My whirlwind trip to Missouri is over. I made it home a couple of days before Thanksgiving, just in time to finish cleaning and shopping. This post is a recount of my fabulous Missouri trip.
I started out on Thursday, November 10, driving, and very thankful that I-29 was once again open. It had been closed due to the Missouri River flooding earlier in the year. Once I reached my destination, I couldn’t sleep. I was too excited about all the upcoming engagements that were planned. This would have been just fine, but I had an 8:40am on-air interview with Faune Riggin, a popular morning personality on KZIM out of Cape Girardeau, Missouri that I simply was not going to miss. It was incredibly kind of her to invite me on the show and I am truly grateful. I didn’t record the interview and can now only hope that no one could tell I was functioning on two hours of sleep. After the interview, Sherry and I did some running around. A friend of ours had to go to the ER so we stopped by to visit. We were disappointed Amy wouldn’t be joining us for an evening at the museum, but were also thrilled she was ok. The Monet Exhibit was fabulous; however, I cannot say the same for some of the works that were hung. Art truly is subjective. Monet’s water lilies were skillfully done with great thought and depth. However, I wouldn’t pay a nickel at a yard sale for Beckmann’s work and would not dare to rank him in the same class as Monet. But that is my opinion, like I said, art is subjective.
Back on course, the next morning I drove to Oasis Christian Bookstore in Farmington, Missouri for my first book signing. Once again, the folks there were terrifically supportive and helpful. I love kicking off book signings there! It’s like getting a warm hug on a cool day. After the signing, I had dinner with Sherry and Stephanie (my sister) at 12 West. Ross, our waiter was great, as was the food and dessert. I recommend the Gooey Butter Cake. They make it in-house and let me just tell you, it is delectable. If you are ever in the area stop in. You won’t be disappointed.
On Monday, it was an early drive to Piedmont, Missouri to speak at the AARP meeting and have another book signing at the public library. I was asked to speak about my grandma and how we spent the holidays since Torn Hearts was written in honor of her. This proved to be more difficult than I had expected. See, some of those in the audience were her friends and some were family. And we all loved her dearly. I got choked up a couple of times and had to stop for a minute. I would have shriveled inside with embarrassment had I not seen several others wiping their eyes. In addition to showing their warm hospitality and inviting me to their Thanksgiving lunch (which reminds me, I still didn’t get that Jell-O and Fruit recipe), I learned my grandma still has many that love and miss her as much as I do. It is going to be an honor to use this part of the country as the backdrop to my novels.
On Tuesday, I met with my cousin, Danny and his wife, Robyn to chitchat. They have the cutest, most loving kids! I loved holding Bryan, their youngest. He is such a happy baby. From there I met Debbie and Cathy at The Pig for lunch. Not only was this my first real job, it is somehow comforting to know some things don’t change. I met Debbie and Cathy there last year as well and now think we should just make it a tradition. It is great to catch-up and feel that sense of friendship that has stood the test of time. Not to mention pricking at Cathy’s subconscious, causing her to dream-up a great name for a hot spot in the sequel to Calling Me Home. Yes, Patterson, Missouri is going to get a bit livelier with a drive-in called The Smokin’ Hog. Thanks, Cathy! After I left Debbie and Cathy, I met up with Alan, a friend and former neighbor I hadn’t seen in years. We spent the next couple of hours talking about all that had happened over the years. I had forgotten how funny he was! The last time we had seen each other my oldest son was an infant and his oldest was in elementary. I hope the next time I’m down that way I’ll have the good privilege to meet the lovely lady with whom he is smitten. She is bound to be a terrific person. From there, I ventured over to my aunt and uncle’s house. It was dinnertime, after all. My aunt had made chicken and dumplings. They live in the house my grandma had and my grandma used to make chicken and dumplings when I would come down. I felt right at home, and if truth be told, I didn’t want to leave. This must be one of the reasons I want to live next door to them. J
The next morning it was back up HWY 67 to speak at Park Hills Elementary for my niece, Haley’s class. Mrs. Miller had brought in another class as well. I was nervous speaking to elementary students, I write love stories after all. What sort of questions would they ask? To answer that, they asked some well thought out questions. In the middle of speaking, the fire alarm sounded and a voice came across the PA informing us this WAS NOT a drill. Again, the students impressed me. They didn’t panic. They waited for the teachers to tell them what to do and they followed the instructions. Well done, guys and gals! Turns out the plumber set off the alarm while welding some pipes together and gave us all a memory. From the elementary school, I went to Park Hills Middle School to speak for the sixth grade class (my niece, Madison’s class). Both schools were starting a new writing assignment, so having an author speak was to motivate them in their own writing. I hope I succeeded in helping them. When I arrived, I didn’t think the group would be very large. Of course, I was thinking about my own grade school class size. It was a pleasant surprise to find I would be speaking to 175-180 students! The students were all well-behaved and asked solid questions. Some even asked me to write about their school in one of my books. It was such an honor to speak for the kids in Park Hills. You all rock! I hope I made my nieces proud and encouraged some young minds to put pen to paper and let their imaginations soar. My final stop for the day before heading back to my cousins’ house was a coffee shop where I met my father-in-law. After a short visit, I ventured back down HWY 67, making a quick detour to Green’s Flea Market where I purchased a much-needed, red cowboy hat.
For Thursday, I was up early and heading over to the Marble Hill Library to support an up-and-coming author of Christian fiction, Regina Tittel. I first met her last year at Oasis for a book signing I was having. She is such a sweetie! So much so, that I invited her to speak with me at the Mineral Area Writer’s Group that evening. I took my cousin, Ruby Jean with me to see her. It was nice having the company on the drive there and back. Afterwards, Ruby Jean and I had lunch and made copies of genealogy papers she had acquired over the years. The evening was spent with Cheryl and I driving to Desloge for the afore-mentioned engagement. It turned out to be a small group filled with friendly faces. The support and encouragement, as always, filled my heart with gratitude. Thanks, Robbie, Jennie and Cheryl! This event was the final work scheduled in my planner. Friday was for fun.
The plan was to sleep in, but alas, I was awaken at 5am by a friendly text message. The guilty party shall remain nameless. J I was glad to be up though. Instead, I readied and went to the store to gather ingredients to make my uncle an apple pie. It would serve to soothe him for what we planned to do to his yard later. I drove around some back roads and snapped a few pictures. Not as many as I had planned, but I hadn’t planned on hunters being where I wanted to go. Having dressed in dark jeans and a grey shirt, I had no business roaming around in the woods. After I heard the second shot go off, I stayed safely near my car. I did stop once more near a place I had liked as a kid, just off FF near Lake Wappapello. I debated on taking the chance to walk down the dirt path, but gunfire convinced me to stop being so thick-headed. Later, someone posted a picture on Facebook of a cougar or mountain lion dragging off a deer from near where I had stopped. Although the adventurous side of me says, it would have been nice to get some pictures of that cat, the practical side says, are you crazy? So, in the end, I went back to the house, fixed the pie and went to my uncle’s to wait for my sisters to come down.
That evening, Girl’s Night commenced. My sister’s, cousin, and I ventured to Poplar Bluff for dinner and a movie. On the drive back, we plotted to fork my uncle’s yard. And that is what we did. Three hundred or so forks later, his yard was the art of our mischievous hands. We cleaned it up of course, much later the next day. Come to think of it, Cheryl and I cleaned it up. It was a great time spent with family. It was the best finish to a busy week. I have missed my sisters. One, in more ways than most will understand. It is great to have both of them in my life again. I love all three of you ladies dearly!
So ends my crazy busy, ultimately gratifying week. I am blessed to meet many new faces and be reacquainted with others. This week left no doubt of the many blessing I had to be thankful for this year. Many thanks to all of you! For the next few months, I plan to cozy up by the fire and focus on writing the sequel to Calling Me Home.
I almost forgot to mention… I sold out of Calling Me Home while I was in Missouri! Thanks, Missouri! You rock, too!