SPACIOUS SPACES

Spacious Spaces by Historical Romance Author & Artist Gail Ingis

I was fortunate to be a blogging guest for Susan Hanniford Crowley, of Nights of Passion. Susan gave me permission to reblog my post.

MCP Gail Ingis-3 Color Large Revised

Today I am writing about the real tale of Rork and Leila, and also of spaces built and used by artists. As an artist myself, I know spacious spaces are prized—like lofts and two-story high areas—where we can paint massive canvases.

Tenth Street Studio image

“The Tenth Street Studio, 51 West 10th Street between Fifth and Sixth Avenues in New York City, on the island of Manhattan, was designed by Richard Morris Hunt, and built for artists to have high-ceiling spacious spaces to create their art.

“The story goes–I discovered an amazing work of art where I curate art, Lockwood-Bierstadts studio 10th streetMathews Mansion Museum in Norwalk, Connecticut, a huge painting, Domes of Yosemite, that once hung in the rotunda of the mansion, commissioned by Mr. Lockwood, was painted by Albert Bierstadt in this Tenth Street Studio, a place of importance in my book, INDIGO SKY. This is actually where Albert (Rork) Bierstadt first met Rosalie (Leila) Osborn Ludlow when she and her husband, Fitz Hugh Ludlow, visited the studios for the first time. It was here they viewed Bierstadt’s work. Ludlow was impressed with Bierstadt’s work and wrote several articles in Harper’s, Atlantic monthly, and Frank Leslie’s Weekly, spreading the word of his talent and his art.  Ludlow and Bierstadt developed a relationship that brought them together often and united them as they traveled to Yosemite. Plan was for Bierstadt to sketch while Ludlow journaled. At some point within a four-year period, Bierstadt became enamored with Rosalie. A romance ensued, followed by a divorce from Ludlow, then a marriage to Bierstadt. I was shocked, (Did those things happen back then?) by the entire goings on, and had to write a book, I had to tell the story. Although INDIGO SKY is fiction, it is a historic romantic adventure, inspired by Bierstadt’s Domes of Yosemite, and his life.

Bierstadts studio 2“Brief history about this place: The Tenth Street Studio Building, constructed in New York City in 1857, was the first modern facility designed solely to serve the needs of artists. It became the center of the New York art world for the remainder of the nineteenth century.

“The building helped to make Greenwich Village central to the arts in New York City, drawing artists from all over the country to work, exhibit, and sell their art. These studios were occupied by Winslow Homer and many artists of the Hudson River School, including Frederic Church, Lockwood de Forest and Albert Bierstadt.

“In 1920, in order to forestall a commercial takeover, the building was purchased by a group of artists. From that time forward, a number of New York City artists rented studio space in the building. Hats off to artists that are always on hand to save broken down architectural beauties.

“In 1942 the building’s basement became the meeting place for the Bombshell Artists Group, an alliance of 60 modernist painters and sculptors, many who had studios in the building. Its long history dates from 1857 to 1956, when it was razed to make way for an apartment building. In 2010, a penthouse apartment in the newly constructed apartment building at 45 West 10th Street was purchased by the actress, Julia Roberts.”

Courtesy of Wikipedia https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tenth_Street_Studio_Building

INDIGO SKY AMAZON REVIEW BY SUMMER LEA, 5-STAR:

VICTORIAN AMERICA COMES ALIVE THROUGH AUTHOR’S VIVID WRITING

INDIGO SKY is the poignant tale of a spirited young married woman, Leila, who faces a difficult decision:  live constrained by the rules and expectations of her Victorian society, or follow her heart to happiness.  Her husband (a drug addict) has betrayed her; her waspish mother seeks to dominate her; and the only person who truly makes her feel alive is forbidden territory: Rork Millburn, the handsome artist who heroically saves her life. I felt deeply for Leila’s desperate plight, and I cheered for her courageous determination to live as a free spirit in an age when female non-conformists were cruelly shunned by society — or brutally repressed by their disapproving relatives.

Like the hero in this story, the author, Gail Ingis, is an artist, making her a connoisseur of visual detail.  Throughout INDIGO SKY, she literally paints with words.  For instance, the Catskill Mountains come alive in all their breathtaking glory through Ingis’s gift of vivid verbal description. If you enjoy immersing yourself in historical detail, you will thoroughly enjoy Ingis’s writing.

Back Cover:

indigoSky-Soulmate 505_505x825 (2)In a whirlwind romance, a lovely New York socialite marries a fêted, debonair author. But beneath the charm is a cheating husband addicted to hasheesh. Her dream marriage turns sour and the simplicity of her life runs amok when a handsome stranger, her husband’s business partner, threatens her staunch loyalty to her wayward husband. When she faces the ugly truth about her marriage, her need to finalize her divorce sends her on mad chase across the wilds of nineteenth century America with a handsome stranger—she learns hard lessons of murder, kidnapping and more that almost destroy her.

Webpage with sign up and art & author websites: http://www.gailingis.com

Amazon Author Page with updates and trailer: http://amzn.to/1K4GVQA

Amazon Buy Link: http://amzn.to/29NYE5w

graphics3Formats

INDIGO SKY IS AN E-Book, and Print Book now available on Amazon and Barnes and Noble. AudioBook coming shortly.
Find Gail with these links:

indigoSky-Soulmate 505_505x825 (2)  INDIGO SKY | “A Triumphant Tale of Courage.” Get this one!” 5-Star

Gail Ingis, Author and Visual Artist | gailingisclaus@gmail.com | Website | Artist Page | Amazon | Facebook | Goodreads | Twitter | Trailer | B&N

Amazon Author Page:  http://amzn.to/1K4GVQA

Amazon Buy Link: http://amzn.to/29NYE5w

Artist Page:     http://artist.gailingis.com/blog/

Barnes and Noble: http://bit.ly/2aBfjvQ

Facebook:       https://www.facebook.com/gail.ingis

Goodreads:     http://bit.ly/29Pem1S

Trailer:            http://bit.ly/29xUJ1H

Twitter:           http://twitter.com/gailingis

Website:         http://www.gailingis.com

Do you want to meet Gail? This is a wonderful art reception and booksigning invitation! Here’s your chance!

Cyclone, Oh What a Ride 12x24 Oil

Cyclone, Oh What a Ride 12×24 Oil

Gail Ingis is exhibiting 38 works of Coney Island, Thursday, September 8th 5:30-7:30pm. You are invited to her art bash at Lockwood-Mathews Mansion Museum. 295 West Avenue, Norwalk, CT 06850, 203-838-9799 extension 4 to RSVP. A ten dollar donation is requested. Live band, refreshments and a dance demo are included in the donation.

The exhibition will be up until September 30th.

Thank you Gail, for gracing the pages of Nights of Passion. Remember, everyone, this is an event you don’t want to miss!

-Susan
Susan Hanniford Crowley, Amazon Kindle Bestselling Author of Vampire Romance
www.susanhannifordcrowley.com
Where love burns eternal and whispers in the dark.

Posted in Soul Mate Publishing | 2 Comments

Using What the Microsoft Gods Have Given You

CreativityOne of my favorite writing-related activities has to be creating promo memes for my books. It’s a wonderful way to jump-start the creativity when it’s slowed to a stutter or ground to a halt. The very act of creating something fun, informative, and useful always revs my brain and gets me back on track.

And the beauty of it is … you don’t need expensive software to create an attractive, share-worthy meme. All you need is what’s right there in your Microsoft Office suite … namely Powerpoint. Not as fancy as Publisher or other creative software, it gets the job done just as easily with equally beautiful results.

Earlier this year, I put together an ad for The Romance Writer’s Report (RWR) entirely in Powerpoint. The ad/graphics turned out great, both on the computer and in print. I’ve done the same for ads in online e-Mags with excellent results.

The first step in the process is the most important. Most magazines, either online or print, require the materials to be at least 300 dpi (aka dots per inch). The standard dpi output for Powerpoint is 96. Nowhere near what you need for a quality product. There are other programs on your computer that can change the dpi of a finished meme/ad. However, while skewing the output, they can also skew the image making it fuzzy and unusable. Your safest bet is to manually change your computer’s dpi settings.

The thought of messing with any of the standard settings on my computer scared the crap out of me so I went to my favorite source for step-by-step video instructions, namely Youtube!

Here is what you need to do in order to change your output:

  1. Exit all Windows-based programs.
  2. Click Start, and then click Run.
  3. In the Open box, type regedit, and then click OK.
  4. Locate one of the following registry subkeys, depending on the version of PowerPoint that you’re using:

Instruction MemeFor PowerPoint 2013 under the “office” folder, choose 15.0\PowerPoint\Options

For PowerPoint 2010 under the “office” folder, choose 14.0\PowerPoint\Options

For PowerPoint2007 under the “office” folder, choose 12.0 \PowerPoint\Options

For PowerPoint2003 under the “office” folder, choose 11.0 \PowerPoint\Options

  1. Click the Options subkey, point to New on the Edit menu, and then click DWORD Value.
  2. Type ExportBitmapResolution, and then press Enter.
  3. Make sure that ExportBitmapResolution is selected, and then click Modify on the Edit menu.
  4. In the Edit DWORD Value dialog box, click Decimal.
  5. In the Value databox, type 300.
  6. Click OK.
  7. On the File menu, click Exit to exit Registry Editor.

You are now ready to go to Powerpoint to create your meme or ad as you would any other presentation. Once created, you want to save as a picture (.jpeg, .tif, .gif, .png). You will be prompted to save entire folder or “this slide only”. My recommendation is that you create no more than one slide at a time, so “this slide only” will be your default. You’ll also want to save your worksheet in the event you want to go back later and make changes (e.g., add buy links once they’re available) and use to create a new/updated meme.

Cover Reveal MemeI often create memes to advertise upcoming books either before I have my cover, or in lieu of a cover reveal. Such is the case with my Egyptian-inspired time travel, Eye of the Pharaoh coming out on October 19th from Soul Mate Publishing.

Prior to my upcoming September 15th, cover reveal, I’ve created three different memes using aspects from both the cover and the text which I happily spread across my social media. I even created this teaser meme to recruit bloggers/authors to assist with the cover reveal.

I guess it’s obvious by now that I love creating memes!

One of the other reasons I stick to Powerpoint for these promotional memes is time management. I’ve had the fancy programs before and, quite truthfully, they’re fun to play with. So much so, I often find myself reluctant to leave. With Powerpoint, it’s easy to get in and get out without the urge to dawdle.

I hope this post has given you some ideas for creating your own promotional materials. If you have any specific questions, please either post them below or feel free to contact me directly at romwriter96@gmail.com.

Until my next stint on the SMP Blog, writers keep writing. Readers keep reading…you are why we do what we do!

Nancy

Posted in Soul Mate Publishing | 7 Comments

Singing the Literary Songs – Elle Hill

computer musicA week ago, I completed a poetry half-marathon. A full marathon asked poor, abused poets to pen a poem an hour for twenty-four hours. Wimps like me who appreciate a comfy night’s sleep could opt for a half-marathon, which demanded one poem an hour for only twelve hours. So, by the end of my stint, I became the proud mama of twelve poem babies.

Since then, I have become a poetry fiend. I pen quick limericks in elevators, wax poetic in blog posts, jot down freestyle verse during lunch. Heck, during a series of endless meetings last week, I wrote pages of poetry bemoaning the uncomfortable, molded-plastic, stadium seating into which the administrators had shoved us poor instructors.

Here’s a haiku I wrote while shifting every five minutes in order to restore circulation to my legs.

Metal-toothed plastic 
Bites my ample derriere.
Classroom seating sucks.

In addition to actually writing more lately, I’ve also found myself pondering the musicality of poetry and, by extension, prose. How do I know when a line or sentence should end? What blend of long and short sounds feels best? How can words, lines, paragraphs and stanzas shape the structure, use, and rhythm of the message?

I’m sure technical words exist to explain the flow, beat, and meter of poetry and prose. I don’t have a lot of formal training in writing and lack access to that vocabulary. All I can say is that poems and scenes in novels have a tempo to them, and words are the written notes that beat it out. I feel the music of the piece, the longs and the shorts, the tense staccatos or the flowing legatos. In this way, poems are songs and novels symphonies.

Writing appeals to me because it so deftly straddles lines between structure and rules and sheer, off-the-cuff inspiration and artistry. Many rules exist about, for example, punctuation, capitalization, and object/subject use, but much of the beauty of writing lies in the spaces in between the rules where creativity, rhythm, tactility, and improvisation live.

Many of us who write, I’m sure, also draw, paint, bake, sing, craft, or play a musical instrument. As writers, we are technical geniuses (claim it, baby!), wielding our vocabularies, knowledge of sentence structure, and punctuation savvy. As a mere twelve hours of coffee-slurping and keyboard pounding reminded me, however, we are also magnificent artists that spin, paint, sing, and dance the music and imagery to life within those technical boundaries. 

Posted in Excerpts from Elle!, Soul Mate Publishing | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment

A Critique Group, an Author’s Best Friend

The best and most rewarding way to improve your manuscript is to become part of a critique group. I wish I’d heeded this advice or even knew such a thing existed when I first started writing my labors of love. I didn’t have this crucial support and my writing suffered for it. I didn’t know it at the time, but I was stumbling in the dark blindfolded. Oh, yes, I had editors of all shapes and sizes, but even an array of professional editors can’t match the feedback you receive when a true book lover, reader and fellow author takes 20-25 pages of your latest and greatest and reads it with a discerning eye. Nothing compares to it.

In the past, I’d tried a few friends out as beta readers, but let’s face it, a professional writer sees the flaws in a Nano-second, whereas your friends and family aren’t trained to see the flaws. Not to mention that they love you, and often as not, laud your efforts no matter what you put on the page. As they say no pain, no gain.

When you have good critique partners you get the right kind of feedback. The discerning eye will see errors in content, plot, direction, pacing, likability of your characters, POV, choppiness, info-dump, dull dialogue, and too much back story. Those errors stick out like thorns on a rose bush to someone who writes on a daily basis. Where they may not see the problems in their own work, they sure as hell see them in yours. An unbiased reader isn’t in love with your words the way you are. The result is, hopefully, a better book that flows and builds steadily to a climax, leaving the reader wanting more. A story that is easy to understand, one that a reader can relate to and lose themselves in. A book that entertains by driving the events forward with action and becoming what we all seek, a real page turner.

Prior to my finding my small cadre of critique partners my experience was one of working in a vacuum without that all important feedback. I was adamant that I would be losing precious writing time if I began to socially interact with other writers. However, when I met Cherry Adair at the RT Booklovers Convention in Dallas, she took me to church. I’d signed up for a two-day writing workshop with Cherry prior to the convention’s start. One of the secrets she shared, was that she was a participant of a writer’s group in Seattle in which they read each other’s work and critiqued each other’s work. It dawned on me that if a New York Times bestselling author considered a writing critique group to be important, then I was definitely missing the boat. I made up my mind to find a similar group in Los Angeles.

After years of struggling in a void, I finally joined my local RWA group LARA. There I met numerous authors, some published and others striving to publish. At the meetings, I met both PRO and PAN members who were on the same path as me. It was an eye-opening experience. Soon I was shepherded by my fellow Soul Mate published author Susan J. Berger writing as Susan B. James, into an exploratory get-together of authors seeking to form critique groups. I wanted to be part of Susan’s group due to the fact that I admired her brilliance and her writing. Happily, that is exactly what happened. We ended up being three authors who all write in different genres, which makes our critiques very interesting. We made a commitment to meet once a month and critique each other’s current WIP. We decided 20-25 pages would be a doable commitment, and so it began. Since then we’ve added another member to our small cabal of authors, who lucky for us, is also an editor. You might think that 20-25 pages is not much to come up with every three weeks (we now meet every three weeks) but it’s surprising how successful the formula is. During our 3-4 hour meet-up, each member goes over with a fine toothed comb the other author’s work. We take the time from our busy writing schedules and our hectic lives to critique and encourage. It is incredibly helpful. I, myself, have had to rewrite the beginning of my next novel based on the feedback. What I thought was perfect was far from it. After the meeting, we email the pages with the corrections to each other and then the really hard work begins. I spent 20 hours addressing the questions, suggestions, and input that resulted from our latest meeting. What emerged was a much more cogent, entertaining, provoking, and interesting read. My generous friend/authors even take the time to read over the changes and provide feedback a second time. I am grateful for my fellow authors time and efforts in making my manuscript better in every aspect and I know they too are grateful for the time and effort I give their work.

Take my advice and find yourself a group of talented authors on this difficult journey of authorship. Help each other, improve your skills, and hone your talent. Your generosity of spirit and encouragement won’t go unappreciated or without benefit. You won’t regret the input or the friendship that results.

ONE MORE TIME IS NOT ENOUGH (3)

Romantic/Suspenseful/Sexy

 

Posted in Soul Mate Publishing | 11 Comments

Top Five Cryptid Television shows

Top 5 Cryptid Television Shows

Tempting The Light is the first novel in my L.A.M.P.S. (Legends and Myth Police Squad) series that features hunky secret agents who find true love while hunting and slaying dangerous Cryptids.

What is a Cryptid? A Cryptid is a creature that has no scientific proof that it exists. Therefore, they are considered legends, myths, folklore, or extinct. The study of these animals and plants is called Cryptozoology. There are several television shows that are about Cryptids.

Abby with wings 4

Here are my top 5 Cryptid Television shows

  • Fact or Faked– This show aired for two years on the SyFy Channel starting in 2010. A team of video and stunt professionals debunked video footage of mysterious creatures and ghosts. You can still catch reruns on Syfy. The great thing about this show was most of the time they could prove the video was faked.
  • Cryptid Swamp Beast- This show aired on the History Channel in 2014. This was a crazy show. It was more of a drama chase set in the Bayou. The predator lurked in the swamps while the police find the RouGarou’s victims. The show was entertaining but it did get gory and violent sometimes.
  • Destination Truth – Hosted by Josh Gates aired on the Syfy Channel. Josh was amusing and funny while they hunted cryptids in other countries. They still air reruns on the Syfy Channel.
  • Monsters and Mysteries in America- This show is still on Destination America. It usually showcases three cryptids per episode and they recreate witness encounters.
  • Mountain Monsters- This show has to be the most entertaining. Six mountain men or hillbillies chase monsters through the woods. It’s set up as a reality show but each show has the same format. They interview witnesses, build a trap, and chase something through the woods. Each hunter has a specific job such as, tracker, trap builder, caller, head of security, researcher, and founder. They have a spinoff called the Alaska Monsters. Both build traps to catch the beasts but never succeed. Instead they become the hunted.

 

There you have it, my top 5 favorite Cryptid TV shows. Have you ever watched any of these shows? Did I miss any? Please comment below.

 

I also finished my book trailer for Tempting The Light. Click on the link below to watch.

Tempting The Light Book Trailer

Bonnie Gill

Amazon Author photo

Bonnie Gill grew up in the suburbs right outside Chicago. As a child she loved making up ghost stories at night to scare her sisters and friends.

She writes Paranormal Romance with a twist of humor. When she isn’t writing you can find her on a haunted tour, volunteering at pet rescues, or digging around in her fairy garden waiting for fairies to show. She’s a member of Romance Writers of America, the Fantasy, Futuristic, & Paranormal chapter and the Windy City chapter.

She lives in Northern Illinois with her three rescue dogs, a big fat cat, and her ever patient boyfriend who laughs at all her goofy jokes.

Posted in Soul Mate Publishing | Leave a comment

The Dreaded “M” Word: Part II

Marketing Tips for Authors: Goodreadsm-1150411_1280

Last week we talked about Facebook marketing for authors—how it’s important to become a presence, a person that people want to know and like. Not just an author trying to secure email addresses or sell their next book.

This week I’d like to talk about Goodreads. Now, at first glance, it might seem to the unsuspecting newbie author that Goodreads is the perfect place to advertise your books and scout out new fans. After all, it is a gathering place for readers. girl-148866_640But author, beware. Goodreads frowns on any sort of solicitation on their site unless it’s within a group specifically designated for promotion. And believe me, Goodreads readers will not waste any time reminding you of the rules!

I made this mistake last year when my first release came out from Soul Mate. I was so excited and wanted to blast the word out everywhere. Goodreads seemed like the perfect place, right? So I joined some groups dedicated to the particular genre my book fit into, and started slipping comments into the discussion threads: Just wanted to let everyone know, if you like paranormal romance, you’ll love my new release…

Well, I had several members of the group email me privately to let me know this was a no-no. Along with the moderator, who messaged me publicly to tell me the same thing. How embarrassed was I? Lots!

Since then, I have purchased a nifty little book by Frances Caballo called The Author’s Guide to Goodreads. Although quite basic and shorter than I expected, this guide was concise, with specific examples of how not to use Goodreads. But even more useful was the author’s outline, at the end of the book, on how to promote your titles on Goodreads in an acceptable, positive way. She even provides a sort of timeline in planning for a new release.

Caballo’s main message is: if you’re going to participate in Goodreads, you have to read way more than you write. You must become an active participant in reader’s groups, adding book reviews frequently. As she states, you must “indicate that you value reading as much as you do selling your books.”

tree-200795_640Just like any other social network, in order for Goodreads to work for you, you have to be social. Join groups in genres you like to read, post reviews of books you’ve read, and start or join discussions about those books. Once people start to connect with you, and realize you share their love of reading, they become much more likely to “notice” when you post on your author page that you have a new release coming out. I repeat: you post on your author page, not in the group discussions. If you have not yet set up an author page on Goodreads, get busy and do this right away! You can find out how by scrolling down to the bottom of your profile page, or any main page, and clicking on Author Program.

Other ways Caballo discusses for making the most of Goodreads are blog posts, adding quotes about reading as well as from your favorite books (not your own), and posting what you’re currently reading. And then there are Goodreads Giveaways.

I have run giveaways, some multiple times, for three of my published novels. At the present, you cannot give away eBooks, only paperbacks—but rumor has it that option in coming and is in beta testing mode right now. The only catch is that Goodreads is going to charge you, the author, to give away your own eBooks. So I’m not sure whether it will be more economical than giving away paperbacks + shipping them.

My giveaways did generate interest in my books—when a reader enters a giveaway, they usually also place it on their “to-read” list. I do believe that a percentage of the hundreds who entered (962 entered for one giveaway!) actually did purchase books if they did not win, since there was a spike in sales in the days immediately following the end of the giveaway. I have also garnered a few reviews, though again, Goodreads strictly forbids the author from asking or pressuring the winner to leave a review.

You don’t have to give away 50-100 books per event, contrary to what Goodreads “Best Practices” recommends. My research indicates that even if you offer only one to three books in a giveaway, as long as you give it enough time to create a buzz (they recommend a month), the response is impressive. They provide you with an HTML code to paste into your website and blog, which produces a nice “Enter Here” button. And of course, you should spread the word about your giveaway on other social media sites, like Facebook and Twitter.arrow-964733_640

Just be careful about where you commit to send the winner’s book. Media mail here in the U.S. for a paperback is only a little more than 3 dollars, but when a reader from the UK won my book in the last giveaway, it cost me $25.50 just for postage! Unfortunately, this will prevent me from including other countries in the giveaway in the future.

And, just like any other social media, involvement is going to cost you time—precious writing time, or time you could spend marketing your books in other ways. But remember, Goodreads was purchased by Amazon in 2013. If you become popular on Goodreads, it may well spill over to exposure on Amazon. So although I have not yet invested enough of my time to reap many benefits from my Goodreads membership, I have high hopes that, eventually, I will.

Next time we’ll look at LibraryThing, a site I am still trying to get the hang of, but one that has gotten my books—in audiobook format—into the hands of readers halfway across the globe. Unlike Goodreads, LibraryThing does allow eBooks, as well as audiobooks, in their giveaways. Stay tuned.

~~~

 

Posted in Marketing, Networking, Social Media, Soul Mate Publishing, Writing | Tagged | 2 Comments

Experience as a writer’s collector’s item

By Mandi Benet

restaurant photo from pexels.com

Since romance writers are meant to know everything about romance, we’re often asked about the worst date we ever had. I’ve never answered the question because no one can take that much humiliation in public, but bad (and good) dates are great fodder for writing (isn’t that great?!) and here’s one scene I wrote based on a bad date I had that I tried very hard to get out of. My friend Anne, who arranged it, would not back down, however. She said Dennis, a dentist, was all that.

All that what? He turned out to be bald and have bad breath, bad teeth and bad lines. Example: “Why don’t you drink? Are you an alcoholic?” (I’m not an alcoholic. I would just prefer a piece of chocolate cake.)

The next line: “How many times have you been in rehab?” (Not one.)

I managed to scurry away after an hour and a half. Not bad, considering. And I was able to use the time with Dennis as the basis for the following scene, a variation of which is in The Blasphemy Box, my 2013 novel in which fifty-year-old Maddy Nelson’s husband dumps her for his twenty-four-old personal assistant.

*

My friend Cameron could say what she wanted but since this was my first blind date in twenty years, I imagined the learning curve still might be steep. The day of the date dawned cold and foggy, of course, to match my mood, and by the time I arrived at the restaurant Café, a bistro kind of place with a long wooden bar and shiny brass fixtures, my stomach was roiling so much I nearly drove back home and inhaled the bottle of Pepcid sitting by my kitchen sink.

When I walk in, I see a man who fits the description Cameron had given me. He’s sitting at the bar surrounded by several waitresses. So that’s what Cameron meant when she said he was outgoing. He was indeed very good looking, in that preppy kind of way, with a full head of hair to boot, which at this age, by the way, was no minor consideration.

“Are you Gary?” I ask, sliding in between two of the waitresses.

Drink in hand, he wheels around on his stool to face me and then stands up. He’s about five feet three and his face is already flushed from booze.

“Jeez, yes, hi, you must be Maggie. Cameron didn’t tell me you were so tall.”

I want to say, “Cameron didn’t tell me you were so short.” But what I actually say is, “It’s Maddy.”

“Well,” he says, knocking back his drink, “Cameron said it was Maggie.”

I smile, wanting to tell him that a woman I’ve known since kindergarten probably knows my name better than a lush who’s never met, but I restrain myself. This is going south already, I think, but the image of an angry and disappointed Cameron persuades me to soldier on.

“Shall we sit over there, then?” Gary says. I nod. We sit down at a marble-topped bistro table in the bar area. The waitress comes over quickly.

“What are you drinking, hon?”

“Orange juice is fine.”

Gary looks puzzled. “Hmm.” He looks up at the waitress. “A screwdriver for me, then, and orange juice for the lady.”

The waitress heads off.

Just then, two twenty-something women walk in, dressed in tighter-than-right jeans and bra tops. Gary’s eyes bug out, but, to give him credit, he catches short his staring and turns sharply back toward Maddy.

“So you’re getting divorced,” he says.

“Yes. It’s almost final.”

“Bummer.”

“Cameron says you’re newly divorced.”

“Yep. My bitch of an ex-wife, who already took all my money, now wants more, if you can believe that.”

“I’m sorry,” I say. “The money part of divorce is very frustrating.”

“You bet it is.”

The waitress returns with the drinks. He quickly slurps his and starts listing everything he’s frustrated with in his life: his Presidio Heights neighbor, who is the reason Gary has crab grass and dandelions on his front lawn; his huge alimony payments to his most recent ex-wife, who he says looks like Kim Kardashian without the big butt; President Obama, who should go back to where he came from, which Gary seems to be suggesting is the Gorilla Age; and his patients, who balk at paying his huge fees.

“I went to school for years so I could charge those prices,” he says petulantly. “It’s unfair for people to complain about them.”

I sit across the table looking at him, nodding, smiling politely, wondering if he will ever show any semblance of knowing he’s on a date with a person other than himself.  And as Gary bleats on about how he thought the Middle East problem could be solved with the judicious dropping of an atom bomb, and how young black men should probably stay home more so white police officers wouldn’t be forced to shoot them dead, I think of all the laundry that needs doing.

“So,” Gary says then, “why don’t you drink?”

“I don’t really like the taste of alcohol too much, and it makes me sleepy.”

He looks skeptical.

“I’d rather have a piece of chocolate cake.”

Gary frowns. “You know sugar’s really bad for your teeth, don’t you? But no, really, are you in rehab or AA or something? Do you not drink because you’re an alcoholic?”

“No,” I say, “would you please excuse me?” and I get up and run as fast as I can toward the bathroom. Once in, I flatten myself against the wall and breathe deeply. How could Cameron fix me up with this cretin?

When I get back, Gary is chatting up our waitress, who is flicking her long blonde hair from side to side. I say, “I hope you will excuse me. I just got a text from the babysitter, and she said one of my twin boys is feeling poorly.”

“But if the babysitter’s there, why do you need to go home?” he asks. He’s slurring his words a bit from all that vodka.

“Because I am a mother and…”

“OK,” he says grudgingly.

I hold out my hand to shake his. “Thanks for the drink, and nice to meet you.”

“Same here,” he says. “I’ll call you.”

I just smile and leave as quickly as I can.

Soon after I get home, Cameron calls. “How did it go? He’s really good-looking, right? And rich!”

“Well, yes, all that is true, but he’s really not my type. We didn’t hit it off. ” I can feel Cameron reproaching me down the telephone line. “Too short?”

“No. Too drunk.”

“Too bad. He’s such a catch.”

Yes, I think. I’d have to catch him as he fell off his barstool.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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