Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Man Plans; the Universe Chortles

Whenever I start feeling a little too full of myself, the universe has a way of yanking me back to earth. Oh, I don't know, say you sold a few books, got a couple of nice reviews, managed to snag an interview on the TODAY show (!) You'd be puffing up just a tiny bit with pride, no?

Well, yes. At least until reality smacks you upside the head. Case in point: I was thrilled last month to be invited to BookMania in Stuart, Fla. Pretty prestigious event, New York Times bestselling authors, famous memoirists, kick-ass suspense novelists. And me, the newbie.

My sister Charlene convinced me to climb out of my usual grays and browns and blacks and khakis, and really dress. ''You're an author now! People expect you to have a little flair.''

So she loaned me a fancy red shawl and shiny red earrings. She added some oomph to my makeup. I have to say, I was looking pretty fine. There I was at the authors' cocktail reception, sipping my soda water. She coerced me into heels, too, which definitely don't mix with alcohol. I was certain I was exuding an authorly air, when an older man came up to me.

"I loved your book,'' he said, big smile on his face.

Ah, this is what it's all about. This is how an author feels, I thought. I smiled warmly, ready to dazzle him with my literary bon mots. (Yes, I know I've written a redneck romp set in middle Florida, but I can fake it, oui?)

And then he took both my hands, clasped them, and stared deep into my eyes: "Hallie Ephron, I have waited so long to meet you!''


"Uhmmm,'' I said as nicely as I could, "I'm not Hallie Ephron. She's standing over there with that crowd of people around her. She's the other woman in a shawl.''

He hesitated a moment, looked from me to her and back again. "Oh,'' he finally said, not at all embarrassed. "Then do you think you could introduce me?''


So, the picture above is my sister and me at BookMania. Hallie Ephron, of the famous literary family, is not the woman on the left.

How about you? Who's the most famous person you've been mistaken for?

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Pantless in Palm Beach County

Pantless, I balanced on one leg in the gas station stall. I prayed my undies wouldn't drop into a puddle I hoped was only sloshed water from a filthy mop bucket in the corner. My blouse hung perilously from a hook missing a screw on the back of the door. A rusty faucet dripped, dripped, dripped into a sink with all the porcelain scrubbed off.

A tale of a sordid encounter from my dating days?

No, just a glimpse into the glamorous life of an author on the road.

I've only been doing this a few months, but already I've learned to keep a straight face when someone asks, "So, are they sending you anywhere exciting on your book tour?''

First of all, ''they'' is me. And while I'm grateful for any chance to talk about Mama Does Time, so far my ''tour'' has been less red carpet and luxury hotels, and more arriving in my pickup truck and crashing on the sofa beds of friends.

The gas station served as makeshift changing room as I sped from a book fest in Stuart, Fla., to speak to a book group a couple of hours south. My truck's cab was packed to the roof with clothes, books, and emergency rations. A bag of honeybell oranges I'd picked up at a flea market on the Dixie Highway spilled onto the passenger seat. I looked like the Joads heading west in Grapes of Wrath.

Still, once I'd made myself presentable, it was great to be welcomed into the Coral Springs home of Kerry Cerra. She combined two book clubs, twisted arms to get them to read Mama, and invited me by for a chat. Not only were the members funny and smart, Kerry dished up Mama's favorites, fried chicken and pie. (Coincidentally, the author's faves, too!) And, I got to drink beer while addressing a gathering of 20-some readers eager to talk about Mama.

Good food, fun gals, and beer? Okay, not glamorous, maybe. But definitely a glimpse into the great life of an author.

How about you? What's the weirdest place you've dressed? Ever tried to pull on pantyhose while driving? (Guys, if you answer yes to that one, not sure I want to hear about it).