Posted in A Day in the Life, Cozy Cat Press, Destinee Faith Miller Mystery, Marketing the BOok, Tiara Trouble

Sparkle, Baby!


Maybe the best part of writing a series set in the pageant world is that now when I watch Toddlers & Tiaras, I can call it research.  No more guilty pleasure!  It’s research.  It’s for work, y’all.

Maybe the worst part of watching Toddlers & Tiaras is how terribly I feel for some of the children, who are going to grow up to need real therapy.  Not pretend therapy, but reconstructive help to teach them how to feel good about themselves so that they can function beyond just, “Sparkle, Baby!”  No, the worst part is knowing I am watching child abuse for entertainment.  Research.  Researtainment.

Yesterday, I watched an episode with three great sets of parents, and it was as unusual as it was delightful.  The kids were all happy, well-behaved, and seemed quite well-adjusted.  The worst thing the editors could do with the material was to make one mother out to look overly proud of her daughter.  My mother would tell you that there is no such thing as overly proud of your daughter.

Today, I watched a piece of an episode with a mother who made me want to reach through the screen and yank her bald.  The other featured mother was great, and her daughter gave the line of the show.

While she was being interviewed, the little girl talked about raising pigs on their farm.  She said, “We butcher ’em.  Sometimes I’m sad to lose a pig.  …then I’m happy when it tastes good.”  Deadpan delivery.  Didn’t crack a smile.  Kid after my own heart.  BACON!

Meanwhile, I saw my first review from someone I don’t know–a reviewer who has my book as part of an upcoming blog tour.  She gave me 5 stars and I have been squirming happily over it since yesterday.  The first line read, “Ms. Buckman may never be accused of writing great literature,” and went on to glow.  I read that first part before I saw how many stars had been rated, and my jaw dropped.  And I laughed.  Because it is true.  Then, I read the rest of the review and laughed even harder because it was pretty awesome.  I want it written into my will that it is part of my obituary.  “Lane was never accused of writing great literature, but–”

As people who don’t know me, and therefore do not feel obligated to protect my feelings, read the book and enjoy it, I am elated.  When people say they have laughed, I am over the moon.  I love laughing, and I love when I get to be part of making someone else laugh.

So, if you’re local and you’d like to see me laughing in person, join me on October 12, at the Barnes & Noble in Lewisville, TX.  That link takes you to my author event page.  You probably can’t hear the high pitched giggle that accompanies me typing, “my author event page,” but your dog can.  I apologize.

Speechless. Breathless.  Grateful.
Speechless. Breathless. Grateful.
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Posted in A Day in the Life, Counting Blessings, Destinee Faith Miller Mystery, Explaining the Strange Behavior, Friends of Mine, Lancient History, The Book, Tiara Trouble

Glenwood, Glue, and Eating Beads


You know that Gavin Degraw song, Chariot?  I always thought he was singing Carrion, not Chariot.  Changes the whole song when you know that.  I am the Queen of Misheard Lyrics.  You get one little word wrong…

Along with the marketing I’ve done, I dropped notes to a few of my former alma maters (there are nine or eleven, depending upon whether, or not you count colleges) to share news of the release.  The one I least expected to hear back from was my original elementary school, Glenwood School, in Phenix City, Alabama.  TIARA TROUBLE is set in Phenix City, and one of the tiny characters is very, very, very loosely based around my experience representing the school at the Little Miss PC pageant.  I got the happiest surprise today to find that not only did they respond to my email, but the respondent was a classmate!  She said she remembered me vividly, which is worrisome, but it is nice to be remembered at all, non?

It made me think about what my most vivid memories of Kinder and First Grade are.  Funnily enough, my classmate mentioned a boy who plays a role in one of those memories.  As I told her, I remember that boy walking into my classroom and thinking, “Oh yeah!”  I was going to make him my boyfriend.  I thought he was adorable, and I was so glad he was in my class.  I wasn’t even six years old, people.  Turned out, he was in the wrong class, so I only got to see him on the playground.  He did not share my feelings of kinderlove, and did not enjoy being chased.

Another vivid memory is of being dropped off at the school early one morning, and going out on the playground (by myself) to find that someone had torn out the pages of what must have been a Hustler magazine and strewn photos of naked women all over the place.  I went around collecting, considering, and discarding my finds, very, very confused by the amount of hair I was seeing, but more concerned that all these women seemed to think it was fine to wear shoes, socks, and sun visors (or terry cloth sweatbands) but nothing else.  I mean, if you’re going to be naked, take off your shoes.  I spent the next few weeks doodling naked ladies in my spiral notebook, drawing them with massive afros in their crotchal regions.  My mother found my drawings and we had to have A Very Serious Talk.  I promised to stop drawing naked ladies, but was so fascinated by her horror that I kept at it until I got A Very Serious Spanking.  After that, I only drew ladies with dresses on them.

There was the glue fight, which is my greatest memory of injustice done to me, and an excellent example of just what a stubborn little thing I was.  I had to wear orthopedic shoes for several years.  All I wanted in the world was a pair of red shoes.  Orthopedic shoes do not come in red, so when I was finally able to have a pair of normal shoes–normal red shoes–I was prouder of those than I was my own teeth.  For some reason, Mrs. Barnes left the classroom while we were working with Elmer’s Glue.  The little girl who sat behind me purposefully, and with great aim squirted glue on my New Red Shoes.  I was as livid as a 5-year-old can be.  I aimed my glue at the middle of her chest and got her good.  She did the same.  I aimed for her long, red hair.  Take that, Shoe Ruiner!  She tried and failed to get glue in my hair.  Mrs. Barnes returned, and while the other girl was telling on me, I squirted glue in her desk chair.  I think things might have been fine, but when she sat down in the glue, it was all over for me.  I spent a very long time sitting out in the hall, after talking to the principal.  My little friend?  No punishment other than glue in her pants.  I also refused to apologize.  p.s., My shoes were fine.  (To be fair, I probably started it by saying something smart.  I just don’t remember that part.)

I did spend a lot of time sitting out in the hall for talking in class.  I remember thinking that if I could just get a dog costume, I could put it on and crawl out of the school, and no one would ever know.  Maybe the principal would even pat my head and try to give me a treat?  So I spent most of my hall time, trying to conceive of where to find myself that dog costume, and how to conceal it on my person for such occasions.

My last memory of First Grade happened the last day of school.  I was standing with a friend, talking about how we were leaving Alabama, and moving to Virginia.  I was sad and scared, and she was sympathetic.  She also had tiny beads on her shirt that looked like candy sprinkles.  She suggested we pick them off and eat them to make ourselves feel better.  So, we did.  That is my very last memory of Glenwood: My granny driving up to get me, finding me eating beads off another child’s shirt.

Somehow, I managed to grow up to become a productive adult.

 

 

Posted in A Day in the Life, Beauty, Inside Lane, The Book, Tiara Trouble

Destinee’s Destiny–Never Was Mine


I’ve had two parents enjoying (ha!) brief hospital stays this week, but am happy to report that all parties are home and accounted for, neither needing any radical surgeries or treatments.  Still kicking–as they should be.  I got an email of clear health from the one who was leaving the hospital (in another state), while sitting in the emergency room with the other.  My mother said to me, the next day, “I felt so sorry for you, sitting up here with me.”  I said, “I’d have felt a lot sorrier for me if I didn’t have you to sit with.”  She considered and nodded, then said, “You win that one.”

Working to help my mom get some things in order, I’ve come across some old pictures.  Notably, I came across a stack of photos from my Little Miss Phenix City days.  They run the gamut from hilariously confused to hilariously stoic.  It appears that I was not the smilingest of little pageant queens.

To wit:

lmpc

This is the night after I had been crowned.  I walked the runway at some point before the crowning of Miss Phenix City.  I had been completely confused and bewildered by winning, and was even more confused and bewildered by having something else to do the next night.  In my mind, I won, I was finished, and that was that.  Sweet tiara!  Now, let’s go dance to the music coming out of the transistor radio shaped like a can of RC Cola that I won.  (It didn’t work well, btw.  Mostly static.)

Given that I had really not understood the whole process, I certainly didn’t understand why people were cheering for me.  I knew why my family was happy, but I didn’t know any of those other people, and couldn’t figure out why they would care.  Also, it took a really long time to get my hair to do that, and it was not done without tears.  I did not think anything in the world could be worth all that time getting my hair done.

My family, especially my mother, had been very clear with me that winning the pageant wasn’t a big deal.  If I won, that would be a fantastic honor, but if I didn’t, that was fine.  I was still Lane, and no tiara could make me any better than I already was.

I’ve written before that my school entered me in the pageant.  I had no idea I was up for consideration until the school called my mother and told her to get me ready to compete.  I think she had a week?  So, we ran down to the Kiddie Shoppe in Columbus, GA and she bought me two dresses that were on the sale rack.  My favorite was the one pictured above–it was a chick yellow, dotted Swiss, with a crisp white pinafore.  I wore a floor length, white cotton sundress, with horizontal seams for the pageant.  It had pockets.  I loved the pockets.

I love how confused I am.  Like I'm wondering what in the world I am doing holding a bouquet.

I love how confused I am. Like I’m wondering what in the world I am doing holding a bouquet.

What I did not love was having to have my hair styled on a daily basis.  I did not love having to stay clean.  I did not love being kept out of the yard for a week.  I was a play-in-the-dirt, rip my tights rolling on the ground, black-edged fingernails kind of girl.

I do remember being excited and happy about my win, but I also remember being quickly disenchanted.  I didn’t see that I had done anything special to win, so I wasn’t sure what the fuss was.  All I did was walk up and down, and answer a few questions.  Nobody had asked me to sing, or to tell stories, or show them stuff I could do…what was the big deal about me just walking around?  (I didn’t understand that 90% of the competition had to do with what the judges saw when they took the little contestants out to lunch, out to a playground, and what they saw when they did little group interviews with us.)

Nothing about me had changed, but suddenly I was getting attention from people who hadn’t bothered with me before, and even at 6 years old I recognized it had nothing to do with me, and everything to do with the tiara.  My parents had done a good job making me believe the tiara didn’t make a bit of difference, so I was suspect of people who seemed to think it did.  And there was that one rotten boy, who threatened to break into my house and steal it.

When I started writing Destinee, I was trying to imagine what it would be like for a little girl whose world was founded on pageants.  I was wondering what that little girl would grow up to be–that little girl whose mother had made her looks what mattered.  That little girl whose family put value on her face, her hair, her fingernails, and not her heart, her mind, and her behavior.

But I wanted Destinee to have a happy family.  They might not share my values and they might not have expected much from their daughter, but they love each other, and they stick together.

Tell you what, Destinee wouldn’t be looking like a deer in headlights on a runway. She’d look like she belonged there.

Posted in books, Career, continuing education, Cozy Cat Press, Destinee Faith Miller Mystery, Explaining the Strange Behavior, School, The Book, Thor, Tiara Trouble, writing

Terrifying Tiara Trouble and Thanks


I have great news!  TIARA TROUBLE, the first in the Destinee Faith Miller Mystery series, will be available for purchase on 10/28/2013.  Eee!

TiaraTroubleEbook

And that’s the cover, right there!  All Destinee’d up with her signature pink and zebra.  You knew Destinee’s signature colors were pink, black, and zebra, right?  Unlike her trampy arch-nemesis, Tishelle Tucker, whose signature colors are red, black, and leopard.

So, now with a release date set, and behind the scenes plans going into action, I will admit to you that I am scared.  What if it flops?  What if people hate it?  Why did I write so many words?  Is anyone going to get my sense of humor?  What if I’m not a good writer?

A lot of what-ifs, people.  Ultimately, if it flops, it flops, and if people hate it, they hate it.  I wrote so many words because they seemed necessary at the time, and if I continued to second guess myself, it would have been whittled down to the length of a magazine article.  If no one gets my sense of humor, that’s fine–like that hasn’t happened before.  I’m okay with the sound of crickets.  And, I know I write well.  Whether, or not other people agree that I write novels well is yet to be seen.

I think I got so used to people telling me that I wasn’t ever living up to my fullest potential that I never think my efforts are my best.  Or, maybe I’m afraid they are.  And if they are, what does that mean?  Does that mean I am not the rare Sparklefly my mother thinks I am?!

I think about that a lot when it comes to how I parent.  I see a lot of myself in Thor.  He is an exceptionally smart child, and he is an exceptionally creative daydreamer–those two things don’t add up to Straight A Student.  That doesn’t mean he isn’t living up to his fullest potential, though.  That means that this is his groove.

Grades don’t show potential.  Grades show self-discipline.  Kind of like being an accomplished musician is different from being a talented musician.  You can be taught to play anything.  You can’t be taught to create.  What is ideal is when you have the self-discipline to make the grades, and the potential to turn that self-discipline/learning into something.

I tell Thor that he must strive for excellence.  I expect him to try his hardest, and not give up.  I don’t expect him to make perfect scores, but I expect him to work toward getting things right–he should want to get things right.  I don’t expect him to be the top of his class, all honors, everybody’s all-American.  I expect him to fully utilize his resources, and do the work.  Where he lands, he lands.*

I have, and will continue to impress upon him that education/school is what gives you the tools to build a future.  Does he want a brain that is like the little pig who built his house out of straw, or does he want a brain that is like the little pig who built his house out of bricks?  Well, he has to have to right tools to build the kind of brain he wants, and the right tools are often heavy and take more effort to lift.

Writing this, I am thinking about the wonderful teachers I had, who outweighed the awful ones.  Good teachers are brain-tool salesmen, who make you think you can’t live without knowing how to parse a sentence, or solve a quadratic equation.  You just have to have that ability to name the colors in the rainbow!  You absolutely MUST get in on that ability to recite the Gettysburg Address!  You cannot possibly go another day without reading The Scarlet Letter!  Because good teachers get you to buy in to the mental body building it takes to wield the tools, and the stamina necessary to keep going.

It isn’t necessary to be a sparklefly.  Sparklefly is only good for so much.  But it is necessary to build a solid foundation and the self-discipline to put that foundation to work.  Enough elbow grease can shine up an ordinary fly to look sparkly.

I worked hard at TIARA TROUBLE, and I’m not going to lie and tell you I didn’t on the chance that it fails.  You know, so I could say, “Well, it’s not like it was my best effort.”  I honestly don’t know what my best effort looks like.  All I can tell you is that I worked very hard and I am proud of the result, and I really hope you like it.  I hope it makes you laugh.  I like it.  I’ve had to read it about 60 times now, and I still make myself laugh.

So, thank you Mrs. Farr, Mrs. Mendina, Dr. Chaisson, Dr. Morris, Mrs. Monroe, Mrs. Anderson, Mr. Cargile, Mrs. Mack, and Mrs. Barnes.  You were excellent brain-tool salespeople, and the fact that I am a functioning adult, much less a published author at all is a credit to your mad skillz.

 

*There is no Tiger to this Mom.  That might not be something to be proud of, I don’t know.  I guess I’ll find out in about 20 years.

 

 

Posted in Cozy Cat Press, Destinee Faith Miller Mystery, Tiara Trouble

Come Cozy Up With Me


I’ve had a lovely whirlwind of activity in the past few days, starting with an offer for TIARA TROUBLE from Cozy Cat Press on Thursday, and winding up with that completed contract in my hot, little hands this morning.  Destinee Faith Miller and her mayhaps/mysteries have found a home, and I couldn’t be happier.  I’ll keep you all posted as things develop, but for now I am just thrilled.  So thrilled, I can barely feel my toe throbbing–I broke it on the coffee table on my way to open email this morning, and promptly forgot about it when I found my completed contract waiting.

Here’s the funny story about how Cozy Cat came to read my submission because you know if it happened to me, it did not happen without some hijinks.

A few days ago, B and I were talking about me publishing under my name.  We were laughing that I wasn’t exactly Jane Smith, having unusual first and last names.  Somewhere else entirely, managing editor, Patricia Rockwell, was opening an email from me.  She was a little confused because her author Lane Stone, writes a series also involving tiaras (the subject line of my query was TIARA TROUBLE, with my name), and because she knew and had worked with someone who shared my last name.  Thankfully, she liked that colleague well enough not to be put off immediately 😉  And, she sent me an offer full of encouraging words about Destinee’s future.

When I wrote back, I asked if her former colleague was called Bob.  Because Bob is my husband’s uncle, who worked in the same field as Patricia.  Not only was it Uncle Bob, but he was remembered quite fondly.  B checked in with Uncle Bob, who had the same impressions of Patricia, and…well, that was that.

I am a Cozy Cat author.

How crazy is that?  Out of all the world (and out of all the publishing companies and agencies I researched,*) from Texas I query a press in Illinois, with a managing editor who has ties to my Uncle-in-Law in Louisiana–unbeknownst to all of us.  That is something that would only happen to me.  I love it!

Yay!

*While I queried about 20 agents, I only contacted four publishing houses from probably about 200 agents/presses that I researched.