I went to a Capitol Crimes (Sisters in Crime, Sacramento Chapter) meeting this Saturday as the guest speaker. Dave went with me, in a combination of pack horse (he lugged the book boxes), actor and moral support. My sister Lisa also joined us as she was up from Venice Beach for her birthday. We drove separate cars from our house to Sacramento as Lisa has a sometimes cranky back and my Saturn, which would have fit all three of us and our gear, is not necessarily the best car for that. She has a Mini, a cute little red and white one, and although it’s comfy and adorable, it does not have the trunk space we needed for the trip.
We rendezvoused at Perko’s Grill and Cafe in Rancho Cordova where the Sacto Sisters have lunch before their meetings. They were just a delightful group of women, some professional writers themselves, some aspiring authors, all of them voracious readers and so nice! Dave was an honorary Sister for the day and handled himself well as the only male in a group of around 20 women. No huge shock, that. And they didn’t seem to mind the extra shot of testosterone he brought to the mix. Lisa had just gotten her own literary agent (yay, Lisa!), so she fit right in the conversation and had some good advice to share.
The meeting itself was at the Rancho Cordova Library. Now I’d mapped out the journey weeks in advance, using Google Maps. Oh, foul Google Maps! Assuring the helpful Sisters I knew how to get to the library, we set off following the directions I’d googled (as did Lisa, who had the same directions as us) and ended up on the correct street, but going in the wrong direction. We figured this out as the addresses went up in number instead of down to the 9000 block, where the library was. D’oh!!! So we flipped a U (and I mentally flipped off Google Maps) and drove as fast as the traffic would allow down Folsom, a busy street with many stoplights and more Sunday drivers than should be legal on a Saturday.
I will admit to being a little (a lot!) stressed. I hate being late and every minute the clocked ticked closer to 1:00, the higher my blood pressure rose and the more vociferous my swearing became. When poor Dave tried to calm me down, I’d snarl “I. Just. Have. To Get. This OUT OF MY SYSTEM!”
Now in my defense we’d received some very bad news Friday in the late afternoon and we were already dealing with a huge amount of stress. I like to think I’d have been a little calmer had things been different, but I’m sure there would have at least been some mild cursing. As I said, I hate being late. I knew in the back of my mind the Sisters had business to take care of before my presentation and my being 5-10 minutes late wouldn’t hold up the meeting, but the rational part of my brain was obviously being held at gunpoint by my inner White Rabbit ’cause common sense never made it past the ‘omigod, I’m LATE!!’
We finally made it to the library, which is located about three blocks away from Perko’s. Sigh. Got the books, the presentation board with all the old MFH material, the boombox and noir cds, and ourselves inside and all was well. Two of our Brackmann cousins, Jill and Sammie, were there. Jill was dolled up for a wedding she was attending right after the presentation and Sammie was noired out to the hilt in green and black satin and velvet, with four inch green satin heels, and a little black torque perched on the back of curly auburn hair. They both looked quite smashing. My cousin Lindy also showed up a bit later even though she was not feeling well. So a special thanks to all three cousins and Lisa for going out of their way to come see me do my schtick.
Dave started out the presentation with a short monologue (backed by appropriately noirish music) from The Peruvian Pigeon (which, for those of you not familiar with the history of my mystery…heh…that rhymes…was the first script Maureen and I wrote for Murder for Hire many years ago), which was much appreciated by the audience. I think it was both the effectiveness of his performance and the fact he looks cute in a fedora and trenchcoat). The monologue ends with “…and SHE walked in.” A great cue for me to start my presentation if I do say so myself.
I’ve done this presentation a few times now and get more comfortable with it with each new appearance. I basically talk about the history of Murder for Hire, both the theatrical troupe and the novel, going off on tangents about chocolate, supermodels, show anecdotes, screenplays, whatever happens to come up during the talk. I love fielding questions from the audience and this group was the best yet in terms of having plenty of questions to throw at me. After the presentation, I sold and signed books. I seem to be incapable of just signing my name; I feel obliged to write a mini-novel for each inscription. I’ve been told by more seasoned authors I’ll get over that the first time I do a really big signing. Heh.
What, you might ask, does this all have to do with the Liberty Bell? Well, I’d brought my camera to the event and Dave took pictures of me as I was giving my talk. I saw the pictures yesterday, showing me in my slinky black top, red flowing skirt made out of Saree fabric, and black boots and for all the world, the shots all made me look bell shaped and much heavier than I’d like to think I appear in real life. I told Dave I looked like a big fat bell and he said I was cracked. Hence the Liberty Bell.
And you didn’t think I’d ever come to the point, did you?
The pictures had one positive affect (after reducing my slowly building self-esteem to rubble) – my motivation to exercise has revved up to high gear, I’ve started taking calorie counting seriously (did you know if you order a goat cheese, strawberry and spinach salad with candied walnuts and raspberry dressing you can reduce it from 880 calories to 280 by switching the dressing to a vinaigrette and cutting out the walnuts?) and I’m going to remember to stand up straighter when I give my talks! More yoga!