Monday, October 26, 2009

What to say after a conference

It's always hard to figure out what to write about the day after a writer's conference. Everything was so great this weekend at the New Jersey RWA Chapter Conference that I'd hate to focus on one thing at the risk of not mentioning other equally important things.


Karen Rose's keynote reminded me of why I'm a writer. When asked by friends who couldn't attend, why her speech had affected me that way I honestly couldn't remember. I think it was subtext. There she stood, at the podium, telling great stories about her life, relating how she overcame some difficulties and still has a day or two when she gets stuck. She was pretty and happy and enthusiastic, obviously in love with her job. I almost felt she was speaking directly to me, agreeing that the writer's life though tons of fun has its pitfalls. But that's okay because most of us overcome them.

Allison Brennon's lunch speech was equally good, though for the life of me I can't remember most of it. Probably because the hotel gave each table 3 bottles of wine to make up for the fact that the fire alarms kept going off the night before. I slept through them. This is actually the 3rd time I've slept through hotel fire alarms. If there is ever a real hotel fire, I'm a gonner.

The booksigning was absolutely delightful. I sold a lot of books, but also had participants in my workshop drop by to say hello. I had done a workshop on scenes...not the most "attractive" of topics, but a necessary one and those who attended shared my enthusiasm. If you're going to write, you must know the basics of crafting. That's usually what I teach. (I'm unfortunately down to earth! LOL)

It was great to interact with a wonderful group of ladies who agreed with me!

I had a few panicky moments. My black shoes rubbed and I refused to wear tan shoes with a black dress with houndstooth jacket...and ended up giving my workshop with throbbing feet! My hairdo fell. But luckily I had a clip.

This is the first time in years I didn't meet the editors or agents. Mostly because my workshop was opposite theirs. I wish I had some great news or information to post from them, but that boat sailed right by me.

As always, though, I came home refreshed and enthusiastic and loving my job! What other profession do you know where we can work in pajamas and where talking with our friends on loops is considered part of our job!


Tuesday, October 20, 2009

A size fourteen in a size 0 world

I have a little bit of a problem with a size 0. Seriously. If you're not big enough to warrant a you exist? Haven't you disappeared?

I've always fought my weight. Except when I smoked and right after I had kids. Obviously, I quit smoking...and right now my kids don't want me chasing after them making sure they don't fall or hurt themselves or get into trouble...though there are days I think they might benefit from having me right behind them.

Anyway, about ten years ago I decided to give up the battle and, of course, I gained some weight. For a long time I stopped on a size twelve and was fairly happy there. Unfortunately, about two winters ago I put on some more weight and now I'm a size fourteen. But even though the research suggests that most of us are a size 12 or 14, no one seems to have told makers of women's clothing.

This causes all kinds of problems. At church on Sunday I sat down and my pants and shirt didn't meet. It might be cute for a twenty-something with a firm behind to show off the top of her butt. one wants to see that little piece of flesh below my top and above my jeans.

Worse, one year for Christmas my husband asked me what I wanted. I suggested he buy me something (nightwear) that he wanted to see me in. Christmas morning I opened up a package containing a huge flannel nightgown. As I dialed the number of my lawyer, he hastily explained that he'd bought me flannel because I'm always cold and he only wanted to see me warm and happy.


I bought the explanation because he does have a tendency to be considerate, but I re-explained my request...telling him that I wanted him to buy me some sexy little number he'd like to see me in. Then I sent him back to the mall with a bit of cash.

He returned with a cute little red thing that came with a thong. I went into the bathroom to put it on so I could come out and model it. I took off my clothes and put on the thong...and whoosh it immediately disappeared in my fat roll.

I looked at the box. Nowhere does it say "must have a hard body to wear this". Or "Danger, tight thongs will disappear into fat rolls". Nope. There were no instructions at all.

In the meantime, my husband was getting restless. While he was calling, "Hey, babe, don't you have that thing on yet?" I was debating calling the fire department to see if they could bring over the jaws of life to get the red thong out of my fat roll.

I have no clue why sleeveless clothes are so fashionable when most of us refuse to wear them. There are maybe ten women who can wear sleeveless dresses. And whose idea was it to bring ruffles back? Do I not look round and cuddly enough? I actually have a three-tiered gray dress that makes me look like a keg of beer. I would be incredibly popular at college dorms in that thing.

Short plaid jackets also make me shake my head. First off, if you've got any sort of bustline at all, you ruin the line of the plaid. But second, does any woman really want to look like she has the shoulders of a linebacker?

Seriously, they dress football players better than this. Have you ever watched a game that had even ONE PLAYER who didn't look like he had a tight butt? Heck no. They dress these guys to show off their broad shoulders and tight butts and hide their big tummies.

So why can't designers make fashionable clothes that make the rest of us look good? Face it. The football players have money. They will never lack for a date or companionship and no one would dare tell them they looked bad. They could wear burlap and pancakes and no one would say a word.

Forget the football players. Make the rest of us look good!


Monday, October 12, 2009

Apple Butter in Pennsylvania!

This weekend my husband and I traveled to a small town in East Central Pennsylvania, near Gettysburg, to make applebutter with the church ladies (and men!) at my husband's brother's church.

Thare are so many things I could talk about in this blog. First, making applebutter is kind of cool. LOL Second, everywhere you walk in that part of the state you find yourself face-to-face with history. Their little church is historic. The cemetary beside it is amazing. The farmland has been has been passed down from one generation to the next.

But the most important, most fun part of the experience for me was the people. As the men stirred the apples simmering in huge kettles outside, the women prepared a lunch of homemade soups. (I had the beef vegetable!) Three vendors sold their goods near the eating area. One had knitted and crocheted items, jewelry and little purses. (I bought my daughter two scarves.) Another had framed photographs. The third had handmade flower arrangements.

I worked in the far corner at the bake sale. The church ladies had been slaving away for days baking pies, (I bought cherry) and apple dumplings (I bought two). But individually they'd baked everything from cupcakes and cookies (I got the gingerbread) to peanut butter fudge (yes, I bought some of that too).

By now you're probably noticing a pattern. I spent a lot of money that day! LOL

We got there around eight and prepared the bakesale for the crowd that would be arriving around nine. We made pretty displays of cookies and cupcakes, pies and apple dumplings, fudge and pumpkin bread. When everything was packaged and displayed for sale, I asked how much we were to charge and was shocked to discover you could get a cupcake with a piece of candy corn on top for $.25. A quarter.

I said, Are you kidding? In the city we'd sell this for seventy-five cents and they looked at me as if I were insane and said, Who would pay $.75 for a cupcake? (The crazy people who live in the city and don't bake! LOL)

They were great, witty, fun companions all day as we began to realize the difference between this city mouse and those country mice. By the end of the day I'm sure most of them genuinely believed I didn't know the value of a dollar! LOL And I wished with all my heart and soul that I could bake about half as well as any one of them.

We ate soup and talked about kids...whose problems, by the way, are universal. What school to go to, how to handle bullies, worries that they'll maintain good grades, get a part in the school pay, pick the right mates. We talked about husbands...and, let me tell you there are no more honest wives than a group of church women waiting for bake sale customers. We sold fresh-in-the-jar applebutter to people who'd driven miles just for a jar of warm, cinnamony delight.

The sun was warm. A breeze rippled through the orange and yellow leaves on the trees surrounding the old cemetary beside the church. Good moods abounded.

It was probably the last little festival of the year. Thanksgiving and Christmas will soon be upon us all so everyone's attention will be drawn to more spirital matters as they plan and prepare their own family celebrations. So everyone seemed to take the time to just smell the applebutter sputtering in the copper pot and share a few minutes with friends and neighbors.

No matter how much I love living in my small city, being beside Walmart (not right beside but close enough to get milk at 5:45 if I want to) and not having to walk down a lane to get my mail, I thoroughly enjoyed that weekend in the country, with good people, fresh apple butter for saltines, warm, wonderful homemade soup and warm, wonderful people!

susan meier