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The See Jane Dance! Party Top Ten List

The See Jane Dance! Party Top Ten List

The See Jane Dance! Party is now history. It was a wonderful morning, which led me to create the See Jane Dance! book party top ten list. The list would have been much longer, had I not exercised great restraint. Note that I didn’t follow David Letterman’s habit of saving the best for last by presenting his top ten lists in reverse order. The items on this list go in chronological order. Now that we’ve got that straight, here goes…

  1. The party happened, which is a minor miracle. The owner of Chocolaterie Stam and I met to plan the event on October 11. Shortly thereafter, a pinched nerve laid me low. I continue my preparations from bed and wasn’t sure I’d be able to attend the event. Had it not been for my husband, who ran errands when he wasn’t driving me to physical therapy or massaging my sore back, the party wouldn’t have happened at all.
  2. The weather was fantastic––sunny, calm, jacket weather. The day could have been snowy, windy, and cold. Iowa in November is fickle that way.
  3. Friends arrived early and helped us set up. My husband and I thought we’d arrived with time to spare. However, the parking meter accepted credit card payment only, a transaction that gobbled up every extra minute. Fortunately, friends we’ve known for 30 years arrived early. They pitched in and everything was ready when party time rolled around.
  4. People came. Friends from our old church, friends from our present church, teaching colleagues, a former professor from my college days, someone I knew in elementary school, the parent of a former student, even my former eye doctor! Despite their busy lives, they came. This fact never ceases to amaze me.
  5. They bought books. Another fact that never ceases to amaze me. People spent their money on my books. Why, I continually ask myself. Why?
  6. They bought treats at Chocolaterie Stam, too. You may not know this, but the folks at The Stam host events like this for free. Their only profit comes from what is purchased during the event. Many, many thanks to those who purchased chocolate or beverages or gelato on Saturday morning!
  7. I didn’t cry while reading Chapter 1 of See Jane Dance! aloud. The chapter is sad. It’s actually on the funny side. It was the sight of so many dear people smiling and cheering me on, smiling and laughing, to realize how richly God has blessed me, that nearly brought me to tears.
  8. The gift baskets raised $320 for Wonderfully Made Family Camp. I have no words. No words.
  9. Not all of the free chocolate medallions gotten eaten. The extras are in my freezer waiting to become the key ingredient in gourmet s’mores at our next family campfire.
  10. Becca Smith’s live fiddle music. Her toe-tapping songs added a perfect, festive touch to the party. After the party ended, the Chocolaterie Stam’s regular Saturday afternoon musician arrived, and the two of them began jamming. You can hear a snippet of their impromptu concert at this Facebook link.

If you attended the party and would like to add to the list, now’s your chance! Just leave a comment in the box below.

Swapping Out Jane’s Dancing for Jane’s Digging Has Been Keeping Me Sane

Swapping Out Jane’s Dancing for Jane’s Digging Has Been Keeping Me Sane

Swapping out Jane’s dancing for Jane’s digging has been keeping me sane for a few miserable weeks.

The misery began with back pain that I thought was the normal stuff I’ve dealt with for decades. But it turned out to be a pinched nerve that requires bed rest, physical therapy appointments, and exercises simple enough for a kindergartener to zip through with ease, but feel like climbing Mount Everest to me.

The worst misery came with the word that my last living uncle, the one after whom Uncle Tim in the West River Mysteries is modeled, died. We knew it was coming, but it came sooner than we knew it would. That particular misery expanded when I realized driving 3 1/2 hours to attend his funeral was out of the question due to my pinched nerve.

More misery came with the cancelation of a See Jane Dance! speaking engagement at the Onawa Public Library in western Iowa because it was too far to drive. The misery continues gnawing as I wonder whether a speaking engagement on November 9 at the Huxley Public Library will suffer the same fate. And, gasp, what about the See Jane Dance! Book Launch Party on November 11 at Chocolaterie Stam in Ames?

3 hopeful facts and 1 saving grace are keeping the misery at bay. The hopeful facts are:

  • The physical therapist says I’m making good progress.
  • The PT showed my husband how to help with exercises and massage my sore, pathetic back muscles to speed progress.
  • Both venues are just down the road, and my husband is willing to serve as my chauffeur.

The saving grace is this: swapping out Jane’s dancing for Jane’s digging has been keeping me sane. Instead of woe-is-me-ing about the See Jane Dance! stuff I can’t do, I’ve swapped it out for stuff I can do. As in, revising the first draft of See Jane Dig! Not only is it my favorite part of writing a novel, but also I can do it while resting in between doing my wimpy exercises and getting up close and personal with the PT crew. And November 1 was my target date for starting revisions anyway. Hooray!

So you can now see why swapping out Jane’s dancing for Jane’s digging has been keeping me sane. Let’s hope this saving grace, along with the 3 hopeful facts, result in enough healing to avoid more cancelations. With that hope in mind, I’ll sign off with this––see you at The Stam on November 11!

The See Jane Dance! Party Is Coming Soon

The See Jane Dance! Party Is Coming Soon

The See Jane Dance! party is coming soon! Here are the dance party deets:

DATE: Saturday, November 11
TIME: 10:30  – Noon
WHERE: Chocolaterie Stam
230 Main Street
Ames, Iowa 50010

The writer/teacher in me feels compelled to clarify certain aspects of the party. The See Jane Dance! party is NOT a dance party. Rather, it is a party to celebrate the launch of See Jane Dance!, the third offering in the West River Mystery series. I also feel compelled to say there will be live fiddle music, featuring the tunes Jane and the Little Missouri citizenry learned to square dance by. If the music makes you want to turn the See Jane Dance! book launch party into a dance party, I’ll be dancing with you.

We’ll also be celebrating the book’s spectacular splash on Amazon. I mean, what’s not to celebrate about hitting #1 in 3 Amazon categories and #27 in the entire Kindle Store?

Live fiddle music is just the beginning of the fun. You can also:

  • Enter the drawing for 4 door prizes: $25 Chocolaterie Stam gift certificates
  • Sample FREE Chocolaterie Stam chocolate
  • Participate in a book signing (bring your copies or purchase them on site)
  • Place silent auction bids for 3 gift baskets (all proceeds go to Wonderfully Made Family Camp)
  • Listen while the author (that would be me) reads a chapter from See Jane Dance!
  • Ask the author (still me) questions about the series
  • Get the inside scoop about See Jane Dig!, Book #4 in the series
  • Purchase treats at The Stam––chocolate, gelato, coffee, and tea––to enjoy during the party
  • Do some early Christmas shopping (Who doesn’t want chocolate in their Christmas stocking?)

Come November 11, I hope you put on your dancing shoes and do si do on down to the Chocolaterie Stam in Ames and join in the celebration!

The Gracie Allen and George Burns 2.0 Made Some Friends

The Gracie Allen and George Burns 2.0 Made Some Friends

The Gracie Allen and George Burns 2.0 made some friends this summer after becoming a duo. I’ve been giving Gracie’s fellow Vintage Cruisers names and writing them down in hopes of setting up some play dates once I figure out how to contact their parents owners. In the meantime, I’d like to tell you about our kids’ new friends and then pick your brains about a little project I’ve started.

First up are Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz. We met them driving from our house to church. We see Lucy, a dead ringer for Gracie, almost every Sunday. Desi not so much.

We met Katherine Hepburn last April while camping near Madison, Wisconsin. Her color accents were red rather than teal, but that’s not the reason for her name. We chose Katherine Hepburn because she was all alone at her campsite with nary a truck to be found. We were there during the week, so we assume Spencer Tracy shows up on the weekends.

Ginger Rogers and Fred Astaire made their presence known as we and our grandkids drove to a Mexican restaurant in the next town over. There they were, tucked demurely behind a fence. Ginger was the same color as Gracie, but smaller in build. We assume that’s what keeps her and Fred light on their feet.

Our final Vintage Cruiser sighting occurred during a drive through the South Dakota Badlands. Immediately after passing it on the highway, we christened the red beauty and her truck as Wilma and Fred Flintstone. Surrounded as we were by rocky and rugged scenery, the names were a slam dunk.

Now, onto the brain picking half of this post. My husband and I (actually just me, but he’s a good sport and laughs with me rather than at me) want to create a list of vintage couple names to consult and use when Gracie and George make new friends on future trips. You are encouraged to submit names in the comment box below. The couples can be real (like Gracie and George) or fictional (like Wilma and Fred). They can be political (think Franklin and Eleanor), musical (as in Cher and Sonny), or from the movies (perhaps Lady and the Tramp).

The only hard and fast requirement, in keeping with the vintage element, is that the names are of couples who were famous during the 1940s up through the 1970s.

I’d love to see what you come up with! Ready…set…go!

Oh Happy See Jane Dig! Day

Oh Happy See Jane Dig! Day

Call me crazy, but I'm humming Oh Happy See Jane Dig! Day with gusto. Find out why in this update on Book #4 in the West River Mysteries.

As a rule, my usual routine does not incorporate humming songs that topped the charts when I was in high school. But ever since I completed the first draft of See Jane Dig! (Book #4 in the West River Mystery Series) yesterday afternoon, I’ve found myself humming Oh Happy See Jane Dig! Day at the most unexpected times.

Eating supper with the fam: Oh Happy See Jane Dig! Day
Brushing my teeth: Oh Happy See Jane Dig! Day
Listening to my audiobook about William Tecumseh Sherman on my morning walk: Oh Happy See Jane Dig! Day
Baking breakfast muffins: Oh Happy See Jane Dig! Day
Balancing the checkbook: Oh Happy See Jane Dig! Day

Typing THE END after writing 70,000 words results in simultaneous and contradictory feelings.

Fear that the story is complete drivel.
Delight in ignoring the manuscript for an entire month.
Relief at having several free hours a day to catch up on everything neglected in favor of writing.
Satisfaction in knowing the bones of the story have been captured on paper.
Anticipation at returning to the manuscript in late October and discovering its more uncut gem than complete drivel.
The joy of revising what’s already written rather than filling a blank page.

For all those reasons, I’m humming Oh Happy See Jane Dig! Day again right now. The biggest reason, however, is that my goal to complete the manuscript by September 12 has been achieved. That’s the day my husband, son, and I embark on a trip through the Dakotas and Nebraska.

Our first stop is Theodore Roosevelt National Park in North Dakota. The Little Missouri River along the fictional town of Little Missouri also runs through the national park. Our next stop is Camp Crook, South Dakota where we were living when our son was born and left when he was three. We hope to see many people who “knew him when” and loved him well. We’ll round out the trip with a visit to former Camp Crook friends who now live in southeastern Nebraska.

For the entirety of our travels, I don’t have to think about Jane, her students, Sheriff Sternquist, Velma, Merle, ol’ Snippy the cow, Dick, the general citizenry of Little Missouri, or bad guys. Just writing that sentence has me humming Oh Happy See Jane Dig! Day again. In hopes that my joy has somehow become yours, I invite you to hum along with me. All together now…

Oh Happy See Jane Dig! Day