Archive for the ‘Acknowledgements’ Category

For my book review of “Beauty Queens” by Libba Bray, I spent hours on a cake for a book that wasn’t my favorite.  Some may ask the question “why?”  Why would I spend a total of four hours creating a cake, suffering through the trauma of the second bee sting in my life, and endure a week’s worth of pain from that sting with the only purpose of attaching it to a book review blog?  The answer is easy — Because the author deserves it.

The cake fun started as soon as I finished the book.  The image of a doll cake was immediately in my mind, but I spent hours thinking of how I would create it to best describe Beauty Queens.  I didn’t buy a special pan, but went the traditional way of creating a six-inch chocolate round instead of the normal eight inch round to give it more height.  There was even the benefit of learning a new fondant technique, how to add the color when I created the gold dress.  The cake went better than I expected and I was pretty happy with the results.  In a blissful confidence, I decided I should do a more creative background than the usual red wall of my kitchen for my cake masterpiece.  I should’ve known better.

It was getting late and I was running out of day light.  My vision included the cake teetering on the small upper edge of my back fence with the neighbor’s tall trees waving in the light breeze.  This was also one of our first days of sun in Oregon and the kids had enjoyed an afternoon playing with the hose in the yard.  Here is the point where I probably should have thought about the millions of bees and wasps buzzing around all day.   In what I now realize was the not smartest move, I trampled outside in my bare feet.  It only took a couple of seconds before a sharp pain pierced the top of my foot.  At first I tried to kick off the pain, but then looked down to find a bee walking away from the scene of the crime.

There were choices to make in an instant.  I had a long-labored cake in one hand, a ready camera in the other, and a bee assault on the neighbor of my big toe.  What to do?  The cake was first priority.  I limped into the house, called out for Hubs to remove the bee’s weapon lodged in my toe, and safely placed the cake down before allowing Hubs to complete surgery.

The exact moment of the stinging.

Some may think this was to save the thing I’d worked on.  (And maybe there is some vanity in that.)  But the real reason was much deeper.  I envisioned this cake for this book.  I knew if this one took a header in the grass, I’d be creating a new one for the review.  This brings us back to the original question of why so much time on a cake for a book I didn’t review favorably?  Although I didn’t connect with Beauty Queens, it didn’t mean it was a bad book.  There are hundreds of awesome reviews about this story.  Not to mention thousands of Ms. Bray’s fans (me being one of them) who enjoy her writing style.  I have a TON of respect for all authors and especially the classy ones.  You want to see class?  Check this out:

Ms. Bray’s tweet made my day!  At first I was worried if I’d hurt her feelings with the review, but then I realized she’s a professional (and way more secure than me).  It doesn’t mean she’s bulletproof to criticism, but she understands not everyone is going to connect with every story.  I can tell you, her show of cool inspired me to follow her on Twitter and set the plan to read Going Bovine in the near future.

This is why I spent all that time on a cake.  Because if my baked good inspires someone to support an author by reading their book, I’ve done something good for the writing world.  The same writing world I hope to be a part of some day.  Maybe one day someone will bake a cake for my book and also write a not-so-glowing review.  I hope when that time comes, I’m as poised, cool, and take a totally cute photo like the gracious Ms. Bray.

*Side note: The bee sting took five days for the swelling to go down.  Seven days after, there is still the tinge of purple around my toes and into the top quarter of my foot.  A very smart friend of mine called it right when she said I’d been attacked by a Tracker Jacker.


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In my admiration of The Airborne Toxic Event, I have been fortunate to have a lot of one on one interaction with them.  Well, a lot if you compare it to my other experiences with bands I adore.  In college I lusted after Pearl Jam and the closest I got was fifty yards from the stage in Indio after spending the night in a cramped Honda and sun-baking all day in the desert sun.  I could barely make out Robert Smith’s face from the back of the stadium in Los Angeles with thousands of people between us.  Don’t even get me started on not getting anywhere near my fourth grade crush Colin Hay from Men At Work when I saw them at the House of Blues while in college.  So, in comparison, TATE has been great to me with their time and I am forever grateful.

For this December trip, instead of having sugar plums dancing in my head, I had visions of five minutes with Mikel to interview him about his novel writing style.  I should’ve known early on it might not work out.  Things seemed a bit off in the concert when Mikel stared (seemingly lifeless) into the rafters as he sang each song.  The concert was fast-paced with one song leading right into the next.  (I blame them too for my wrecked hair.)  Contrasting June, where Mikel was out into the crowd numerous times, this time he barely made it off the stage.  There was one trip walking the bar where he downed some vodka before heading back, but it was quick and somewhat flat.  He crawled onto a speaker and perched himself above us all as he sang through the motions.  Don’t get me wrong, he was good.  He’s always damn good.  They are great live and consistent about it, which is amazing.  But he seemed different…off.

After the show, he didn’t rush out as he had the times before.  As you can read in party foul #10, we only caught him because we lost track of time in the bathroom.  (It was not planned even though it’s a perfect stalker move.)  He posed for pictures like a great frontman who understands the importance of business.  But it lacked his big straight-toothed grin of having a genuine good time.  Instead, it was replaced with a tight-lipped smirk and a constant side-step to escape out the side door.  We exchanged a few words where he got a “dig” in on the small town where I live (he knows because he lived in Salem), but it was half-hearted.  It wasn’t anything near the normal charm he exudes.

When I returned home, I showed Hubs the video I took of “The Graveyard by the House” performed in the encore piece of the set.

“He doesn’t look into it at all,” Hubs said.

It made me question if Mikel was phoning it in.  Maybe the long tour schedule finally weighed on him?  Maybe the month of December puts everyone in a funk where they take stock of their year?  Maybe it’s the obvious that he didn’t give a shit about the crazy chick (with bad hair) who interrupted his family time for her piece.

The last one makes me wonder how many pieces have been taken over the last year?  Heck, the last five.  Mikel looked tired in June, but powered through it to flash his swoon-worthy smile.  But maybe the mark of the end of this tour is the true definition of not having anything left.  He’s given so many pieces to people like me who eat it up with a big serving spoon, maybe he has left himself with nothing.  Is this what it takes to be great?  To make it?  Working for five years straight with no break and plastering a smile the entire time?  And boy, do I have that in me to become a successful writer?

We’ll never know if this was a true depiction of Mikel from that night or only my interpretation (which we know is usually faulty after a couple cocktails.)  I do know if he had decided to be my BFF, I would’ve checked in and asked what I could’ve done to help.  He may have chuckled it off and said everything was just fine as professionals do.  Or maybe reality would have shown through for a moment with his steely blue eyes staring back at me and answered “leave me my last piece.”

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One of the best benefits from attending the Willamette Writers Conference in August was meeting Amy Isaman.  After running into each other numerous times between sessions and meals, we decided there was something behind it and introduced ourselves.  Even better, we agreed to be critique partners for each other when the time comes.  To me, this was super exciting because it was the one goal I set for myself when going to the conference.  By the third day, and after talking with a bunch of people I didn’t have a good connection with, I was getting a bit worried.  Then I met Amy.

Last week, she generously shared with me the Liebster Award.  It was a funny thing because I was reading her blog (as I always do every Monday and Thursday) when I saw she got the award.  As I was reading through the article, I was thinking how happy I was for her because it’s so cool.  Then, what a surprise when I got to her nominations and saw my little ole blog spelled out in her nomination of the Liebster Award. 

What is a Liebster Award?  Amy says:  It’s a fun way to “pay it forward” to other “newbie” bloggers out there and showcase a blog you think deserves merit and more followers.  (If you have more than 200 followers, you’re not eligible for this award.)

Of course there is no obligation to take part, but if you’d like to show some Liebster Love, here are the rules:

1.  Link back to the blogger who awarded you.

2.  Tag 3-5 blogs to receive the award.

3.  Inform them of their nomination.

4.  Display the Liebster Award image on your blog.

It may seem like some kind of blog pyramid scheme, but who cares?  (Mom, that’s just a joke.  Blogs are not trying to steal your money or get you to unknowingly sign up for Facebook.)  I love the idea of paying it forward to other blogs.  We all know it’s tough to get followers and there is HUGE appreciation for a comment here and a subscription there.  Some writers may even check their blog stats religiously throughout the day like a junkie waiting for a fix.  (I’m not mentioning any names, ahem…me.)  So the thought of sharing followers and turning people on (hee hee) to someone else’s great work is a “win/win/win.”

Happiest Mommy on the Block:  Tara does a great job of mixing parenting, crafting, and decorating.  I’ve known Tara for years and her strive for perfection makes some pretty darn awesome creations.  She has a great way of reminding you to appreciate the simple things in life and enjoying every moment with your family.

Tragic Spinster:  What can I say?  I love her.  Spinster uses hilarious wit and awesome captioning to capture the aspects of her life.  She never ceases to amaze with the hilarity she creates.  I literally LOL every time I read her blog.

Speaking of Words and Quilts:  I would have chosen Amy’s blog even if she didn’t share the award.  I love her blog.  She uses the metaphor of quilting to discuss her experience with writing.  I find it fascinating to hear the components and history of quilting while picking up on all the little details of making something beautiful. 

Most of the other blogs I know have more than 200 followers and are not eligible for this award.  Sure, they have legions of fans who regularly comment, but they don’t have this award.  For today, it’s “YAY” for the little guy.

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Thank you to all the people in which characters are based.  Without you, there are no stories to tell.

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