When I was a kid, Labor Day signaled more than the official end of summer. It meant my white shoes were headed back to the closet till next year. Some people take it even further and refuse to wear white ANYTHING once September rolls around.
Who makes up these rules? How did it get started in the first place?
Desert dwellers have known for millennia that light colored clothing was cooler. That sort of makes the white in summer rule make sense. But it gets hot in September here in southern Missouri. Why should an arbitrary date determine what goes on my body?
During the Regency Era, light colored clothing made a statement about a family’s wealth and standing. It meant they could afford the frequent laundrings needed to keep muslin bright and servants to do the dirty work that would keep the ladies’ dresses clean in the first place.
Then there’s the theory that geography is destiny. In the US, the Northeast, which does cool down nicely come fall, is the hub of fashion. Some experts theorize that if the fashion centers were located in say..Miami, then the no white after Labor Day rule wouldn’t have had a chance in h…a very hot place.
Of course, what do I know about fashion in the first place? Only this week, my DH had to point out to me that I was wearing my shirt wrong side out. Wearing white after Labor Day sort of pales after that, doesn’t it?
How about you? Do you have a fashion pet peeve? Do you follow the No White Rule? What’s the worst fashion faux pas you’ve committed?
Want to try Mia’s newest release? Check out an excerpt from The Warning Sign here! And no, it doesn’t look like either Sara or Ryan are wearing white at the moment, does it?
Garages sales are a time honored way of clearing out the attic while putting a little cash in your pocket. I served as my mom’s garage sale minion last weekend and thought I’d pass along the jewels of wisdom we acquired in the process.
- Pick the hottest weekend of the summer. Ok, maybe it’s not the best strategy, but I have to say the near 100 degree temps did not hurt our turn out one bit. Of course it did mean the buyers came out early to beat the heat. I arrived at my folk’s house at 6 in-the-mortal-AM and the first carload of bargain hunters was right behind me. Later in the day, if we’d been thinking, we’d have put a cooler of bottled waters at the end of the drive way and sold them at $2.00 a pop.
- Have your sale on a weekend near the first of the month. Well, we didn’t do that either. We scheduled our sale for the first weekend after we got all the stuff we intended to get rid of together and organized. But the principle is sound. People who are paid monthly have more disposable income right at the beginning of the month.
- Price your items ahead of time. We had colorful little stickers on almost everything, but every garage sale minion knows those numbers mean next to nothing. Expect to dicker. It’s part of the fun. We did really well with a rack of decorative items by simply announcing to buyers that everything on those particular shelves was only $1.00. After that, the bric-a-brac flew down the driveway. And the clothing table was a hit when we settled on the $1.00 an item sweet spot–especially when we told buyers that a two piece outfit counted as one item! Shoes sold well when we let people know the right one was free with purchase of the left one.
- Help your buyers find what they’re looking for. It’s like Amazon saying “If you like Author A, you should try Author B.” If a guy buys one brass spittoon, be sure he sees all the other brass spittoons you have to offer. My mom unloaded 7 spittoons that way. What she was doing with that many spittoons in the first place remains a mystery, but at least they’ve all found good homes now.
- Have fun! Be friendly and people will tell you the most amazing things while they pile up your unwanted junk in their longsuffering husbands’ arms. I got a fairly decent recipe for BBQ sauce and a detailed explanation of how to make a poultice for dry eyes just by being a good listener.
Several buyers said ours was the best sale they’d been to all summer. In two days, my parents cleaned out their odds and ends and put an astonishing $1300 in their pocket. I say astonishing because there were no big items. Nothing sold for over $30.
Which made me wonder why those buyers thought it was such a good sale. We didn’t have a lot of tools or furniture or fancy household gadgets. Mostly we had things my parents no longer needed or couldn’t use, but we offered them with a smile and an opportunity to sit in the shade in front of our oscillating fan and chat for a while. And that’s definitely good.
So how about you? Do you have any surefire garage sale advice to share? What’s the best buy you ever made at one?
Free is always fun. Try the prologue and first chapter of Mia’s newest novel, The Warning Sign by clicking here.
People always wonder where authors get ideas for their stories. My answer is always that they are everywhere. I’ve found a premise in a painting, or a theme in a piece of music.
Sometimes, I draw from the lives of those around me. For example, the idea for my upcoming Christmas novel Once Upon a Plaid, came when my sister served as gestational surrogate for a childless couple. This is a pic of Emma and Lucas, the precious gifts my sister put in a grateful couple’s arms. It made me wonder how a 16th century couple would deal with an empty cradle when IV technology wasn’t an option.
For my newest release, The Warning Sign, I looked even closer to home for inspiration for my hearing impaired heroine, Sara. Due to Meniere’s disease, my dear daughter has lost all the hearing in one ear. It’s not something that can be mitigated with hearing aids. However, she has a terrific attitude. She just makes sure people know which side they need to be on so she can hear them.
It’s hard to be a young person dealing with a problem usually associated with the geriatric set. In The Warning Sign, my heroine Sara lost her hearing to meningitis while she was in college. If she wears aids, she has 60% of normal hearing. When she doesn’t, the world sinks into a low hum of white noise, clinically described as profound loss. She signs when she teaches her Deaf students and strives to stay ahead of them in the art of speech reading.
So Sara practices speech reading while she’s stuck in traffic one day–and “listens in” on half of a very disturbing conversation in the side mirror of the van ahead of her. It seems to be a hitman taking a murder for hire contract. When the person whose name she read on his lips turns up dead on the evening news, she realizes she’s better at speech reading than she thought.
Sara has a new guy in her life, but when his family connections bring more questions than answers, she’s not sure who to trust. And the only cop who’ll believe what she saw is her cheating ex.
Want to read an excerpt? Click here.
Part of why we read is to feel we’re not alone and to learn how other people deal with loss–loss of all kinds. Even though Sara is dealing with several types of loss, this is a romance, so I promise an HEA. It just may be harder to get there than Sara thinks.
How about you? Have you overcome a loss? Are you dealing with one?
Yep, I was in San Antonio last week for RWA Nationals. At every stage of my career, this convention has met my needs. In the beginning, it was a treasure trove of craft workshops. No one is born knowing how to write a novel, after all, and I soaked it all up like a water-starved plant. Next, it was a chance to pitch my projects and find an agent. After I was published, it became an opportunity to participate in the literacy and publisher signings, hobnobbing with my editors and strategizing with my agent.
At home, my days are spent playing with imaginary people. My feet are up in the writing chair. My dog Mack is firmly snugged by my hip and if I make it out of my jammies, I’m wearing the most comfortable “sluvvies” I can get by with. This week I had to worry about carrying on coherent conversations with real people, behaving professionally and wearing cute shoes.
My days were a blur of networking and meetings.
So on Saturday, my DH, who had been snookered into coming with me, and I played hooky. We walked about six blocks to The Alamo to learn a little Texas history. It really was a whole other country at one time.
For 13 desperate days in 1836, fewer than 200 defenders held off Santa Anna’s thousands of fighters. After they were overrun and killed, their bodies were burned. Since it was the site of so much anguish and suffering, I was surprised to find it such a beautiful and contemplative place.
The word “Alamo” means “cottonwoods” in Spanish. We were more impressed with the long snaking limbs of the prodigious live oaks on the grounds. And besides, “Remember the Cottonwoods!” just doesn’t have the same ring, does it?
Originally it was a much larger compound than is preserved now. The church and barracks are the main buildings remaining. I was a little disappointed to see that the roof of the church was all new.
Then I learned the rest of the story. As it turns out, the Alamo’s church never had a roof. During the time of its construction, the priest had an affair with a local girl. The scandal brought the building project to a screaming halt. (Can’t help but think there’s a romance premise in there somewhere!)
Anyway, sneaking away from the convention to get my history fix was my guilty pleasure for the week. Next year, the RWA Convention will be held in New York City.
Wonder where I’ll sneak off to there?
How about you? If you travel for work, do you occasionally ditch it to do something fun?
‘Fess up and you’ll be entered in a random drawing for one of my backlist books! Winner’s choice! You can comment until Saturday August 2nd. I’ll announce with winner on Sunday August 3rd. Good luck!
Several of the Jaunty Quills were in San Antonio last week for the Romance Writers of America conference. We thought you’d like to see some photos from the conference (at the bottom of the page, there’s a legend telling about each photo).
1. Cindy and Nancy with former Jaunty Emily McKay at the Harlequin Party.
2. Cindy and Nora Roberts.
3. The gorgeous decorations at the Harlequin party.
4. Friday was Cindy’s birthday. Harlequin threw a big party just for her. Shhh! Don’t tell her they the party was for everyone.
5. The annual Jaunty Quills breakfast.
6. Kristan and Alexander Rodriguez.
7. Nancy at the Harlequin authors book signing (signing Cindy’s birthday card).
8. Kristan at the Harlequin authors book signing.
9. Nancy and Kathy before the workshop they presented.
10. Nancy, Jane Porter, and Kathy at the Harlequin party.
11. Raeanne Thayne, Nancy, and Kristan.
12. Cindy, Nancy, Kathy and Harlequin editor Susan Litman at the Harlequin party.
13. Harlequin editor Patience Bloom and Cindy at the Harlequin party.
14. Nancy and Kathy.
15. Robyn at the RWA Literacy signing.
16. Shana looking beautiful before her publisher’s party.
17. Shana and Mia before the Golden Heart and Rita awards.
18. Shana at the RWA Literacy signing.
19. Nancy at the RWA Literacy book signing.
20. Nancy, Kathy, and Mary Louise Wells realize former Jaunty Terri Brisbin was on their flight home.
21. Kristan, Gail Kirkpatrick Chianese, Virginia Kantra, and Jesse.