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Still fangirling over C. J. Box

C. J. Box talks about his new release, OFF THE GRID at the Natrona County Public Library in Casper, Wyoming

C. J. Box talks about his new release, OFF THE GRID at the Natrona County Public Library in Casper, Wyoming

I GOT TO SEE C.J. BOX TONIGHT! I TALKED TO HIM! HE SIGNED HIS BOOK FOR ME! OH. MY. WORD!

Okay, let’s back it up a bit.

I first heard of C.J. Box a few years ago on the Hugh Hewitt show. Hugh is a reader and interviews authors regularly. I don’t remember which book released, but I remember being captivated by the idea of a game warden sleuth. I read a lot of mysteries and have seen a variety of heroes, but a game warden?

Two years ago, we went camping in the Medicine Bow mountains of Wyoming. During that time, we explored the small town of Saratoga. In one of the historical sites, there was a book store bursting with C.J. Box novels. My mind shot back to the interview on the radio.

One of the women who worked at the museum said C. J. used to live there and work for the newspaper. All the copies for sale were singed! I bought a few.

Then last spring, we moved to Wyoming. What a better way to get to know a state than by reading about it in books by an author who lives there.

I read every Joe Pickett novel in existence over the summer. Didn’t get much writing done but…

Mr. Box shot up to the top of my favorite author list alongside Michael Connelly and Lee Child.

And tonight?

Tonight he kicked off his 22 city book tour in his home town of Casper, Wyoming. AND I WAS THERE FOR IT!

I got to meet C.J. briefly, and ask questions.

He gave me a gold nugget in an answer to a question I posed about his writing process. (Writer friends, you’ll get why I geeked out over this? Yes? Non-writers tend to stare at me slack jawed, mumbling, “so what?”)

He has 15 (?) books in his Joe Pickett series. He does not plot out ahead of the book he is currently working on. He has ideas, but does not plot ahead.

Why?

He said he believes in putting everything you have into that current book. Don’t hold anything back. In his opinion, plotted sequels feel forced and the author may hold back too much from the audience leaving the reader unsatisfied. But, if you put everything into the book, it is rich. And you just have to figure out how to do the same with the next one.

For me, this was affirming as well as good advice. I have friends on best-seller lists who plot. Seriously plot. That is their process and it works for them. They’ve lovingly tried to encourage me to create detailed outlines.

A page and a half was the best I could do. I mean, I don’t know what kinds of shenanigans my characters will pull! I know the main points, but everything else?

Anyway…

To hear someone who was #2 to Harper Lee with his last book, Endangered, say he writes organically… well… it made my heart happy.

So here I am geeking out. Waiting until tomorrow to go pick up my signed copy of Off the Grid at Wind City Books tomorrow (release date is tomorrow, so books sold could not go home with us tonight).

With a new Joe Pickett novel in hand, I will be off the grid myself tomorrow. I can’t help it. The books are THAT GOOD.

 

 

Your brother is not for dinner!

Have you ever caught yourself saying the oddest things? Things if overheard, might land you in the loony bin (if loony bins still existed)?

No, you can’t eat your brother.

Why are there footprints all over the stove?

Hey! Stop throwing litter in your food!

Drooling on your brother won’t make me change my mind about you eating him.

The dog needs his face.

How did you get up there?

Why are you in the dishwasher?

Stop looking at your brother with hungry eyes.

My face is not a chew toy!

Wait. Did you just put your butt on my toothbrush?

Get out of the birdcage!

Your brother is not on the menu.

Get your butt off of my face!

How am I supposed to brush my teeth with you in the sink?

Both of you are in the sink?

Why do you insist on sleeping in the sink?

Seriously, you can’t eat your brother!

 

 

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The W in Wyoming stands for WIND

And it’s not wind, it’s WIND.

While I told people I was moving to Wyoming, they said, “I hope you like WIND.”

When I moved to Wyoming, people said, “There are two reasons people leave Wyoming. Winter and WIND.”

I had no idea when they uttered the “w” word, that it was in all caps.

Whenever the RV rocked and rolled as if it were on the high seas over the summer, the seasoned Wyomingites said, “This is not the WIND.”

When I had to keep both hands on the wheel to keep my car in the correct lane on I-25 they said, “This is not the WIND.”

In early November, at church, I had to throw all my body weight against my car door to get out. Let me tell you I’m amazed my organs are intact due to the fact I could only get about a two inch clearance. Then I had to lean forward at a 60 degree angle to not get blown away. it took three people to heft the church door open. My hair did acrobatics. My clothes were practically turned around… an old cowboy smiled at me, nodded, then said, “THIS is the WIND.”

Here in Wyoming, we need a durable wind sock.

Here in Wyoming, we need a durable wind sock.

Here are things that set Wyoming WIND apart from wind.

WeIn WY, the wind doesn’t howl, it roars.

The best trick for cleaning out your vehicle is to park facing East or West, open all doors at once.

Wind speeds match or exceed highway speeds.

It’s not uncommon to see birds flying backwards.

Patio furniture? Better be anchored into a concrete slab, or someone in Montana will find a nice surprise in his front yard.

Wearing a skirt in WY can be immodest.

Chicago don’t know WIND.

The only places windier than Wyoming are the top of Mt. Washington in NH, and the Aleution Islands in Alaska!

But pictures say it all. Enjoy!

Found the memes on good ole Google.

Not a garbage can is upright.

Not a garbage can is upright.

Today, we are at a level 4.

Today, we are at a level 4. And ours are the huge city cans!

Frosty bites it.

Frosty bites it.

Every day is a bad hair day... unless you declare the WIND blown look to be fashionable!

Every day is a bad hair day… unless you declare the WIND blown look to be fashionable!

Carson sports the WIND blown look better than I.

Carson sports the WIND blown look better than I.

Whenever the WIND blows, the tumbleweeds hold a convention.

Whenever the WIND blows, the tumbleweeds hold a convention.

images-4images-3And from right here in Casper near my son’s school…

 

UnknownBut you know what? I’ll take the WIND any day over Denver traffic :)

Firey Wyoming Sunset

The lack of imagination. Can it destroy freedom?

I have a theory.

I know, dangerous, right?

Anyway, when I took my dog for his morning constitutional, I got to thinking. Is it possible the lack of imagination among the masses could bring about the downfall of our free country as we know it?

I’m sure you’re wondering where the heck that came from, or who thinks like that?

Well, I do.

Ever since I was a small child, I imagined. I imagined all day long and all night long. I imagined I was a doctor. That my bike was a horse. I imagined the woods surrounding my college were actually in Siberia. I imagined characters and a plot to fill a novel.

Imagining is inherent to me. Like breathing. I think of Craig’s List and imagine a gazillion ways a serial killer can use that site to lure prey.

I lie in an MRI machine and imagine a rogue technician using the scanner as a murder weapon.
And then I hear colleagues in education lament the lack of imagination in today’s school kids.

I see adults’ inabilities to spend 30 seconds away from their portable device.

Look around you. our culture is dependent on something else to occupy their minds. They cannot imagine.

Or, few can.

Which bring me back to my theory.

It takes imagination to see where current events in the United States are taking us. In most cases, the circumstances do not prompt the pain and discomfort brought about by the long-term effects of varying decisions, so one must sit back and imagine how things could go.

And that takes time.

And for some, effort.

Is it possible that so many are caught up in the comfort of the moment they fail to imagine what could happen? Or just don’t care? Or have a “well, that won’t affect me” type of attitude?

Does it take imagination to look at history and see how dictators and tyrants rose to power and extrapolate that into the political decisions of today?

My theory is that the lack of imagination is one of the contributing factors to the crumbling state of our nation.

If you don’t think it is so, are you free to express an opinion that is contrary to the Popular Opinion of The Day?

Imagine if things flipped and The Other Side was in power. And took your voice away…

Can you?

Does it change your perspective just a little?

Imagine.

Exercising faith

 

This is the house we may be able to get if things work out. But it's not up to us, is it?

This is the house we may be able to get if things work out. But it’s not up to us, is it?

My entire world is suspended. It’s like everything is moving in slow motion if it’s moving at all. At the same time, it’s screaming along like a fully-loaded freight train without breaks on a steep descent.

Doubting.

A cynical attitude.

Pessimism.

Those are life-long habits I’ve honed over the decades. They follow me everywhere I go.

Deciding to move to Wyoming not knowing how things would work out has been the toughest decision my husband and I have made in our 17 years of marriage. This new plot-twist in life is forcing us to examine our thought patterns and thinking habits. It’s forcing us to exercise our faith in ways we never imagined.

At first, things felt surreal.

Like a foggy dream.

Tuesday, a contract was drawn up on our house. All it needs is a closing date.

Yesterday, John took away some pretty large items with lots of memories attached. The purging process has begun.

We lost Chloe in December.

Esau a week and a half ago.

Change.

Obstacles.

But I am determined not to doubt. John and I made a pact that if we chose to move, we would trust God completely. We would not pray and then doubt God would answer. We agreed to trust Him to answer in His way.

How am I doing?

Well, truth is, I am numbing out. I’m not allowing myself to think or feel much. When doubt crept in I watched multiple episodes of Downton Abbey.

I researched graphic design principles of novel covers.

I asked God to help me not doubt.

I know some say it’s important to be expectant. To decide things are going to work out a certain way… I’m not there. And I’m not sure if my expectations are real or true.  I need to focus on not doubting.

Yesterday we were supposed to find out if a  spec home would go on the market. The contract fell through on the other buyer’s end. We were hoping to go up to Casper today to see the house and start paperwork to secure it.

This house is a deal.

Ideal.

Similar to what we have, but brand new and not a single swath of duct tape in sight!

Under budget.

Next to a river with bike and walking trails.

I would be content there.

The seller and real estate agent are giving that other buyer every chance to save their contract. Now, it will be end of business day, Friday before we know anything. At best, there is a 50/50 chance things would work out for us.

In the shower, I struggled with how to pray about it. What if the other people were praying to get that house? What if they are trusting God to come through for them? After all, the house is build to their specs. Not mine. How can I pray for that house to be mine?

I can’t.

I have to let it go.

Soap in my eyes, I told  God that if getting a contract on their current home and getting into that house would draw them closer to Him, then they should have that house. John and I will have to trust Him for another one.

And that is hard.

Because it would mean more suspension.

More waiting.

More wondering

As time ticks forward.

 

WTB? (What the Blog?)

Twisted face

I get all twisted up trying to figure this stuff out!

I’m not sure what I expected to happen when my book finally went into print – when I finally “made it” as an author, meaning I could hold up a book and point to my name.

I knew I would not rise to J.K. Rowling status.

I knew selling books would be hard.

But not this hard.

I’ve read a heap of articles on the web about marketing. About how I need to market myself over my product, find ways to be helpful to readers in order to engage them.

But after reading all that I am left wondering what in the world I have to offer? What do I have to say that people will find useful? Encouraging? Helpful?

There are a bajillion writing blogs out there. With much more expertise than I have.

Cooking? Um… no. People have almost died from things that came from my kitchen.

Decorating? Never been able to afford to make my house look nice. Some garbage dumps are better organized.

Parenting? Ubiquitous. And many, many good ones.

The list goes on. You get the point. So. What do I do? What kind of things are you, dear reader, interested in? For those of you know know me, what do I have to offer? If anything?

Let me know. Reply through the “contact me” page or comment on social media. I can’t figure out how to turn on my comments. Grrr.