Saturday, March 28, 2009

Meg and Judy, Elliot and Emily, and...

Key West -- What a week!

Meg Cabot and I did a gig for the Friends of the Library. We decided we'd ask each other questions on stage, so we went to lunch a few weeks ago and made a list, but didn't tell each other the answers. We wanted to be surprised along with the audience. Meg was a great interviewer. She jumped in and asked almost all the questions. After I answered I'd turn to her and say, What about you? Then she'd say a line or two and ask the next question. Mostly, we talked about our journeys as writers, and our process. When Meg asked, Are you a plotter or a seat-of-your-pants-er? I admitted I'm definitely a seat-of-your-pants-er. That is, I don't carefully plot my story first. As I write I get to know my characters. I can count on them to lead me the rest of the way. The best part of writing for me is the surprise -- and my characters always surprise me. Meg said it's pretty much the same with her. We had a great audience who had their own questions to ask.

And in the first row of the audience was my grandson, Elliot and his girlfriend, Emily. They'd just arrived to spend spring break with us. Since Elliot loves Meg and Benjamin we all went out to dinner together after the event. That was SO much fun!

The next day George and I took Elliot and Emily on the Danger (that's the name of the sailboat, not the event). We went kayaking, snorkeling (them, not me -- I don't like putting my face in the water).

At the end of the week Elliot said it was the best vacation he'd ever had. Hey...that's high praise coming from a grandson. Okay, so it wasn't because of me ( as you can see) but still... We all enjoyed ourselves and each other.

On the day Elliot and Emily left, part of the Cooper clan from Baltimore arrived for two nights. They got to play tourist during the day but we all had a yummy dinner at Blue Heaven. (Save me from their Key Lime pie!)

Before they left Matthew and Jessica, with the help of Levi and Reed, finished the 1000 piece jigsaw puzzle Emily and Elliot started but didn't have time to finish.

In case you're wondering what I've been doing since then -- (no, I haven't taken to my bed although it was a tempting idea) -- I've been preparing my talk for U. Southern Miss next Thursday. They're giving me a medal and I'm giving them the story of my life as a writer (more or less). Will let you know how it goes.

Tomorrow George and I leave for New Orleans, where I've never been! Three nights there, then Hattiesburg (and Southern Miss) another place I've never been. Really looking forward to this break before I settle in to work on my new book idea.
xx Judy

Tuesday, March 10, 2009


Key West -- You know that song from Mame, the musical -- We Need a Little Christmas? I love that song. It's about needing to celebrate life and making the most of what we have. You don't have to wait for Christmas to do that. So I got it into my head that we should have a dancing party at our house. Times are tough for so many people but, hey, we can still have fun being together. And on Friday night, that's what we did. Sixty friends (not all of them dancers) gathered at our house for some pretty rowdy dancing. One thing I love about Key West -- the women get up and dance. We dance together as a group, or by ourselves, or whatever -- no waiting around for guys, no wallflowers. You feel like dancing -- you dance! Oh sure, there are guys who dance, too. But it's not a couples kind of place. Everyone is welcome on the makeshift dance floor. Best fun -- when Georgia Chase, who prepared a yummy buffet for us, spun me around for an upbeat swing number. Wow, can she dance!

George and I spent a week making a playlist. We tried to include something for everyone -- swing, doowop, rock, disco, R&B. Everything from the Four Seasons, to Stevie Wonder and Earth Wind and Fire (the last two for the Obamas) -- Abba for a friend who grew up dancing to them, Big Band with Ella Fitzgerald, and Otis Redding for quiet moments. Half the crowd stayed til we turned off the music at 11pm (didn't want to offend the neighbors).

George (not Georgia) left at 6:30 the following morning to visit Amanda in Albuquerque. He must have dozed off in the departure lounge at the Key West airport because when he opened his eyes everyone was gone. He raced up to the desk, learned his plane was about to take off, but someone took pity on him and held the plane. Me?-- I slept almost all weekend. No kidding -- I'd sit down to read and wake up three hours later. Then I'd have something to eat and go to bed. That's how tired I was.

Now we have Elliot, and his friend, Emily here for spring break. Elliot can't wait to show Emily all his favorite spots in Key West. And real work can wait another week, right?

Speaking of -- I've been spending time at the public library here reading microfilm on loan from the Newark (NJ) public library (researching my next book -- see previous blog). Everything I need is right there in those Newark Evening News stories from the early 50's. Talk about taking me back in time! The only problem is, the Florida History Room, where the microfilm reader/printers are housed, is moldy, dusty, and rife with all those nasty allergens that often come with historic documents. So far I've tried wearing a dust mask -- didn't work. Came home with swollen glands, laryngitis, and itchy eyes. My next idea is to pop an antihistimine before heading for the Florida History room. Maybe I just wasn't meant to do this kind of research. But no way am I giving up!

In the meantime, there's always dancing -- it works for me every time.
xx Judy