I've always just sort of stumbled into things in my life. Sometimes I think when I wrote Miss Whittier Makes a List, I wanted to be an organized chick like my heroine. Naturally, things didn't work out anything like Hannah's list (stuff has to happen in fiction, after all), but there was a bit of wishful thinking on my part.
My husband retired from a North Dakota university in 2009 and we moved to Utah. As it turned out, he's the only one who retired; I've just gotten busier, and it's my own darned fault. Luckily, writing is something I can do anywhere, and which still allows me to wear my beloved thrift store clothes to work. Brushing my hair is optional. I love a job like that.
Part of what goes along with writing books are booksignings and talks (or at least, that's the route with me). I have two booksignings this Saturday, September 28. The first is at Seagull Books on Redwood Road in Salt Lake City from 9-11 a.m. The second is at Seagull in Spanish Fork from 2-4 p.m. Later in October there is one at the Costco in Lehi, Utah, and another at The King's English in Salt Lake.
Then, oh goody, I'll be on the road for two weeks. I enjoy this. I'll be speaking at the library in American Fall, Idaho, on October 1, and the Malad, Idaho, library on October 2. Then I'll be at Old Faithful in Yellowstone National Park to visit a ranger friend. We generally get together in October. I get to hear wonderful stories about back country rangering (mainly on horseback), and just how scary urban tourists are. The next morning, I'll meet another ranger friend in Chico Hot Springs for breakfast. Randy and I first rangered together at Fort Laramie National Historic Site, then later at Fort Union Trading Post NHS. I'll hear more good stories.
Then I'll be on the Montana/Alberta border visiting son Jeremy. This will include a booksigning in Cardston, Alberta, always a pleasure. Then I'll head south to Billings to visit cousins, and then to Nebraska to speak to English students in Morrill, Nebraska. After that, there's a booksigning at the Mountain & Plains Book Expo in Denver, followed by a visit to Palo Duro Canyon near Amarillo, Texas, which was a favorite spot for Kwahadi Comanches. (Book Two of the Spanish Brand series takes place near there.) After that, I'll spend the night in Salida, Colorado, where hopefully I can replace a cool piece of pottery that my clumsy cat destroyed. Then home.
Besides the friends, family and readers, here's what's fun for me: Tuna fish sammiches. I love them, especially with dill relish. Invariably, I'll make myself tuna fish sandwiches so I don't have to stop for lunch. I may change it up with canned chicken. I'll put cucumbers in my drinking water, and eat grapes and apples. Gone are the days when M&Ms were my travel food of choice. Also, I have a stash of audio cds from the library that come along for the ride. Mostly it's crime fiction - Johnathan Kellerman and Elmore Leonard right now for sure - and history lectures, 18 hours of the Emperors of Rome this trip. I can hardly wait for those ol' Romans.
What a great time of year to drive through the Intermountain West. It's cool and maybe sn**y (you never say the word), and there will be cattle drives. I never mind waiting for cowboys and cattle. I have a few favorite restaurants, including one in Choteau, Montana (home of the great A.B. Guthrie), and Old Faithful Lodge, which I figure I can afford once a year. I see relatives and friends (I hang onto both a long, long time - boy howdy, I am a good friend). I'll visit my daughter Liz in Lafayette, Colorado, and drop off a plant or two from her dad (provided they survive the trip that far).
I never used to do this, but I'll bring along books to sell. It's better than snake oil. Which reminds me: I'll probably haul along some of my homemade hand cream, too. It makes great gifts. I subscribe to the Lewis & Clark Method of Traveling Amiably - always have useful goods to hand out to the natives. H'mm. It worked pretty well until Lewis shot a Blackfeet Indian.
If I can, I'll go a bit out of my way to Thermopolis State Park and the Wyoming State Bath House. I love that place, even though I'll reek of sulfur. Who cares? When I run out of Elmore Leonard, I'll drag out my cds and sing at the top of my lungs.
Gee, all this fun, and my mileage is tax deductible. Does it get any better?