2. Next week, I am going to talk to the creator of Zombies, Run! about the episode(s) I am writing.
3. I have a book due in about two months. I have to write so much in between now and then that I get sort of sick thinking about it.
4. Yesterday I did a Skype visit with a middle school in Omaha. Earlier I had been given the choice between doing it at 9 or 11 my time. I chose 11, but I guess they thought I chose 11 their time. Carrying a cup of coffee, I wandered into the spare bedroom around 9:10, planning to see if we still had Skype on an old computer. Only when I opened it up, there the kids were, waiting for me. Luckily, I was at least dressed. I actually managed to pull it off. I think.
5. I spent part of today scanning in sections of a 120-year-old family photo. The little girl was my grandmother. The guy with the crazy mustache was my great-grandfather, and he was very protective of his youngest child. Ten years or so after this photo was taken, he would be charged with murder for gunning down grandma's boyfriend. For kissing her. He only served two years. Presumably because of this traumatic incident, Grandma didn't get married until she was in her 30s.
Thanks to @ShiploadofWilco for the tip!
Today would have ben my mom's birthday. This is what I said at her funeral on October 26th:
My mom was no ordinary mom. I think sometimes she wanted to be ordinary, she wanted to blend in, but that wasn’t how God made her. She was tall, she was an extrovert, she followed her heart, she spoke her mind.
She taught me so many things, but three were most important: to laugh, to listen, and to love.
Mom had a crazy sense of humor. I remember one April Fool’s Day I watched her pour cat food into the cat’s dish. She said, “You know, this actually looks pretty good,” shook some in her hand, and ate it. It turned out it was a new cereal that she had noticed looked a lot like cat food. She had put the bag inside an empty box of Friskies.
Back in July, mom was hospitalized for three days. A few days after she was discharged, a nurse called to follow up. My mom was in the bathroom and so I answered and started talking for her. Figuring the nurse would want to talk with her directly, I handed her the phone when she came out .
The first thing she said - and mind you, she knew this was a stranger - was "Help! Help! They've got me tied up in a closet and they're not feeding me."
A week or so before she died, we were talking about how everyone has something at their core. Mom said she realized hers was to listen. She made friends everywhere she went, and it didn’t matter if they were young or old or homeless or rich. She loved meeting new people. A few months ago we went for a walk in the Eastwood Cemetery. She was so weak that she only made it a few feet inside the entrance. But then a young woman she had never talked to walked by. And of course Mom perked up and learned all about her. It completely rejuvenated her.
And finally, Mom was all about God and about love. And for her the two were the same. When I go back and look in my emails, there are dozens from her that have the word “love” in the subject line. She said love is the only thing, that love is all there is and that’s plenty.
I’m going to try to be more like mom - to laugh more, listen more, and love more.
I feel like Jess's book cover was seen so many places and is so iconic that even though the author of the second book IS Italian, it's just too similar.
2. I just got a a really good haircut from someone who cuts curly hair dry. Now I see what that's recommended.
3. When I got back to my car, I passed a parking meter guy on a bike. I was 10 minutes overdue and the yellow ticket was on my windshield. He voluntarily turned his bike around, came back, and said he would not cite me this time - that it was just a warning.
4. I started a new book that's due soon, and I feel anxious and like I don't know what I'm doing. I should be in the groove - I NEED to be in the grove - but instead I feel like it's not going to be very good and how will it get done.
5. I am loving kung fu. Where else can you learn how to dislocate someone's shoulder, or do knife drills with a real knife? I'm even learning to be okay with being thrown. Slowly learning.
This book was written under the most extreme circumstances.
It was written in hotel rooms and on airplanes.
It was written when I moved back home for a month to take care of my mom after she went on hospice. (It was not written very well at that point, I think.)
It was written in coffee shops.
It was written in cars (when I was the passenger).
It was written when I was sick of it.
It was written I should have been sleeping.
It was written in the hospital while listening to Half Moon Run's Full Circle (and trying not to listen to other people on the ward with Alzheimer's or detox or psych issues).
It was written.
I had spent years writing books on the side (my first was published in 1999) while working full-time in public relations for Kaiser Permanente. I had been working for a variety of someone elses since I was 14 and started babysitting. My past jobs included everything from making pizzas to making change, from translating German to a one-time stint jumping out of a giant faux cake at some guy's 40th birthday party.
I had published six books and was wondering when I was ever going to be able to quit my day job, when I hooked up with a television personality and we got offered a four-book deal for an adult mystery series. While my share of the advance was not a huge sum of money, at the same time I knew I would never see that much in one place ever again. It felt like it was then or never. So I gave notice. My agent called it, "Sailing your boat out into the middle of the ocean and setting it on fire." (She was with a big agency and went out on her own, so she knew what she was talking about).
And on this date six years ago, I packed up my emergency makeup (I occasionally dealt with the media), my snack stash (I was known for having a steady supply of pretzels), my family photos, and the cup where I kept spare change. I said goodbye to a lot of folks and tried not to think too hard about whether I was crazy to quit when the stock market had lost 40 percent of its value and I hadn't actually signed the contract yet.
But you know what? It has worked out. Of course, it hasn't been all sunshine and lollipops. Thank God I've got health benefits from my husband, but everything else I pay for out of pocket (like retirement) or simply don't have.Two years ago was the first year where I made more than I did at my day job. In 2013, I made substantially more. At the same time, I've learned that money doesn't always come in when you expect it, counted on it, planned for it. There have times when I have done the math and wondered exactly how we were going to pay the mortgage. And there have been times when I have gotten money I wasn't expecting at all.
It all tends to work out, although sometimes not before you've curled into a fetal position.
I've had eight books published since I quit, including Girl, Stolen, The Night She Disappeared and The Girl Who Was Supposed to Die. Two more will publish this year, including The Body in the Woods. I've got contracts for more. There have been movie options, foreign sales, and books chosen for the Scholastic Book Club, the Junior Library Guild, and many state reading lists.
And I am so much happier!! All day long I get to kill people (or at least make them worried they might be killed) and it is so much fun. And if some of those people occasionally bear a passing resemblance to an old boss or annoying co-worker, I’m sure that’s a coincidence...
I love all things zombie. 28 Day Later. 28 Weeks Later. I've been a fan of The Walking Dead since the first TV show aired. And I love, love, love Zombies, Run! It's a phone app that let's run for your life from a horde of zombies. You can use it walking or on a treadmill, but I use it to run. You listen to a story line that's interspersed with your own music. My favorite part is that you can turn on zombie chases which require you to run 20% faster for a full minute or the zombies close in.
I was listening to a mission on Friday. The game is set in and taped in England, and in this episode, they had made contact with some survivors in Canada. The person on the radio said that pre-zombie-apoloypse she had been a writer and poet. Then she identified herself as Margaret Atwood, which made me laugh out loud in the middle of my early morning dead quiet neighborhood. I just figured Margaret Atwood was enough in the public eye they felt they could borrow her, but the more the person "playing" Margaret Atwood talked, the more I thought it was actually her. I went home and googled it and it was her!
So I tweeted about it and Naomi Alderman, the co-createor and lead writer for Zombies, Run (and also a novelist, which is how she knows Atwood) replied and asked me if I would like to write an episode. You could see how long I took to think about it:
And yes, the fact that I am running means I am back up to speed, health wise. I am banned from sparring for two more weeks, but I am running (with some walks, because three weeks off your feet is hard to recover from), grappling, doing weapons works, and doing everything kung fu but sparring.