06.28.2016

Three Books On Sale, Cheap And Sweet

Well, this was a bit of a surprise to me, but three of my books are on sale, cheap and sweet, on Amazon kindle for a tiny bit of time. My Very Best Friend is $4.99. Such A Pretty Face is $2.99, and The Last Time I Was Me is $6.99.

That would be a grand total of $14.97 if you bought all three if you need some summer reads. Books, beach, beer. Maybe not in that order.

Anyhow, in one book the women ride their bikes, in their negligees, at midnight. There’s a colorful secret hiding in a shed in the second, and in the third Jeanne Stewart runs naked along a river because her anger management counselor told her to do so to get rid of her – wait for it – anger.

Cheers, all.

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06.27.2016

Eating Spiders, Wild Streaks And Raising Children

Even after raising three kids I can’t confidently advise anyone else on how to parent.

I do believe, though, that there are three absolute rules to follow:

One, make sure they are fed and watered. You would feed and water cattle, wouldn’t you? Children are no different.

Two, clothe them even if they throw fits and insist on wearing only a frilly yellow tutu and nothing else when they are two years old.

Three, do not let them grab and eat the goldfish straight out of the tank.

Other than that I have often found parenting baffling.

For example, when Adventurous Singing Daughter was young why did she like to eat sand so much? That could not have been tasty. Why did she repeatedly try to eat spiders? How many spiders did she eat when I glanced away for just ONE second?

Why did Rebel Dancing Daughter wear the same two dresses over and over for years when she was a little girl? I bought them at garage sales. One had fruits, the other flowers. Why did I bother buying her other clothes when she wouldn’t wear them anyhow?

And Darling Laughing Son. What was the fascination with carrying around a metal spatula when he was two? Why did he have to stubbornly wield my long wooden spoon like a sword when he was in the stroller?

So many years have gone by since then.

Rebel Dancing Daughter is now trotting around Europe and has been offered a job in the Ukraine after graduation. I want her to go to the Ukraine about as much as I want my left arm to fall off my body and start hitting innocent people.

Adventurous Singing Daughter is heading to college in the fall but what she would really like to do is circle the globe and have – wait for it – adventures. She is going to college because we will not fund such globetrotting, so off she slogs.

And Darling Laughing Son? Well, that kid has a wild streak. He wants to keep his wild streak. We want to beat it out of him.

It is in these parenting moments, sometimes hard, sometimes hotly argumentative, sometimes baffling, that I often remember holding their hands when they were little.

I held their hands when we went to the zoo, the library, the park, the river. I held their hands when we danced, when they cried, when we played in a pool or read stories. Those sweet, tiny, warm hands.

Now I feel those sweet hands slipping away. They’re older. They are often gone, away at school, away in a different country.

I am older, too. I tire easily. I want to put my feet up and drink coffee. I want to daydream by my garden.

Sometimes it truly saddens me, that that part of life, the raising the kids part, is going.

And yet. As the kids are flying off, I feel myself flying, too. I have been working and raising children for twenty two years.

And now, finally, there is time. Time for me. Time for Innocent Husband. Time for change.

Time to love the kids as they get older and become themselves.

Time to travel, read, do something new.

Time to hold hands.

***
I love you Adventurous Singing Daughter, Darling Laughing Son, and Rebel Dancing Daughter.

No matter where you fly off to, I will always be here, my hand outstretched, a hug waiting for you. Be safe, be kind, be you.

Do not eat sand or spiders. Wear more than two dresses. Be careful with that wild streak. And call yo momma.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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06.01.2016

Need A Beach Read? Beach Season Is On Sale For $1.99

Need a beach read?

Need a little romance?

Our anthology, Beach Season, is on sale for $1.99, on kindle. That’s one hundred and ninety nine pennies for four fun stories from Lisa Jackson, Holly Chamberlin and Rosalind Noonan.

https://www.amazon.com/Beach-Season-Lisa-Jackson-ebook/dp/B00ONTR61A/ref=tmm_kin_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=1464793885&sr=8-1

Here are chapters one and two from my story, June’s Lace.

Chapter One

Ten Things I’m Worried About:

  1. Too many wedding dresses
  2. Not enough wedding dresses
  3. Grayson
  4. Going broke
  5. Losing my home
  6. Never finding an unbroken, black butterfly shell
  7. The upcoming interview with the fashion writer.
  8. Not having peppermint sticks in my life
  9. Turning back into the person I used to be
  10. Always being worried

 

Chapter Two

“No. Absolutely not.” I gripped the phone with white knuckles as I paced around my yellow studio. “I will never agree to that.”

“Ha. I knew you wouldn’t accept those unacceptable terms, June,” Cherie Poitras, my divorce attorney, cackled.  “Your soon to be ex-husband has a monstrous addiction to being a jerk but don’t worry, we’re not quitting. Quitting causes my hot flashes to flare.”

“I don’t want your hot flashes to flare, Cherie. And I’m not quitting, either. I can’t.”  I yanked opened the French doors to my second story deck as lightning zigged and zagged across the night sky through the bubbling, black clouds, the waves of the Pacific ocean crashing down the hill from my blue home. “If I could catch a lightning strike, I’d pitch it at him.”

“It would be thrilling to see that,” Cherie declared. “So vengefully Mother Nature – ish.”

“What a rat.” I shut the doors with a bang, then thought of my other life, the life before this one, and shuddered. I could not go back to it, and I was working as hard as I could to ensure that that wouldn’t happen.  There wasn’t enough silk and satin in that other life. There wasn’t any kindness, either. Or softness. “I so want this to end.”

“He’s sadistically stubborn. I have been buried in motions, requests for mediation, time for him to recover from his fake illness, his counseling appointments, attempts to reconcile…he’s tried everything. The paperwork alone could reach from Oregon to Arkansas and flip over two bulls and a tractor.”

“That’s what we’re dealing with, Cherie, bull.” I ran a hand through my long, blonde, messy hair. It got stuck in a tangle.

“Sure are, sweets.”

“He’s doing this so I’ll come back to him.”

“That’s true. He’s a tenacious, rabid bull dog.”

“I don’t ever want anything to do with the rabid bull dog again.” I was so mad, even my bones seemed to ache. Cherie wished me a, “Happy wedding dress sewing evening,” and I wished her the best of luck being a ferocious attorney who scares the pants off all the male attorneys in Portland and went back to stomping around my studio.

My studio is filled with odd and found things. I need the color and creativity for inspiration for the non – traditional wedding dresses I sew. Weathered, light blue shutters from a demolished house are nailed to a wall.  Two foot tall pink letters spell out my name, June.

On a huge canvas, I painted six foot tall purple tulips with eyes, smiles and pink tutus. I propped that painting against a wall next to a collection of mailboxes in the shapes of a pig, elephant, dragon, dog, and monkey.  The monkey mailbox scares me.

I dipped a strawberry into melted chocolate and kept stomping about.  I eat when I get upset or stressed, and this had not proved to be good for the size of my bottom. Fifteen extra pounds in two years. After only four more strawberries, okay seven, and more pacing, I took a deep breath and tried to wrestle myself away from my past and back into who I am now, who I am trying most desperately to become.

“Remember, June,” I said aloud  as my anger and worry surged, like the waves of the Oregon coast below me. “You are in your sky lighted studio. Not a cold, beige home in the city. You are living amidst stacks of colorful and slinky fabrics, buttons, flowers, faux pearls and gems, and lace. You are not living amidst legal briefs and crammed courtrooms working as an attorney with other stressed out, maniac attorneys hyped up on their massive egos.”

My tired eyes rested, as they so often did, on my Scottish tartan, our ancestor’s tartan, which I’d hung vertically on my wall.  When I’d hung it in our modern home in Portland, he’d ripped it down and hid it from me for a month. “Tacky June, it’s tacky. We’re not kilt wearing heathens.”

I am a wedding dress designer in the middle of a soul-crushing divorce. I am a wedding dress designer who will never again marry.  I am a wedding dress designer who has about as much faith in marriage as I do that the Oregon coast will never see another drop of rain.

A blast of wind, then a hail of rain pummeled my French doors.I ate yet another chocolate strawberry. I have been told my eyes are the color of dark chocolate. Not a bad analogy.  I washed the strawberry down with lemonade, then a carrot.

No, I have no faith in marriage.

None.

It was a bad day. It became worse after the next phone call.

 

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05.31.2016

My Mother Kept Our TV In The Closet Like A Wretched Family Secret

My childhood was a little bit quirky.

One of the quirky things about it was my sweet mother’s utter distaste for TV.

Bette Jean kept our black and white TV in the closet. Yes, in the closet. As if the TV was a wretched family secret that had to be locked away.

Our TV was as heavy as a crate of steel and as wide as a Mack truck. It was a looming black and gray blob. The unwieldy antennae looked like it came off a space ship. It had to be adjusted, stabilized, propped up. The picture was none too clear, often fuzzy.

The Blob had a handle on top and had to be heaved out of the closet and up onto a bench in the family room so we could watch it. You could darn near throw your back out hauling that TV in and out, but our inevitable broken backs and whining did not prevent my mother from insisting that we haul it right back into the closet the minute our show was over.

Bette Jean thought the TV was unsightly and she thought that the vast majority of TV shows were unsightly, too, and should not be watched. It rightly followed that she should not spend any hard earned money on a new TV and that TV should be somewhat difficult to view.

Now no one else’s mother thought this. Everyone else in the neighborhood had a color TV. Everyone else in the country probably had a colored TV. But not us. Oh, no. Many years after color TVs came out, we watched the ole’ black and white.

That TV was pretty embarrassing for a kid who really wanted to fit in but knew from a very early age she wasn’t quite going to.

Friends would say, “Where’s your TV, Cathy?” And I would, with great shame, open the door to the dark closet, as if I was letting out a roaring monster. Or the wretched family secret.

The only thing I could compare not having a colored TV to, at that time, is not having a refrigerator.  In place of a refrigerator, you would have stacks of ice in your kitchen. Or, perhaps instead of an oven, you would have a cave in the kitchen that held hot rocks.

So what were we allowed to watch? Very few shows. One was The Waltons. For those of you too young to know, this was a show set on a farm in Virginia. It was about seven kids and their parents during the Great Depression. They prayed at dinner. We could also watch the Brady Bunch now and then. Bewitched.

Only good, clean, wholesome family shows.

We were also allowed to watch Saturday morning cartoons. I don’t think my mother liked us watching cartoons, (also unsightly) but she had four kids, she was wiped out, and the cartoons allowed her to sleep in a couple of hours one day a week.

Bette Jean could not sleep in on Sunday, God forbid, because she and my father had to cattle prod four kids out to Catholic mass, hail Mary full of grace, the Lord is with thee, do not let your children watch TV.

So why the aversion to television shows? That’s a pretty simple answer. My mother was an English teacher.  She believed in books. Books were far superior to any show.

She also believed that children should play outside. So we headed out the door to play hide and seek and kick the can and had all sorts of fun, and when we headed back in we often dove into the world of books.

I think of her and that hulking TV in the closet sometimes when I’m watching a show. My favorites? Property Brothers. Fixer Upper. Madam Secretary. A couple of reality shows I’m really too embarrassed to admit that I watch. My TV is up in a cabinet. The screen has to be three times the size of The Blob.

I like my shows, but Bette Jean had it right.

There is a rare show that is better than a great book.

Playing outside is really fun.

I hope to do more reading and more playing outside this summer, and less TV.

I’m going to wish you the same. And let me know if you put your TV in the closet. Bette Jean would really like that.

 

*** This is a photo of my parents’ first house in Huntington Beach, California, about 1965. It’s where the anti – TV saga began before we moved to Oregon and The Blob found a new home in the closet.

 

 

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05.25.2016

Rex and Lucky Dog

What are the little things in life that bring you the most joy?

Can I tell you a little, tiny story, oh please?

Animals often make me laugh, especially this one. I am the aunt to this adorable dog, Rex. Full blown German Shepherd and damn proud of it. Here’s the funny thing: He has a favorite TV show. Every Saturday he watches a show called Lucky Dog. He LOVES it. He can barely contain himself and his excitement. It is a glorious day when Lucky Dog is on!

Sometimes he tries to scratch the TV screen so he, too, can play with the dogs on the show. He also runs around the back of the TV to FIND them, as if they’re hiding.

He reminds me, once again, that it’s the little things we love to do in life that bring the most joy. For me, it’s books, gardening, the beach. For Rex, it’s Lucky Dog.

What is it for you?

Responses from facebook….come join me there, too!

 

Joleen Wheeler Driving my family crazy brings me great joy! Doing outlandish pranks that makes them laugh’

Joleen Wheeler's photo.
Marina Elias Starbuck
Marina Elias Starbuck I am the proud owner of a German Shepherd, and they are goofy dogs! smile emoticon

Cathy Lamb
Cathy Lamb Absolutely adorable, Marina Elias Starbuck. Look at that rabbit!

Marina Elias Starbuck
Marina Elias Starbuck It’s one of her many ‘babies’ that she cares for. She carries them around, and grooms them! She never chews them

Alissa Schad
Alissa Schad Almost anything i get to do with my Adam. He is so special and i LOVE his innocence on life. I believe they are here to teach us. One of my favorite is candy cigarettes @ Kareoke, concerts with him (this one Lynard Skynard pulled him on stage during a Simple Kind of Man ) and the beach

Alissa Schad's photo.
Adria Cimino
Adria Cimino That is adorable, Cathy! Our cat’s favorite movie was “Microcosmos” a French movie that showed bugs up close in their natural environment. Lelee would look behind the TV, thinking that’s where the ants had gone… smile emoticon

Terry Torres Maloney I get a real kick from seeing hummingbirds land on a flowering bush outside my bedroom window because they are really close.

Cathy Lamb
Cathy Lamb Terry Torres Maloney They are at my house now too!

Jaymi Couch
Jaymi Couch This is Jackson. He is a rescued Plott Hound and he is such a love. But he’s got this very strange habit. He likes things touching his head and/or back. He will slo-o-o-wly walk around and under a fake ficus tree (to the point where you kinda have to lSee More

Jaymi Couch's photo.
Kimberly Brock
Kimberly Brock My dachshund does this smile emoticon

Sonja Yoerg
Sonja Yoerg When I’m writing I often feel like a rescued plot hound.

Kim Spensley
Kim Spensley My favorite show is Lucky Dog too!!!! smile emoticon

Cathy Lamb
Cathy Lamb Kim Spensley You should watch it with Rex!

Kim Spensley
Kim Spensley I would love to!! wink emoticon

Cathy Lamb
Write a reply…
Sherie Nash
Sherie Nash That is so sweet…I love watching ‘Rizzoli and Isles’, reading…of course, my granddaughter is my heart…I love baking. I love going to church…I love my girls, my ‘girls’ and I love yard sales and going to Value Village and Frenchies, it’s like a drug really…totally relaxing for me….especially finding perfect baby clothes…doesn’t even matter if I have a baby…someone does.

Kelly J. Phillips
Kelly J. Phillips I have an old overstuffed chair I bought from a friend for $25. I keep my favorite Redskins Football blanket on the broken footstool. (One of the small legs are missing) but it’s awesome and so very comfy. I have a side table for my coffee and everyonSee More

Cathy Lamb
Cathy Lamb I so need a “reading chair,” Kelly J. Phillips

Jeannine Mallory
Jeannine Mallory Since I never had children, I find great joy when I am with dogs. I love to watch their faces , their antics, and just about anything they do. A dog can lower my blood pressure.

Cathy Davis
Cathy Davis These 3 and of course reading!!!!

Cathy Davis's photo.
Cathy Lamb
Write a reply…
Dusti Douglass
Dusti Douglass This is Parker, one of my greatest joys since I have no children. I love good stories in any form, crafts, travel, and cooking. These and my partner, Tracy, bring me most of the joy in my life. 😀

Dusti Douglass's photo.
Jeannine Mallory
Jeannine Mallory Good-looking kitters.

Dusti Douglass
Dusti Douglass Thank you – she’s a diva. 😉

Cathy Lamb
Write a reply…
Cynthia Dix
Cynthia Dix I wish I had pictures of Family Cat #2 watching Rin Tin Tin Canine Cop! He would hear the theme music and come streaking through the house! He’d sit, bolt upright, in front of the tv, and Watch! You could see his head move as he tracked the action across the screen, and his ears flickered as he paid attention to the sound. Cracked me up!!

Brandi Megan Granett
Brandi Megan Granett Archery. Pure joy.

Brandi Megan Granett's photo.
Cathy Lamb
Cathy Lamb Brandi Megan Granett Geez. Look at those arrows!

Brandi Megan Granett
Brandi Megan Granett I love my sport wink emoticon

Cathy Lamb
Write a reply…
Robert Andweave
Robert Andweave This. These two.

Robert Andweave's photo.
Cathy Lamb
Write a reply…
Mandy Boelter Lange
Mandy Boelter Lange My husband, my kitties, my books. A few of my joys in life!! This picture is one of our kitties, Lacey, enjoying a show about big cats. I think those are lynxes on the screen. 😻😻

Mandy Boelter Lange's photo.
Karen Sconiers White
Karen Sconiers White 😂😂😂😂Sweet boy!!!

Cathy Lamb
Cathy Lamb And where is the photo, Karen Sconiers White? Hmmmm????

Karen Sconiers White
Karen Sconiers White Sadly I’m on tour and away from my funny furry people or I would send a photo of my puppy staring at the screen on the back porch thinking she has a chance at all the birds flying by. 😂🐶🐾

Cathy Lamb
Write a reply…
Natalie Ivory
Natalie Ivory These two most of all bring the greatest joy.. (hence why her middle name is Joy lol).. Also working on my genealogy, walks in the woods, gardening, and reading. I love how all the things I love keep me grounded. (also naps, I love those too.. They make me happy lol)

Natalie Ivory's photo.
Sandra Jean Lawrence
Sandra Jean Lawrence I would post a pic, but I’m at work. My chocolate lab, Dixie, LOVES the laser pointer, to the point of quivering and drooling when we reach for it.

Susan Gloss Parsons
Susan Gloss Parsons Right now, for me, it’s smiles from this little guy

Susan Gloss Parsons's photo.
Cathy Lamb replied · 1 Reply
Ruchi Brunvand
Ruchi Brunvand Too funny!
 
Amy Rogers
Amy Rogers My 3 year old’s angel heart, my horses, coffee, and being back in the West. When we moved back from Georgia, my husband bought me a coffee at McD’s in Laramie, WY on the drive. The cup said, “Welcome Home”. I cried. My daughter’s heart transplant iSee More

Cathy Lamb
Cathy Lamb Amy Rogers So glad your daughter’s heart transplant went well. Best gift ever ever ever. Post her picture!

Like · Reply · 1 · Commented on by Cathy Lamb · May 25 at 9:52pm

Ginger Cabrera
Ginger Cabrera They bring me the most joy in life.

Ginger Cabrera's photo.

Cathy Lamb
Cathy Lamb Ginger Cabrera And they are all adorable.

Like · Reply · 1 · Commented on by Cathy Lamb · May 25 at 9:53pm

Barbara McGrath
Barbara McGrath My artwork does it for me as does reading!!!

Barbara McGrath's photo.

Cathy Lamb
Cathy Lamb Barbara McGrath WOW and WOW and WOW. I love that!!

Like · Reply · Commented on by Cathy Lamb · May 25 at 9:53pm

Lenisa Alvey
Lenisa Alvey That dog is adorable. For me it is books, most definitely, as well as gardening.

Lenisa Alvey's photo.

Cathy Lamb
Cathy Lamb Lenisa Alvey Yep. Me, too.

Like · Reply · Commented on by Cathy Lamb · May 25 at 9:53pm

Molly Duncan Campbell
Molly Duncan Campbell Here’s one of my heartthrobs.

Molly Duncan Campbell's photo.

Rochelle Deans
Rochelle Deans What an awesome dog. Right now, many of my small joys come from my two-year-old. When she’s not driving me up the wall, she is adorable, and says the most… interesting things. I have a feeling she’ll be a great storyteller one day.

Sheri Poff
Sheri Poff My four year old basset hound Todd. He brings joy to the family! He is boss! Very stubborn! He loves to play and do little mischievous things for fun! He is very smart! He actually catches on to names of people and things very quickly! He is one spoiled rotten basset hound! We love him!

Anne Hovey Brandolini
Anne Hovey Brandolini Reading on the porch with my dog curled up next to me. My 65 pound lab pit mix who thinks he’s a lap dog.

Kathleen Bylsma
Kathleen Bylsma Poor 17 year old Rascal atands patiently staring into the conor on the front porch, even thought the door is open wink emoticon He still loves his walks and is very spry!

Dana Kennedy Criger
Dana Kennedy Criger This is my baby, River. She is totally like a little human with 4 legs. Love her!

Dana Kennedy Criger's photo.

Tammy Anderson
Tammy Anderson Good story. Our loves are the same three but I have to add in shopping and movies.

Jill Hammond
Jill Hammond This is a pic of my dog Bogey watching DogTv.

Jill Hammond's photo.

CharmNal Nsmartalec
CharmNal Nsmartalec My most favorite beings in this world – fun at the lake !

CharmNal Nsmartalec's photo.

Christy Leigh
Christy Leigh Thank you for the story. This is precious !!!! ❤️

Carol Woods
Carol Woods Poppy the wonder dog!

Carol Woods's photo.

Sheri Poff
Sheri Poff My 4 year old Basset Hound Todd –

Sheri Poff's photo.

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05.24.2016

Welcome, Writer, To 10 Days Of Editing Hell

I love writing.

Usually.

But what you are looking at now is the first page of a stack of pages that makes my brain short circuit.  It makes me think about holding a paper bag over my face and having an elephant sized anxiety attack.

It makes me wonder why I did not train to be a trapeze artist instead of being a writer. (True reasons I can’t do that job:  I am way too heavy, not flexible, scared of heights, and don’t like flying through the air while spinning.)

These are page proofs.

That is their official name. “Page Proofs.”

The unofficial name is “Welcome, Writer, To 10 Days Of Editing Hell.”

This is the last chance  for a writer to find and edit errors before the book goes to print.

This is chapter one, page one, of my next book The Language of Sisters, out in September.

Here are the things I’d rather do than edit page proofs.

  1. Chase a jaguar.
  2. Run from a jaguar
  3. Learn how to get a rattlesnake to dance out of a basket
  4. Dress like a ghost and parade around town while cackling.
  5. Eat dandelions.
  6. Dance around a pole in a bikini though I have given birth to three children.

By the time I get this intimidating stack of pages I have edited my book eleven times. Yes, eleven. It is obsessive, I know.

I don’t want to read it a twelfth time, bash me in the head, jangle my bones, slap me on the butt with a banana, I so don’t.

I edit about 50 of these pages a day.  This should not be compared to reading, for fun and games and delight, a book. Especially a book that is so scary you go hide in a closet or a book so gripping you are out of your own head and in a different world.

No, this is 50 pages I have to read as if I am pulling a fine toothed comb through every word on the page while reciting, by memorization, every word in the dictionary and all American grammar rules.

I cannot miss a missing ‘to,’ in this manuscript.

I cannot miss a needed comma.

I cannot miss a comma that SHOULDN’T be there.

I cannot semi – sleep through a passage, especially when I realize to my UTTER HORROR that I have made a HUGE mistake in my story. (Hear me scream, beat my chest, say bad words!)

When I realize that I truly, utterly SCREWED UP, I have to write a pleading note to, in my case, Paula, my copy editor, who is a saint, and BEG her to make the change. I beg and beg and beg. I am pathetic.

And when I find ANOTHER ERROR and I realize I have SCREWED UP AGAIN, despite already editing the book eleven freakin’ times, the begging begins once more.

(Please, Paula, please. Whimper. Sob. Whine.)

It’s quite humbling.

One time I brought a dead girl back to life at the end of the book when I accidentally gave her something to say.

Another time I changed the race of a character from the beginning of the book to the end.

I have messed up names and locations.

Still another time I…well, let’s not talk about THAT error.

Everything must be perfect. Perfect is extremely difficult. Unattainable. But I try.

When the proofs are mailed back, there is a sense of relief.

The book is done.

I am done.

My eyes are fuzzy, my hair unwashed, and I have odd nervous ticks coming up here and there. I am sleepless, my insomnia a living devil in my bed, but the book is off and I can do no more.

On to the next story until the hellish page proofs arrive at my front door, giggling evilly at me in that really mean way only page proofs can do.

But I do hope you enjoy The Language of Sisters, I truly, really, totally do.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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05.20.2016

When Author Adria Cimino And I Sat Down For A Chat…

Thanks, Adria Cimino, wonderful author and publisher, who has the grand pleasure of living in PARIS, yes THAT Paris, for inviting me to chat with you today on your blog.

This is the link to the “real” interview. http://adriainparis.blogspot.fr/2016/05/interview-cathy-lamb-author-of-my-very.html

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Interview: Cathy Lamb, author of MY VERY BEST FRIEND

Adria Cimino: As part of the launch of my latest novel, A Perfumer’s Secret, I’m interviewing the wonderful authors who took the time to read and endorse my book. Today, I’m chatting with Cathy Lamb, author of 10 (yes, you read that right — 10!) amazing novels. And her 11th is set for release later this year! 

So let’s talk about her latest release, My Very Best Friend, a story of friendship, but also love in general, loyalty, forgiveness…

Cathy, there are so many themes from life in this novel! What inspired you to write this story, and to set it in Scotland?

I was inspired to write My Very Best Friend in Scotland because I wanted to fly across an ocean and see men in kilts.

Ha! No, the REAL reason I set the book in Scotland is because Rebel Dancing Daughter, our oldest, goes to college there and it gave me a splendid excuse to visit her. Plus, I love Scotland, the Highlands, the perfect, gentle peace of that country, the music and the food. Did I mention the food? I love the food.

Plus, readers love to travel in books and I thought my readers might like to travel with me.

Throughout the book, Charlotte remembers legends told by her father. They create such rich imagery and remain in the reader’s mind long after closing the book; Were these a product of your imagination, or are they legends/stories you had heard or found in your research?

All of the legends I told in the book came right out of my  imagination. I did read Scottish stories, lore, etc. but those stories were mine. I love legends, magic, miracles.

How did you research the book? Did you travel to Scotland? Do you have a Scottish heritage?

We do have Scottish heritage! I even have a letter from an ancestor talking about how our people were from Wales, Scotland, Ireland, and England.  All desperate, destitute, needing a new life in America. The Great Britain ancestral part was recently confirmed with DNA from Ancestry.com.

I have been to Scotland twice, once when I was much younger and totally broke, and then last year when I visited my Rebel Dancing Daughter. I love it. I could live there.

You are such a prolific author, with 10 published books and another on the way. How do you develop your ideas? Do you already have ideas for the next few books in your mind, or do you sit down to think about the next one once you’ve completed your most recent manuscript?

My ideas come from all over.

I started Julia’s Chocolates with a vision of a crying woman on a deserted, dusty street who was throwing her wedding dress into a dead tree.

With The Last Time I Was Me I was in Welches, Oregon, walking along the river, and wondered what it would be like to run naked at night down that pathway. The whole vision made me laugh, for numerous reasons, but I made Jeanne Stewart do it.

I am so intrigued by artists who make creative, wild art and I gave that skill to Stevie in Such A Pretty Face. She made fantastical, huge chairs, then hid them in her shed. I built part of the story around those chairs.

For Grenadine in What I Remember Most, I knew I had my story when I thought of her name: Grenadine Scotch Wild. It took off from there.

The trick is to be open to new ideas flowing through. The beach helps. So does chocolate and coffee. My garden is a total distraction because I would often rather be digging in the dirt than working.

When ideas for the next book come to mind but I am still writing the current book, I write them down in a document called – wait for it – Ideas For Books. And then I put them aside. My brain is small and tired. I cannot have multiple ideas floating around in my head or I’ll get confused and flip the characters and plot lines around and a story that is set in Oregon will suddenly move to Montana and the characters from different novels will become friends or enemies.

Total literary and mental chaos.

When I finish one book, I take a break, then start journaling ideas for the next book. I have a small addiction to journals.

What can you tell us about your next book? And do you have a release date set?

My next book is titled The Language of Sisters, and it’s out September 1. A few clues about the story…

1.      Toni Kozlovsky lives on a yellow tugboat in the Willamette River. She needed space to breathe.

2.      Toni has two sisters. They can sometimes hear each other in their heads, a message coming through. It’s odd, it’s inexplicable. It’s a gift handed down the Sabonis family line through their widow’s peaks. Their mother had it, too.

3.      The Kozlovsky family immigrated from Russia when Toni was a little girl. They left a lot of secrets there… and the secrets have been running after them ever since.

4.      The family has many crazy members and the dynamics can be mind blowing. You might relate to some of them.

5.      Toni has something hidden in a little shed next to her tugboat. She doesn’t want to look at it. She doesn’t want to think about it. But she does.

6.       Love. Laughter. Funny stuff. A blue heron, a woman named Daisy, a DEA agent who lives down the dock, a restaurant, a scary man. Pillow making, skinny dipping, too much wine. More laughter.

7.      I hope you like it, I truly do.


This is a snippet from Charlotte Mackintosh in “My Very Best Friend.” Charlotte is a time travel romance writer who has no romance. She lives like a hermit on an island and goes skinny dipping. She puts her four cats in a specially made cat stroller. She’s different. She’s a lot of fun.

“I detest flying. You could correctly call it ‘pathologically afraid.’ I cannot breathe on planes. I know that I am going to die a fiery death as we plunge into the ocean.

I have studied planes, their engines, and why they stay in the air in depth. My studies took two years. I understand mathematical aerodynamics description, thrust, lift, Newton, and Bernoulli’s principle.

I even had three tours at Boeing.

I have talked to pilots and engineers and examined blueprints for planes. Yet the sensible part of me knows that the plane will crash at any moment because nothing this large, heavy, and rigid was ever meant to be in the sky.

This knowledge is in direct contrast to my physics studies. I acknowledge this dichotomy.

I sat down in my first-class seat. I need room if I fly. I don’t want to be sandwiched next to strangers who will be intruding upon my space by body part or by air. I prefer to die within my own confines.

Inside my carry-on bag I had these things: Travel-sized bottles of Scotch. My list folder. A handkerchief. Travel-sized bottles of whiskey. My own tea bags—chamomile, peppermint, and for my adventurous side, Bengal Tiger. Three journals to write in if my writer’s block dissolves. Pictures of my cats. Travel-sized bottles of tequila.

Two books on gravitational physics and evolutionary biology.

I adjusted my glasses. If we’re going to crash, I want them to be sturdily placed on my nose so I can see our doomed descent. My glasses have brown rims. I affixed clear tape on the left arm, as it’s cracked. I’ve been meaning to go to the eye doctor to get it fixed, but the tape seems to be functioning well. It does make my glasses tilt to the left, though. Not much of a problem, except if one is worried about appearance, which I am not.
I rechecked the top button on my beige blouse to make sure it was still fastened. I had been able to get most of the blueberry and ketchup stains out of it. If I end up in the ocean, I want to be covered. No need to show my ragged, but sturdy, bra.

My underwear is beige or white, and cotton. When there are more than two holes, I throw them out. High risers, you could call them. I like to be properly covered, no tiny, lacy, itchy tidbits for me, even though I put McKenzie Rae, the heroine in all of my time travel romance novels, in tiny lacy tidbits that do not itch her.

If we crash, I can assure you that my underwear will stand up far better to the fire and flying debris than a tidbit would.

I situated my brown corduroy skirt and took off my brown, five-year-old sturdy shoes and put on my blue slippers with pink rabbit ears that Bridget sent me. I took out a tiny bottle of Scotch, as my hands were already shaking.

My seatmate, a man who appeared to be about my age, was white faced. “I hate flying,” he muttered. I heard the Texan drawl.

“Me too. Here. Have a drink.” I pulled out another bottle.

“Thank you, ma’am, I am much obliged.”

We clinked our tiny bottles together. His hands were shaking, too.

We both breathed shallowly. “Close your eyes, inhale,” I said. “Find your damn serenity. Think of your sunflowers…bells of Ireland…catnip…sweet Annies…wild tea roses…”

“Think of your ranch…” he said, barely above a whisper. “Think of your cows. Your tractors. The bulls. Castration day.”

The vision of castration day was unpleasant. I closed my eyes again.

We inhaled.

We drank.

We shook.

We took off. I started to sweat. So did he.

“My turn,” he said when we were done with the first bottle. He handed me a tiny bottle of Scotch out of his briefcase.

“Cheers to aerodynamics, thrust, lift, and Bernoulli’s principle.”

“Cheers to your green eyes, darlin’. Those are bright twinklers. Brighter than the stars in Texas, may she reign forever.”

“Thank you. May Newton’s laws reign forever.”

Third round on me.

Fourth on him, ordered from the flight attendant, who said cheerily, annoyingly, “Nervous flyers?”

The fourth round did the trick. We decided to sing the National Anthem together, then “Frosty the Snowman” and two songs by Neil Diamond. One was “Cracklin’ Rosie,” which made him cry, so I cried, too, in solidarity. The annoying flight attendant asked us to be quiet.

We sang “The Ants Go Marching Down” in whispery voices, then I taught him a Scottish drinking song about a milkmaid. We woke up in Amsterdam, his head on my shoulder.

I wriggled him awake. “It was a pleasure getting drunk with you.”

“The pleasure was all mine, green eyes,” he drawled in his Texan drawl. “It seems we have arrived alive.”

“We did our part. Praise to Newton.”

We stumbled off the plane, shook hands, and I caught the next flight to Edinburgh. I forgot to change out of my blue slippers with pink rabbit ears before I walked through the airport. No matter. The top button on my beige blouse was still buttoned and I was in one piece.

I put my hand to my head. Lord. I hate flying and I hate airplane hangovers.”

Thanks, very much, Cathy, for stopping by!

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05.17.2016

Happy 23rd Anniversary, Innocent Husband. Pass The Kleenex.

In March, Innocent Husband and I celebrated 23 years of marriage.

Twenty three years.

Three kids, one cat, two birds.

We’ve loved and laughed and had some thunder and lightning type arguments, although in our latter years we’ve really mellowed out.

We’ve gone through beautiful years, tough years, and a few that were brutal.

We buried our mothers in 2002, after both wonderful women fought cancer with strength and courage.

We buried our beloved fathers in 2007. One died from cancer, one from kidney and heart failure.

We’ve gone through the teenage years with our kids.

We’ve addressed all the problems that come with life, sometimes agreeing, sometimes not. We have never pretended our marriage has been perfect, because it has not been.

But we’ve fished, hiked, and skied, although I am a bad skier. We’ve had great Italian food and Thai drunken noodles. We’ve seen glowing sunsets along the beach and up in the snowy mountains.

We have loved and adored our dear children, the number one focus of our whole lives.

So one would think that we would celebrate our 23rd anniversary. Do something fun and exciting. We are still married, despite it all. We still laugh. We are a family, we are the Lambs.

But we were sick on our anniversary.

I brought soup to my brother, who was sick, along with his wife and son, and brought their wretched cold home with me.

So on our anniversary, we sniffled and coughed and exchanged cards.  We felt like hell. We looked like hell. We got coffee and went on a drive through the country. We saw the big red barn, a golden field, a hawk. Then we came home and collapsed on the couch.

We both agreed it was a relief to celebrate simply, to celebrate easily, to have no stress or expectations for a party or romantic dinner, that we could sneeze and hold hands and wish each other, “Happy Anniversary, baby.”

You’re still sexy, Innocent Husband, yes you are. Looking forward to a few more decades with you.

 

 

 

 

 

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05.10.2016

Your Hollywood Boyfriend, Driving Horses, and The Force

I am teaching Adventurous Singing Daughter how to drive.
This is the third offspring I have allowed behind the wheel of a car. I am not embarrassed to say that this has often been a frightening, intestinal shriveling experience and I think we would all be better off if teenagers drove slow horses named Sam.
 
Here are a few bits of wisdom I have learned while teaching my (beloved) teenagers how to navigate the roads in a multi ton, four – wheeled weapon:
 
1) Woe is me, high pitched screaming does not help.
 
2) No matter how hard you push and pump your right foot down on the passenger side, there is no brake and you will not be able to stop the car, you poor thing.
 
3) Do hold onto that handle thingie above the passenger door. It comes in handy when your teenage driver is negotiating a turn and does not have the, “Slow down when making a turn,” lesson down yet and you begin to levitate out of your seat, your horrified face plastered against the window, while you try not to puke.
 
4) It is never appropriate to use the F word with children around even if you damn near side swipe another F %$%& car.
April 20 2016 MT 022
 
5) If you become so frightened driving with your teenager that you feel faint, slap yourself. Do it one more time for good measure and tell yourself to buck up and be brave.
 
6) During the driving lesson if you start to feel like you can’t breathe, it’s probably not a heart attack. It’s a panic attack. Keep a paper bag in the car, breathe deeply, and think about a love scene with your favorite Hollywood boyfriend with you in it. Do not ever tell your teenager you’re thinking about a love scene with Hollywood Boyfriend as this will totally, completely freak her out and she will smash that light post right in front of you and T – bone the car and you will have deserved it, Mom! Duh.
 
7) Absolutely do not let your kid drive on the freeway until they have driven and driven and driven some more on all other types of roads and highways unless you enjoy the feeling of your heart grinding to a stop, and believing that you are now going to die, die, OH LORD ALMIGHTY, you are going to die.
 
8) Teaching a kid to drive will make your hair whiter sooner. It just will. Accept it. You’re middle aged now anyhow, oh yes you are, yes you are, yes you so are.
 
9) When your child decides to hit the brakes in the middle of the highway, for no reason, and you shriek, “Go! Go! For God’s sakes, GO!” Be prepared for said teenager to later be in a huff because you, “Yelled at her for nothing!”
 
10) It is permissible to carry a rosary. Just remember that it is “Hail Mary,” and not “Hellllll, Mary! Hell!”
 
11) Do not slug down straight shots from your “coffee mug,” while teaching your child how to drive no matter how tempting. Not legal. Poor example.
 
12) This one is not about learning to drive, but I’ll add it: You are a fool if you buy your teenager a sports car. Truly. You are.
 
13) You will think of your parents teaching you to drive when you are teaching your kid how to drive. You will be sorry you were such a sulky and ridiculous teenager and you will know that your parents are now getting their revenge and cackling like weird, half crazed hyenas at your expense.
 
14) When the driving lesson is over for the day, compliment your teenager to build her confidence, then allow her to skip through the front door first. If you have wet your pants, you can then hobble in through the garage and make a dash for the bathroom.
 
Good luck. May the force be with you, fellow parent. There are many sacrifices in raising children, and this is one of them. I’m going to lay down now with a cool cloth over my head and envision my children driving very nice, slow horses named Sam.
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05.07.2016

Fighting With A Story Line, Wanting To Garden

I have 897 more words to write on this blasted book before I can go outside and garden and I swear I’m going to throw this blasted laptop if I cannot think of something quick to write and get this word count done for the week. Blast me, just do it. Ugh – wait for me, Petunias! Wait for me Wisteria vine! I’m coming!!

 

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Cathy Lamb
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