I have this fantasy of flipping a house, or restoring a house. I have no skills in this arena and would probably lop off a limb within an hour of getting started, but I still want to try.
I indulged in this fantasy when I wrote SOMEBODY TO LOVE a few years ago. Parker Harrington, once a trust-fund baby, finds herself broke with one asset left—a crumbling little house on the northern coast of Maine. (FYI, you can order this book here!)
Anyway, this is exactly what I want for myself. Granted, I have no relatives who are going to leave me anything, let alone waterfront property, no matter how decrepit. But all those TV shows about flipping houses, or finding a hidden gem that just needs a good…uh…whatever houses need. Cleaning, that I could do. I am rather gifted in the art of cleaning, thanks to my Hungarian ancestors, who would do things like boil clothes on the stove to make sure they were pure white, and dust the pipes in the cellar to show you loved God.
Back to my yearning to restore a house. When I take the train to Manhattan, this urge is especially strong. Once upon a time, my husband and I heard about a crumbling Brooklyn brownstone that was for sale for $100,000. At the time, it might as well have been $10,000,000 (which is what it’s worth now). I think about that place all the time, gang. All the time. Coulda woulda shoulda.
Another place is a crumbling Arts & Craft bungalow in the next town. It hasn’t been painted in decades, and cedar trees have all but hidden it, but I can see the lead-pained windows and imagine the porch, now jam-packed with junk, clean and airy, with big Boston ferns and a comfy wicker couch.
This Old House magazine has a feature called Save That House (or something; I’m on the train right now and can’t Google it). It features an historic house that’s going to be demolished if someone doesn’t step in. “Please!” I say to McIrish, who has all the manly carpentery skills I lack. “Come on! You know you want to!”
“That house is in Kentucky,” he’ll point out. “We live in Connecticut.”
“So? I’ve never been to Kentucky. I bet I love Kentucky. There are horses there.” I also love horses.
I picture myself clad in paint-stained overalls, looking adorable. The fact that I am a terrible painter is irrelevant. In my fantasy, I wield a sledgehammer and tear down that wall that will make all the difference between a cramped, ugly, outdated kitchen and pure bliss. I clean the dull and dirty stained-glass windows with vinegar, revealing their former glory. I know all the tricks.
For now, though, I guess I’ll just have to write about these things. It’s probably best this way.
What the heck! I’ll give away a print copy of SOMEBODY TO LOVE to one commenter. It’s a great summer read, if I do say so myself.
Congratulations to Rhonda G., who wins a deck of romance playing cards plus two books from my RWA 2016 giveaway stash! Rhonda, I’ll email you about getting your prize to you.
Remember how much fun it used to be when you’d been slightly sick, and were getting better, but were still just a little too under the weather to go back to school? For me, that was the sweet spot. On that one lovely day–maybe two if I played my cards right–no one expected me to do chores, or homework, or anything virtuous at all. I could just lie around and read, and no one fussed. They even occasionally brought me a snack or an extra pillow. Kid heaven.
I’ve mentioned before that I’ve been battling a prolonged and particularly nasty cold and bronchitis. When I finally realized I was on the mend, but wasn’t really quite up to my regular workload, I found myself trying to recreate those idyllic, warm, lazy days. Sweet spot, adult version!
The most important ingredient was the perfect book. When I’m looking for something soothing, I almost always go back to old favorites. This time, I felt the overwhelming urge to revisit Mary Stewart’s early Gothic novels, which I read and loved as a teenager.
Nine Coaches Waiting is one of my favorites of all time–definitely in my top ten. But her other titles had been read only once or twice, and then eventually discarded. So I had to head to Amazon for them–and was horrified to discover you can’t get them in Kindle format! What an outrage! Didn’t they know I was dying for a throwback to the good old days, when I had no Big Problems? For some reason, only Mary Stewart would do.
So I ordered the books, and finally they arrived. And they were definitely worth waiting for. I ordered three, and even though I’m completely well now I plan to order another batch and keep on living in that happy past. I’ve discovered that, if I have Mary Stewart in my hands, and Purrsia at my feet, nothing can be wrong with my world.
Is it the same for you? Is there some book you go back to, over and over, when you need to feel safe and warm? Which writer does that for you? I’m giving away a $10 Amazon gift certificate to one randomly chosen poster today, so do tell! 🙂
Today’s guest blogger is Mia’s DH, which she assures him means Dear Husband!
…The research is killing me!
Yeah, I’ve seen that T-shirt. Even threatened to wear one at one of the many writers’ conferences I’ve attended with my wife, historical romance author Mia Marlowe (AKA sweet contemporary writer Lexi Eddings). With so many names to keep track of, you’d think I’d get confused. But as long as I carry the boxes of books and limit my responses to “Yes, dear,” everything goes great!
Being married to a writer is a little different. For example:
- When my wife is writing, she’s in her “book head.” The real world around her fades a bit. If I need to tell her something, I have to make sure she stops typing, looks at me and repeats what I’ve said. Otherwise, she may nod and even mumble “OK” and still be lost in one of her fictional worlds.
- Readers tend to think I’m the inspiration for her heroes. At one of those writers conferences, a lady stopped me and said, “I’ve read your wife’s books and I gotta tell you, you must really be something.” What’s a guy to do? I smiled and answered, “Thank you, ma’am. I am.”
- It’s hard to watch a movie with my wife. She has a sixth sense about what’s going to happen and unfortunately, she needs to share. She says it’s because stories have a certain number of plot points that need to be hit. If the screen writer misses one, I get to hear about that too.
But there are plenty of good things about being married to a writer. I don’t have to wonder what she’s thinking. I can read all about it! She’s on board with just about anything I want to try–like when I earned my private pilot’s license. She figures any new experience equals “research” and she’ll be able to borrow from me to give to her hero sometime.
I don’t mind that. Though when someone asked if I got tired of posing for her bare-chested covers, I had to admit the waxing was a bear! 😉
Want a chance to win a $250 Visa Card for YOU & $250 for Fisher House Foundation?
Pre-order my wife’s new book!
Click HERE for the details!
Okay JauntyFriends, it’s confession time. Last year, I published a Mustang Ridge novella about a (sexy, smart aleck) tech-savvy contractor who came into town to update the local library and wound up butting heads (and other things) with the (vibrant, headstrong) vintage store owner who wanted everything to stay the way it had always been. I loved the characters, loved the story, and loved the idea of a library that had seen better days getting a facelift that would keep it at the center of the small-but-growing town of Three Ridges.
So what’s the confession? Until a few months ago, I hadn’t been inside a public library since childhood. Junior high, maybe? High school?
I had fond memories, mind you. There was the big library my parents would take me to when I was very little. I can still picture where the Billy and Blaze books were shelved, still feel the excitement of checking out a microscope–an actual microscope, with glass slides and everything–for two weeks of examining everything from onion skins and pond water to the dust from under my bed. Then there was the library closer to our house, where my mom had to give permission for me to check out Mary Stewart and Victoria Holt books from the grown-up floor. And over the years, those slow-footed travels up and down the aisles to see what was new, what I hadn’t yet read.
I remember the smell of those libraries, the quiet, the fun of discovering a new author or book. But somewhere along the way, I got out of the habit. At first it was because college and grad school made libraries feel like work. Later, it was because I wanted to support my writer friends by buying their books. More recently, it was because … well, just because.
And then along came Wallaby, and the realizations that: a) board books are expensive; and b) board books can become bored books very quickly. So why not borrow instead of buying? As a bonus, I had become friends with one of our local librarians (shout out, Cathleen C!), who hosted a romance book club at the library and went on to join me and author-friend Gail Chianese (shout out, Gail!) at our local RWA chapter. As a more-or-less-well-disguised introvert, it helps when I know someone.
So off we went one morning to the big public library in the town next to ours, where we discovered (in no particular order, but lots of enthusiastic squeals): Trains! Puzzles (or ‘Puzz’)! Row-row (a toy boat)! Story hour! Baby art! Computer stations with toddler-friendly educational programs! Lots of super nice librarians! And, hey, BOOKS!
Suffice it to say that I’ve come back around full circle to being a huge library fan as I make wonderful new memories with my kiddo, much like the heroine of Starting Over at Mustang Ridge. And the other morning, when I asked almost year-and-a-half-old Wallaby whether he wanted to go to the library or playground, expecting an answer of either ‘Slides!’ or ‘Trains!’ he said loud and clear, ‘Li-brerry.’ And when he got there, he bypassed the trains to pick out his three new board books before doing anything else.
Thus, we hope, a new reader–and library user–emerges.
How about you? Did you haunt the library as a child? Did you visit one with your kids? Do you have one you love, or a favorite librarian you’d like to give a shout out? Tell us about them!