How They Met Themselves, Dante Gabriel Rossetti, watercolor, 1864
Not long ago the Norwegian and I were out for dinner when a complete stranger approached me and asked if I had seen the show Breaking Bad. I hadn’t, but he told me that Anna Gunn, the woman who plays Skyler White on the show, was my doppelgänger.
I looked her up when I got home. I could see a vague resemblance in the photograph. Of course, it piqued my curiosity about the show, especially since it has garnered so many awards. I started watching it and now I joke that I have a serious meth addiction. Really, I don’t. And I know drug addiction is no laughing matter, but the show’s writing is incredible and the acting is superb… But I digress.
They say everyone has a double. I guess mine might be Anna Gunn – sort of. We’re not identical. Our noses are completely different, and once I started watching the show and saw a more dimensional version of the actress, I thought she and I resembled each other less. Sometimes I think mannerisms and certain expressions make people similar even if they don’t look alike. In fact, that’s one of the story lines in my book, Celebration’s Baby, which will be out in April 2014. A secondary character, Maya, lost the love of her life years ago. He died in an accident and she hasn’t been able to love since. Fast forward years later, a man who reminds her of her old love shows up. She can’t decide if she’s attracted to him because he reminds her of her dead lover or if her heart is truly ready to love again.
He’s not exactly a doppelgänger, not in the true sense of the word. Then again, the meaning of the word has changed over the years. In folklore, doppelgängers are perceived as sinister versions of a person – an evil twin. In the old days, when you saw your doppelgänger, it was a harbinger of bad luck or an omen of death.
But, of course, the contemporary meaning of doppelgänger is simply a look-alike. Doppelgängers are a running gag through the sitcom How I Met Your Mother: at one time or another, the characters have spotted uncanny look a likes of each other, except for Barney (Neil Patrick Harris’s character). The absence of his doppelgänger is used as a significant plotline, which I won’t spoil in case you haven’t seen the show and want to.
Who’s your doppelgänger?
Celebration’s Bride is available now!
RT Book Reviews gives Celebration’s Bride 4.5 stars and says, “Thompson’s reality TV show setup rocks the pages with its quirky cast. Her couples’ imperfections make them realistic and alluring….”
Celebration’s Family - February 2014
Celebration’s Baby - April 2014
In January, I read a book called The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin. It’s an account of how the author spent one year “test-driving” the theories and practices of happiness. Before starting her research, she’d had an epiphany: “The days are long, but the years are short.” She realized time was passing and she was not focusing enough on the things that really mattered to her.
The book resonated with me. As a writer, life is a constant juggling act. I’m always mindful of striving for balance between family and work. More often than I’d like to admit, life gets out of balance. The result: my family and I get very unhappy.
Enter The Happiness Project.
I loved Gretchen’s method: after analyzing what made her happy, what made her unhappy and what felt “right” and what could be a better fit, she identified twelve areas of her life that needed attention and devoted one month to exploring each in an effort to enrich her life and make her truly happy.
Among practical and profound tips for living a happier and more fulfilled life, the book also made me realize that all my New Year’s resolutions and goals didn’t necessarily have to be tackled at once. Why not break them down, assign them specific months in 2013? Why not look at it as my own personal Happiness Project? It seemed like a good way to make it easier to achieve my goals without feeling overwhelmed Also, I hoped to keep each ball in the air as I add others (after the previous goals had gained traction). As we prepare to enter the last third of 2013, I wanted to review what I’ve done so far and what I have left to tackle in the final third of the year.
Here’s what I’ve been working on:
1. January – Set office hours and guard them
I have definitely been more mindful of “reporting to work.” Because of that, I’ve been more productive this year. I’ve met my Special Edition goals and have been working on some other projects, too.
2. February – Limit social media time to make room for other things in life
This is a struggle for me. I can get *so* caught up in social media – especially FaceBook and Pinterest. I’ve had to really reign myself in. Sometimes I fall off the wagon, but I get right back on. Many of you know I’ve been MIA on FaceBook recently. I will continue to strictly limit my time until after I meet my October 1 deadline.
3. March – Learn to say, “No, thank you”
Another difficult task. However, I’ve started to look at time as currency and I’ve been on a pretty strict “budget.” This, along with maintaining my “office hours” had helped me be more productive.
4. April – Mental declutter: Let go of what weighs me down/doesn’t make me happy
This was one of the best things I’ve done for myself. However, I’m often plagued by “mind squirrels.” I use affirmations to keep the under control.
5. May – Refill the well: dedicate at least one hour once a week to art journaling
As much as I hate to admit it, this one had been hit and miss. I need to focus on it more. See, by revisiting these goals, I’m reminding myself what I need to work on.
6. June – Make more time for reading
This had been going well. I should’ve kept a list, and I think I’ll start. I want to concentrate more on the classics – one of my goals (not on this list, but on my actual list of 2013 goals was to read all of Jane Austen’s works this year. I’ve read three so far… I have some catching up to do. Right after I finish MY LIFE NEXT DOOR by Huntley Fitzpatrick. It’s one of the best books I’ve read all year.
7. July – Physical declutter part 1: tackling my closet
Just in time for RWA! I did go through my closet and try on EVERYTHING. I sent donated fifteen bags of things I no longer needed. Then, of course, I went out and purchased things for the RWA conference. Not fifteen bags worth, but I didn’t feel as guilty adding more to my closet.
8. August – Physical declutter part 2: tackling my office
This had been interesting. I’ve been deep in deadline since returning from the RWA conference. So, I’ve used the Fly Lady’s suggestion of throwing away or donating seven things every day. It’s a slow method, but I can see the progress. This task will probably stretch to the end of the year.
That’s it so far. I still have the following on the list:
9. September – Time to get healthy: yoga, water and vitamins
10. October – Continuing education
11. November – Gratitude
12. December – Take inventory and plan for the new year
I’ll check in toward the end of the year and report on my progress. In the meantime, have you revisited your 2013 goals? Or what would you like to accomplish between now and the end of the year? I have some books that I brought back from the conference to give to a couple of people who post.
Nancy’s book CELEBRATION’S BRIDE is available now. RT Book Reviews gave it a fabulous 4.5 star review, saying ” Thompson rocks the pages with her quirky cast. Her couples’ imperfections make them realistic and alluring….” I hope you’ll enjoy reading the book as much as I enjoyed writing it.
My new book CELEBRATION’S BRIDE hit the shelves yesterday! It’s a milestone in my career because it’s my twentieth published novel! My how time flies when you’re having fun! In celebration (no pun intended – since the book is set in Celebration, Texas), I thought I’d do a Q&A that gives you a little more insight into the writing process and characters. If you answer my question at the end of the post, you could win a gift card!
* Where did you get the idea for CELEBRATION’S BRIDE?
This is the fourth book in my Celebration’s, Inc. series, which is about a group of women who run a catering business that’s also featured on a reality television show called Catering to Dallas. CELEBRATION’S BRIDE is Sydney James’s story. Since she has been a prominent secondary character in the other books in the series, the idea for her story developed organically out of the other books.
* Tell us about the hero of the book? Why will we fall in love with him?
Miles Mercer is one of my favorite heroes I’ve ever written. He’s a complex guy who is more than a little disenchanted with life: his career is not at all where he thought it would be at this point in his life, and he and his father have some “issues” to workout. Yet, the other members of his family remain at the heart of everything he does. In fact, one of my favorite aspects about his character is his capacity to love.
* Tell us about the heroine?
Sydney is a major commitment-phobe, in both life and romance. Because she grew up in the foster system, she’s never settled in one place for long. She’s been in Celebration, Texas much longer than she thought she’d be. She knows her job on the reality television show Catering to Dallas, which chronicles the inner workings of the Celebrations, Inc. catering company, will not last forever. If life has taught her one thing, it’s that nothing this good ever lasts. She interviews for an overseas job that seems a perfect fit and a logical next step in life. But when Catering to Dallas gets a new director, career-driven Miles Mercer, suddenly things look especially delicious in the catering company’s kitchen.
* What life lessons do your H/H learn before they can find their happily-ever-after?
Growing up in the foster care system, Sydney has never known what it’s like to have permanent family ties. When she meets Miles and his big, boisterous family, she sees the beauty in their bond and, in turn, she helps Miles learn the importance of making amends with his father. Along their journey to happily-ever-after, Sydney learns to trust and Miles learns to forgive. It soon becomes evident that through their growth they’re both ready to fall in love.
* What was your favorite scene to write?
There’s a scene in the book where Sydney, who is a bit perturbed with Miles, calls him late one night expecting the call to go to voice mail because his cell phone should be turned off and he should be sound asleep. Much to her dismay, he picks up and she completely forgets her well-rehearsed speech because she’s so flustered. Of course, he seizes the opportunity to flirt with her until she forgets why she’s angry…or maybe she suddenly realizes her bone simply doesn’t matter anymore.
* What do you feel are some of your strengths as a writer and how did those show up in this particular book? I love developing characters that my readers would want to call friends. So, it’s especially fun when these characters make appearances in other books both before and after they’ve found their own happily-ever-afters. Also, I grew up in a small, close-knit community and in CELEBRATION’S BRIDE; I hope I’ve been able to create that same sense of place that I cherished as I was growing up.
* So, does that mean some beloved characters from your previous books show up in this one?
Oh, yes! As I mentioned earlier, this is the fourth book in the Celebrations, Inc. series. So, many of the cast members of my previous books make appearances in CELEBRATION’S BRIDE. It’s a lot of fun writing about them. It’s like visiting old friends. And the friendship among the four girlfriends, Sydney, Pepper, A.J. and Caroline, continues to play as important a role in this book as it did in the others.
* Is there an underlying theme to the story?
This book is about finding love and family where in the most unexpected places. It’s also about redemption and the power of love and forgiveness.
Tell me about a milestone in your life. What did it mean to you? What are your goals now? As I said, one person who comments will win a $10 gift card (Amazon or Barnes and Noble – your choice). I hope you’ll enjoy reading CELEBRATION’S BRIDE as much as I loved writing it. Thanks so much for being part of the Jaunty Quills community and making it possible for us to do what we love.
Lately, the Norwegian and I have made several day trips out of town to handle family business. In the past, we’ve used our GPS, which we lovingly call “Emily,” because that’s what the company named the particular voice setting we use. Well, it turns out that Emily is a much better navigator than I am. Never mind it’s her job and she has most routes plotted out and stored in her electronic mind. How in the world could anyone else compete? Usually, I don’t. Because I am a terrible navigator.
However, on this trip we forgot Emily. Yes, went off without her. And we suffered for it because we were left to our own devices. Actually, the Norwegian wasn’t too concerned because he has a “map ap” on his smart phone. The words map ap should’ve been my first clue that we were in trouble.
We knew how to get to the outskirts of where we were going; then we decided to use his handy-dandy map ap to guide us to the specific addresses we needed to find. Sounds simple, right?
The scene went something like this:
Norwegian (driving, hands me his cell phone): Just type in the address and follow the blinking dot. That purple line leads us to the address. Just make sure the blinking dot stays on the purple line.
Me: Blinking dot? I want a list of streets, not a blinking dot.
Norwegian: No, you want the blinking dot because it will tell you where to turn before we get there.
Mind you, the display area is a 3.5 x 2 inch cell phone screen. I’m blind without my reading glasses and get a little woozy if I try to get up and walk around with them on, much less try to read something tiny in a moving car… because, of course, the Norwegian, bless his stubborn heart, would rather get lost than pull over and give me time to familiarize myself with his darned blinking dot map ap.
Still, I tried to be a good copilot and make it work. Despite how the blinking dot, which represented our car, seemed to be moving in a different direction than we were traveling. I turned the phone every which way trying to get the dot to move in the same direction. Soon, I thought I was getting the hang of it. Until the Norwegian asked me the name of the street BEFORE we were supposed to make our turn.
Me: I can’t read it. The print is too small.
Norwegian: Just do this (indicating that I should use my fingers to enlarge the screen).
I did this… and the blinking dot went off the screen. Panicking, I jabbed at the page trying to minimize it so the blinking dot would come back into frame, but a different page popped up – some sort of advertisement. Of course. I couldn’t figure out how to make the darn thing go away.
Me: Are you kidding me? Just tell me how to get to the darn page that lists the directions. If I’m going to navigate I have to use a system I can understand – unless you want to pull over and show me how to work this thing.
Norwegian (who kept driving on): How can you be so good at backseat driving, but so bad at navigating?
As I made a conscious decision to bite my tongue, I realized why our daughter says that when the Norwegian and I are in the car she sometimes feels as though she’s stuck in a Seinfeld scene featuring George Costanza’s parents. Poor girl.
How about you? Are you a better pilot or copilot? Do you have any funny road trip stories to share?
RT Book Club gives CELEBRATION’S BRIDE 4.5 stars! They say, “…Her couples’ imperfections make them realistic and alluring and their love scenes are provocative and passionate.” CELEBRATION’S BRIDE, book four in the Celebrations, Inc. series, will hit the shelves in July.
In my new book, CELEBRATION’S BRIDE, which will be available June 18, the heroine, Sydney, has a history of being somewhat of a vagabond, moving every few years. Because of her tendency for itchy feet, she usually doesn’t accumulate many personal possessions so she can travel light.
Lately, the Norwegian has been contemplating retirement and we’ve been talking about downsizing and traveling. Naturally, that means I’ll have to pare down. I’m making peace with buying books for my Kindle. That way I’ll be able to take my library with me wherever we go because I couldn’t live without my books. There are several other special things I won’t be able to part with either. Here are just a few of them:
My animals (Marie is the cat; Samantha is the corgi). Of course, it’s a given that the animals will come with us. Or if we travel abroad, the Crown Princess will care for them. Still, it will be difficult to leave them even temporarily.
My office is my sanctuary. I love going to work every day, and it’s a pleasure spending a lot of time in here. I have a huge glass-top desk. It’s not only great for working, but it also cleans up easily when I art journal on it. I have it sitting a third of the way out into the room, so that I face the door and my back is to the wall (my art table is in front of the desk along the left wall). I’ll probably have to downsize the desk when we move. But for now, here’s a picture of the left side and some of my favorite things I will definitely be able to take with me. That’s an inkwell with a feather pen that the Norwegian gave me for Christmas a few years ago; the “N” is a paperweight the Crown Princess gave me for Christmas; next to that is a “magic wand” Kathy Garbera gave me (and yes, it really works ); behind that are two tea cups my good friend Mimi gave me; that’s a picture of the Norwegian and me in Paris; the smaller photo is me with the Crown Princess many moons ago, back in my auburn-hair days); that’s my prized Eiffel tower lamp and on it is a magnet of Berthe Morisot that Kathy G. sent me from London and a small beaded change purse that I found in an antique shop and couldn’t live without.
I have an art table in a corner of my office. The picture shows just the tip of the art supply iceberg. I have so much paint, paper and ephemera and stuff that might come in handy for a future art journal project. I don’t know how I will part with it. However, since the definition of ephemera is transitory written or printed matter not meant to be retained or preserved, maybe that’s all the more reason I need to let it go…in due time. I mean, not tomorrow… or even next year… But I do need to think of what items I should put in a portable art journal kit.
Here are a few more of my favorite things that I will take with me:
Crown Princess made this for me for Mother’s Day. I wouldn’t part with it for anything.
Stepping outside my office, into our backyard, we’ve planted a fabulous little herb garden. I’m so spoiled by the fresh herbs; I’ll have to buy potted ones since I won’t be able to take the garden with me when we go.
Finally, there’s my Don Juan rose bush. The Norwegian gave it to me for Mother’s Day several years ago. It’s in a large planter. So, we were actually able to bring it with us when we moved into this house five years ago. We’ll take it with us when we move again.
What do you have that would be difficult to give up?