6 Things For 60

I sent off a small package this week, and it didn’t include one of my books.  My friend, R, is celebrating her 60th birthday this week, which is a golden anniversary of our friendship.  She and I have become mostly Christmas Card Friends, but on those rare occasions we do get together, the years melt away, and I’m smiling at my buddy who shared learning how to do flips on trampolines, and swam with me like a fish ever since we met in Mrs. Clark’s forth grade class.  HAPPY BIRTHDAY, my dear, dear, friend.

Picture of Myrna reading Sliced Vegetarian

Thanks to my friend, Myrna, for reading between dance lessons at Colorado Dance Sport!

But sending that package reminded me that this is it, the BIG year for me too.  At the end of March I will mark six-oh! on my timeline and I’ve been searching for ways to celebrate.  I’m not a huge traveler, so a trip just wouldn’t stick in my mind as something I’d truly like.  Greedy guts that I am, I want something more.  Question is, what would really be the fireworks of my official entry into old-age?

One thing is that I’ve always wanted to share a real conversation with a national celebrity.  Bill Maher would be great.  He turns 60 on the twentieth of this month. I wrote and asked his publicist if my husband and I could take him and a guest out for dinner sometime between our two special dates.  He didn’t say no.  He didn’t say yes, either. Not even a “no comment” came back. Hmm.  So much for star gazing.

So now, here is my official list for my Birthday Fairy.  I decided to put up 6 wishes–one for each decade, and tie them to the number 60.  Maybe you can help Birthday Fairy make my dreams come true. Ready?  Here goes:

1. Get 60 Facebook Likes for my Author FB Page

I set up my author Facebook page a few months back, but so far, I have no likes.  I don’t think anyone but Prophet and I are aware this thing exists.  Starting in a week or so, I’m going to figure out how to post my blog there instead of my personal FB page and see if I can get 60 people to like it by March 31.  Will you help?  Can you tell your friends that this goofy author is looking for likes?

2. Post 60 Tweets

Smart goals are time specific, so again by March 31, I hope to post 60 tweets on Twitter.  This should be easy, but it requires that I actually visit Twitter more than once a month or so.  Are you on Twitter?  Want to start a convo?  This could be cool.

3. Get 60 Reviews for Sliced Vegetarian

Ouch!  This one is going to push all the magic skills the Birthday Fairy has.  Right now I have 6 reviews on Amazon, no reviews on Barnes and Noble and 6 reviews on Goodreads.  I also have reviews from Publishers Weekly, Kirkus Reviews, Wisconsin Bookwatch and Booklist Review.  Three author friends wrote blurbs, and thank you very much to them. That makes 41 more reviews to acquire.  Do you know anybody who likes being the next great critic on Goodreads?  Please let them know that Sliced Vegetarian is in many local libraries in the US (and even one in London!).

4. Write at Least 60 Pages in Pot Shots

That’s right. No more goofing around. By March 31 I will have at least 60 pages (or 15,000 words) sizzling on the computer, begging me to finish this project!  Right now, I’m sitting at about 2,000 words, so it’s time to kick into high gear.  I’ll keep you posted on progress here.

5. Read 60 Books By December 31

Wow!  I have a really hard time sticking to 24 books in a year.  How can I get 60 read?  Why should I do this?  The why is easy–writers are readers.  We soak up information and ideas through constantly reading and observing.  I’ve been a slacker on the reading front. How is a lot more difficult.  I’ve selected two books for January, but I need to read three more.  A friend of mine gave me is “cheat” idea–read white papers, short story collections, and yes, children’s books.  Talk about getting excited to read again!  Good-bye Sudoku and Spider solitaire–2016 is going to see Liesa turning the page on those time wasters. Do you have any short book ideas or ways I can get 60 books read this year and still have a life?

6. One New Birthday Outfit

I’m going to handle this one, friends. Going to go to Brooks Brothers or Neiman Marcus–one of the stores that has a tailor and I’m going to go all out with an outfit collection–skirt, pants, dress, jacket, couple of blouses and maybe even the shoes to go with all this (six pieces at least). Think of those magazine articles that show you how to have a one special, multi-purpose outfit that creates the foundation of your wardrobe.  Look out, What Not To Wear, Liesa’s going to look good at the big six-oh!

If you have any way to help or give me ideas, please share!  I’d also appreciate it if you could link this article to your social pages so I get a better chance of turning 60 in style. Thank you, thank you!

Have a wonderfully creative week.

Soduko–Adventure at Sea

Cruise ship in port

I didn’t take photos this time, but I have traveled on the Queen Mary in the past.

Okay. I’m back and can now let you know that yes, I was traveling last week.  When I posted about being on vacation, the copy-edit police sent me the warning that I shouldn’t let people Online know that I was going to be gone.  You know, the folks from Godiva Chocolate know my address because even if I say I’m buying gifts, they know that the address is mine and I will eat all those luscious sweets myself .

Then I will leave on vacation and my house will be open to the thieves who are looking for the six loads of wash I didn’t finish before packing. They will somehow know when my house sitter will be gone, and that my ferocious watchdog is really a marshmallow personality.  AND they will know to stay away from my sweet kitty who has a bite like a T-Rex, and then they could steel the dirty dishes I left in the sink for my house sitter, just to show how much I appreciated she would be there. Can you say, “Home Alone?”

Anyway, I am back, and yes, the trip was terrific.  We went on a cruise in the western Caribbean–meaning that we docked at a few tourist spots that had costumed photographers set up to snap our faces with replicas of “natives” and “pirates,” as we disembarked.  This was followed by the obligatory duty free shop that we had to walk through before walking past customs.  There were no cumbersome officials checking passports. Wouldn’t want to slow down our progress to the ubiquitous gift shops selling all sorts of “here in Belize, here in Nicaragua, here in Mexico” stuff. And if it rained (and yes it did) there were umbrellas to buy and other important items.

Please don’t get me wrong.  I loved the trip.  It’s just that to me, going on a cruise is kind of like a chain of Disney Adventures and not necessarily the cultural exchange I used to hear about as a kid.  Still, it was great fun, and I even had the chance to scratch a monkey’s back.  When I tried to stop, he grabbed my hand with his tail as if to say, “Hey! Keep going.  You call that a back scratch?  You didn’t shell out those lovely tourist dollars to sit on the sidelines of life.  Keep scratching!” And I did. And it was wonderful to bond with another creature that I seldom see and have never had the opportunity to bond with before.


Thanks to Creative Commons for this image: https://www.flickr.com/

Back at sea it was time for the fun and games to begin.  Now, you have to know that as a writer of novels, a good deal of my “research time” goes into playing sudoku. Over the years, I’ve logged more than a kajillion hours hard at work.  I’m pretty good at this game by now and my electronic version is permanently set to “expert.” I mean, I’m good at this.  So when the daily ship’s bulletin announced a “speed sudoku challenge” I was up for it.

I strolled into the Crooner’s bar with head held high, a spiral notebook in hand, and three well inked pens at the ready.  Gotta look the part, right?  I’m sure I intimidated the rest of the contestants.  There were two little girls of pre-teen years huddled together with their giggles and bling-happy purses sitting in one set of chairs.  I saw an older woman shouting at her near-deaf husband, “Sudoku, Henry.  It’s a game!”  There were a smattering of part-time players who seemed to wonder why a person needed a pencil to play a game.  I didn’t necessarily puff out my chest, but I definitely worked on pulling my lats down and sitting up straight.  Oh yeah.  This was going to be easy.

The young assistant cruise director came up with his perpetual smiling face and asked if we were all here to play speed sudoku. We nodded, and the cruise director started handing out papers and telling us to keep them turned face down.

“We need a couple more sheets,” shouted a man in a fluorescent green t-shirt who had come in with his wife and two daughters.  The girls were twenty-somethings, not particularly noteworthy in the looks department, and I brushed them off as being around to kill time until the next buffet dive.  So the family were each going to try their hand at this.  No problem.  Divide and conquer, I say.

I’ve never played speed sudoku before, but I felt that with my acquired prowess, this wasn’t going to be a problem.  The cruise director said the puzzle was a mid-level difficulty and that we would have a winner from the one done first with the right answers or stop the  game at ten minutes.

Ten minutes.  That gave me pause.  I usually use fifteen minutes, but then I play at the “expert” level, so this would be okay.

“Go!” said our director.  He didn’t yell it, but we all dove in like this was the Daytona 500.  We raised our pencils and started filling in blanks.  I went through my routine of working individual numbers 9 down to 1 (get more points for finishing larger numbers first in the game I play).

I’ve toyed with the idea of creating a sleuth whose special gift is to see patterns everywhere, and proves his capabilities by being monstrously fast at solving sudoku puzzles.  The character would be made up, of course, but would possess my skills with the game board.

“Done!” came a shout across from me.  One of the twenty-something daughters raised her hand.  I looked down, my card only filled in with a few numbers.  What?

That girl must have guessed the numbers.  I didn’t watch to see if she got them all right.  It was time to get serious.  Beads of sweat popped out on my brow.  I searched for patterns and gaps and started throwing in more numbers without my usual second confirmation.

“Done!” Another shout from across the bar.  Soon there were calls out of “done” popping around me like Jiffy pop. I filled in a seven–no, a nine. Search and scratch, scratch and search.

Dizzy and frustrated, I finally finished and raised my hand. “Times up,” said the cruise director, not seeing me. I might have sighed, just a bit.

“Hey! Hey! Here’s another one,” shouted the dad of the twenty-something who came in first.  He generously pointed in my direction. I silently handed in my sheet, grateful that when the director scanned my work he didn’t find any errors.

Later in the week, I read a great book for the cruise book club discussion.  If you get a chance, do check out “Dead Wake” by Erik Larson.  Fascinating.  I learned a new vocabulary word in the book.  Hubris.  Means foolishly confident. Hmm.

Meanwhile, the twenty-something won a lanyard for her work, and she picked the second winner from the other puzzles handed it.  It went to her dad.  I slinked off in search of the buffet and chocolate.  Godiva will get another order from me this week, and they’ll know I’m home.