Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Mrs. Temple's Guide To Having Daughters Will Curl Your Hair


As we were going through her long list of disappointments, my mom mentioned that I never gave her a granddaughter. Though she loves both of her grandsons dearly, she regrets I didn't also have a daughter.

When I tried to explain there was no guarantee my third child would've been a girl, she stopped me in my tracks. "Shirley Temple's mother wanted a little girl, and she knew exactly what to do to have one."

"What did Mrs.Temple do?"

"She went to a doctor who told her if she wanted an adorable little girl who could sing, dance, and be one of the biggest stars in the world, her husband would have to get his tonsils out."

"And did he?"

"Of course he did. Not only was Shirley Temple a huge child star, but she went on to become an ambassador."

I immediately searched the Internet, and found a 1988 excerpt from Shirley Temple Black's autobiography Child Star in People Magazine. The energetic sixty-year-old wrote how her father had a tonsillectomy to "improve his chances of siring a female," after his two older sons were born. Apparently, my mom sat in on a guest speaker highlighting Shirley Temple Black's life.

Later, I asked my husband if he would've had his tonsils removed if we were assured of having a daughter. He reminded me of when he originally went in to have a tonsillectomy in fifth grade. He ended up spending several days in the hospital, and went home without having the procedure. I asked him if his parents visited him at all during that time, why he didn't have the tonsillectomy, and if he even got to have ice-cream? He answered "yes" to the ice-cream question.

I told my mom she could look forward to having granddaughter-in-laws, and great granddaughters. Cheerfully she remarked, "I won't live long enough to have a conversation with my great granddaughters."

Then I started thinking about what my relationships would be like with my future daughters-in-law. I remembered how it took a long time for me to grow on my mother-in-law. Fortunately, she started to like me after she turned ninety.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Double Duty With C. Lee McKenzie

To celebrate C. Lee McKenzie's Double Negative blog tour, I asked her to tell us about her secret double life. Below is Lee's most captivating cover reveal yet.

I have seen double: after a launch, after too much wine, after editing a manuscript. Those are a few times I can vouch for double vision. And I have played doubles tennis. I used to play that every week before I started writing books. If there's a double scoop of ice cream it will be on a hot fudge sundae. Yum. Never dated twins. Have dated two, er, three boys at a time. Very complicating and too overlapping. Gave that up after one try. I'm just not devious enough to pull that kind of thing off.

I forgot to ask Lee if she ever doubles down at blackjack, but something tells me she would also be an excellent poker player. If anyone asks you didn't hear it from me, because I don't know nothing.

Double Negative, by C. Lee McKenzie.

Hutchison McQueen is a sixteen-year-old smart kid who screws up regularly. He’s a member of Larkston High’s loser clique, the boy who’s on his way to nowhere—unless juvenile hall counts as a destination. He squeaks through classes with his talent for eavesdropping and memorizing what he hears. When that doesn’t work, he goes to Fat Nyla, the one some mean girls are out to get and a person who’s in on his secret—he can barely read.

And then Maggie happens. For twenty-five years she’s saved boys from their own bad choices. But she may not have time to save Hutch. Alzheimer’s disease is steadily stealing her keen mind.

You can find out more at C. Lee McKenzie's websiteblog, or Facebook Fan Page. There's also a giveaway for Double Negative and for Amazon gift cards here.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

My Mom The Tantalizer

Could this be me?*

Recently, we were reunited with our cousins on my husband's side of the family. We hadn't seen some of the youngest cousins in a few years, and a cute little eight-year-old boy greeted me with a big hug. At first I was so excited that I immediately told his parents how sweet he was. It wasn't until later that it hit me. I was slowly turning into one of those old ladies that parents told their children to embrace at all costs, or else.

I phoned my mom immediately. Surely she would give me the loving support I needed. "Mom, did you ever get the feeling that you were getting obligatory hugs and kisses from friends and relatives of all ages?  Do men turn away to avoid eye contact while offering their cheeks for you to kiss, and do small children ever give you robotic hugs just to please their parents?"

My mom thought for a moment, and replied, "No." Then she told me how just the other day, two men in her "habitat" were fighting over her in the pool room. It got so bad that administrators had to take away their pool cues, so they were forced to play with empty paper towel rolls. These duels were becoming frequent occurrences, because of her "tantalizing green eyes."

A few days later. I drove my mom to the beauty shop. She gave the shampoo girl strict instructions before she started washing her hair. These instructions included: "I need cotton in both ears. don't mess up the make-up, and be sure not to get my eyebrows wet." Her weekly demands were being recited, as we were tying to hoist my mom up to the sink. Sometimes she uses her walker as a launch pad.

Several hours later when we were finally ready to leave, the shampoo girl gave my mom an unexpected warning. I thought for sure she was going to tell my mom off; instead, she said that she was going to kiss her. My mom politely tried to talk her out of it, but the spell was cast. She planted a big kiss on her cheek, as my mom just smiled at me, and shrugged her shoulders. Needless to say, we drove all the way home in complete silence.

*photo courtesy of

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Whoever Said That Brothers Don't Know Squat About Gift Giving?

Last weekend we had a small 4th of July gathering with family and friends. When my brother arrived, he quickly dropped something off in the guest bedroom behind the kitchen. Then he told me to look at it privately when I had a chance. At the time, I was busy scrambling all of the side dishes together, while my husband was manning the grill. I couldn't imagine what he had brought, but I thanked him as my mom was being carried through our garage landing like Cleopatra.

After dinner, we cleared off the table, and started putting everything away. We were trying to decide if anyone wanted to walk over to see the fireworks, when I noticed that a few of our guests were missing. I found my friend, and my mom's caregiver texting from across the kitchen table. At first, I was wondering if they were texting each other, "Can you believe that Julie doesn't know from good wine? Of course, I had to bring my own bottle to be polite."

Then I was wondering if they were texting for help, "I'm so bored. If you won't come pick me up, could you at least give me a creative excuse to leave?" Before I could snatch their phones, my brother asked if I had opened up his present.

I took a quick peek, and brought it into the the dining room for everyone to see. Never before had I heard so many oohs, and aahs. My brother had bought us a Squatty Potty for our anniversary.

The Squatty Potty slides easily under your toilet allowing you to squat like our ancestors did, so that you can "poop like a pro." Our dear friend immediately ran into our powder room to demonstrate the product for us, but since we have so few dear friends, this model will have to suffice.

This was just the icebreaker our party needed to really loosen things up. Flushed with excitement, we were on a roll. The next minute it was as if we were shooting our own Squatty Potty infomercial. One guest chimed in with how the Squatty Potty helped prevent hemorrhoids, while another said that she heard it got the job done toot sweet. Then my mom inquired, "Do you have to have the urge to go before you use it?"

A moment later we noticed that the Squatty Potty was missing. Then our smiling son returned with the portable step stool in tow. You could've heard a pin drop when he proudly announced, "It works."

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

IWSG: Getting Two Legs Up On The Competition

Welcome to the July edition of Alex J. Cavanaugh's, Insecure Writer's Support Group. Be sure to visit the other talented writers who offer words of encouragement, and endless support here.

As we're getting ready to celebrate the 4th of July, we can't help thinking of ways to create fireworks in our writing. We want our next book or project to go off like sky rockets, so that everyone will want to grab a copy to experience that feeling again and again.

The hard part is coming up with something completely original. As writers we seem to have more similarities than differences. We stare blankly at our keyboards, we're constantly trying to prove ourselves, and we come to life at strange hours. Sometimes all it takes is one scene to set us apart. It could be something so obvious that we slap ourselves for not seeing it sooner; a simple concept with a creative spin that sets the Internet on fire. This man jumped in with both feet.
In case you have trouble accessing the video below, here is the direct link:   

Remember that this man is a professional, so do not try this trick at home. It could leave you with a leg up in the emergency room, which wouldn't be fair to all of the kids in line who shot off fingers and toes with firecrackers. Happy 4th of July!