Monday, February 23, 2009

When You Finally Know

You know how people ask children and teenagers, "What do you want to be when you grow up?" I always had answers back then – scientist, pilot, writer. But once I hit the age when you're supposed to have some direction, the choices were not so clear. And since then I've spent decades saying, "I still don't know what I want to be when I grow up."

Margaret Rome signing Real Estate the Rome Way

The other night I realized that I finally DO know.
I want to be what I am now. I want to be the one setting up the signing table, schmoozing with the fans, and helping authors make that connection with their readers. I want to be the one with the camera, roaming the room and taking pictures as the author talks with customers and signs their books. I want to be the one they mention in the acknowledgments because I've helped them make a particular dream come true.

It's only taken mumbledy-teen years, but it finally happened. I know what I want to be when I grow up!

(I still don't want to actually grow up…but that's another story.)

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Girls' Night Out…Redefined!

That's what we're calling it. Sure there will be the usual "girl" things like fashions and makeup and cool stuff to buy. But salsa dancing? Belly dancing?! And how about learning to make the perfect Kir Royale cocktail? (Not sure what that is, but I know it has champagne in it and I intend to learn about it.) This all sounds a bit indulgent, especially for these days, but it truly is for a very good cause. The beneficiaries of the March 6 event will be the women who receive scholarships for post-secondary education from the Business Women's Network of Howard County, MD.

The scholarship purpose is what got me involved in helping with the fundraiser. Now more than ever, women need help to improve their education and skill, no matter where they are in life. What I especially like about the BWN scholarship is that it's open to women who have been out of school for years as well as those just graduating high school. I love hearing the stories of women who have taken it upon themselves to get more education even if they are single moms and working either full- or part-time. You know they will be the ones who not only reach their educational goals, but also the ones who will then give back to their community.

So here I am putting together a Silloway Press tote bag full of books and chocolate, all of which I'd like to have for myself, to donate as a raffle prize. It's just one of more than a dozen great donated gifts that will be on display and waiting for their winners. (Creating the description cards for the display of raffle gifts is also giving me good experience with my new software nemesis, InDesign, so that's a nice side benefit.)

For further diversion there will be several vendors with wares to tempt, including Crystal's Jewelry – hand crafted with fine silver and beads by a remarkable young woman – and Erika's Ceramics, hand made and original designs. I expect that between these two and the other fine vendors, I'll be leaving the event with a lighter wallet and some wonderful treasures.

You're wondering why I haven't stressed when and where? OK, here it is:

Friday, March 6, 2009 - 5:30 to 8:30 p.m.

Student Services Building, Howard Community College in Columbia, MD

Why not keep it simple and go to the BWN site right now and register? For only $45 you get heavy hors d'oeuvres, two glasses of wine, that Kir Royale, an opportunity to win some great gifts, door prizes, and plenty of fun and networking. And remember, it's for a great cause – education for women.

See you there!

Friday, February 13, 2009


I'm not a superstitious person. Black cats make me call, "Here, kitty, kitty." I walk under ladders if they are between me and where I'm going. Friday the 13th is no big deal – one of my nephews was born on a Friday the 13th and he's a great guy. No rabbit ever lost a foot for me. So why is there so much stuff hanging around my work area?

My talismans are all within view and easy reach as I work. There is comfort in their familiarity. Each piece has a reason for being here, even if it's only that I liked it at some time and just haven't gotten around to moving it since.

On my desk lamp alone there are:

  • One yellow sticky with two horoscopes I liked
  • a bit of ribbon in the burgundy, green, and gold colors I chose for my website, tied around the lamp pole with a "gold" skeleton key dangling from it and a blue jay feather stuck in the knot
  • a mini-cow with magnetic feet that keep it wrapped around the swing arm
  • a bendable skeleton about 5" long that I picked up at the Malice Domestic mystery convention a few years ago, also hanging from the swing arm
  • a small dream catcher that came with a donation solicitation
  • and a small plush elephant, also with magnetic feet, wraps himself (herself?) around the pole at its base.

On the other end of the desk, clustered around the phone, are the red lacquer cup that holds my fountain pens, the Cumberland Rum Flavoured Butter crock from Fortnum & Mason (souvenir of a 1973 trip to London) that holds pens and highlighters, the hand-thrown stoneware mug from the League of New Hampshire Craftsmen store in Center Sandwich, NH. Nearby is one of my favorite gifts – an intricate wire mesh and glass bead rattle that looks like a sorceress' ice cream cone. Hand crafted and a gift from my best friend, it's always close at hand.

Don't worry – I'm not going to go into all the things that are near and in view but not on my desk – photos, quotes, magnets, etc. The point is that I don't think of myself as superstitious, yet I surround myself with familiar things throughout my workday. It's a human thing to want familiarity; I can imagine that early humans had favorite items – skins of animals they had killed, pointed stones, and other tools they crafted. How many of us had a favorite bear or blanket that went everywhere with us as toddlers? For that matter, how many have a favorite mug or a lucky shirt/tie/shoes/outfit that we wear to those important events?

What's the point? Just that we should be careful about laughing at the superstitions of other days and other people. We're rational, logical, modern people today, but the creatures who wondered at the magic and mystery of fire still live within us. I happen to think that's a good thing.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

That's My Bag

Many companies buy promotional items and gifts for clients, I know. I've often wondered whether they could track an increase in business back to the investment they made in magnets or calendars. And for a long time I've resisted buying anything more than business cards because I couldn't see the benefit.

But that has changed now. The trigger was a combination of two events that I wanted to support - both organizations are raising money for scholarships – but at the same time I wanted to promote by business. They both also have a silent auction. Ah ha! Finally I could see a reason to invest in a promotional item. But what?

The first criterion was it had to be something I would like to have myself. Second, it had to be of good quality. Third, it had to be something that people would actually use in a way that others would see. Fourth, it had to have a logical connection to my business. (There are wonderful key chains and calculators, but what do they have to do with books???). Oh, and it had to display my name clearly.

Thinking about those silent auctions I started with the idea of a basket for book lovers. Wait! Why not a Book Lover's Bag? Yes, that was it. A nice canvas bag with dark green handles to match my website, a pocket on the outside, and my logo on the pocket.

I picked them up today, and only wish I had done this sooner. They are just right. (Kira also approves, as you see.) And in a couple of weeks I'll be filling two of them with books for writers and readers, gourmet hot chocolate mix, a cozy lap robe, and a large bar of dark chocolate. (Didn't I say it had to be something I'd like to have?) They will go to raise money for the Baltimore-Washington Corridor Chamber of Congress and the Business Women's Network of Howard County. I hope the people who win the auctions will enjoy the bags and their contents as I enjoy knowing I've helped deserving students of all ages get a college education.