Monday, January 25, 2010

The Past Blasts Back

Or, alternatively, Ego Goeth Before A Blog.

This . . .

requires some back story.

So, this summer, I finally broke down and joined facebook. (Or is it Facebook? The tab in Google Chrome is upper case, but the facebook logo is lower case. What's an English major to do?) I'm friends with my family, with several authors I've met, just about everyone in my hometown, and, just for good measure, a few complete strangers. I like catching up with old friends. I'm a real out-of-mind, out-of-sight kind of girl, but facebook brings people back into line-of-sight for me.

So when my best friend from high school, Amy Short, showed up on facebook a few months after I did, I was ecstatic. For a long, occasionally tumultuous time in my life (as high school often is), Amy was one of the few people who ever 'got' me. I was glad we found each other again.

Right until she did this to me.

Oh, Amy, why? Why?

Just kidding. Let's review, shall we?

It's hard to get past the glasses, I know. They are whomping HUGE. But dig in a little deeper, okay? If you look carefully, you'll note that I'm wearing an Army-green-but-not-actual-Army-issue jacket over a men's striped, button-up shirt. This was normal for me back in the day, when I would only wear a skirt on special occasions and carried a wallet in my back pocket. That, my friends, is the textbook definition of 'tomboy.'

Yes. I know. You and the rest of the high school all had the same thought. (Which, for the record, is not correct. Wasn't then, isn't now. I just have no fashion sense, as you might have gathered from the recent blogs obsessing on what to wear to conferences.) So, as you can see, I've tried my clueless best to 'girl' up this outfit. Note the stunning long strand of fake pearls just peeking out from the collar, and no, your eyes do not deceive you. That's an ear cuff dangling off the right ear.

Yes. Ear Cuff. What are you looking at?

Oh. That.

This is just . . . not an improvement. That's Amy standing next to me, making me look all bad. She's totally smoking hot (even by today's standards) and I look like I'm late for tea at the old folk's home. And yes. I did wear this to homecoming. It was a dress, so it counted. My husband--the love of my life--literally burst out laughing when he saw this picture and then wondered why people didn't schedule some sort of intervention. Stacy and Clinton were busy that year. I think this was 1994.

I must have been overtly fond of those pearls, because there they are again. At least they belong with this dress, unlike the waterproof men's watch I'm wearing. I don't even want to think about the shoes. Oh, the horror. The horror. And I think we can all come to agreement that, based on this photo, I was aware I needed concealer, but I had no idea how to use it. Like nearly all make-up.

Nothing like a blast from the past to make you feel old. This is, hands down, the best picture Amy's seen fit to post of me yet. (Another good friend of ours, Kelly, is in the middle.) I was quite tall for our high school, and yet, when I look at this, two thoughts come to mind. 1) Red is not my color, and 2) Wow. Only one chin!

Ah, the memories.

She's posted more, some not half bad, some the basis for future lawsuits. If you're my friend on facebook, you can come gawk whenever you want. (Please, be nice. This is all in good fun.)

All of this leads me to several inescapable conclusions:

1. High school sucked, but best friends made it tolerable.
2. Joining facebook (Facebook?) was worth it.
3. I was much, much thinner in high school.
4. My hair was super long, too.
and, perhaps most importantly,
5. I dress a hell of a lot better now.

I hope.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010


Yes. There is no coherency to today's post.

For example:

Yes. That's a dog--a yawning dog--in a laundry basket. Somehow, the three-legged wiener dog--whose three legs are all of 2 3/4 inches long to begin with--managed to get into the laundry basket all by himself. Warm-from-the-dryer blankets will do that, though. Guard your baskets carefully. Wiener dogs may be lurking.

Which has nothing to do with my continual obsession with What Not To Wear As A Cowgirl:

So, this is pretty good, right? My Fashion Stylist vetted the skirt; the belt over the shirt works, doesn't it?

Do Cowgirls wear pantyhose? Tights? Leg warmers? Anything? Because I've got to tell you, the high that day was 34 degrees, and I was cold. Not to mention my legs are not exactly things of tanned, toned beauty. Oh, the sacrifices I make for fashion. Hopefully, San Fran will not be that cold.

I also have this:

I swear, if I show up with a camera at work tomorrow, I think the Lovely Mary will scream or something.

Anyway, I think if I'm going to wear the brown corduroy jacket, I'll work with either a white or bright-colored shirt. But otherwise, I think this is workable.

Wait, that was almost coherent.

Ah, that's better.

Let's see that again, shall we?

Yes. You are looking at a snowman three times the size of the real men who made him. He's across the street from my house. As we speak, I am sitting in my office and watching people drive down the street, slam on the breaks, back up, and occasionally get out and take pictures. His garbage can hat and most of his bricks have fallen off, but this snowman isn't going anywhere anytime soon. This is no mere boy's snowman. This is a real man's snowman. And speaking of real men...

Holy Moly. It was 28 degrees out, and Mr. Carhartt Overalls there was busting out those guns in a big way. Those arms will be making an appearance in my next book, I know that much. It takes a whole lot of muscles to move that much damn snow. And a forklift.

Notice the dogs:

Jake (modeling a stunning, custom-made, hand-knit sweater) is sort of okay with strange men who have awesome biceps. Gater, on the other hand, is considering attacking. You haven't heard a dog bark until you've heard a half-beagle howl in attack mode. Really. It's almost like the sonic bark from that movie Bolt. It shatters my ears every time.

And, finally, for those of you who actually managed to hold on through all this randomness, I've updated my website, here, to include the blurb on the book I'm almost done writing. Yes. I'm almost done with another book. This one is called Mystic Cowboy. I hope you like it!

So, tune in next week, when perhaps a little more organization will have returned to my life.

Or not.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

A . . . Cowgirl?


Whaddya think? I have some problems with it, as a whole.

First, the hat. I mean, I know I have a huge head, but man oh man, there is nothing like a cowboy hat to make that sucker look the size of Pluto. Not quite planet-size, but still damn big.

Remember, this is my father's hat. My father's. On him, it was not planetoid-sized. But I'm something of a more delicate flower. And, as such, I have not yet developed the gumption to wear the hat out in public. Plus, the hat is snug. I have no doubts that it would stay firmly in place if I were to take off at top galloping speed on a horse. But if I were to take off the hat, like at a restaurant? Major, super, colossal hat-hair. Not good.

And the belt? Lord, I need help with the belt situation. See, I'm a woman of many hips and muchas thighs. What those health-conscious people like to refer to as a 'pear.' (Tangent: I married a cinnamon stick, the third, under-discussed, food-shaped body type. Holding out hope the boy is more cinnamon-y than pear-ish. So far, so good.)

Anyway, back to the belt. What this pear-ness means is that, when I have a belt on and things tucked in, I'm looking a little lumpy. The tucked-in shirt always blouses up, muffin-like, erasing whatever I've got that passes for a waist. So, as you can see, I try the not-tucked-semi-tucked look here. The success of this is, well, mitigated, don't you think? I'm open to suggestions on how to resolve this issue. Anything short of plastic surgery, which is not in my current budget.

The long shot is better. The jeans are pretty good, don't you think?

These photos are courtesy the Lovely Mary. She took them at work for me, because there's something about a small editorial office that says Fridays is Casual Cowboy Day, don't you think?

The image thing is becoming a pressing issue. In less than a month, I will go to the San Francisco Writers Conference. I will talk to editors and other authors and, of course, my agent, because my agency is holding the whole thing. And when I tell people I write New Westerns, I need them to believe it--not even a flicker of a "Really? Huh," to cross their minds. I need to own my look by then, because otherwise, I'm just playing dress-up and that's just silly.

So let me know what you think. Keep it clean and positive, please. I'm plenty neurotic all by myself.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Cowgirl UP!

In today's modern era, what does it take to be a Real Cowgirl?

Beyond the obvious. Sure, it's a heck of a lot easier to be a Real Cowgirl if one is in possession of any combination of the following:

1. A Horse (preferably with a western saddle)
2. Large Tracts of Real Estate west of the Mississippi River, especially those that are edged by miles and miles of barbed wire fences.
3. Cattle
4. A Pick-Up Truck (and not one of those mutant poser ones with a opalescent ivory finish that's never earned its mud flaps, either. A *real* truck. Gun rack optional.) As an alternative, a Suburban is the only allowable SUV, and it better have a damn hitch on it.
And, of course, the clincher in the deal:
5. A Cowboy (bonus points if he says "Ma'am" with a tip of his hat to your mother every time he sees her.)

If you have more than two of those things, you are fully licensed to say things like "I'm fixin' to brand some cattle" or "Let's RIDE" and if anyone even thinks of smirking at you, you get to kick them in the shins with your cowgirl boots (authentic manure optional).

Alas, there may come a point when some amongst us long to be a Real Cowgirl but meet exactly none of the prerequisite Cowgirl requirements.

Alas. I long to be a Real Cowgirl. And I got nothing.

I used to be able to fudge the requirements. I grew up on a tract of real estate west of the Mississippi River. True, it was only 8 acres in the middle of a heavily wooded forest and had minimal fencing, but it was, in fact, land in the West. I didn't own a horse, it's true, but I mucked stables and groomed horses for some wonderful women who lived on the other side of the valley for the whole entirety of my teen-aged years. They paid me in peanuts and horseback rides. I rode English dressage, true, but I also rode Western and bareback (although these days, my inner thighs weep at the thought.) That, to me, was close enough to being a Real Cowgirl that I wore cowboy boots in public, on and off, for several years before Garth Brooks hit it big with all his friends in low places.

No more. I live on the east of the muddy Mississippi now. I haven't been on a horse since my honeymoon. I married an accountant. (But at least he grew up on a farm. He's got some street cred.) The largest beast I own weighs 15 pounds and only has three legs. (Although Gater is taller, he technically weighs less. Jake's got that dachshund barrel chest.) For Heaven's sake, I drive a Prius.

In other words, there is nothing--and I mean nothing--about me that is any part of a Real Cowgirl. The best I could do was some modestly lovely turquoise jewelery. That's it.

Which is, in my opinion, sort of a problem. I write New Western romance novels. Novels that prominently feature a real cowboy/girl as a hero/ine. Why would anyone want to read New Western books by a non-cowgirl? Wouldn't that be like listening to my grandmother do a hockey play-by-play?

So it's not that I want to be a Real Cowgirl (although I do). I need to be one.

So I'm Cowgirling Up. Fake it until I make it, baby!

It started with the hat.

It fills me with great shame to admit that this hat is, in fact, my father's hat, purchased almost 20 years ago on a family vacation out west. (He also bought boots, but those didn't fit me.) Yes. My head is the same size as my father's head. I'm not sure why this strikes me as a personal failure of femininity, but it does. Bigtime.

Anyway, the hat fit, and he gave it to me. Phase one in Cowgirling Up: Complete.

But here's the thing. I didn't have anything else. And I'm pretty sure that, whilst a Cowgirl could wear boots without a hat (see any Miley Cyrus video for proof), a Real Cowgirl does not wear a hat without boots. Like it would match my Birkenstock sandals, anyway.

Finally, after combing the Internet, bugging our local western wear store incessantly, and wondering why cowgirls all have such narrow feet, I found a pair of cowboy boots that fit.

Yes, I said cowboy. Not cowgirl. A girl's got to do what a girl's got to do. It's still got cow in the title, right? And my Fashion Stylist (aka my sister Leah) said the stitching was 'purty' enough.

Making progress now! Phase two complete!

But I needed some more 'purty.' After all, I've got a man's hat and men's boots. Time for Phase Three: Accessories.

Phase Three, I love you. And our love affair will continue . . . Oops. I digress.

First, a hatband:

Christmas present from my Gram. Thanks, Gram!

Then, the belt.

Christmas present from my mom and dad. Thanks, guys!

Jeans? Check.

Christmas present from my dogs. I'd thank them if they would understand it.

Hell, I wear jeans all the time anyway. And these even had 'bootcut' in the description. Yes, I know. They aren't Wrangler. They are a Mall Brand. But I got news for you. I'm, ahem, a whole lot of woman to love, being slightly taller and, um, wider than the average woman. I had to go with best fit, okay? These came in tall. And trust me, men's jeans would NOT work in this situation.

Add in a nice top with some pin tucking (look it up!), and now we're cooking.

Another gift from my folks. They're wonderful folks.

I'll admit, the top is plain. Some of the shirts I covet at my local western wear store are, um, bold. Flashy, even. It appears Real Cowgirls all have love affairs with Phase Three. I'm taking this one step at a time. All in due time, Rhinestones. All in due time.

And finally, necklaces.

Necklace picked out by my Fashion Stylist. Earrings, get this, Actually Picked Out By ME.

Real Cowgirl Transformation: Complete!

So, tune in next week, when I will have planned far enough ahead to actually put the whole outfit together AND have my husband take a picture of it for me BEFORE he leaves for work on blogging day.

After all, even a Real Cowgirl knows the value of a little tease.

Now. Anybody got a horse I can borrow?