Tuesday, June 30, 2009

The "N" Word--Nieces & Nephews

I have spouted off before about what a remarkable family I have, but I’m going to do it again because I just experienced another example of how this family pulls together and just does what needs to be done like a well-oiled machine. The launch party for my debut novel, The Advocate, took place last Saturday in Riverside, California. My sisters and their offspring, my amazing nieces and nephews (this includes great, and great, great nieces and nephews), just pitched in and gave me one of the most memorable days of my life. Their help and their support were incredible. And once the party was rolling they all bought books, from the oldest to the youngest. I can’t tell you the number of times I had to write “To my favorite niece” or “my favorite nephew.” Yup, they all wanted the same inscription.

But there were a couple of exceptional purchases. The first was my three-year-old great-great niece, Meredith, who convinced her grandmother to buy her a book. When asked what she wanted the message to read. She said, “To Baby Amelia & Meredith” (Baby Amelia is her little sister. What a sweet, thoughtful, little girl.)

Later when my sister gave a last call for the books, her granddaughter, Allie (Alexandria) said, “I want one.” She’s four years old, but hey, her three-year-old cousin had one. Within minutes, Allie was walking through the remaining crowd and asking for forty cents. We have no idea where she came up with the forty-cent value of the book, but apparently she thought that was what it cost. One of the older nephews conceded to give her a dollar. Then she brought it to me and asked to buy a book. What’s an auntie going to do? She wanted her book signed “To Alexandria” (too important, I guess, for Allie). Then her ten-year-old cousin got a dollar from his older brother and he wanted one. Another book went for a dollar…so though the cost of the book had diminished immensely by the end of the night, the experience had been greatly enriched.

Thank you all for making my launch party an experience I’ll never forget.

Auntie Tee


Tuesday, June 16, 2009

The "M" Word--Michigan and Other "M" States

I just spent five days in Michigan with my nephew Chet and his family where I received the red carpet treatment and had a pleasant, restful time--a much needed break. After a fabulous weekend in Chicago at Printer’s Row Book Festival, Chet picked me up and drove me to Bay City. Michigan was beautiful, so many shades of green (as opposed to our southern California brown hills) and lots of spring flowers still in bloom. While I was there I researched an area where one of my characters will go in my next novel. It is a sequel to The Advocate. It’s so much easier to write about an area when you've actually been there. I was quite surprised how different things were from the aerial maps I saw online. My highlight in Michigan was passing through Paw Paw and seeing where Norm Cowie, author of Fang Face, went to high school (great book, by the way!)

When I started to write this blog I thought about how the "M" states had played an integral part in my life. In addition to Michigan I have a connection to most of the “M” states. Growing up in Minnesota I remember jumping rope to the Mississippi diddy: M-I-crooked letter, crooked letter-I-crooked letter, crooked letter-I-hump back, hump back-I. A good part of my family lives in Montana, so many that we chose to have our “Family Onion” there last year. My very dear friends live in Maine and I have the good fortune to visit there quite often (going again the end of next month). We had our last sister trip with all five sisters in Missouri (memories that will forever be dear to me). My publisher, Echelon Press, is located in Maryland. So that only leaves Massachusetts. Although I’ve been there several times, have some nice memories of Boston, but it’s the remaining state to develop a real connection. Any suggestions? Any of you connected to the “M” states?


Tuesday, June 2, 2009

The "L" Word--Limbo

Limbo—I’m talking about the dance, not the place somewhere between heaven and hell.

Do you remember the limbo? Are you too young? I remember being the limbo champ once in school. In all fairness, I think I had an advantage. Since I was only about four and a half feet tall, I was much closer to the ground than my fully grown friends.

For those of you who are not familiar with the dance, the dancer leans backward and moves to a Caribbean rhythm as he dances his way under a horizontal stick without touching it. If he touches it or falls backwards, he’s out. During a competition the dancers follow in a single line with the stick being gradually lowered each time through until only one dancer remains.

People often associate the dance with Hawaii, but it originated on the island of Trinidad. The name comes from the Trinidad/English dialect, “limba” meaning “to bend,” from the English “limber.”

Research indicates that in certain African beliefs the dance reflects the whole cycle of life. The dancers are moving under a pole and emerging on the other side representing the triumph of life over death.

And I bet you thought the limbo was just another dance. But then you probably received most of your limbo knowledge, like I did, from Chubby Checker and his "Limbo Rock."

Do you have a limbo story? Please share.