To all my wonderful readers, friends, and family:Hi, and thanks for coming to my web site. As usual, I've got a lot to share.
I am proud to announce that I am now a blonde! I was a blonde when I was young, but my hair darkened after I had my son, so I went brunette with the help of my wonderful stylist Flora Kirby, who gave me a rich, believable brown that matched my eyes. Now, though, there is so much "snow on the roof" that when my roots grew out, I looked like I had "hover hair", since the color stopped before my scalp, and the white roots didn't show up. Going natural was out of the question, because in our culture, men with gray hair are considered distinguished, but women are considered extinguished. That's not how I feel about it, but that's the reality. Anyway, I'm still just a girl at heart, so I decided to go blonde (like my sassy, 89-year-old Mama, who's been blonde forever), which means lots fewer trips to the salon in Flora's basement. So we came up with a three-step plan, and so far, on step two, I'm liking it a lot. The added bonus is, I don't have to get color every three weeks anymore (Can we say, "expensive"?) So, in honor of the recession, which has hit me hard, too, I am now having more fun, even though I've always had fun, no matter what.
I've always warned my son that I'd be the old lady with orange hair who laughs too loud, talks too much, and pokes people with her cane, so he's relieved that I settled on blonde, instead Bozo hair. As for the makeup and the rest, though, I make no promises.
MY NEXT BOOK
St. Martins Press will release my new book, OUT OF WARRANTY, on January 8, 2013. If any of you have ever had to deal with health insurance claims, you'll love this one. It's a social satire about a widow with my rare health condition who falls apart physically ten years before Medicare and goes broke, so she decides she has to marry somebody for health insurance. (Note to readers: I don't really date (nobody asks, maybe because I work so hard), so the e-dates and fixups in the book are purely fictional, and any resemblance to actual people or experiences is purely coincidental, and I mean it.) Needless to say, her plan doesn't work out for her, so she ends up marrying someone totally inappropriate, and they live happily ever after as friends in separate rooms of her mold-remediated house. As with all my books, there will be chuckles aplenty as I send up the health insurance industry, the medical profession, and falling apart in middle age.
By popular demand, I am currently working on a sequel to QUEEN BEE Of MIMOSA BRANCH, titled QUEEN BEE GOES TO COLLEGE. It's twelve years later in Mimosa Branch, and Lin is suffering through the real estate recession, so she decides to go to college to get a teaching degree, so she can have a regular income. (I know, all you wonderful teachers out there, that teaching income is an oxymoron, but as my editor tells me all the time: that's reality. This is fiction.) Lin learns a lot more outside the classroom than from the lectures. Then she falls for the most inappropriate man in Mimosa Branch, and has to decide whether to marry for love and give up who she really is, or be true to herself. Visit the changes in Mimosa Branch, and in Lin, as she answers a new calling, laughing all the way.
MY HISTORICAL E-BOOKS
St. Martin's Press has generously reverted my rights to my award-winning, critically acclaimed historical novels, and I am editing them as "author's cuts" that are closer to my original visions of the books, with a broader appeal to readers as e-books. If you enjoy plenty of action, relationship, and adventure, all told in an accurate historical context, you'll love these books set in England, Scotland, and France. They are formatted for all e-readers and programs. HIGHLAND PRINCESS and DANGEROUS GIFTS are now available for $3.99, and the rest will follow as soon as I can get them edited and uploaded. If they do well, I'll be able to have them published in large paperback editions as Books on Demand.
CHANGES IN THE BOOK BUSINESS
Which brings me to the next topic, which deals with the sweeping changes in the book industry. Many of my readers love their "real" books and have asked me if I think those books will go away in the face of technological advances. My answer is that "real" books will always be available. They'll just be more expensive and take a little longer to get. With paperbacks now costing seven dollars or more, the change will probably bring about 100% increase, but the books will be larger, soft-bound copies that offer easy-to-read print without the weight of a hard cover. For those who insist on hardback, those will also be available on order, too, but for a premium.
I just read a fascinating article by a data-storage expert who said that current data-storage hardware and retrieval software is changing so fast, rising and falling from favor in only months, sometimes, that the safest way to preserve our literary heritage is still in actual book form, which makes sense to me. I'm all for anything that lets people read, whatever the format, and the lightweight readers make it possible for Baby Boomers like me to enlarge the type size and store many books in only a few ounces, so that's a good alternative, too, but I still love my books.
For my fans, feel free to purchase whatever format of my books you wish, because I usually end up making about the same on all types. And thanks so much to every single reader who does buy my work in these difficult times. God bless you. Every single sale makes a difference.
MY SHORT CAREER AS A STAND-UP COMEDIENNE
People who have heard me speak often say I should be a stand-up comedian. I used to laugh and tell them that I couldn't stay up late enough to do stand-up. But when a comedy club opened nearby, my friends urged me to try the open mike night, which I did. The first time was daunting, so I didn't tell anybody, just went and signed up. Since I was new, I had to go first. GULP. So I just told one of my true life stories, and they really liked it. I hung around for a while to listen to the other comedians, but most of the male comedians were stuck in that ten-year-old-boy bathroom-humor phase, weren't very funny, and weren't respectful of women, so I left. (It was past my bedtime, anyway.)
I've got no problem with poking fun at the opposite sex, but totally objectifying either men or women, and being filthy instead of funny is another matter. Life's too short. Adult humor is okay, as long as it's funny. I'm an adult. But pure nasty, un-uh. Still, being trained as a good Southern girl to "be sweet", I didn't say anything and hoped it was just a fluke.
A few weeks later, a friend convinced me to go back, so I did. This time, I went fourth. The comedians who came before me still used the same blue non-humor, but it wasn't awful, just pretty sad, and they were probably new to it, so I cut them some slack. One young man mentioned that he had a wife and baby, but still did that whole bathroom humor thing. This time when it was my turn, I got up, told another of my true stories, got a great laugh, then got down and went straight home.
The next time, I mustered up my courage to invite some of my friends. Bad move! When I got there, ten total newcomers had signed up before me, so the manager put me in slot number twelve. When the young man with the wife and baby at home came in to sign up, I asked him if he wanted to be successful in the comedy business, and he said yes. So I asked him what percentage of his audience was female. He said about fifty percent, which was accurate. Then I asked him if he thought it was good business to alienate half his audience with his first few jokes. He looked sheepish. I told him that some so-called comics attacked their audiences, but the most successful comedians didn't, citing Bill Cosby, Jeff Foxworthy, Jay Leno, Craig Ferguson, and Stephen Colbert. He shrugged and left.
When my four friends arrived, I told them that I had no idea what they'd hear before I went on and gave them permission to leave, but they decided to stay. Well, I am totally embarrassed to tell you what happened next. I think the first ten young men must have been from a fraternity where they'd overindulged in drink or dope, because they got up there and started spouting pure filth and woman-hate. The women in the audience just sat there, stunned. We should have booed them off the stage. I don't know why we didn't. Then one guy who looked like an intelligent, well-dressed man did a whole set on "my ____ is so big that____."
Sir, I SO do not care! Please keep it to yourself!
With every new four-minute set, I prayed things would get better, but it only got worse. Before long, I felt as if my soul needed a good scrubbing, and I know it was the same for my friends. Two of my friends finally did leave (one of whom complained later, "I had to go to confession the next day!"), but one of the two who stayed—my favorite wild-woman who has no sense of propriety whatsoever—just let it roll off her and said she wanted to hear my set. Finally, my turn came up, but by then I was so rattled, I blew my story and fled.
When I told some friends who had been to other comedy clubs about it, they all said that was par for the course, which made me sick inside. Since when has it been considered entertainment to sexually objectify and bash women in public? And since when has that been considered FUNNY?
Is it a result of the hip-hop movement? The drug culture? The disintegration of social mores?
I don't know. All I know is, you won't find me in comedy cubs anymore, unless they're looking for a country Baptist with some true stories (some of them a bit adult) to tell, but all of them funny.
THANKS FOR COMING!
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