Author Archives: kimboykin
When I was making my bed yesterday, I kept hearing something like a branch hitting one of the windows–only there was no wind and no branch for that matter. Living in our house, stuff like that isn’t unusual, but since it was cleansed for good several months ago, my first thought was “They’re back.” So I ignored the noise and kept at it, but the noise kept at it too. I’d just finished arranging too many pillows on the bed when I gave up and looked at the window to see the culprit–an adult male blue bird.
My good friend and fellow author Anna Lee Huber (and fabulous 2013 RITA nominee in two categories) and I commiserate sometimes about how crazy this whole debut author thing is. One minute you’re soaring and the next minute you’ve looked at last week’s sales on Amazon’s Author Central and you’re plummeting to the ground.Then you’ll get another good review or an email or Facebook post from a happy reader, schedule a couple of book club appearances, or look at those darned sales again when you swore you wouldn’t and WALLAH! They’re up again. It’s hard to stay on an even keel in real life as it is, but throw in the complications and joys that come from a foray into creating and selling imaginary worlds and it’s next to impossible.
I stood there watching this tenacious little fellow I was sure was trying to tell me something, and then it hit me. The metaphor isn’t about me. The poor bird had nearly wracked himself silly trying to make his point and it wasn’t about luck or happiness.The point is that he keeps trying.
This past weekend, I had the privilege of attending the Romance Writers of America conference in Atlanta with 2000 other writers. Granted, I’m a women’s fiction author, but I enjoy the romance genre for a lot of reasons, but for the most part, I read for a satisfying ending. Not necessarily a guaranteed happily ever after, but an ending that reminds me ultimately all is well with the world or everything will eventually be well.
I think that persistent little blue bird was meant to remind you and me that whether you’re selling books in the marketplace or trying to sell your first novel to a traditional publisher, the only way any of us will find a satisfying ending is to keep fluttering our wings and believe that one day the window will open.
Here’s a SAD fact. I went looking for a prototype of the formidable Sarah Jane Farquhar, the protagonist’s BFF in my debut novel THE WISDOM OF HAIR and couldn’t find one. I put “blond plus sized woman” in the search engine and then “big beautiful woman” and a bunch of other combinations of these two trying to find SJF. What I got from thousands of clip art pics were photos of skinny, very pregnant women, unattractive grossly obese women, but no Sarah Jane Farquhar. I settled for this woman, who really ISN’T SJF in real life, and ask that you picture her forty or so pounds heavier.
Believe it or not, I had this same discussion with my editor, when Sara Jane was originally 80-90 pounds overweight. Leis, who is the size of a number two pencil suggested, “let’s make her 20-30 pounds overweight. Eighty or ninety pounds is just too much.” I asked her to picture a taller, drop dead gorgeous Melissa McCarthy, when that didn’t work, I negotiated and sadly, I settled for Sara Jane being 50-60 pounds overweight.
So why is this so sad? The fact is SJF is physically based on a wonderful woman I knew when I was a kid, Vaughn Hannah, who was so beautiful inside and out, she made your forget her size.
Miss Vaughn owned a salon; her hair and makeup were always perfect, and when she wasn’t wearing her uniform, she was always impeccably dressed. I loved her for a lot of reasons but mostly because she’d let me brush out her perfectly coiffed French twist, put makeup on her and then tissue it off with Merle Norman cold cream.
I think it would be really hard for Miss Vaughn, who was every bit as formidable as Sara Jane Farquhar, to thrive in the world today. We live in a time where size matters, where big isn’t considered beautiful. BUT that’s what I love about SJF, she transcends her size.
I was on a women’s fiction panel recently and was asked which character in The Wisdom of Hair was the most fun to write. Hands down, the answer is Sara Jane and I shared the story about the weight negotiation with my editor. There happened to be a man from NY in the crowd who runs a charity called for women with diabetes called Divabetic whose mantra I absolutely adore. GLAM MORE, FEAR LESS.
Max Szadek was thrilled to hear the story of my fight to keep Sara Jane big and beautiful. In his words, “You had me at Sara Jane Farquhar.” I’m not saying we should all gain a ton of weight, and neither is Divabetic. What we are saying is there ARE beautiful BIG women out there and it’s time we gave them their due.
By the way, check out my podcast interview on Divabetics from June 25, the link in below. I was on with Max and renown chef, Robert Lewis, aka The Happy Diabetic. It was great fun.
Even if it’s just for a day or a locking yourself in the bathroom for a couple of precious hours, everyone needs to get away. But summer is right around the corner and, to a lot of folks that means vacation time.
Anyone can come up with a gazillion places to go and things to do, but the focus of this prayer meeting is those precious minutes that can revive and often times save us from doing bodily harm to those we love and even those we don’t. So here are some creative mini-vacations to rejuvenate your or at least get you through the day. Some cost money and some don’t but all of them are guaranteed to get you through the day.
1. Massage is the best $50-75 per hour plus tip you will ever spend for a mini vacation. I’m not sure whether it’s the therapist’s actual hands on approach or just the fact that someone is focusing on taking away your stress for an hour, but this is at the top of the list for a reason. If you can’t afford a professional massage, even if you just slather some lotion on yourself and really work on your hands and feet, you will feel better, so much so that you might work the kinks out of your legs and lower back.
2. Music soothes the savage beast, even that stressed out beast in you who really just needs to stop. Listen. Give into the music. While a lot of people like to listen to classical music, some nice acoustic, or soulful jazz instrumentals for relaxation, I like to listen to music I grew up with, Van Morrison, The Eagles, Crosby Stills & Nash, Neil Young, of course. I think the music reminds me of a time when I had no idea of what stress really is.
3. Makeover yourself by locking the bathroom door and taking time to tend to you. Put a good facial on or mix one up ahead of time in the kitchen. Slather your wet hair with a good conditioner or something as simple as mayo, wrap your head in the towel and soak in a hot bath. Feel your body rise and fall as you connect with your breathing. And for God’s sake, don’t forget to pout the DO NOT DESTURB sign on the door.
4. Memoir anyone? Yes writing can be relaxing and writing YOURS story down is a way to trick your mind into remembering a lot of really good stuff and maybe some not-so-good stuff, but getting your story down can been both relaxing and healing.
5. Meditate your way to relaxation. With my ADHD, this one is tricky for me. A lot of times while I’m lying on my back, conscious of my breathing, with my mind completely clear, okay for me that’s not possible, I fall asleep. But that’s okay, your body knows what it needs and is ready to take you on that much needed vacation, even if it’s just for twenty minutes. Do this where you have some room to spread out, and just go with it. You’ll be amazed at how rejuvenated you feel.
Okay, these are just the M’s, but I’m hoping as you read this you’re committing to that mini-vacation right now. Maybe you’re way ahead of me and you’ve already poured the bubbles in the bath. Calgon, take us away!
While Charleston was voted the number one tourist destination in the WORLD by Conde Nast Magazine last year, there is more to see beyond the Holy City. We have a house on the Isle of Palms and today is the last day we’ll be here because the renters will have it all summer. There are SO many wonderful places to eat and things to see without crossing the Cooper river, I thought I’d give you a little taste.
Just across the connecter from the Isle of Palms is Old Mt. Pleasant. Now, this Lowcountry town has nomountains and is about as flat as you can get, but it is aptly named for it’s fine shops, restaurants andhomes that are every bit as charming as the Battery mansions. One of the more colorful establishments isThe Wando Fish Company, which is right on the docks of Shem Creek. They sell the freshest fish, shrimpand crabs around and they also have my FAVORITE sign in the whole world pictured here with the niceman who tried to give me a orange tabby with the four pounds of shrimp I bought for dinner.
Next door to The Wando Fish Company is The Wreck. Now the Wreck doesn’t look like much and it’s hardas hell to find, even with a GPS, they have some of the best and freshest seafood you will ever put in your mouth. But don’t go there expecting something fancy because the place has paper table cloths and the food is served on paper plates. However it’s been written up in every foodie magazine from Bon Appetit to Southern Living for it’s tasty seafood. My favorite part of the menu, other than the Charleston red rice, and jalapeno grit cake that comes with every meal, is the London Broil. Not because I’ve actually ordered it, I love the way it’s listed in the menu. LONDON BROIL- We are a seafood establishment and we do not claim any expertise in the cooking of beef. If you order it, it’s yours.
When you pull up in the Wreck’s parking lot, even after you’re having a hard time find a parking place because the place is packed with locals and lucky tourists who’ve found the joint, you’ll wonder if this is the right place because there’s no sign. Just a red welcoming door on a shack that looks like it’s falling down, but it’s not. Get out of your car. The view of the creek and the Cooper River bridge is beautiful, and the food is spectacular. You won’t be disappointed.
The Lowcountry is as good as it gets. Y’all come!
Pardon me while I write a little rant about Bambi and his family who has twins 85% of the time and NO natural predators (there are NOT enough coyotes) to keep them out of my flowers. I KNOW you’re convinced this winter will NEVER end, but it will soon and Bambi and his obnoxious family will be lining up at your landscaping like it’s an all-you-can-eat buffet.
And here’s another news flash, sure my bio says I have 126 rose bushes, but that was three years and many trips to Witherspoon Roses ago, still that doesn’t give deer the right to chow down on the roses or the rubeckia that is trying desperately to surface, which BTW is supposed to be DEER PROOF. Or the hibiscus we wintered and stick outside on the garage on sunny warmish days, which seems to have invisible EAT ME signs growing off it’s spindly branches. If Bambi and his brood are THIS hungry in March, when the hydrangeas and azaleas come along, they won’t stand a chance!
YOU TOO may have this problem, and since this blog is about food and writing, I’m going to share my special recipe to keep the deer away. THIS REALLY WORKS and depending on the amount of rain, lasts for about a month. But you have to watch you plants for nibbles, which means it’s time to re treat. Best of all, it doesn’t smell like dead people like some of the stuff you pay a fortune for at the garden center.
Now, if you have a deer problem, I know you’ve probably been advised by well-meaning souls to put out hair clippings or send your husband outside to mark his territory around your flower bed (which no matter how old they are, men really seem to enjoy,) but I can tell you from experience that doesn’t work. The only thing in ten years that has kept the deer nation out of my roses consistently is Deer Be Damned!
PS While this IS a miracle worker, I do NOT have a recipe for warmer weather, but I WISH I did. Here’s hoping spring is right around the corner! HAPPY GROWING!
DEER BE DAMNED SPRAY!
18 eggs Leave them out of the fridge for several days.
1 gallon of buttermilk. Leave it out of the fridge until it separates and the water is on top.
3 bottles of habanero sauce The cheap stuff in the Hispanic section (costs <$2)
Spreader Sticker or dish soap.
In a bucket with a lid, strain the pepper sauce. I pour the WATER only from the buttermilk through the strainer to make it go faster. You can also add water to the strainer until the particles that WILL clog your sprayer are separated out. Add the eggs and blend with a hand held blender or mixture. If you’re spraying roses and you use a different pepper sauce, MAKE SURE it doesn’t have any oil in it because it will discolor the foliage a little.
Put about 1/3 of the mixture in a 2 gallon sprayer with 1/4 t. of Spreader Sticker of some dish soap and fill with water and spray in the evening or morning when it has time to dry. ENJOY your flowers!