“You’re famous!” my friend commented on Facebook after seeing me on a regional TV news program.
That week I was a guest on an abc affiliate news show as the author spotlight – a popular reoccurring 2-3 minute feature. Months ago, I watched a few other authors – some were excellent, some awkward, but it was reassuring. I thought, I can handle this.
The morning of my appearance, I sprang out of my bed, nerves already tingling. I took the dogs for a 3-mile hike, trying to steady my racing heart. I didn’t mention my appearance to my kids as they swirled around preparing for school, negotiating car rights, and searching for the sweatshirt that somehow walked away all on its own.
Once they departed, I argued with my hair and lost, changed my clothes five or six (or maybe twelve) times before settling on black sweater, black pants and purple scarf – hoping it would make me look professional and trim and in control, none of which I felt that morning.
I arrived at the station and checked in. Then I waited with the other guests making nervous non-conversation about nothing. We were given a tour of the studio, which reminded me of my teen’s bedrooms – messy, cluttered, with odd messages tacked to the wall that made no sense to me. Then we were left in the green room to wait for the host to brief us.
The other guests on the show seemed like grownups. There was a lawyer, plus his handler – a marketing specialist hired by his firm to prep him and support him. I wished I had my own handler like him who kept saying, “You got this, man, no worries.” Another guest was an elegant older gentleman who had the I’ve-seen-it-all attitude of a veteran of regional television guest appearances.
They shared ‘guy talk’ – business, stock market, mutual friends, while I tried to focus on my ‘lines.’ Prior to our appearance, all the guests had to write out the questions the host should ask and the answers we would give. This should have made it less stressful – knowing what she would ask and what I would answer – but in reality, it made it more stressful for me. What if she asked one of my questions and I couldn’t remember my answer? I looked over my lines and wished I’d thought of better questions. Where did this book come from? Duh. My life. My heart. Instead, I’d written a lengthy explanation of why I wrote the book. Now, it sounded pathetic.
Finally, it was my turn. The very cool, Gen-X producer escorted me to the stage and I watched the tail end of the cooking segment before another person handed me a microphone and had me snake the cord up through my sweater. The director reminded me to look at Amy, the host, and not any of the cameras. I noted that she had a teleprompter at every camera with the questions I’d written. (My answers were not included.)
Moments later, Amy whisked in. She smiled at me, “Doesn’t it look great?” she asked nodding toward the screen behind us that was now filed with the gorgeous blue water of my book’s cover. It did, but I couldn’t say anything, my nerves had locked my vocal chords so I only nodded. We sat in silence as Josh, the producer, called, “30 seconds.” I tried to think of small talk to engage her in, but snatches of my answers reeled through my head and I had a momentary panic in which I couldn’t even remember the names of my three main characters. Just before Josh called, “5,4,3,2, and go,” I thought, I am never doing this again.
The interview went by in a blur as I tried to still my nervous hands and not to speak at my normal cheetah-pace. Amy introduced the book and said, “So, tell us what the book is about.”
That wasn’t one of my questions!
What was I supposed to say? She’d just summed up the book in her introduction, “Girls’ Weekend is about three moms who go away for a weekend and don’t return.”
I panicked and then I reached up and touched my nose – for no reason, and I found myself thinking, not what the book was about, but – why did I just touch my nose? Finally, survival instincts kicked in and I recited one of my answers – not caring if it really answered her question, only focused on surviving the moment and NOT touching my nose again.
Amy asked me two or three more questions and I fumbled through the answers without touching my nose and then she asked, “So how can we find your book?” to which I said something about my website instead of saying – “Anywhere books are sold” which was the line I had written. In the end, it’s probably a moot point because anyone watching this particular episode was unlikely to go out in search of the book written by the nose touching, nonsense spewing author all in black.
So, yeah, being an author is incredibly glamourous. And now I’m famous, too, sort of.
IT'S ALMOST TIME!
In just a few days, Girls’ Weekend will be released! I’m excited, nervous, and more than anything – stunned. It feels maybe a little bit surreal. When I first wrote it, it was my own private fantasy and not something I thought I'd ever be publishing.
I wrote the first draft of Girls Weekend when I was in the throes of heavy-duty motherhood. I was busy raising a 2-year-old, a preschooler, and an elementary aged kiddo.
When, my husband’s work situation changed, we were forced to leave a home we loved. The new area felt foreign to me and I struggled to find friends.
Because we’d moved suddenly and hadn’t been able to find a suitable home, the house we were living in was under constant construction as we renovated it ourselves to meet our needs.
Money was tight and I became an awkward Mary Kay consultant to try to help pay the bills. Suffice it to say – I was underwater and I truly wanted to run away. So I did. Every afternoon during naptime.
I’ve been asked several times now if I am one of the women in Girls’ Weekend. I’m not one of them - I’m all of them. I didn’t realize this until recently when I was editing the final draft. Each of the women faced down one of my biggest fears as a mom.
Meg tackled the biggie – losing a child.
Even the idea of it takes my breath away and can reduce me to tears. I’m a world-class worrier and watching my now teenage children get their drivers’ licenses has raised the bar even higher. My own mother lost a child, my brother, when he was almost a year old and I’ve often marveled at the strength she must possess to have survived.
Writing Meg allowed me to safely face down that nightmare.
Charlotte is my wild side. She is the woman who always wonders – did I pick the right man? She follows through on the crazy fantasy that every woman thinks about at some point in a long marriage. What if I had an affair? What would that be like?
Writing Charlotte (who had plenty of scenes that were too R-rated to make the book) allowed me to dabble on the dark side of marriage.
It was probably hardest to write Dani. Many of us question, midway through life, if we followed our dreams. And if we didn’t, is it too late to set off after them?
Writing this novel set me off after my own dreams. So much has happened since I first began this story. It’s evolved and so have I.
Writing Girls Weekend taught me many lessons.
The first of which is that writing a novel is really fun. It makes my heart happy.
It taught me that I have something to say.
It confirmed for me that good friends are critical for survival.
It gave me a whole new appreciation for my own husband.
But mostly it taught me that imagination can be healing. It can take you to new places – not just in the world, but in your own heart.