Letting Go


Our youngest has flown the coop, off to teach English on the other side of the world. Yes, we are officially empty-nesters. Wow, it just doesn’t seem that long ago they were all small children. It was tough enough when the oldest moved to her first apartment. Next, we adjusted when the second moved out of state for college. Now, with the youngest leaving for another country, I can’t figure out how I’m supposed to feel. At times, I feel bereft, roaming around the house, sitting in his room, just plain missing his face. At other times, I feel excited for him, happy and proud that he was brave enough to take this step, following one of his dreams. Hopefully, we helped him feel the confidence he needed to make this journey.

We’ve been preparing for this day for some time now. After all, he’s been talking about it for a few years. I’ll never forget the first time he asked me to watch Running Man with him. First off, he never asks us to watch programs with him, usually enjoying them on his own unless it’s a family holiday movie or going out to a theater. So, I joined him on that first evening, which turned into weekly, struggling through the subtitles but enjoying it all the same, partly because of the show but mostly because of my son. His laughter became my laughter.

You know how it is? As you watch your children grow, you begin to notice what brings them joy and that becomes your joy, too. I still remember my oldest’s first tap class. She really loved that class. Watching her get excited made me excited, too. The middle gal loved tumbling and we cheered her as if she were in the Olympics. Then tap became acting, tumbling became photography, etc. And oddly enough, all three of our children are excellent writers. Our son’s always been interested in people and different cultures. I hope he documents this journey he’s on. I hope they all do. Like any mom, I hope good things for all my children. And okay, so I hope he doesn’t forget us and wants to someday come back, all right? I can admit it. 🙂 Right now, he is beyond our touch, but not beyond our reach. Thank God for video chats and messaging!

On the other hand, my spouse takes every opportunity to remind me of all the things we can do now that we couldn’t do before. I’m sure it doesn’t take much imagination to figure out some of his suggestions. You know, I could actually use a little extra closet space…

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Making the Cut (Wedding Cake Blues)


A little over a year ago, my eldest daughter got engaged and asked me to make their wedding cake. Due to allergies, her diet is pretty limited: no processed foods, nothing with preservatives, no soy and no dairy. When I asked what flavors, style, etc. she wanted, she had only two requirements: no fondant and diet-friendly. She tells me “I don’t care what it looks like as long as I can eat it.”

Getting Psyched for the Big Day
When the kids were small, I made all their birthday cakes. I really enjoyed making each one fun and unique. Sometimes I even let them help decorate. Of course, this stopped the day they put “Happy Birthday Booger Mud” on their brother’s cake. Did I mention the girls were all grown up at the time? But I digress. The point is, I really wanted to make something special for the wedding. I figured I’ve got a year; that’s plenty of time. What could possible go wrong?

The Big Plan
As an avid fan of the Great British Baking Show, I dreamed of adapting these cool new recipes for my own kitchen. In one season finale, the winner baked this amazing wedding cake! My inner child baker did a happy dance. It was a beautiful cake made up of three tiers. One tier was a ginger cake, another had carrots, apricots and pistachios, and another was lemon cake with almonds. The whole thing was decorated with what looked like autumn leaves, but were actually oven dried slices of pineapple, sweet potato and mango. It was ideal.

A Slight Detour from My Objective
I got busy. Regrettably, I wasn’t busy with baking cakes. Instead, my days were filled with other life events and you guessed it, time got away from me. With two weddings and a baby shower in the same year, among other things, there was just a lot of stuff going on.

Best Laid Plans of Mice and Mom
After re-reviewing the (count ‘em) 11 pages of ingredients and instructions for the “dream” cake, my plan moved to a more simple 3 tiered cake. I figured, three different flavors in various sizes stacked on top of each other. It sounded simple in my head, where, by the way, many great thoughts have gone to die painful deaths.

Math Doesn’t Always Add Up – Test #1
For my first trial, I opted to make a smaller sample size cake with no tiers, and hopefully no tears as well, just to practice for flavor, layers and fillings. This was supposed to be the perfect tasting wedding cake with Italian cream icing, along with a raspberry filling. Next, I calculated ¼ of each recipe and finally got cookin’.

The result: the cake was okay but seemed a bit dry. While the icing spread well, the filling kept getting absorbed by the layers like water-based paint on concrete bricks.
Conclusion: Mathematically reducing a recipe only works in theory.

A Wise Women Takes Advice
It was time to speak to an expert. I managed to corner our church semi-pro baker who listened patiently to my testing and plans, then emphatically recommended I not go with a tiered option and suggested I look up “cake wrecks”. Also, when I mention this is for 22 guests, she gaped at me and explained that my current plan would feed 150. Who knew?

Have Your Cake and Eat It 2
For trial #2, I chose a “best white cake ever” recipe that was actually quite complex. For this test, I went simple with only buttercream frosting for both the filling and frosting.

The result: my testers, or rather coworkers, enjoyed the flavor (maybe because, hey, it was free cake). However, my daughter didn’t care for the frosting.
Conclusion: Back to the drawing board.

Mama’s got a Brand New Plan
My new plan: make a sheet cake version of the lemon pound cake I made for the Bridal Tea plus a layered 6” strawberry cake for the couple’s topper. My order of what I thought was another 6” pan turns out to be five thin 6” pans.

With all the wedding preparations, test #3 becomes real-deal #1. First, I make a strawberry cake with my new pre-layered pans, along with a strawberry filling adapted from the raspberry filling I made in test #1. Ever cut your kid’s hair and find yourself making it shorter and shorter just to make it even? Leveling the layers is just as tricky and I finally stop before ending up with wafers.

No Face Smashing Please
The lemon pound cake turned out well and set on a display board hubby and I created, thanks to instructions from my cake expert. With the cakes iced and displayed, the wedding over and the party in full swing, the time had finally come to cut the cake. One look at my 5 tiered strawberry creation and my youngest daughter whispers, “That looks like strawberry pancakes.” The look I gave her must have clued her in, “Oh,” she draws back, “Did you make that?” “Yep,” I say. “Looks good,” she smiles brightly. But the best was when the bride and groom traded bites, turned to me and pronounced it delicious. Mission accomplished.

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Bad Hair Day

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Do you fight your hair every morning to beat it into submission? I know I do. Each morning I wash my hair it’s a battle. After years of taking a brush and whip to it, we’ve finally reached an unspoken agreement that if it’ll just mind me a little in the front, it can do whatever it likes in the back.

Seems like when you’re not happy with your hair at the beginning of your day, it all just goes downhill from there. Have you ever noticed that each little thing that goes wrong seems to make your hair look that much worse? The other day was an especially hairy day for me if you’ll pardon the expression, and each time I went to wash my hands I saw my hair sticking up just a little bit more until by the end of the day I resembled Albert Einstein, only without the mustache, possibly.

Just this week, I saw an old friend’s Facebook post showing a picture of her with her family surrounding her. Seeing her bright smiling face coupled with the fact that her hubby had just shaved her bald headed, seemed a little incongruous unless you know her. We went to school together from first through third grade, as well as all during high school, then later our children attended the same tumbling class at the local community college. In all those years, never have I seen her without a happy dimpled smile on her face. Yet here she was ready to kick breast cancer’s butt. What an amazing testimony. Each of her family members had smiles just as big as hers. Such support.

It made me remember watching my sweetie pie auntie go through her journey with breast cancer, the mastectomy, the treatments and dealing with the aftermath of those treatments. For years. I began thinking about other family members and friends who braved the fight with this disease over the years, some winning, some not. My own brush with the same.

Sometimes, when things are beyond our control, we really struggle to make sense of things, feeling helpless. Recently, my pastor encouraged me to look for the blessings in the midst of challenges in my life. I think I’ve just found one. All these women. Their positive outlook, their courage, their determination and their grace. They give me hope.

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Quick Cops and Tired Truckers – Part 2 – A Trucker’s View


Yesterday, I shared a former law enforcement official’s viewpoint on why big rigs and other commercial vehicles sometimes get pulled over. Today, we’ll take a look at this through a trucker’s perspective.

A truck driver of hazard materials, who was also a former jailer, provided me with the trucker’s point of view. Coincidentally, he is from the same small town as my law enforcement contact. I think this gives him a sort of unique perspective.

How Load Can You Go?
The first thing I wanted to know about was weight checks. Getting pulled over for weighing is sometimes a dicey proposition. In my source’s opinion, if you are pulled over by a State Trooper, it is usually a regular safety check and you just have to be patient and cooperative. However, getting pulled over by local patrols are another matter. Some appear to be solely motivated by generating income for their department, nitpicking until they find some infraction such as issues found with weight balancing between the axles.

Two Logs walk into a Car…
Although less scrupulous drivers could be running two driving logs with the older rigs, the newer trucks have an electronic log built in, eliminating that issue. Maintaining the electronic log (elog) can be a challenge, working much like a time sheet, and logging something incorrectly can result in a ticket. For those still keeping up a physical log, the driver has to retain 2 weeks of logs on hand, then turns them over to their company who is required to hold on to them for a set number of years for record retention. If the company is audited and a problem is found, they can be assessed fines. If this happens, they get a grace period to get the issue fixed, then get fined if it’s still not fixed, which sometimes means fixing the behavior of the driver. Missing logs is the most typical issue found.

Braker Breaker
While there are Federal regulations and safety codes that need to be followed, truckers can be pulled over for something as simple as checking the brakes or other maintenance matters. If your commercial vehicle’s lights are out or flickering or the vehicle is smoking, then you are probably going to get pulled over. Those that neglect their truck are most vulnerable for pull-overs.

State Troopers – 1, Local Patrol – 0
My source said he’d rather be pulled over by a State Trooper than by local police, who are all about the revenue. State troopers “know the score”, and if you have a clean truck and you are courteous, they will usually talk to you a bit and then let you go on your way. They aren’t jumpy and anxious when they approach the cab like some of the locals are. The reason for this is because they are used to dealing with criminals and try to keep a position of authority at all times.

Was that a Truck Stop Back There?
When asked about the long hours a trucker puts in and how that affects them, he shared that a driver can be on the road for up to ten hours straight, and can sometimes zone out during the trip. However, if you drive conservatively, and take breaks every few hours, you can get there on time. It just takes careful planning. There are some drivers who are on duty for up to 70 hours, so they need to be conservative about how long they drive per day. Then, there are some who don’t understand the laws and don’t know how to do it differently and are always out there speeding, going through the truck stop. These drivers have never been shown proper techniques and are probably the ones getting the tickets and complaining about not making any money.

Always Be Prepared…Just Don’t Gargle
Asking about other types of things an officer can inspect, I got some surprising news. Truckers can have zero amount of detectable alcohol on their breath. So they really shouldn’t use mouthwash with an alcohol base. They must also carry safety items like fire extinguishers. They also have to carry a white sheet in the truck at all times in case of a fatality. (I could have gone all day without that piece of information.)

He’s got a Ticket to Ride
Although my two sources agreed on some things, there were definitely some strong opposing opinions about other things. On a final note, if you are a trucker and get pulled over and you don’t get a ticket, your insurance company just might give you a discount. The patrolman gives you a form either way… just hope it’s the good kind.

A special thank you to my sources, the two patient gentlemen who put up with all my endless questions. I hold you both in the highest regard, and as Sergeant Phil Esterhaus would say, “And, hey! Let’s be careful out there.”

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Quick Cops and Tired Truckers – Part 1


Have you ever noticed police cars pulling over 18-wheelers on the side of the road? Seems strange somehow. I once took a class where I had to travel about 45 miles each day and you get to observe a lot on those trips. On my way back home, there was always this one area where the traffic slowed down to about 10 miles under the speed limit. This was because we all pretty much knew there would be at least two police cars ahead trolling the area.

Sometimes I would forget and be zipping down the fast lane lickety-split. Then, I’d find myself so surprised to have one of the patrolmen pass me without even blinking in my direction. Oddly, I only ever saw them pull over the big rigs. I’ve always thought cops had a sort of professional courtesy thing going on with truck drivers. Truckers usually have a heavy load and a long haul. It takes a lot of engine and torque to pull that weight and get up to speed, and with all that momentum going on, it takes a lot to stop the vehicle. But strangely enough, hardly a day went by that I didn’t see a cop with a trucker pulled over on that five-mile stretch of interstate.

Curiosity finally won out and I decided to do a little digging. I was fortunate to know two great sources kind enough to enlighten me. One, a former deputy chief of police and the other, a truck driver and former jailor, and these guys were able to give me the scoop from two different perspectives.

Cop Shop Talk or My Way or the Highway
First, I spoke to my former deputy chief friend, who retired recently after a long and illustrious career with a local police department. As it turns out, there is no special courtesy extended to truckers. However, they are expected to be better drivers than non-commercial drivers, and that expectation is always there, regardless of whether or not they are on the job. Sounds harsh, but it’s true. This is because commercial drivers are more highly regulated and a hit to their personal license impacts their commercial license as well.

Calling Adam 12?
Also, I was totally off-base about these being regular patrol cars pulling these drivers over. In our state, truckers are pulled over for violations or safety checks by one of two types of patrols. The State Highway Patrol can pull them over, or the local police department may have a special Commercial Vehicle Patrol just for this purpose. Which totally explains why my inadvertent lead foot was overlooked.

It’s all about that Base
One of the reasons a trucker is pulled over is for a Safety Check. These are important for a lot of reasons and commercial drivers are heavily regulated. These patrols carry special portable scales that measure the weight of the vehicle, and if it’s over the weight limit, they can lose stability, causing them to lose control and endanger the public. Being overweight can also tear up the road, making driving conditions more hazardous for the rest of us. What I found interesting is, if the truck is determined to be overweight, the driver can’t continue his journey and has to call for someone to come help him offload until his weight is brought down within limits. Don’t you sometimes wish you could call a friend to come help you offload some weight? Sounds pretty appealing to me. However, for the trucker who tries to push his luck, it only causes costly delays.

If You Broke It, You Bought It
Other things these truckers get cited on include: unauthorized cargo, hauling hazardous cargo on a road they shouldn’t use or exceeding the number of allowable driving hours. The Department of Transportation dictates how many hours they can drive per day and sometimes unethical drivers will attempt to keep two sets of books – one they show the trooper and another they keep for billing. Or, since they pay for their own fuel, they may attempt to shave miles off their trip and take a shortcut driving down roads they shouldn’t. Bad behavior for these drivers can result in tickets, fines, losing their license or having to wait for hazmat folks to be brought in and thus experience trip delays. There is actually a national database now, so if you lose your commercial license in one state you can’t get it in any other. However, my sources tell me that most are law abiding and just trying to make a living, although there are a few out there who try to cut corners.

Come back tomorrow for Part 2 – A Trucker’s View

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So What’s Your Story?

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Does your family have stories they tell over and over? You know the ones I mean. The ones  dragged enthusiastically out of the closet at family gatherings like well-worn shoes. They are repeated among friends and co-workers as either cute anecdotes or cautionary tales.

In studying genealogy, I once took a seminar with famous genealogist Josh Taylor who talked about tracing family legends and stories. He said, many of these are eventually disproved, but don’t lose them – hold on to them because that’s the interesting stuff.

So, who doesn’t enjoy a funny or juicy story? No one I know. Each time a story is retold to a new audience, it gets a little better, a little richer with the telling. Are they based in truth? Sometimes.

Only today, my youngest daughter and I somehow got on the subject of inaccurate tales that are carried forward over the years. I gave her an example of one my mother used to tell whenever someone remarked on the difference in height between my husband and me. Mom liked to say that our height difference never intimidated me, that when I’d get angry at my hubby, I’d just stand on a footstool and shake my finger in his face. I told my daughter that this was always a source of amusement to me. Firstly, because it wasn’t true, and secondly, because after my mom passed, my hubby picked it up and continues to relate the same story.

I laughed as I shared this ridiculous story and its history with my daughter, but she wasn’t laughing. Instead, she told me she tells this story from time to time herself! I thought, “Wow, the story my mom created made it to the third generation”, and “Cool, guess I’m a legend in my own time.” Or, a family legend in any case.

Finally, I told my daughter that the story did have some small kernel of truth to it. When we were still newlyweds, I used to stand on our hassock to kiss my sweet spouse good-bye as he was leaving for work. I thought it was sort of cute and told my mom. Guess she thought her version was better. 🙂 Probably.

So what family stories do you have that have been exaggerated over the years? Come on, I know you’ve got ‘em.

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A Life of Service


As I watch my children working to become who they want to be, I realize that each of them has chosen a path of helping others. Each journey destined to change them in ways they never expected. But, each feels a calling that cannot be denied, to follow and see where it will lead. This made me think about the influence of service in my own life, which naturally led me to my two grandmothers.

My Grandma, Dad’s mother, was a woman full of fun. With a ready smile, she was outgoing and full of energy. Couldn’t cook worth a flip but she, along with her sister, could ride heard over the six boys they raised, as well as six little granddaughters visiting for the week. They’d have every day organized, including taking us on outings, having us laughing at every turn, and still, they’d never lose any steam. They seemed to have an abundance of energy and lots of fun ideas for us to experience.

Grandma raised three rambunctious boys of her own, who kept her on her toes. Between chores, school work and practicing their instruments, the brothers had formed a band and performed quite often. Two of her boys, my father included, joined the Navy during wartime. Later, after Granddad passed, Grandma decided she wanted to share her talents, so she joined a Sunday school and played piano for the class. This wasn’t enough to fill her days, so she and her sister joined something called Navy Mothers’ Clubs of America, which they referred to simply as Navy Mothers. On a regular basis they would visit the local veteran’s hospital, visiting with patients and heading up bingo games.

I’ll never forget one night when my cousin and I were staying with Grandma for the weekend, she and my great aunt took us down to “help” with bingo, and Grandma gave us a serious talk before we went in. She said it was fine to visit but that we might see some unusual things and to be sure not to stare or ask the patients any questions about their injuries because it might embarrass them. And if we had any questions about what we saw, we were to wait until we got into the car to go home and before asking. Although we were nervous, we were polite and helpful, but boy did we have a lot of questions when it was time to go home! That night Grandma taught us about service, patience and compassion. Later, my cousin became a nurse, and I wondered if that experience had as big an impact on her as it did on me.

My grandmother on my mother’s side was a sweet but shy woman with a big heart. She managed to raise five children to adulthood all on her own, taking on whatever work necessary to feed her family. Over the years, some of her varied jobs included playing piano for another church, picking cotton, taking in laundry, and office work. Besides being able to make a meal stretch to feed six and still taste delicious, she also made clothing for her children, as well as some of her grandchildren. I never heard her shout or really even get very angry (although my brother and I were a real trial to her). She never had much, but she was generous with all she had. And I never heard her say an unkind word about anyone. She taught me about cooking for others and generosity of the heart.

I don’t know who influenced my children in the choices they’ve made, leading them on their current paths. But I can say, that as parents, we are very proud of their choices so far.

Our prayers and love follow our children as they continue on their journey. Godspeed.

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Confessions of a Tired Mom or Not Cranky for Christmas


In years past, my household mantra at Christmastime was “clean, clean, clean.” I am known for driving my family insane to get the house in order before all our Christmas parties begin. Although, I’m proud to say I’ve gotten a little more relaxed about this in the past few years; and if my children are reading this, don’t think I didn’t see your eyes roll. Once I gave everyone their marching orders, I became a pushy drill sergeant to get everything accomplished before the first guest arrived. And it seemed no matter how hard we worked, we could never get everything done. My family doesn’t think I know it, but they had their own shortcuts and ways around doing everything the way I’d like. In the past, I’d always viewed this attitude with gritted teeth and a long-suffering smile – you know – just the way we moms have done for generations.

This Christmas, however, things are different. I have a new job that’s some distance away and by the time I get home, sometimes it’s all I can do to get through dinner and take care of the daily stuff, let alone deep cleaning and heavy-duty cooking. You know what I’m saying? So, this year I told the fam “Let’s just concentrate on the bathrooms and kitchen, and anything else is gravy.”

When Christmas Party #1 of 3 came, did I cook everything on my list from last year plus all the new things I wanted to do? Are you kidding me? That would be a big “No!” As folks let me know what they were bringing, I learned most were desserts, so I opted for a simple veggie dish my Aunt Betty taught me to go with the main entrée we were providing. However, that didn’t stop the shocked questions and comments: “You didn’t make orange balls?!” “Where are the ham rolls?” “Didn’t you make anything sweet?”

I also learned to delegate. In preparation for the party, I asked my niece to help decide on the family game this year. Ok, well, that was a bust, and we ended up with charades again, but hey, we had a blast, as evidenced by the posted videos that cropped up.

It wasn’t a conscious decision to let some things go this holiday, but it definitely gave me, and my family if I’m honest, some relief from the holiday pressure we all feel at times to make everything as perfect as possible. And you know what? I think it’s going to be a very blessed Christmas season indeed.

From our house to yours, Merry Christmas!

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Crash Lessons


Funny how much we take for granted. I travel the same road every week day to work and back. It’s a long drive, but I’ve gotten used to it. For instance, I’ve become accustomed to the feel and flow of the traffic and how it changes according to the time of day I leave for home. I’ve learned that some days, if you leave late enough, you can actually travel the speed limit. Other days, if you leave during rush hour, which lasts for about 3 hours, you have to realize it will be a slow ride all the way home. Most days, you can get to your exit without ever having to come to a complete stop. On the slow days it helps to put on some soothing music to ease the stress.

That’s what I did Wednesday evening. As soon as I realized my going home ride would take some time, I changed the channel from my customary New Country station over to my favorite classical channel. Listening to the gentle strains of a violin concerto definitely helped.

Patience and paying close attention to the traffic is a must in all driving situations, but most especially during rush hour. Keeping this in mind, I made my way over to the left most lane where I needed to be for my exit way down the line. Predictably, there were a couple of impatient folks who felt it their right to zip down the left shoulder to get ahead of the bumper-to-bumper crowd. The result is stop and start traffic. Folks up ahead end up jamming on their brakes when the yahoo in question zips around them unexpectedly from the left shoulder. On top of that, there’s the frequent lane-changers trying to leap-frog ahead. This night we had several sudden stops.

Unfortunately, sometimes drivers get distracted. We all say it won’t happen to us. We think we’ve got it handled. We think we are immune or that we are great multi-taskers or just better at it than most. But, then we learn we are wrong.

Traffic stopped abruptly. I stopped. The woman behind me stopped. The car behind her did not. Although he tried to swerve, it wasn’t in time. Helpless, I braced for impact. Like a croquet mallet hitting one ball into another, the car behind me was pushed into mine with a jolt.

My back received the brunt of the impact, but I needed to see if everyone else was all right. It’s just the mama in me I guess. The caretaker who needs to be sure everyone has what they need.

The woman behind me was just climbing out of her car and complained of a headache. The boy who couldn’t stop in time exited his vehicle unscathed, only complaining of a slightly bumped arm. It seems all his airbags deployed. Thank God those things really work!

The state trooper called to our accident got called away to another that occurred just behind us, taking our ID cards with him. We had already called our loved ones and as we waited for the trooper to return, I saw the young man’s mother giving him grief – in the most loving way possible. Watching and listening, I realized she was telling him many of the same things I would have told my own son. Or, as I like to call it, taking a learning opportunity. She not only used the current situation to help him understand how this could have been prevented, but she also turned his attention to the accident behind us. It turns out the new incident caused a serious injury to the initiating driver’s leg. The young man from our accident had earlier wanted to return to his undrivable car to sit and get out of the cold, but we had discouraged him since his vehicle was so close to the left lane. His mom was trying to open his eyes to see that it’s possible he could have been hit by that new accident, and with the air bags already deployed, could have been seriously injured. He listened respectfully and stayed quiet. Smart boy.

By the time we were all released, we had practically bonded. Not only had we all learned more about each other, but I’d like to believe we came away with a better appreciation of the frailty of life and how we should treat life more preciously. Especially our own.

Crash lessons. A lesson in patience. A lesson in paying attention and staying in the moment. A lesson in humility. A lesson in kindness.

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Author Interview & Giveaway ~ Virtual Book Tour for How Forever Feels by Laura Drewry

Today, The Mama Diaries welcomes talented author Laura Drewry.

The Interview

Laura, in Jack and Maya’s story, Jack manages to find inspiration from Maya for his game writing. How did you come up with this fun job for him, as well as her quirky way of playing the game?

I have three teenage sons so it goes without saying that we have a variety of different game boxes in the house. When I started writing Jack’s character, I tried a bunch of other jobs on him first (athlete, architect, etc) but nothing fit. And then one night I was playing Mario Party 10 with my kids and inspiration hit.

As for Maya. . .okay, this is a little embarrassing. . .I took Maya’s “technique” straight out the way I play. For the life of me, I just can’t figure out how to hold those controllers still especially when I’m playing a driving game (I firmly believe Rainbow Road was designed by Satan.) My boys make fun of me, especially when I yell at the game, but I can’t help it.

Jack’s background was pretty heartbreaking. What made you decide to use a foster care backstory? Was there a connection to anything like this in your own life experience?

Thankfully, Jack’s backstory is 100% pure fiction. His history in foster care was something that defined who he was, why he turned out the way he did, and of course why he is so devoted to Will’s family. My concern was that I don’t want to paint the whole foster care system as horrible because I know for a fact there are a lot of good people working in the system and in the actual fostering of children. I think it takes an extraordinary person to work in such a difficult job with such a limited amount of resources.

How much did your own experiences with your dog play into the character of Pete?

Dogs of every kind are pretty awesome, but the inspiration for Pete came from a mixture of two chocolate labs. One was our old girl Sadie, who we had for fourteen years. She was such a sweetheart (as labs tend to be) and loved everyone she ever met. The other dog who helped inspire Pete was actually Sadie’s father, Tucker, who we were lucky enough to meet a couple times. He was one of those massive labs with a huge head and broad chest, who liked to lean on everyone the same way Pete does with Maya. It was as though he thought you wouldn’t notice him unless he was knocking you over.

All of your books contain snappy, free-flowing dialogue. Does this come easily for you, or do you sometimes agonize over conversations?

Thank you – that’s nice of you to say. 🙂  I love writing dialogue. What characters say – and often more important – *how* they say it reveals so much about them. For the most part, writing dialogue comes fairly easily, but I still agonize over how the reader hears it in her own head which is why I read it out loud to myself a few times so I can hear it and rework whatever needs tweaking.

For our aspiring authors out there, are you a plotter or a pantster?

I tried writing an outline once. It wasn’t pretty. LOL. That being said, I envy people who can do it, who know what’s going to happen and who can see it all laid out before they start writing. I’d love to be able to do that, but it just doesn’t work for me, and besides, I love being surprised by what my characters do and say. Before I start a new book, I need to at least know the characters’ names and a tiny tidbit about who they are, but that’s it. What happens after that is anybody’s guess. 🙂

So, what’s next? Is this the last of the Friends First series or will there be more?

HOW FOREVER FEELS is the last book in the series, yes, but I’ve been getting requests for Griffin Carr’s story, which would be fun to write, so I’ll have to think about that.

Thank you so much for inviting me to your blog today! I’ve enjoyed your questions and wish you all hours and hours of happy reading time!

Thank you for joining us today, Laura!

The Giveaway & Author’s Bio

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Friends First #4
Laura Drewry
Releasing Oct 13th, 2015

From USA Today bestselling author Laura Drewry comes a warm and witty new Friends First novel—perfect for readers of Jill Shalvis and Susan Mallery. How Forever Feels is a sweet tale about the one that got away . . . and the one that came back.

Maya McKay’s heart is as big as Jack Rhodes’s shoulders are broad. Their chemistry is out of control, but it could never work between them because Jack is more than just best friends with her cheating ex-husband—they’re like brothers. Maya, the sensitive, practical florist, has given up on love and is ready to settle for like. But now that Jack’s around again, he’s stirring up old feelings—and turning Maya’s fantasies into irresistible reality.

Jack blew his chance with Maya years ago when he stepped aside for his best friend, Will, and he’s still kicking himself about it. Maya was promised forever once before, and she got burned. But when Jack realizes that second chances aren’t going to fall out of the sky, he seizes the moment—and the woman he’s always loved—to show her how forever truly feels.

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USA Today Bestselling author, Laura Drewry had
been scribbling things for years before she decided to seriously sit down and
write. After spending eight years in the Canadian north, Laura now lives back
home in southwestern British Columbia with her husband, three sons, a turtle
named Sheldon, and an extremely energetic German shepherd. She loves old
tattered books, good movies, country music, and the New York Yankees.
Posted in Author Interview, Books, Contemporary Romance | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments