start) of our QUEEN OF THE ROAD trip.

When I asked how they heard of the book, it seems some paperback book swapping website had deemed it "hot," so these terribly wise women unanimously agreed to make it their April pick.

Hmmm. Pushing 50 as I am, it's been years since I thought of myself as "hot." Perhaps I'll have to rethink that, now. Poor Tim. If I do, he's likely to see a resurgeance of one of my favorite little pranks: Years ago, whenever we were in his Corvette at a stoplight, some guy in a car next to us would invariably smile and give Tim a thumbs up. I'd immediately primp, toss my hair and mouth, "thank you," to the unsuspecting man. Drove Tim nuts.

April 11, 2009

The Best State

As most of you know by now, when Tim announced that he wanted to "chuck it all" for a year and travel the country in a converted bus, I demanded to know, "Why can't you be like a normal husband in a midlife crisis and have an affair or buy a Corvette?" What you may not know, is that my other favorite whine during the years it took to convince me to do "the bus thing" was, "Why can't your dream include the best state?" Of course, I meant Hawaii, so was thrilled to call in to my first Hawaiian book club. (The only other time I've revealed this was during a radio interview in California. There was a moment of silence and then the host responded, "We're the best state." I think if you're trying to convince people you live in "the best state," one of the prerequisites is a sense of humor. But, maybe that's just me.)

Allison selected the book after reading about it on Bookmovement. (I'm not one to brag... well, OK. I am: The webmaster of Bookmovement emailed me the very next day after I called in to Allison's group, with congratulations that QUEEN OF THE ROAD made it to #1 on their "Book Club Bestseller List." Aloha spirit at work? You be the judge.)

To accomodate my Queenly need for beauty sleep (Hawaii is on H.A.D.T., that's Hawaii-Aleutian Standard Time, ie four hours earlier than MDT where I am), the gals graciously met an hour before they usually do and at a workplace, rather than in one of their homes. I very much appreciated this supreme sacrifice, as it of course meant no libations could be served. (And, let me tell you, with the fruity drinks they have in Hawaii, that was quite a sacrifice, indeed.)


I asked the gals to take a picture of themselves in front of some gorgeous Hawaiian background. I'm sorry I did. It snowed in Denver the night before I called them. So tell me: Why couldn't Tim's dream include the best state? (From left to right: Lauren, Hollie, Stephanie, Dani, Allison, Anastasia, Jean, and Kristen.

This was quite an ecclectic group: They work as teachers, environmentalists, for a non-profit, for a shrimp company, in genetics research and one is in the Navy.

Like many of the book clubs I call in to, this one asked what my favorite place from the trip was. It was nice, for once, not to feel bad that I didn't answer "Your state."

April 15, 2009

My Therapeutic Failure

Heather and I first "met" on Goodreads last summer, so I was very pleased when she invited me to call into her Chicago-area book club. (Fine. I invited myself. What do you want from me?)

This group had the first mother-daughter pair I've encountered - Claudine, Heather's mother, who told me "I've been married 100 years." (Really, she didn't sound like it had been a day over 99.) A few years ago, Claudine's husband decided they needed to do an RV trip (what is it with men and RVs?) and she said QUEEN OF THE ROAD gave her flashbacks. Sorry, Claudine. I really had hoped my book would have some medicinal effect: Laughter is the best medicine and all that. I had no idea it could induce PTSD. Maybe future additions should come with a prescription for Valium. (Hmm. Not a bad idea. New York Times Bestseller List here I come!)


Back row, from left to right: Trish, Lori, Janice, Christine, Terri. Front row, from left to right: Liz, Heather, Julia. (Claudine is suspiciously absent. I guess if I'd been married 100 years, I wouldn't want my picture taken, either. Although, I am a bit concerned our discussion induced one of those flashbacks, and Claudine was off somewhere screaming, thinking she was careening off the road in a big rig.)

Many of the gals had traveled all over the country (except for Alaska), so it was particularly nice to hear that the book made them want to explore some of the places they hadn't seen. (At least that's sort of therapeutic, right?)

A lot of the discussion centered around the changes our bus year brought into our lives, and how we've tried to maintain the new traditions and ways of living since our return. Like other clubs, these gals were also surprised to hear that the trip was so life-changing, we plan to fix up our house, sell it and live on the bus full-time. (Project Nerd is drywalling at this very moment.)

You do realize I'm not using the Royal We for once, right? ie Sir Tim is doing all the actual "fix up our house" stuff.

Silly me. Of course you do.

April 20, 2009

A Golda-en Book Club

Oy. I really do suck at titles. This one came about because Golda (get it? Yeah, I know. What do you want from me?) did a google search on "fun book club picks" and came up with QUEEN OF THE ROAD. Thank you, Sir Google!

Her club (which meets in La Jolla), is fairly new. And they're already looking for fun books? My book club went through years of depressing, heavy reads before we tried "fun." And, I'm the only Jew in the bunch. Go figure.

As I usually do when calling in to bookclubs, I asked each of the gals to introduce themselves. Valerie was up front about not having read the book, saying she was the "slacker" of the group. Someone else chimmed in, "She brings great food!" Slacker? Hardly. Wanna join my book club, Valerie?


(Back Row, L-R) Diana, Corinne, (Front Row, L-R) Rosilyn, Valerie, Jesica, Golda.

A few of the gals had actually traveled by RV at some point in their lives (one "in a Beverly Hillbilly's motorhome with the wrong man." Double Oy!) One of my favorite parts of our discussion was when they recalled what someone said to Tim and me at the beginning of the bus thing: "I hope you have some hardship on your trip." We agreed that sometimes, it's the hard moments that are the most memorable - even life-changing. (In our case, between the fire, armed robbery and finding ourselves in a nudist RV park, I'd say that was true.)

What about you?

April 26, 2009

Some Hard Core Dames

Maybe it's the weather, but this Minnesota book club informed me right off the bat they were serving Prevost Princesses for their meeting. Pure alcohol, folks. Here's the recipe for those of you who didn't read the book (and, why I'm encouraging that sort of behavior, is beyond me):

Prevost Princess
3 parts vodka
1 part peach schnapps
1 part raspberry liqueur
1 robust whine (optional)

Recline on couch; command husband to assemble and shake.

This was Tam's first hosting of the book club at her house, and obviously, she has fabulous taste - both in books and martinis, of course.

And now, without further ado, here are Angie, Ira, Kathleen, Kirstin, Renee, Sally, Sara, Sarah, Shar, Sharon, Kate, Tam and Ann:


One of the Sara(h)s said her husband didn't want her to read the book, as she's the one who wants to do an RV trip. (Really? Even after reading the book?) The other chuckled when she read the mention of Homer, AK's lone stoplight, because she was actually living there when they got it. And, sorry guys who roam beaches with metal detectors: Renee said she saw one of you after she'd read the book, and couldn't stop laughing. Perhaps it's because I wrote, "How those things work, exactly, is slightly beyond the scope of this memoir and well beyond the interest of its author, but I’m certainly not the first to observe that these devices inherently attract metal and repel women." Kathleen went to one of my favorite places on earth, Walt Disney World, for her honeymoon. She said most people thought she was nuts. Not I, Kathleen. Not I.

The gals did chastize me for not getting to Duluth on our Queenly trip. I explained that there were many places we did visit - like Duluth - that just didn't make it into the book for whatever reason. (Cape Codders have also chastized me for the same reason and I've had to explain the same thing.) I'm not sure they believed me, so here's the proof: A picture of our bus at the "RV park" we stayed in for our Duluth overnight, aka Chez Sam.


I'm sure you recognize this important Duluth landmark, right ladies?

Really, it's your own fault your lovely city didn't make it into my book: If someone had insulted me, run around naked, or robbed us... As you know, plenty of lesser towns made it in for precisely those reasons.

May 1, 2009

Early Birds

Lori knew she was asking me to meet at an "unqueenly time" as she put it. Indeed. But, her book group of "mainly moms of 12 year old boys" (!) meets in the mornings, right after the moms drop them off at school. Personally, I would head right back to bed, but not the supermoms in this group. (Although at that hour of the morning, I must out them and disclose that they did forgo martinis. Really ladies - one must keep up one's standards!) Fortunately, since the Royal Castle is in a slightly later time zone, the meeting was not too early for me to call in to.

This was only the club's second meeting, so once again, the pressure was on. It seems that we all discovered at the same time that there were many East Coast transplants in the group.


Front row: (L-R) Amy Cima, Lisa Vondle
Middle row: Sandra Novack, Lori Parks, Tracey Brandon (host)
Back: Coral Teza (photographer/graphics guru - surely anyone familiar with this blog knew the adorable art on the photo had nothing to do with me), Joan Martinez, Joni Laura, Julie Ames, Leslie Kneeshaw

Some additional tidbits:

Amy's husband says she's a JAP, although she herself doesn't think so. (Amy, I didn't think I was, either.)

Tracey is taking an Alaskan cruise this summer. As I told her, if we had just gone to the interior, we would have missed the best part. Bon Voyage!

Coral drives her kids cross country every summer in a minivan without her husband. They get to the pick the destination by looking on a map. (Personally, I would white out a few states before giving them the map to choose from.) They've been to every state except Alaska and Hawaii.

Leslie is from Canada and took exception with my "aboot" jokes in the book - although a few of the gals interjected, "Oh, she does say that." No comment from moi - We Royals take our diplomatic duties very seriously.

Lisa has a 34 ft, purple RV which she and her husband take to the National Parks. (I wanted to paint our bus pink, but Tim wouldn't let me. See? He's not as great as you all think.)

When Joni met her husband, he was living in an airstream. Her condition for marrying him: He sell it. Needless to say, he was happy she was reading QUEEN OF THE ROAD.

Sandra was only one of two native Californians in the group, and has only traveled to Mexico and Hawaii. I hope reading QUEEN has whet your appetite to see more of North America, Sandra.

Joan is the other native Californian. Her friends call her "Five Star." I'm stealing that. Look, between my last name and my... habits, I'm sure it fits me even better.

Julie is married to a retired Navy Admiral - but she's the one who loves to travel. I have a few friends who are married to retired airline pilots - same thing. I can see if you've been traveling all your life, you'd want to stay put. So, what was my excuse?

And, last but not least, the gal who got me to get up early to call in (obviously a woman of many talents): Lori, who publishes history books. When she sent the above picture, she very sweetly wrote: "You’re an inspiration to me for stepping out of your comfort zone and opening your mind to new possibilities."

Oh, my. Being an inspiration is such hard work. Off to bed for me!

May 7, 2009

Main Line Newcomers Evening Book Group

Regular readers of this blog surely know Annette Baesel from her comments and Traveling Baesels Blog. (She also has a Flicker photo blog. Obviously, the woman has much more energy than I.) We first "met" quite by accident: She was standing in line at a Borders and happened to see QUEEN OF THE ROAD on their book club display. Since she is quite the traveler (again, much more energy), she picked it up, immediately started laughing (with me, not at me, right?) and bought it.

Annette and her hubby, Jerry, travel all over the place - and I mean all over the place. I simply can't keep up. (Although somehow, she manages to keep up with me - like the time she was in Cambodia and heard about an earthquake in Eureka, CA, knew our bus was parked nearly and emailed to ask if we'd felt it in the middle of the night. I had, but didn't know it was an earthquake until she told me. Yeah, I know: I need to get out more. What do you want from me?)


I knew Annette has a lovely family (she has emailed me for signed bookplates - something I'm always happy to do, by the way - then given my book as gifts to several of them who have subsequently friended me on Facebook), and now I know she has a lovely book club. They even made up their own martini for the occasion, the "Lets-clear-out-Annette's-liquor-cupboard-before-she-moves"-tini. (She is moving from PA to FL shortly - at least I hope her move is imminent, either that or that they really didn't clear out her liquor cupboard.)


From left to right: Sue, June, Karen, Cheryl, Annette (in back), Eileen, Hallie, Gerry and Jean Marie

And, of course, the shoes:


When Annette emailed me afterwards, she said our discussion sparked a lot more discussion after the call ended (I love hearing that), specifically: Who could spend that much time with her husband? (In the interest of marital harmony, in case any said husbands read this blog, I shall not divulge the names of who could not) and... who should play me and Tim if a movie is ever made. Of course, being women of impecable taste, they completely agreed with me that Angelina Jolie is the only possible choice. (And no, I'm not insulted when people laugh when I say this. I know what they're thinking: Well, Angie'll have to lose some weight first.) As for Tim, several of the women apparently thought Hugh Jackman should do the honors.

You're right, Annette: I'm not telling him that. That's what he gets for not reading the blog.

Ladies, thank you for a lovely evening!

May 10, 2009

The First Annual Mother's Day Book Club

Happy Mother's Day, everyone!

And, what better way than to celebrate with a Mother's Day Book Club?

Truth be told, this group met the week before. But, get this: The gals have been meeting for some time, and decided that they would invite their moms for a special Mother's Day Book Club gathering!

I think that's a fabulous idea, don't you?

The moms came from all over the East Coast, to meet with their New Yorker daughters and guess which book they chose to discuss?


Yeah, well. D'ya think I'd be posting this otherwise?

So, even though I wished all of you a Happy Mother's Day last week, once again: Happy Mother's Day and thanks so much for the lovely discussion of QUEEN OF THE ROAD!

As for my own, Queen Mother: She's traveling overseas today. Hope you're not too jet-lagged, mom.

Happy Mother's Day!

May 28, 2009

A Healthy (And Delicious) Book Club

I've called in to library book clubs before, but never one at health sciences center's library, so this one at St. Joseph Healthcare in Bangor, ME was a special treat. I found out only later that Wednesdays are Indian food day. Only healthcare workers would have had the compassion to keep that from me.

Front Row (at the table) from L-R: Linda, Gloria, Sandra, Kathy and Barbara
Back Row (standing) from L-R: Trisha, Linda, BJ and Cynthia

This was only the club's second meeting, so the pressure was on, especially when the librarian, Cynthia, informed me that they have five books to choose from every month and mine was a unanimous pick. Can you say "martini time"? Alas, they meet too early for martinis (in either of our time zones, so there was simply no way to rationalize it). Although... one of the members is a nurse practitioner, so could have prescribed me a little somethin' somethin'. If only I had known.
(Actually, I would have stepped aside for the member who had been an RN for 45 years. Now that's pressure - and hard work.)

Bangor, for those of you who don't know (which means you haven't read QUEEN OF THE ROAD, and what have I told you about that?) is a thoroughly gorgeous place. Of course, the ladies agreed, but they also commented how happy they were that Tim and I had not restricted ourselves to coastal Maine on our trip, as so many visitors do. They loved that we had also gone up to the Moosehead Lake region and Greenville. (As did we.)

You all know I'm not one for schmaltz. Yet, I did get a touch touched when Linda told me she and her husband had a camper, were getting ready for retirement and after reading my memoir, realized they don't need roots to come home to or to be happy in life.

Home is where you park.

Thanks, Linda! And, thanks to this lovely book club for choosing QUEEN OF THE ROAD and bringing back such fond memories of Maine. Next time we're in Bangor, I'll be sure it's on a Wednesday.

The view from our bus in our campground in Bar Harbor, ME

You can see why this was one of our favorites - for all of us. Well, OK. Maybe not the cats. The whole "Halibut Capital of the World" thing that was Homer, AK kinda trumped everywhere else for them.

Acadia National park, Bar Harbor, ME

And finally, the Moosehead Lake region:




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.

July 5, 2009

Hi Ho, Hi Ho

If you've read QUEEN OF THE ROAD (and really, if you haven't - aren't you tired of my nagging? Read the thing already. Geez) you know we love Disney.

Back, L to R: Chrissy, Karen.
Middle, L to R: Debbie, Paige, Vikki, Julie.
Floor, L to R: Pam, Barb.
MIA: Marianne.

So, when Pam emailed to invite me to call in to her Winter Garden, FL book club, mentioning that several of the gals worked at WDW, of course I couldn't wait. Then, she told me that, "Our book club has 8 fabulous queens - some of us really feel that our club is a drinking club with a reading problem, but we can live with that." Well, I knew I'd love this club, and I was not disappointed.

Karen and Vikki - mixologists extraordinaire, tackling the Phobic Friar. (They also made the Prevost Princess, Elusive Moose (the favorite), and the Secession Swizzle. As Pam said, "Since we usually drink wine, I thought that I should make something a little more hardy than brie, crackers, meatballs etc, - so I made beef tips in red wine (why not add more alcohol??)" Told ya I'd love this group.

I was particularly tickled when Karen, who has worked for Disney for over 15 years in Food and Beverage Marketing, said that her favorite part of the book was my description of the utterly fabulous food in the parks. She liked it so much, in fact, that she made copies to pass around since, as she explained, "we take great pride in what we do." If you've ever eaten courtesy of Disney Dining (and gained 5 lbs like we did) you'll understand why they should take great pride in what they do. And, knowing me as well as you do, you'll understand when I say that my new-found fame at Disney Food and Beverage Marketing couldn't make me happier. Move over, Mulan: There's a new royal in The World.

(I was also quite grateful when no one in the group held the following line against me, in which I explained that although we love Disney, we're not really Disney people: Disney people don’t see the Guest Relations kiosk and wonder, “Ya think they sell condoms?”


One of the questions they asked was if Tim still wanted to live on a boat. As I told them, the unfortunate answer is "yes." In fact, I keep catching him on the web, surfing for sailboat sites. (Why can't I have a normal husband who just surfs for porn?) He keeps trying to reassure me, but we had so many disasters on dry land, I can't imagine what it might be like on the open seas. To placate me, he says we wouldn't go far - like maybe just to the Carribean. Not helpful, honey.

"What about the pirates?" I exclaim.
"There are no pirates," he tries to reassure.
"Are you insane? Where have you been the last decade? There have been at least three movies about Pirates of the Carribean." Sheesh. (Just had to get in a Disney joke.)

I shall leave you with pictures of us in the happiest place on earth. Thanks to this fabulous book club for the wonderful conversation, martinis (in absentia) - and memories.

Yeah, we're wet. We just rode...

Splash Mountain

Even though we loved the Ft. Wilderness Campground, this was the one stop during the entire year, where we never cooked on the bus. The restaurants were just tooooo good to miss.

Dinner at one of our favorites - Jiko in the Animal Kingdom Lodge. (That's why I'm wearing an animal print blouse. So I coordinate with my cuisine. What do you want from me?)

July 7, 2009

What Makes A Book Club Great?

This Chapel Hill, NC book group has only recently started and its members are all in their 20s.

Oh, you are, too! Don't give me that look!

I wondered how the youngin's would react to QUEEN OF THE ROAD, ie could they relate to the midlife crisis catalyst? What about the other ahem "older" issues?

But, the gals assured me that they could relate: One of them, in fact, just had an early life crisis of her own, completely changed her career and now owns her own business. Of course, when another chimed in that she could understand those issues "because my dad went through that," I nearly choked on my wine (which would have been a shame, as a mighty wine it was).

One of the best questions they asked was "What makes a good book club?" As someone who has been in one for over a decade, and who has called into... maybe 100 or so since QUEEN OF THE ROAD came out, I guess I am a good one to ask.

Great drink and food (in that order, if you haven't already figured it out) is a given. But there are two other things: Every member should feel she has input into the book choices. Not necessarily for each choice, but at least that her voice and preferences are heard. Then, just because a book is a good read, doesn't mean it's good for discussion. A great place to check out what other clubs are saying about the discussion aspects of books is Bookmovement.

Truly, this club seems off to a great start: They were lovely, asked interesting questions (and even wrote them down - we'll see how long that lasts) and seemed to be having a lot of fun - also crucial for a great book club.


They're just so adorable, I had to post this picture, too.

What do you all think makes a book club great?

July 11, 2009

Newport Newcomers

This was a new one on me: One of the members of a book club I'd recently called into, Marylin, asked me to call into another book club of hers. (Marylin is apparently one well-read lady.)

This book club calls itself the "Newport Newcomers." It's a way for newcomers to Newport, CA to meet and make new friends. (I probably didn't have to explain that to you, did I?) The ladies assured me they were gorgeous and would make a fabulous picture for this blog.


I'd have to agree.

One of the questions they asked was if we've gotten back to our usual routine at home. I'll tell you (as I told them), it's not easy. But, I'm pretty proud of how well we've done overall in keeping up some of our bus traditions, especially making dinner time about us - no distractions. Just great food (cooked by Tim), great drink (I have to contribute somehow) and scintillating conversation. (OK. You got me, there. But, isn't great good and drink enough for you people? What do you want from me?)

I was also asked what tips I had for couples to get along if they do an RV trip like we did.

Well, it just so happens that Tim and I wrote the Married Shrinks' Guide to Not Killing Each Other On Vacation. And, if you have any suggestions of your own to add, stick 'em in the comments.

Meanwhile, thanks so much to the Newport Newcomers! (Made me want to bus on over to Newport. Hope you have some long driveways there.)

July 15, 2009

Three's A Charm

QUEEN OF THE ROAD was only the third pick for this new, Oak Park, IL book club.

Still, they somehow managed to select the best drink of the bunch for book clubs - the Jubilee:


From Left to Right: Kate, Erin, Jen, Erin, Katie, Loretta, Sarah.
Note: Said Jubilee is itself in the foreground - empty. (I'd say this bodes quite well for this group.)

Because this book club is made up of mainly moms (and a few teachers) the most burning question (other than where we put the cat box, which I get asked so often, I really should do a blog post on) seemed to be: What advice could I give to women who want to follow their dreams, but can't take a year off?

What I hope I answered in a fairly articulate way (and what I'm going to take the liberty of elaborating on here because I suspect I didn't), was that it doesn't have to be as drastic as taking a full year off. That's why I dedicated QUEEN OF THE ROAD to anyone searching for his or her inner bus. I think often, many of us get so busy, we don't even think about having dreams, let alone what they are. Therefore...

Think about it. And, know that it doesn't have to be permanent. Dreams can change, if you want them to. So go for it! Let your imagination run wild! Then... carve out some time. Maybe your dream is to write the Great American Novel. You don't need a year off to do that. A half-hour a day, a few hours a week - whatever you can do. And if your dream really is something that requires an extended time off, let's say backpacking in the Himalayas, first: make an appointment with someone like me to medicate you out of it. (Hiking? Really??? I need a fresh pour.) Then... start reading about the experience: Travel books, memoirs, maps, history of the area. Keep the dream alive to make it more likely you'll actually do it.

You get the idea.

I think I must have answered the question fairly well, as Sarah emailed me afterwards: "The conversation was a unique experience and part of the best book club I've ever attended. All the girls agreed! We continued talking about future bus trips, summer home dreams, and family adventures late into the evening."

Love that! Thank you.

What are some of your dreams and do you think you'll live them? If not, why?

July 30, 2009

Two Clubs in One, Plus a Bonus Martini

Two North Carolina book clubs in one! What could be bad?

The Winston Salem Book Club has been meeting since 1995 and the Salem Glen Book Club, since 1998 (upstarts).


Back Row - Cynthia, Beth, Jeanne, Ann, Marie, Donna, Eileen
Front Row from Left - Ruth Hanna, Terri, Lisa, LeeAnne, Jenny

Not pictured: Beth's Co-Pilot, Ed, who "like Tim was just chilling and emitting quiet strength from his man room in the basement."

As Beth, who arranged my visit put it, "Winston Salem tends towards more serious, inspirational, or challenging reads," while Salem Glen tends "towards more popular fiction, with a 300 page limit. I am happy to say your delightful book filled both orders."

Thanks, Beth! For me, since I often function at the maturity level of a 12-year-old (just ask my book club), the most memorable part of the evening was when we discussed my Porcelin Inspirations bathroom book. The ladies even said they'd buy it! (Hear that, Random House? Actually, I think my editor would have a heart attack. Too bad I like her, ie no Inspirations - at least of the porcelin variety.)

Here's Beth's signature martini:

Key Whine Pie

3/4 oz. Licor 43
1/4 oz. Key Lime Juice (Nellie and Joe's, or fresh)
1/2 oz. half and half (do not whine about the calories, or substitute fat free, it is rude)
4 crushed graham crackers and one packet Sugar in the Raw
Key Lime Slices

Mix sugar and crushed graham crackers in saucer. Rub rim of martini glass with key lime juice, then press into crushed grahams and sugar to make a rim. Add ice to shaker, add ingredients, and shake to mix and chill. Strain into cocktail glass. Quadruple recipe if its been a hard day, but hide your bus keys. Walk to beach and chug thinking the whole time about what a bummer it will be to go back to civilization. Quadruple recipe supplies 100% of daily recommended requirement of Vitamin C.

It hasn't been that hard a day, but I'm sure I do need more Vitamin C.

August 10, 2009

The Novel Ones

Darn you, Comcast!


Anita Leitner; Pam McCuskey; Kathleen Rainwater-Stanton (note the tiara); Mar Scully; Pam Higgins and Caroline Frainier.

I was very much looking forward to calling into The Novel Ones book club in Colorado, but as Pam emailed me afterwards, her Comcast phone and internet went down that day. So, all I got was that annoying message about her phone being disconnected.

At the time, I kept wondering why, if they didn't like the book, they hadn't simply just emailed me to cancel.


Pam said they had a lovely discussion and "We all decided your husband is a saint, and we want to know how we get one of those!"

I'm not telling.

One thing Pam emailed that did NOT sit well with me was that she blew martini out of her nose at some of the funny bits in QUEEN OF THE ROAD. Pam, your Sovereign's first (and only) commandment is: Thou shalt not waste martinis!

Kathleen also emailed me afterwards. Seems there are a couple of RVers in the group. This is Pam's rig:


She says she insisted on painting the truck to match as "A girl has to be coordinated, after all." OK. I guess I forgive you for the martini waste.

August 24, 2009

UCLA Book Club

Oy, I figured I had to be on my toes: All the members are UCLA alumni, a few even therapists (check out Clara's website on depression).

Notice anything special about this club?


Yep. Men.

This book club single-handedly doubled the number of men I've spoken to in book clubs. Pretty cool, huh? Two of the members are even a couple. They've only been meeting since February, so don't really have anything to compare it to, but I couldn't help wonder how my own book club might be different if we had some male energy.

How 'bout yours?

September 18, 2009

Meadow View Book Goup

You know I don't like to play favorites, but when a book club starts our discussion by singing "Happy Birthday" to me... well, how am I supposed to feel?


Front row Linda M, Nancy, Heather and Jodie, back row Jessie, Leslie, Linda G, Donna and Lynda B.

Since it was peach season in Mechanicsburg, PA, this very astute neighborhood book club (which has been meeting for over 10 years - impressed?) was drinking my Jubilee Martinis.

And, guess what? A Wegman's just opened nearby. If you've read QUEEN OF THE ROAD (and what have I been telling you if you haven't? Geez), you know my goal in life is to live in a Wegmans. I know it's hard to understand why a supermarket would inspire such devotion, but you really have to be there. This club certainly agreed.

Another point of agreement was with the member who lived for many years in Rapid City, SD. Whenever I meet someone from South Dakota who has read the book, I always ask if they're mad at me for what I said about the Corn Palace. I'm pleased to report that every single one responds with some variation of, "No. All of us who live there think it's lame."

This time was no exception.

Ladies - thank you so very much, again, for choosing QUEEN OF THE ROAD and very especially for my only birthday song of my 50th year! (So far, anyway. Warming up the pipes, people?)

October 5, 2009

The Stratton Woods Book Club


Back Row L-R: Carey Chadbourne, Amber Badgley, Kelly Stiehl, Karen Kreider, Charlotte Kirkpatrick, Debban Dodrill, Erika Schroder
Front Row L-R: Amy Shaw, Ladan Madresehee & Baby Amira, Mary Rowland, Allison Wagner, Ellen Scheinfeld and Amy Shaw’s mother-in-law visiting from Wyoming, Margaret.
Member arriving late: Sue Huebsch (I don't judge, I just report.)

This notable book club has been meeting for four years. Why are they notable? Because your Queen says so, of course.

OK, OK. Why do We say so?

Many reasons. Here are but four:

1) One of the members is a Romulan. (She grew up in Romulus, in Upstate New York.) Which one? It's in the ears....

She could not understand why I had written in Queen of the Road trip, that when I asked locals about the Neutral Zone, we were met with blank stares. She said in high school, they were always teased about being Romulans by the rival teams. (Who surely must have been playing for the Klingons. And ladies, aren't you lucky not to have any of them in your group? The food alone....)

2) They sang Happy Birthday to your Queen.

3) (Not that I need another reason after #2, but here goes:) They were drinking your Queen's Jubilees.

And finally, as the hostess for the evening, Mary Helen, put it in her email:

4) "Reston, Virginia is part of the major metro area of Washington DC. We’re just down the road from Great Falls, Virginia, where you previously visited via phone with another book club. The Stratton Woods Book Club has been together for four years. We meet once a month at a member’s home for bites, beverages and book discussion. We select our books as a group, and try to keep our gatherings simple with frozen, boxed and bagged treats, along with a few treats in bottles. Last night we did enjoy some peanut butter, banana grilled sandwiches and some tasty jubilees. [They said it was in honor of our Elvis/Graceland visit.]

Our group ranges from professional working mothers, stay at home mothers and empty nesters. All the ladies are pretty active supporting their families and the community through numerous volunteer positions."

Told ya. I'll skip the nice things Mary said about Our "visit" with her club. (We have heard that modesty is "in" these days, although We can't imagine why.) Suffice it to say, We also enjoyed it immensely.

One correction, however: I told the club that we had traveled to Reston on our Queenly trip to see the mini-Graceland. In retrieving pictures of it for this blog post, I saw that, indeed, it was actually Roanoke, VA. Dear Stratton Woods ladies, when you get to be my age, you'll understand.... By this picture, you'll also understand why the mini-Graceland (in an Elvis' fan's front yard) was fairly forgettable. (And before I get angry emails, as I told the ladies, when we were asking for directions, the locals said, "It's really not worth it.")


On a more photogenic note, here are a couple of other pictures from Virginia, these from a campground we stayed at in Staunton:

Yes, it was off-season.


Thanks for the memories, ladies!

October 21, 2009

The Biggest Little City

The members in this lovely Reno book club know each other from high school and have been meeting for two years.


Top row (left to right) Tara La Casse & Karri Hurwitz
Bottom row (left to right) Lindsay Anderson, Lindsey Gray & Jennifer O'Harra

If I had known how adorable they all looked, I might have gotten out of my pajamas while on the other end of the phone. Or, at least put on some make-up.

Yeah, I know. I don't believe me, either.

The night they discussed QUEEN OF THE ROAD, they were at the Grand Sierra Resort which, they informed me, has free drinks on Ladies Night, several nights a week.

Oh, really?

As soon as I got off the phone, I demanded of Tim, “How come I never heard of that hotel where ladies drink free?”


He informed me that not only had I heard of it, but we’d stayed in its RV park when we visited Reno, his hometown, on our Meltdown Cruise. Score another one for my fabulous directional/location sense. (I can't imagine they did the free drink thing then, can you? I mean, I'd probably still be there if they had.)

In my defense, it was called the Reno Hilton at the time. And, it was our very first RV park, ever. If you recall, we had spent the first night of our trip in WY at a community college's parking lot on the way to Reno, after several disasters. (Let's see: Tim almost ran me over while backing up the bus, the door flew open at 60 mph - with me attached, and a horrendous hail storm had us and all the truckers pulling over. Am I forgetting anything? Oh, I really hope so.) We spent the next night in Reno:


October 27, 2009

I Don't Go To Bed, I Experience Bed

I'm still laughing about that line said to me by one of these lovely Wisconsin book clubbers:


From left to right: Tricia, Kathy, Terry Jo, Margaret, Lee and Debbie.

Wine AND martinis, ladies? You're in the running for top book club!

Thanks for the very enjoyable discussion, and for continuing to make me laugh!

November 2, 2009

Boat People

This Seattle book club has two members who own boats. One even lives on hers.


Needless to say, I'm not telling Tim. For those of you who haven't been following the blog (and why is that?) or read the book (don't worry, I'm not even talking to you*) that's because his next idiotic dream is to live on a boat. We had enough disasters on dry land in a bus, so I don't want to encourage him. Not that it matters: I keep catching him surfing the internet for sailboat sites.

Why can't I have a normal husband who just surfs for porn? (Regular blog readers will have heard that lament before.*)

Maybe I should tell him about this book group, because as one of the boat ladies said, "Take a cold shower while you rip up $100 bills. If you like that, you'll like living on a boat."

Yes, I think I will make him look at this post, after all. But, you know Tim. The only way he'll be interested in anything on a computer is if it's in a file named, "My hot lesbian fantasies."*

Thanks for the lovely discussion, ladies as well as the seafaring info. I'll know whether to really be thankful - or not - depending on how Tim reacts. But, knowing him, it's probably gonna be
"Ahoy Maties!" for me.

*See what you're missing?

November 5, 2009

A PJ First!

This lovely book club in Lancaster, PA met in their PJs just for me!


Back Row: Donna, Marti, Stephanie, Ruth. Front Row: Stephanie (the hostess, with honorable mention to her husband, Rodney, who made a cameo appearance on the phone), Linda, Verna, Ruth.

If I had known how spiffy they looked, I might have worn a nicer pair than the ratty one I had on when I called. (And no, you won't be seeing a picture of that.) Does anyone else have such nice (meaning not faded, no holes) PJs? I may need to do some shopping.

The gals know each other from church and have been meeting for five years. Donna, the RVer in the group, picked the book on the recommendation of another book club (you know I love hearing that).

Two of the members, Verna and Joanne, work for Auntie Anne's Pretzels. Mmmmm. Those delectable soft pretzels you get in the mall. (I really gotta go PJ shopping now, especially as I just drooled on my very ratty PJs.) As a former New Yorker, I like mine warm with mustard.

Verna informed me she's a "pretzel trainer." That was a stumper. I couldn't help asking, "And, what exactly do pretzels need to be trained to do?" (As if you needed any more proof that I'm concrete as a sidewalk.) She then clarified she trains the people in the stores. Oh. So, by the time Joanne told me she makes the pretzels, I really was joking when I asked, "Make them do what?"

In any event, I hope you enjoyed speaking with me as much as I did you, ladies. And, Project Nerd (that's my nickname for my husband, Ruth) and I will take you up on a buggy ride when we're next in your Amish neck of the woods.

Queen On!

November 15, 2009

West Chester, PA Book Club

Meeting for twelve years and it seems, even after reading QUEEN OF THE ROAD, they refuse to give up.

(Here they are, enjoying their Secession Swizzles.)

Although one member, Jody, may. She told me that after reading the book, she decided to do the RV thing with her husband once the kids graduate. That's fine, Jody, as long as you don't end up blaming me.

Gretchen also wants to do the RV thing once her daughter graduates and Cathy and her family already RV in the summer.

Funny how after you become an "RV person" you notice how many of them there are. And, if this book club is any indication, we're spreading. Like pod people.

Yep, Sharon, Diane, Laurene and Maggie: Your time will come.

Mwa ha ha ha ha!

It's Not About the Book

That's what this lovely book club in North Platte, NE calls themselves. They got the name from Lance Armstrong's book (which, as it so happens, my fabulo editor, Stacy Creamer, edited). Like my own club, they discuss the book, but then, as they put it, "digress" since they're all friends.

Wouldn't have it any othe way, myself.


Back row, left to right: Judy Thompson, Connie Brittan, Ellie McClymont, Deb Gulzow, Julie McChesney Front row, left to right: Marge Thomas, Lois Books, Marilyn Haynes, Sherry Polk Absent that night: Betty Gilsdorf, Twila Conell and Sherry Erickson

I think the best books teach us something about ourselves we didn't know.

Well, I don't know if my book did that for this Nebraska club, but my phone call sure did.

I like starting the calls by asking everyone to go around and introduce themselves. And, guess what? In doing so, Julie realized she was the only club member who was not a teacher.

Unfortunately for her, she used to work in mental health. But, let's not feel too bad for Julie, as like almost everyone else in this group, she's retired! (Deb, the hostess being the exception. But, don't feel too bad for her, either: she's retiring next year.) I guess that's why they all look so relaxed and happy.

Most of the retired teachers in this group taught English, so the heat was on. Do you have any idea how intimidating that is for a writer?

Fortunately, this group was very kind about QUEEN OF THE ROAD. Or, maybe they were just being polite. I did say they're from Nebraska, didn't I?

If a book club of English teachers from my former home of New York City ever wants me to call in, forgetaboutit!

November 22, 2009

Morton Township Public Library Lunch Bunch

Oh my, is that a mouthful or what?


I love this picture. It's so gratifying to see people actually take what I'm saying seriously (or at least, give the apearance of doing so).

Here's another:


That's Mary, the librarian's, RV. Nice rig, Mary! (Sorry for the technical jargon, folks. What do you want from me?) She tells me it's for sale. Any takers? Say so in a comment and Mary will connect with you directly.

Anyway, this library book club has been meeting in Mecosta, MI for nine years. Mary emailed me afterwards to say, "3 of our gals stayed out of the room because they had not yet had time to read the book. (They will now!)" Oh, ladies. Would this really have ruined the ending? I mean, obviously I survived the whole "bus thing," unless you normally host seances at the library?

Hmmm. That's not a bad idea. I mean, I'd love to meet my past life selves: Cleopatra, Nefertiti, etc. (Yeah, I know, everyone always thinks she was a queen in a past life. But, since I truly am one in this one, it's gotta come from somewhere, no? From my publisher you say? Off with your head!)

Thanks so much for the lovely discussion, ladies. And, Mary: thank you for picking QUEEN OF THE ROAD and for the invite to your RV park in Casa Grande, AZ. You never know, you just might see us barreling down the road someday. And, as I always say, if that happens: Feel free to say hello, or run for your life - whichever seems more appropriate at the time.

November 23, 2009

Booked On Sundays


This fabulous book club has been meeting for five years at the Stark County District Library's
Lake Community Branch in Uniontown, OH. How do I know they're fabulous? Well, aside from the fact that they picked QUEEN OF THE ROAD to read (what do you want from me?) they also sure know how to name themselves. I mean, "Booked on Sundays"? I'm horrendous at titles, so I may have to consult them before my next book.

In addition to their interesting questions, one of the members actually went to the same summer camp I did, Cejwin, in Port Jervis, NY. Ellen was there slightly before my time, in a shall we say, more innocent age, and it was fun comparing notes.

Thanks so much for a thoroughly enjoyable chat, ladies! And, special mention to Jodie Hawkins, Adult Programmer, who chose the book in the first place.

Queen on!

December 2, 2009

A Passel of Princesses



This book club in Plainfield, CT is all decked out in pink princess finery. Adorable, no?
(The Prevost Princesses they're drinking ain't half bad, neither.)

And, I even learned something about yet another potential benefit of travel, Letterboxing. I'm not really sure I understand it, but it sorta seems like a country-wide treasure hunt. Since there aren't actual prizes, I'm a little stumped about the whole thing. I mean, unless I can win something like that fabulo pincessy cowboy hat...

Anyone out there heard of it or doing it?

In honor of this lovely CT club, I thought I'd share some pictures from our QUEEN OF THE ROAD trip, taken from their neck of the woods:


OK, so this is from neighboring, ME, in Acadia National Park. What do you want from me?

Of course we discussed how lovely the fall foliage is in the northeast. Here's some proof:



Thank you, ladies!

December 14, 2009

An International Incident

That's what I nearly caused when I called into this book club in Santiago, Chile last week. Can you blame me?


It was during the horrendous cold snap we've been having. Now that the temps are moderating a bit, all is forgiven, ladies.

This book club consists almost entirely of teachers at an international school (one member is the wife of one of the teachers). They're on assignment from one and a few years and have lived/taught in such far flung places as South Korea, Trinidad, Pakistan, Kuwait, Sri Lanka, China, Indonesia and Paraguay.

Is it any wonder that when they said my book inspired them to want to travel more in the U.S. I was utterly tickled? (That, plus the fact that they're drinking my Jubilees. Oh, what do you want from me?)

And, under the "It's a small world" catagory, Michelle, who arranged the call-in, actually went to the same high school - Great Neck South - that I did (although, ahem, just a fewl years later).

Best of all, Michelle emailed me this afterwards:

When we hung up, we embarked on a hilarious and revealing recounting of our own road trips from college on - the triumphs, the disasters, the romances... We did this while drinking martinis and eating a chocolate pecan pie I had made - referencing chapter seven. All in all, your experience resonated with us and gave us the vehicle for lovely, lively, and intimate discussion.

I love hearing that I've sparked eating, drinking and oh, yeah... discussion.

Viva la Reina! (Which, unfortunately, is about all I've retained from my five years of high school Spanish at Great Neck South. Forgot to ask if you had Mrs. Pakel for Spanish, Michelle. She was young then, so who knows? One of my faves.)

December 16, 2009

Westerville Literary Society

When Christa first emailed that her book club in Westerville, OH, had recently upgraded to a literary society after meeting for four years, I was surprised they'd chosen QUEEN OF THE ROAD. After all, one thing I've never been accused of is being literary. But then, she told me she's a psychiatric nurse AND has a car phobia, so I understood.

Actually, several of the women in the group are nurses. And, let me tell you, nurses know how to have a good time. Can't you tell?


Front row: from the left (on chair): Cynthia Franzman, Julie Smith, Vicki Driver (with Chelsie on lap), Paula D’Auteuil, Mildred Stevens.

Back row: From the left: Ginny Chapin, Keitha Eckles, Christa Newtz (in her Queenly shirt!), Jennifer Beistel, Valerie Marburger.



That's Chelsie, Christa's 13 year old shi-a-poo. (She said she'd let me figure out what that meant.) As she put it: I also want to add a disclaimer that the beverage in the martini glass is NON-alcoholic. (I don't blame you, Christa. I have some awfully er... rabid readers in Boulder, which, after all, is the home of the city ordinance proclaiming that all pet owners shall hereby not be refered to as owners, but as "guardians." But, that's another blog entry.)

Regular readers of this blog know how sick I am of hearing about how "wonderful" Tim is all the time from the book clubs I call in to. My own fault for putting him in the book in the first place. Believe me, I considered skipping him entirely, but then you all would have wondered how I'd gotten around. Or eaten. Or wore clean clothes.

So, my favorite part of this fabulo book club was when one of the members said, "Tim seems so great because of the loving way you portray him." Oh, yeah. I'll take the credit.

What do you want from me?

December 20, 2009

Turtle Book Club


Back row: Brenda, Carol, Kathi, Kris, Kathy
Front row: Caroline, Susan, Linda, Sheila
Missing that night...Deb and Jill

I think I've lived in Boulder (you know, the place Nesteled Between the Mountains and Reality) for too long, because when Brenda told me how her book club in Omaha, NE got its name, I had no doubt the karma gods were in full force.

I'll let her explain:

Our club's name, The Turtle Book Club has a funny story behind it. Three of us started this book club in May 2006 partly because we were all raising boys and spending all our time at baseball, basketball, and football games. We felt we needed something just for us women! I hosted the first book club. We had developed some "norms" if you will. One norm was to keep it fancy appetizers or drinks; just something easy to munch on. Well, I discovered Turtle Chex Mix and thought we should try it out at our first meeting. Our first book was The Mermaid Chair by Sue Monk Kidd which has a reference to a tortoise shell in the book. Carol and Kathy, the two other "starters" of the book club had to drop off our 3 sons at a baseball game on their way to my house for book club. As they are driving down a fairly busy street near a lake, a very large turtle was meandering in the middle of the road. They felt compelled to pull their car over, pick up the possibly diseased turtle, put it in Carol's van, and drop it off at a pond near my house. When they arrived at book club that night, they told this hilarious story about the turtle; then discovered I had bought Turtle Chex Mix and we discussed the tortoise shell reference in the book. The Turtle Book Club was born!!!

Ladies, I'm so sorry I couldn't join you for your discussion, but I guarentee, with those Secession Swizzle martinis, I was there in spirit.

December 28, 2009

Youngest Book Club Member - Ever


From left to right Kathleen, Emilie, Addison (her first book club) and Ellen.

As the host of our book group, I selected your book upon recommendation by a friend in Denver. I am now ready to travel or least have a lively book group discussion with my friends.

This was only the 2nd meeting of this club and several members just couldn't make it, so as you see, Kathleen brought in at least one ringer!

Notice, they're all in PJs in honor of Your Queen.

The club consists of daughters of retired librarians in the same district, so have been friends for over 30 years. Their mothers have been in a long time book club, so inspired them to start this one.

Sugar Land is near Houston. Another book club I called into near Houston the week before (also arranged by a Kathleen - go figure!) had never heard of the Orange Show which I mentioned in Queen of the Road:

In a residential neighborhood on a small lot, we stumbled across the Orange Show, which, depending on your point of view, is either a whimsical or insane (we’re professionals and we couldn’t even decide) homage to all things orange, in all possible permutations and combinations. A former postman spent twenty-five years collecting, well . . . junk, in honor of his favorite fruit, to form this suburban maze of sculpture, balconies, and outdoor theaters. After his death in 1980, a nonprofit was formed to not only preserve the Orange Show, but to promote creative thinking and the making of art more accessible.


Queen (and Princess, Addison) On!

January 3, 2010

Williston Park Library

When Kristin invited me to call in to her book club, I immediately recognized the area code of my youth. I just had never heard of the town, Williston Park. Imagine my surprise when her book club informed me it was only 10 minutes southeast of Great Neck, where they knew I grew up. (They did make me feel better by explaining it's a "tiny" town and most people have never heard of it. I bet that's pretty nice. And, after looking at the town's website, I'd also bet that keeping the place a well-kept secret is something they strive to do.)


back: Kris Pepper, Lucy Benjamin, Marge Mahoney, Margaret Knapp, Nina Gonzalez, Ann Weinblad, Cynthia Allan

front: Carolyn Eikhard, Jane Davey, Peggy Abad, Stephanie Blake

As usual, library book clubs make for very lively discussions, which, if you think about it, is rather counterintuitive. I mean, it's not like they're serving drinks. (Or, if they are, I really must get on the board of the Boulder Public Library and change a bylaw or two.)

Ladies, thanks again for a lovely discussion. Even though we spoke weeks ago, I still find myself nostalgic for the accents of my youth.

Queen On!

January 6, 2010

The Best Little....

Josie, whose cell phone I called for this book club, informed me that Cafe du Jour is "the best little cafe in Pittsburgh." We'll have to trust her on this (unless any of you have been there), but the place is certainly tolerant! Usually when I call into book clubs, they're at someone's home. But, there's apparently more than just food that goes into being the best little cafe in Pittsburgh. (I bet they make a fab Pittsburgher, too. Groan. Oh, what do you want from me?)



This utterly adorable group of 20- to 30-somethings love reading memoirs. One member of the group, Lori, even traveled across the country in an RV.

Ladies, it was lovely being your book du jour at the Cafe. If you've read any more memoirs you'd recommend, please let me know in the comments. Same to anyone else! I'm hankering for a good one...

February 28, 2010

The Biggest Little Book Club Ladies

When these Reno ladies decided to start a book club three years ago, they weren't kidding around. While the requirements for entry in my own book club often appear to be based solely on a love of food and drink, for this one, you're actually expected to read. What a concept!


From Bottom left: Stephanie, Joan's pooch, Kathy, Christy, Joan
Top Left: Sue, Deb, Marisa, Anita, Jocelyn

And, it's quite a diverse group. Here's what Jocelyn had to say about the Ladies:

Jocelyn: coordinator/ social butterfly and baby of the group
Christy: the bean counter and fellow baby of the group
Stephanie: well-read, informed, senior staffer
Kathy: party/event planning by day, best backyard summer hostess by night
Deb: book worm and collector of chickens (that would be real, live chickens)
Marisa: Burning Man fan and cake decorator/artist
Anita: smart, worldly
Joan: voracious reader and quirky, good fun
Sue: been all over the map, realtor to the stars and jokester

I only found all this out after Jocelyn emailed me afterwards, or I certainly would have been asking them more questions than I did. (Starting with: Collector of chickens? Like that Lucy episode?)

Ladies (and Joan's pooch - nice profile!) thanks again, so much, for choosing Queen of the Road. (I wish I could figure out how to upload that picture of the baby with one of my signed bookplates platered on him/her. Priceless!)

March 14, 2010

Homer City Book Ends

This PA book club recently starting meeting at their local library on Mondays. We chatted by phone over a month ago when I called in, but Judy didn't want to send me a picture right away. I'll let her explain:

We want to wait until we all go out for our martini night before we take a picture.

My kinda book club.


Judy, Jenn, Julie, Jan and Pat. (Missing the fun that night: Megan, Sandy and Pam.)

Need more proof?



I enjoyed our discussion, ladies. (Hope you enjoyed the martinis!)

March 26, 2010

River City Readers

Oh, the pressure.


Left to Right on Couch: Sharon Reavis, Rita Phillips, Beverly Brewer, Roz Harris

2nd Row: Michelle Halasz, Kathy Maxwell, Kathy Harbour, Joan McKenney, Jane Smit, Jennifer Newell

3rd Row: Elizabeth Hayward, Heidi Hall, Sondra Dickman, Karen Rascoe, Jan Darr

When Jennifer emailed to say that her brand new book club had chosen QUEEN OF THE ROAD for its very first read, I just didn't know if I could handle it.

Their very first meeting? Expectations would be so high. What if I sucked?

Then, I realized: It's their very first meeting. What do they know? I could absolutely suck and they'd have nothing to compare me to.


The ladies in this neighborhood club live just outside Richmond,Virginia in an area called Manakin Sabot. Note the tiaras and martinis. I'd say they're off to a pretty good start, no?

For a new club, they certainly asked a lot of interesting questions. One in particular was a total stumper for me: What was my favorite day of the trip?

I kept hoping they'd forget the question as we talked, but no. They did not let me off the hook. Finally, I couldn't decide between our day at the Disney water park (just pure, child-like, exhausting fun) or the armed robbery in Tucson. I know that's quite a dichotomy, so let me explain: There's nothing like thinking you're about to die - then realizing you're not - to make it seem like a pretty good day. Maybe even one of the best. As I wrote in the book, I also learned a lot from that experience, so I think I'll stick with those two choices.

Thank you for a lovely discussion, ladies. And especially thank you for the honor you bestowed upon Your Queen. For, you might have another author call in, you might very well enjoy other books more, but Your Queen shall always be your first!

April 12, 2010

San Francisco Travel Literature and Lecture Series


'Twas a bit daunting for this Royal to call in to a book club of travel literature buffs. I mean, these people know travel. And books. Oh, my. (And, they'd be meeting in a bookstore, so no libations to mellow out with beforehand.)

Maybe that's why they asked such interesting questions, like this: Since shrinks are known for bringing out things in people they themselves didn’t know existed, is that why Tim wanted to do the trip? Did he know you really had an inner outdoorsy/adventurous side?

You mean, Tim did the whole bus thing for me? Right. Quite the martyr, my husband. I did ask him about it after the call, though. Big mistake. He latched onto that one so fast...

"Well, of course I did it for you." I'll say it again: Right. That man is evil, I tell you. Evil.

Here's more about this fascinating group:

Founded by Tara Russell of Three Month Visa Coaching and Consulting in partnership with Books Inc (the West's oldest bookstore). As Tara says, "this is an exciting book club and lecture series for seasoned globetrotters and armchair travelers alike! We feature books and speakers to inspire you if you are currently dreaming of "hitting the road" as well as provide useful resources for planning and realizing the trip of a lifetime. Our selections cover a diverse range of travel-related topics including long-term solo backpacking, "volunteer vacations," traveling with children and living or working abroad. Our focus is connecting travel enthusiasts from around the Bay Area so we can all share resources, contacts and ideas in support of each other's travel aspirations!

Details at:

If you're ever in San Francisco, find them on MeetUp.

May 8, 2010

Book Bags, Bells and Virgins, All With Finer Things to Do Tuesdays on the Lake

This was a special evening. Five bookclubs in Bemidji, MN met together for the first time at the only speakerphone in town (really?) so we could discuss QUEEN OF THE ROAD. Over 30 ladies crowded into a 12X12 room at the Bemidji Airport.

They certainly got into the spirit of things:


The Book Bags: Back Row: L-R, Ann Cease ("who is a witch when she travels" - yeah, Tim says the same about me), Cori Rude, Leona Hambrecht, Sue Bruns, Martha Nelson, Evi Thompson, Nancy Bensen, Robyn Schulke, Lin Ward. Front Row: Mary May, Polly Scotland, and Trish Quistgaard.


The Finer Things Literary Society: Erin Curran and Amy Haskell


The Bemidji Belles (a new club that's been meeting only 6 months) and one member of the Tuesday Book Club (who didn't seem to mind meeting on Wednesday) wearing her pajamas (center in black - my kinda gal). L-R Back: Jeannie Peterson, Shelly Anderson, Joyce Siegert. Front: Carole Holmes, Vicki Holmes, Joel Olson.


Ladies of the Lake: L-R, Back Row Dianne Wilds, Pat Schneider, Susan Colliander, Eileen Gothman, DeeAnn Najjar, Mary Melchoir. Front Row: Peggy Olding, Annette Mackenroth, Nancy Ramsey. (I was told that 2/3 criteria had to be met to be in this club: Read the book, live on the lake, not be a virgin. I didn't ask who met what.)

Other book clubs take notice: All the ladies were either in tiaras or Burger King crowns. (I'm partial to the one I got from Target.)

Tim and I actually drove through Bemidji, MN. It's the first city on the Mississippi River. We even stopped for heavenly Walleye fish 'n' chips on Leech Lake, in the town of Walker. The book clubs told me I'd misidentified the lake as "Walker Lake" in the book.

Now, which would you rather swim in?


Thanks for a very special and lively evening, ladies!

May 16, 2010

KI/SZ Book Club of Sister (and PJ) Princesses!

Well, this was a first. These two book clubs in Lansing, MI had already met to discuss QUEEN OF THE ROAD, but I couldn't call in that night. So, several of the ladies met again the very next night when I could.

Talk about gluttons for punishment.


front row l to r: Liz Hutchinson, Kay Shapiro, Judy Blinn-Rudman
second row, l to r: Marilyn Ruben, Clare Berkman


l to r: Marilyn Ruben, Judy Blinn-Rudman, Liz Hutchinson, Clare Berkman
In front: Kay Shapiro

KI stands for Kehillet Israel Congregation and SZ for Temple Shaarey Zedek

Turned out to be quite an unusually adventurous group: Several RVers (my people aren't really known for hitting the road - hitting the desert, yes. Road? In an RV? Not so much), and even a woman, Judith, who sailed on Lake Michigan for years. Apparently, her husband had quite a bit in common with me: he wasn't, shall we say, the best passenger.

I especially loved one of their takeaways from the book: Differences are something to appreciate rather than overcome to stay together.

I couldn't (and didn't) say it better myself.

Thanks for doubling down on your Queen, ladies!

May 23, 2010

Bridgeville, Delaware Book Club

In honor of the ladies in this book club - who are all retired - I decided to (temporarily) retire from coming up with "clever" (yes, I know - depends on your definition) titles for these book club posts.

Thank you, ladies!!!


TOP ROW Left to right: Ruth, Peggy, Geraldine, Martie, NEXT ROW DOWN left to right: Marge, Nancy, NEXT ROW DOWN left to right: Betty, Ginny, Alice Jeanne, FRONT ROW left to right: Rita and Sue.

This club very appropriately meets in a clubhouse. Unfortunately, they do it on Thursdays in the early afternoons, so alas, no drinks (that I can see, anyway, and believe me, I have eagle-eyes for this sort of thing). Bridgeville is in the southernmost county in Delaware and these ladies live in a 5 year-old community there.

Hmm... if I lived in a community where I knew alot of people in the neighborhood, would that disuade me from going out to get the mail in this getup?


Nah. I don't think so, either, despite what Tim said when I went out to the mailbox like this, "Say hi to the neighbors. We'll tell them we're adjusting your meds."

Thanks again, for a lovely discussion, ladies!

May 31, 2010

Not Yo Mamma's Book Club

Not that I'm lazy or anything (what do you want from me?) but, one of my Facebook friends from Amarillo, TX recently (well, sort of recently. What DO you want from me?) forwarded this picture of her book club's meeting to discuss QUEEN OF THE ROAD:


Rather than attempt a description myself, I was so tickled with Kelly's, I'll just post it here:

We aptly named ourselves the "Not Yo Mammas Book Club" and we have had it faithfully the last Tuesday of every month. We enjoyed reading and discussing the book. Lots of laughter had by all discussing the pitfalls of hitting the road for a year.
We each came in our pj's and received a boa and tiarra. Funny thing was when they were purchased we didn't realize until we got them home that they flashed....oh yeah, classy! A couple of the girls got together and made the martini glasses. They turned out BEAUTIFUL and complimented the green in the Pelican Pucker!
We had such a great time that one of our members stated the following morning she was sitting in her pj's, wearing her tiarra and drinking coffee out of her martini glass. She simply was not ready to give up being a princess yet.......

You be the judge on that Pelican Pucker:


Quite the nice job, I'd say. Gee. I sure hope we have Midori in the house...

July 6, 2010

Thirsty Thursday Girls

When Becky first contacted me to call in to her book club in Winston-Salem, NC, she also mentioned that this was going to be its very first meeting.

Oy! The pressure!


L-R: Jaime, Becky, Margaret, Christy, Tamar, Marie

But, one of the first things this lovely group said put me right at ease: They were drinking my Jubilees. No more worries for me!

Although these seven gals (Jane couldn't make it that night - but don't worry Jane! We didn't talk about you - much) are only randomly connected, it seems they're off to a wonderful start.

I'm always interested to know how book clubs hear about QUEEN OF THE ROAD. Well, Becky's husband is a psychiatrist, and a friend recommended it to her. That friend heard about it from Jen Lancaster's blog. Shortly before calling into this club, I'd found out that QUEEN is in 9th printing. (Don't worry, ladies. Even without my own jubilee, I celebrated.) As I told them, it's really because of book clubs and reader word-of-mouth that the book has done so royally well.

THANK YOU, dear readers.

And ladies, I wish you many, many more thirsty Thursdays!

July 11, 2010

Cover Girls


On the bottom row, kneeling is Julie, redhead Emily (they're sisters and best friends), Joan and Pam.

Back row is Kathryn (Julie and Emily's mom), Karen, Donna (popping her head around Karen’s shoulder), Sonja, Jackie, Myrtle and kneeling behind Pam is Leah.

This book club has been meeting since October '02 in Plano, TX in each other's homes. Initially, they were a neighborhood book club, but then more members were brought in. Emily’s sister, Julie, named them the "Cover Girls" and they seem to have it down: Whoever chooses the book, looks up background information on the author, including how he or she came to write the book, as well as gets discussion questions together. Very organized, ladies!

But, don't think this means this club doesn't have fun: They assured me their Queenly meeting featured a "giant pitcher of apple martinis." Maybe all those martinis are why Emily emailed me this afterwards: When we got off the phone we all looked at each other in amazement over how much fun it was talking to you and what a sweetheart you are.

Oy, Emily. Way to ruin my reputation!

Emily was the one who had the excellent taste of choosing QUEEN OF THE ROAD And, why did she choose it? Apparently, her first book club choice way back when was Wallace Stegner's Angle of Repose . Believe it or not, that was actually my own book club's very first book. None of the Cover Girls liked it (except Emily) and she's never lived that one down, so decided to pick "a funny one that no one could argue with." I certainly hope she was right! (And as I told her, I loved Angle of Repose, but we know what my tastes are like. Porcelin Inspirations, anyone?)

Many, many thanks to the Cover Girls for a most enjoyable discussion!

July 20, 2010

LOOOOONG Running Book Club

A twenty year book club??? That's pre-Oprah, I believe.


From left to right: Liz (on chair), Charmange (standing), Sharon, Karen, CJ, Sue, Louann (kneeling), and Suzanne (sitting). All drinking Lemon Drop Martinis.

This club in Portland, OR started 20 years ago with a member who is no longer with them. Apparently, she was a "major reader" and "club starter" (loved that). Two of the original members still remain.

After our lovely chat, I tried to find some pictures of Portland from our QUEEN OF THE ROAD trip to add to this blog entry, and I realized I didn't have any. We'd been to that beautiful city before, and on our trip, really tried to concentrate more on places we hadn't been. So instead, I shall leave you with some of my favorite pictures from the Oregon coast:


OK, while this isn't a great picture, it is the Astoria Column, and there's no elevator. Yeah, I climbed all the way up.

Here's why:

Nice view, huh?

Here's Cannon Beach:



Thanks so much for the lovely discussion, ladies, and thanks for the memories!

August 12, 2010

Lakewood Book Club


This lovely (with Pelican Puckers), very accomodating book club (they actually changed their club day for me because I couldn't call in on a Friday) has been meeting for about two years in Lakewood, CO. They originally met each other through church and their kids, and started as a monthly prayer group - praying so their kids wouldn’t get pregnant or end up in jail. It worked, so they turned their attendtion to books. (How 'bout praying for Angelina to option QUEEN OF THE ROAD, ladies? Come on! You have such a great track record!)

I always like to ask book clubs how they heard of my book. Lauri said she picked it after reading the review in The Rocky Mountain News. A bittersweet memory, indeed. Yes, the Rocky loved The Queen (the reviewer gave it a "Grade A"), but not long after, the newspaper folded.

Did I hear someone say "cause and effect"? Oooh, wise guy, eh? (Sorry. Tim's still plowing through a Three Stooges marathon on cable. I can't get Three Blind Mice out of my mind. There, now you can't, either. Why should I suffer alone?)

Anyway. Here's "the closest thing we had to a designer shoe, [Janice's] Birkenstock!"


Hmm. Since when did Birks get so stylish? I had a pair in college and I can guarentee you, they didn't look anything like that.

Lovely Ladies of Lakewood: Thank you so very much for inviting me to your discussion! I'll let you know when your prayers are answered. (Angie - call me.)

December 19, 2010

On A Mission


Kathy Corbin, Zulema Bewley, Meagan Sullivan, Thanya Montemayor, Erika Munoz, and Rhea Watson.

When Zulema invited me to call in to her book club, she apologized that it was the second meeting, saying, "I know you are probably disappointed that we didn't choose your book to be the first but being second isn't so bad sometimes."

Second is just fine by me. (I've been first a couple of times, and truly: too much pressure! I've probably also been the last a few times, but the ladies were likely too polite to let me know.)

Her book club in Mission, TX (in the Rio Grande Valley, not far from Mexico) just formed and all the members are staff of an elementary school.

Apparently, the members vote on their book club selections, and Queen of the Road garnered 7 out of 8 votes. (Not that I'm counting, or anything.)

Notice that in the picture, Zulema is wearing the "Cousin JT Got Run'd Over By the Tractor" t-shirt. As I told her club, cousin JT is still going strong. And, for those of you who missed it, here's the picture of him standing in front of that very same tractor (in his Cousin JT t-shirt):

Ladies, thank you so much for inviting me to be your second book club pick! (The first, for those who must know, was The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, so yes, I'm in very good company.) Here's wishing you many evenings of good books! And, to help you on your way....

When I looked up your lovely community on the web for the link, I saw that right at the top of the City of Mission page is the proud proclimation, "Home of the grapefruit!"

I LOVE grapefruit. So herewith, a martini recipe that didn't make it into the book (if I had only known) which I shall henceforth call, "The Mission." Enjoy!:

The Mission Martini

3 Parts Orange Vodka
1 Part Midori
1 Part Ruby Red Grapefruit

March 3, 2011

Rat Race Book Club


I love when book clubs are so into it. As Shannon emailed me when she sent these pictures:

Just before you called we played QOTR Trivia and all the green tiaras etc. you see were prizes for correct answers!

But, what I want to know is, how come I wasn't invited to play? You're not afraid of a little competition, are you? (Really, I could use a new tiara. Mine is getting a bit worn.)

The Rat Race Book Club started because Shannon felt she knew all these amazing women. As she put it, "Friends I run into at the grocery store or on the sidelines of our kids' soccer games...We promise we'll find time to get together (soon!) but it just never happens." She realized how "short & unpredictable life really is" and asked these wonderful women to make time to connect. As she says, "To my surprise, most agreed and committed to it right away-despite the rat race our lives can be...Hence: The Rat Race Book Club (RRBC) was born!"

I love that.

I think I'll let the pictures tell the story of this fun evening (which I enjoyed by phone in bed - as the group made sure to confirm) in beautiful Gilford, NH. (It really is beautiful. Check out that link.)













Ladies, thanks again for choosing to have such a Queenly evening! I had a blast, although I'm still trying to figure out how to answer that sex question.

March 9, 2011

Nerd Club!

It was sad when Teresa told me her "self-proclaimed Nerd Club" in Lancaster, OH used to meet at the local library until budget cuts forced them to move. But, as she pointed out, meeting at Panera means food! Just goes to show, there's always a silver lining.

The group is made up of teachers, librarians, retirees and Teresa's mother-in-law. In other words, a tough crowd!


Teresa, Misty, Becky, Michelle, Cathy, and Bev. I have to add that Teresa said Julie and Kelley couldn't make it that night and "they were extremely jealous of our celebrity experience!" (Well, of course they were.)

Thank you Lady Nerds for hosting your Queen. (You know I Love Nerds.) It was lovely chatting with you. And, hopefully, you were able to try some of the martini recipes when you got home!

And now, I'll leave you with a picture I took in your neck of the woods (sort of, but Lake Erie is the closest we got on our Queenly trip):


March 27, 2011

ADHD Housewives of D.C.

That's Davidson County, North Carolina, folks. And, that's the name - for now - of the book club I recently called into. It may become The Upper D.C. Housewives. (ADHD refers to how they always seem to jump from topic to topic. It's not my diagnosis, or anything.) Which name do you all prefer?


Dawn, Christy, Lisa, Michele, Jamie (hiding in back), Christa, Jennifer (kneeling), Beth (standing), Evden, Lauri, and Alexis

The book club was actually in Welcome, NC and let me assure you the name fit them very well. Besides, how could I not love a book club that introduces me to a new martini recipe? I'll let Jamie explain:

I called the drink a "Hillbilly Martini" because the glasses were plastic from the Dollar Tree! Below is the recipe I used for what I'm going to call "Martini Punch" which we were sipping during our phone conversation - VERY tasty! This recipe is just right for 10 or 11 martinis. The recipe was actually called "Paradise #3 Punch" which I found by googling "drinks with pink lemonade vodka". Since I added the stuff about flavoring the rim, I figured it'd be ok to change the name!

- Chill glasses.
- Slice a lime and rub around rim of each glass. Combine colored sugar crystals (I used hot pink) with granulated sugar. Dip each glass rim in the combined sugar.
- Combine 3-1/2 cups chilled Sprite, 2-1/2 cups chilled Sunny-D Orange Juice, and 1-1/2 cups chilled Cranberry Raspberry Juice in a pitcher.
- Pour chilled "pink lemonade infused vodka" in each glass then add punch. Garnish with lime wedge.

Well, I know what I'll be doing around 5 o'clock today.

Ladies, thank you for "welcoming" me into your book club. I can see why Jamie said there used to be a sign in your town, "Welcome to Welcome." (I love that sort of thing.)

May 30, 2011

Young Indian Cultural Group Mothers Book Club

As Kristin said, "Yet another little town you haven't heard of."

Let me explain.

Late in 2009, I called into Kristin's other book club in Williston Park, NY. Turns out, although I'd never heard of it, it's only 10 min from Great Neck, where I spent nearly my entire youth.

The Young Indian Cultural Group Mothers Book Club meets not too far away, in Albertson, New York, which I hadn't heard of, either. (What was I doing in my youth? Don't ask.)

Although I am your Queen of the Road, I also consider myself a Queen of Multitasking, so I especially loved hearing that this book club, which is in its 4th year, started at a cultural society center where the kids took lessons. Rather than just sit around and wait, the moms decided to have a book club while their kids were in class.


Kristin, you may invite me to call in to any book club of yours, any time, as you clearly have fabulous taste (no, not just in the books you pick - that goes without saying - but in the ladies of your book clubs!) If asked again, I shall look forward to not only another wonderful discussion, but also learning about yet another town I should have heard of.

August 19, 2011


I realize you never know with me if you're going to get an entry about a robust wine or whine, but I'm happy to say that this time, it's the former (for now).

I called in to the WINE (Women In Novels Enlightened) Book Club in Seattle, WA earlier this week. In keeping with the roughing it aspect of my book (and you know I don't mean no Holiday Inn), this lovely group met in a very outdoorsy spot - the courtyard of a condo complex. Just my style, ladies. Bravo! They've been meeting for almost a year and already sound like a very cohesive group:


From Left: Beth, Jean, Kimberly, Tina & Ashley (not pictured Tanya, the photo taker).

That's some nice condo complex, Jean!

Thanks so much for inviting me to your WINE book club, ladies. I very much enjoyed our discussion and really appreciated your enthusiasm for Queen of the Road. (Especially now that I see from the picture, it wasn't alcohol-fueled.)

Queen On!

August 24, 2011

Spies Public Library

As these lovely ladies in the Spies Public Library book club told me about their equally lovely town, I found myself wishing I could teleport on over. The library is in a historic building, on a beautiful marina, right on Green Bay in Menominee in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. Seriously, check out their fantastic, historic library .

And of course, a picture of the lovely ladies, themselves:


Back Row - Jan, Gail, Carol, Val, Marlene, Sandy and Ardyce

Front Row - Cheryl, Carole, Sue, Gail, Gail, Connie and Pam

I do adore when a book club gets into it! Although a little early in the day for martinis (and they were meeting in a library, after all) the ladies made do with punch in their martini glasses. And of course, it is never too early for a tiara. (That's why I wear mine to bed.)

As you all know, I love calling in to book clubs and answering questions. Sometimes though, I end up hearing a wonderful story that even warms my cynical heart. And, that's what happened at this book club when one of the ladies told of her own RV trip, decades ago: She had always wanted to do such a journey, so she just did, leaving her husband at home and taking her two young children cross country in a 35 foot rig. She needed some assistance when she started out, and a trucker stopped to lend a hand. Afterwards, without her knowledge, he put out the word to all his fellow truckers on his CB radio that they should all help out the woman traveling alone with two kids - complete with her license and vehicle description. It wasn’t until she got to California that she found out what he’d done.

Tim and I call that "road magic." (That's opposed to the "road tragic" which we, unfortunately, are much more likely to encounter.)

Thank you for inviting me to your book club, lovely ladies of Menominee!

August 28, 2011

The Mary Anne King Memorial Book Group

Here's a wonderful book club story:

This book club at the Columbiana Public Library in Alabama has been meeting for 11 years or so, ever since Mary Ann King, a local woman in the community, founded it. Sadly, she died two years ago of ovarian cancer, but her book club lives on. There's even a special book collection in the library to commemorate this avid reader. The lovely gals in the club also informed me that Mary Ann "knew everyone in the state of Alabama." Sounds like the kind of woman I wish I'd known!


Pictured left to right: Teresa, Elizabeth, Jane, Nancy, Duffy, Beth, & Susan

Note the PJs. Nice going, ladies! I hope none of you got pulled over for anything on your drive back. (PJs: hard to explain to the officers. Trust me.) Note also that Jane, the library's director, has got quite the tiara going. I may need to go shopping, after all. (How did you know I wear my tiara to bed? I don't recall mentioning that in my book.)

The book club picked Queen of the Road as part of their summer travel theme, and who am I to argue?

Thanks so much for inviting me to your book club, ladies. Next time we're in Alabama, I promise we'll see more of your state than the Unclaimed Luggage Store. (You've sold me on the coast. Know anyone with a long driveway?)

November 11, 2011

A Very Considerate (and Loving) Book Club

I've "done" a few hundred book clubs by now, but this had never happened before: Three separate members contacted me to send bookplates for the group/send a bookplate to the hostess/to call in. I knew I had to meet these incredibly thoughtful ladies!

From left to right, Meral, Pat, Cynthia, Judy, Jayne, Valerie, Patty, Amanda, Jackie. Three members were out of town, Kathy, Terry, and Donna.

The gals in this Connecticut club have known each other almost 20 years, although only started meeting for books two years ago, at Meral's instigation. They originally got to know each other through their kids and friends of friends. Now, they still do a lot of things together, but my favorite (of course) is going house to house during Xmas, drinking.... Oh yeah, there's the seeing each other's decorations things, too. Don't worry, they rent a van. Short of having your own driver constantly on call as us Royals do, I'd say that's the next best thing.

But, I suppose, the very best thing they told me about their club is, "We love each other very much."

Ladies, it was obvious and such a pleasure meeting you all. Thanks so much for inviting me to you book club to call in about Queen of the Road.

December 4, 2011

A Lovely Fayetteville Book Club

When Rachel first emailed me about her Fayetteville, GA book club, she said, "We laugh a lot at book club, drink too much at book club, and treasure our time together once a month."

Well, I just knew I had to "meet" those gals.

From left to right: Camber, Charlotte, Rachel, Val, Meghan and Becky. Wini left right before they took the photo.

They all live in same neighborhood and know each other because their kids go to same school. They've been meeting monthly for 4 years, always in each other's homes and always for cocktails.

Hmmm... Headwater High, Prevost Princess and a Hurlatini? Very tastey looking, if I do say so myself.

I especially loved the fact that these lovely Southern ladies heard about the book from Rachel's boss, who read it at her book club. Y'all know how I appreciate Queenly word-of-mouth!

Thanks so much, ladies for reading Queen of the Road and inviting me to your group!

April 10, 2012

Jester Book Club

In Front: Eva, Mangal, Elaina, Caroline, Gayland, Anneliese, Marjorie
In Back: Meg, Cathie, Marrianne, Carol
Missing: Darla

When this book club in Austin, TX asked me to call in, my first thought was, "I'm just glad I won't be driving there!" Don't get me wrong. It's a lovely town (actually reminds me a lot of Boulder) but the drivers? My professional psychiatric opinion: Nuts!

Although after visiting with these lovely ladies, I might have made an exception if I were in the area - say Arkansas or thereabouts - especially after hearing that the group was started 10 years ago by the member who is a retired banker and also happens to be a great baker! (Throw in a current, fully-stocked bartender and I am SO there.)

The group is from incredibly diverse and interesting backgrounds (along with the banker, there's a teacher, an RN, a criminal defense attorney, a university administrator, a collectible jewlery seller and an IBMer. I'm sure I've forgotten someone, but really, couldn't I have just stopped there? As my peeps are fond of singing this time of year, "Dayenu*.") Although they do have one thing in common, as Mangal mentioned when she first contacted me, "Most of us qualify for AARP."

I feel you. (And my joints. Oy.)

In any event, thank you so much for inviting me to discuss Queen of the Road. If I'm ever in the area, I'll have my driver veer on over.

*Dayenu. One of the most popular songs of the Passover sedar. It means, "It would have sufficed."

August 10, 2012

Waukesha Book Club

Back in the Sping, I had the pleasure of "attending" Peggy's book club in Waukesha, WI. I call it Peggy's book club, because after she moved to the area and started meeting people, she started the group.

Book clubs often ask me for book book recommendations, and I like to ask them, as well. Peggy's recommended two I've already enjoyed (so you may, too): The Poisonwood Bible and The Help. But also, three I'd never heard of and are now on my list to read: The Secret History, On the Shadow of the Wind andThe Art of Fielding.

Ladies, I always feel like an airline pilot when I say "I know you have a choice in books to choose for book club, and I'm so happy you chose mine."

I really enjoyed your group.

And now, I'll hang up my pilot's wings and put on my nagavator (as Tim says) shoes, and wish you a royal,

Queen On!

August 19, 2012

The Dirty Girl Book Club

You know how I feel about book clubs that really get into it. Well, not only did these "Dirty Girls" wear tiaras, but Michelle (in white, in front) is wearing her Queen of the Road t-shirt. But even that's not the best part. This club was so into it, they taste tested 10 (count 'em, 10) of my Queenly martinis weeks ago, so they could narrow 'em down to a Final Four and voila! Phobic Friar, Headwater High, Love Me Blender, and Nudist Nectar made the cut (and the photo).

Of course, I could tell you that this fun group of women in St. Paul, MN, met after dancing together at a local studio. When Penny retired from dance about six years ago, she started the group to keep in touch with everyone. It's actually a book/movie club, as they read six books and see six chick flicks a year. (So, nu Steven Spielberg? Too busy to pick up the phone? Would it kill you to spare these women one night of agonizing decision making some month by making Queen of the Road into a movie? No, I didn't think so. So, be a good boy.)

I could tell you all that, but I'm still stuck on the taste testing 10 martinis thing. These gals are obviously far better women than I.

September 2, 2012

The Philo Book Club

I called in to this Sadorus, IL book club back in May. The host, Cheryl, was soon off to an adventure of her own in South America and forgot to send in the above lovely photo. When she went through her vacation pictures recently, she happened to find it. No problem, Cheryl. Glad you enjoyed your vacation so much and thanks for emailing me that "You calling was by far the most interesting book discussion we have ever had!"

That wasn't your club's first meeting, right?

Thanks for having me on speakerphone, ladies and I wish you all happy future travels - armchair or otherwise.

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About Book Groups

This page contains an archive of all entries posted to What Do You Want From Me? by Doreen Orion in the Book Groups category. They are listed from oldest to newest.

Beasts is the previous category.

Bus Life/Travels is the next category.

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

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