Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Wine, Women, and Ladybugs

This last Saturday I went to the annual Christmas party for my local RWA chapter, the Tampa Area Romance Authors (TARA) at the St. Petersburg Yacht Club, which is almost an hour's drive from where I live. Mr. Lucky drove me all the way out there, and after the party, all the way back. Why? Because that party is probably the only time all year that I drink alcohol.

This is partly because the special care and feeding of my Baby Bear, and the constant vigilance he requires, demand that I keep a clear head and a sober disposition at all times. That and I married a teetotaler for whom I also gave up smoking when we became engaged--but there is NO WAY Mr. Lucky will ever get me to give up coffee.

As a rule, I'm not a very outgoing person. I always tell people not to be fooled by my writings, which would strongly suggest otherwise. One glass of wine, however, will make me very sociable. I drank two on Saturday. I will leave it to my TARA sisters to say how I behaved, but I think I managed to stay off the tables and the top of the Christmas tree.

Fellow TARAn Vicki Lane does an excellent job on her blog explaining our ornament exchange and the drawing for our annual Book Challenge--which I won last year, and congratulations to Vicki's critique partner, Laurie Kapkowski, who won this year! And thank you, Vicki, for the clever bookmarks!

This was the first year I brought an ornament that was fought over and stolen multiple times. It was a large, faux Faberge egg to represent a historical romance I wrote years ago, that is set in St. Petersburg, Russia in the 1890's. Apparently the fake eggs are as highly prized as the real ones. I also included a box of chocolates and a signed copy of True Pretenses in my gift bag.

The always funny, exuberant, and bling-flinging Kathy Carmichael brought one of those fancy holiday tins that usually contain candy or cookies, but instead contained earrings that looked like those striped peppermint candies so popular this time of year. They even look sugar coated, all glittery and frosty, as if she picked them out of the snow--which I know she didn't, because we're in Florida. She offered them to all of us, and I noticed Erica Ridley wasted no time donning hers. Thanks, Kathy!

Wendi Christner gave me a wonderful surprise: A glass ladybug. At last month's TARA meeting, we'd been talking about our personal superstitions and the crazy, quirky things we do to conjure good luck. I told the story of how not one, but two ladybugs landed on me one day. I'd heard that ladybugs were supposed to be lucky, so I wondered if that was a sign something good was about to happen to me. Sure enough, Mr. Lucky proposed marriage to me the very next day--and I've believed in the luck of ladybugs ever since.

Fast forward fifteen years to 2002. We celebrated our wedding anniversary, and Mr. Lucky surprised me with a ladybug pin made of gold and crystals. "Maybe it'll help you sell a book," he said. Shortly thereafter, he was shipped overseas--and while he was gone, I sold True Pretenses.

Then last year, I forgot to remove the pin from my dress and it went through the laundry and fell apart. I'm very upset with myself for that. I still have the pieces, and can't help wondering if that's why I've been in such a rut writing-wise since then.

I'm hoping Wendi's beautiful gift will help change that. I'm so touched she remembered the story, and made this thoughtful gesture. Thanks again, Wendi.

I'm starting to see all sorts of signs that I might finally be getting out of that rut, and the ladybug is part of it. Even Mr. Lucky mentioned recently that he had a dream that I sold a book to a certain publisher whose name I haven't mentioned in months, but I would love to be published by. "It was a Cinderella type story," my husband said.

I love Cinderella, but if that's the next story I write, then she's going to have to be a very special Cinderella, because I don't want any more "pumpkins" in the form of unsaleable manuscripts rotting under my bed.

I have lots to think about--and lots to write.

Speaking of lots, did anyone notice I made lots of links? Let's hope they all work!


Vicki said...

The party was so much fun and you were as always a blast. No, not on the tables or top of the tree. :)

I missed seeing the earrings. :( but I'm sure they were adorable.

The links came through just fine.

Vicki said...

Oh, and I love the ladybug story. I didn't know that one.

Erica Ridley said...

Hi Karen! This was my first year, too, to bring a gift that was stolen and fought over. (Phew! Personal mark of achievement.)

I didn't know the ladybug story either. Very cool, although I'm sorry to hear it hit the wash. (Sounds like something I'd do. I'm still cleaning out blue bits from the bin because I sent through a white blouse with a pack of post-its in the breast pocket. *sigh*)

Yay for having lots to write! Here's to 2008!

Bill Clark said...

Sounds like a great party! Between your post and Vicki's and Erica's, one begins to feel as though one had been there in person (and oh! how one wishes one had been!)

Loved the ladybug stories. I always feel lucky when I see one, but have never started to track whatever actual felicitous life events ensue. One more thing for the to-do list!

Karen Lingefelt said...

Vicki, a person who didn't know any better would try to eat those earrings. They actually need a warning, though maybe the wires for putting thru ears should suffice.

Erica, great to see you there--AND your manuscript this time! ;-) Another thing about the pin going thru the wash--I'm always yelling at hubby about not emptying out his pockets before putting pants in the wash. Nothing like picking shredded bits of paper out of wet laundry. I hear you loud and clear with the post-its!

Bill, one wishes one had been there, too. We could always use more guys!

Wendi said...

Karen, I'm behind on my blog reading, and I just got to read this post tonight. What a wonderful recap you gave of our party. I felt like I was there again.

I'm so happy you love your ladybug. I hope she brings you luck in publishing and anywhere else you wish for it. You're a beautiful lady who never fails to make me laugh and who made me feel welcome in TARA from the very start.