Better Late Than Never

I’m late out of the gate this week. I usually write the blog on Tuesday or Wednesday afternoon. This week I’m writing it on Thursday morning while on a plane back to Seattle after a minutes under twenty-four-hour stay in Phoenix. More about that later.

Instead of writing this on Friday, Saturday, Sunday, Monday, or Tuesday, I was once again busy doing a word-for-word read on the second pass of the galleys for Collateral Damage. I’m sure one or more of my readers will STILL find a typo or two lurking in the text and send me a reproving message telling me that I need to have better editors. But believe me, when typos are there nonetheless, it isn’t for lack of trying on the part of a cadre of six readers searching for them.

So Tuesday night, after finally sending the re-edited manuscript back to New York, I went down the hall to pack because I had an event in Phoenix the next day where I was expected to speak at the national ABOS conference. ABOS stands for the Association of Bookmobile and Outreach Services—in short librarians on wheels.

My way to the conference was paid for by Thorndike Press, the publishers of LARGE PRINT books. I happen to know that many of my fans are LARGE PRINT readers, so here’s a thank you shout out to Thorndike from all of us. When arrangements for the conference were starting to be made, I had planned to fly down to Phoenix and back on the same day, but the evening return flight was canceled early on, so arrangements were made for an overnight stay.

In my natural state, I am a night owl. I generally go to sleep around one and wake up sometime between nine and ten. That’s the advantage of working at home which I’ve been doing since 1984. Tuesday night I went to bed early—to bed but not to sleep. So my five a.m. wakeup call for a five-thirty airport shuttle came very early. My watch keeps track. Initially it said I had slept for three hours and seven minutes. Later in the day, for some reason, it subtracted three of those.

Did I sleep on the plane? I did not. So I staggered into the hotel in Scottsdale minutes before I was due at a luncheon with the Thorndike folks. I had time to redo my makeup—the five a.m. makeup job just didn’t cut it—and then off I went, first to the luncheon and then straight from there to the ballroom for my speaking event. It was wonderful. I spent the next forty-five minutes speaking to a crowd of between four to five hundred people, most of whom had never read any of my books. They did not expect me to be funny, but I was. They did not expect me to make them cry, but I did that, too, and when the talk was over, I had a roomful of brand new fans who gave me a standing ovation.

After almost three years of speaking into my computer for zoom events with my doxies barking in the background, it was breath of fresh air to be speaking to a living, breathing audience who actually laughed aloud when I cracked a joke. And suddenly those three hours of sleep no longer mattered. I was back in my element and too joyous to be tired.

My room at the hotel didn’t work out. The seat of the chairs and the armless sofa hit somewhere between four to five inches below my knee. If I had sat down in them, I would have needed to have a winch to get back out. Fortunately, Thorndike had also hired a media escort to get me from hither to yon. Nancy Stuebe is my favorite media escort ever. You’ll meet her in person in Blessing of the Lost Girls. She had already asked if I’d like to stay overnight in Scottsdale with her and her husband Danny. Bearing the hotel situation in mind, I took them up on that offer.

And then, guess what? My perfect day got even better! Once at their house, I was finally able to check my email. There was a note from my editor with two pieces of great news: Nothing to Lose came in #4 on the NY Times mass market best seller list. That means I’ve found my way to a whole bunch of new readers, and with any kind of luck, some of them will be IORs—In Order Readers. As for the other piece of good news? My editor is almost done reading Blessing, and she’s loving it. Whew!

After that Nancy, her husband, and I went to dinner at my favorite restaurant in Phoenix, La Piñata. (Siri calls is La Pinnada!). Their machaca, made from a long-cherished grandmother’s recipe, is to die for! It’s the first time Nancy and I have been there when we haven’t been working and had a designated driver, so we both had Margaritas. Then we went back to their house where I fell into bed and slept the sleep of the dead for seven hours forty five minutes.

Today I feel completely restored. Once I got to the airport and made it through security without needing my usual pat down, I spent the time between arrival and boarding to work on my steps—closing my green exercise ring and picking up 6400 steps in the process. Along the way, an airport attendant, pushing an empty wheelchair, stopped and asked me if I needed assistance. I didn’t, but I was walking with a load of twenty-pounds or so of carry-on luggage, so I must have appeared to be a bit tottery to her, and I thanked her profusely for checking on me.

The truth is, I really am coming up on age seventy-eight, and I guess it shows.