Mar 082017
 

“Building success with words takes investment. We wanted to create an atmosphere where that investment will begin or will expand.”

My friend and fellow writer Kathryn Lang chairs the inaugural Mountain Valley Writers Conference, an upcoming event in Guntersville. The event, for writers at all levels, will offer guidance on social media, digital marketing, independent publishing, freelancing, and self-promotion.

Kathryn writes fiction, hosts a talk show, and describes herself as a “professional encourager.” I once introduced her at a party as “my friend Kathryn, who crams rainbows down people’s throats for a living.” Heh. You can be sure she brings this same energy to this effort.

The MVWC is Thursday, March 23, and Friday, March 24, at the Lake Guntersville State Park Lodge. The conference fee includes all presentations, seminars, and meals for Thursday and Friday. More information about speakers and sessions is available here, and more details on writing contests are here.

 Posted by at 8:13 pm
Dec 142016
 

In 1999, my employer sent me to Atlanta for a one-day class. The training facility was in Buckhead, about a block from where there was a Swissôtel at the time. And that’s where I got to stay.

For several years now my position has been that when I am out of town and unhurried for dinner, I want to do something potentially memorable, and preferably particular to the locale. But with Swissôtel amenities (gigantic whirlpool tub, silk sheets) and a glass of Gentleman Jack waiting for me, I was less choosy. I was happy to get something in my tummy expeditiously, so I could get back to the room and float away.

Bennigan’s was walking distance, so I went there. I’d had a burger and a beer and was about to leave when I heard a woman say “what about Dr Pepper and Crown? How would that be?”

“You can’t mix Dr Pepper and Crown Royal,” I called, as I got up to go. Goof off a bit on the way out? Sure.

“And why not?” she called back at me, playfully defiant. I couldn’t see her yet, but she was louder, so I was walking toward her.

“Because Crown is so sweet all by itself, mostly,” I said, as she came into view. She was 25ish, with a teased shock of white blonde hair, a tiny white skirt, and a hot pink tight-knit top that just barely contained some of the biggest breasts I’d ever seen in person. She was sitting with a slender, well-dressed gentleman with a ponytail and a beard. Maybe he was 32 or 33.

I must have had quite a look on my face, because as soon as I got an eyeful of her she laughed genuinely and heartily—way beyond a giggle—and said “I think you’re coming to have a shot of Crown with us.”

And that is how I met Holly the stripper and her boyfriend Brett, who was also the director of security where she worked. (I’m sure they told me where this was; alas, this detail has perished.)

Wow. OK.

She was, of course, expertly flirtatious, and teased me a bit. “Go ahead and get a really good look,” she purred, leaning way over into my personal space and winking. Brett remained in good humor. I suppose if you’re going to date a stripper, you can’t really be the jealous type, can you?

The three of us talked, laughed, and drank until way after midnight. I didn’t know a damned thing about that world except what I’d seen on television, so it was educational too. Holly told me she usually took home about $5,000 a week (and even if she was doubling that for effect, she was still doing all right, yes?). Ever practical, I said “well I hope you’re being smart with it because you really can’t make this kind of living for very long.” She smiled and said “yeah, I have a great investment guy.” So there was a heartening detail.

What else? Her boss had fined her $100 earlier in the week for kissing a waitress. I said “huh? I’d love to see you kiss a waitress.” She laughed and said yeah, but some guys aren’t into it, and we’re not supposed to do that unless we’re sure. I asked Brett what he carried and he wouldn’t tell me specifically, though he confirmed he was wearing two sidearms. I asked him about his work at the club, and he said the place was nice enough that there usually wasn’t much for him to deal with beyond an occasional patron having too much to drink and getting a little grabby.

Holly wrote down and gave me her pager number—remember, this is 17 years ago—and invited me to come see her if/when I was in town again. I gave her a hug, shook Brett’s hand, and went back to my room.

Quite a headache the next morning in class, but I got a great memory for it.

(And yes, I told Lea the whole story at the time.)

 Posted by at 11:29 pm
Sep 212016
 

“What we should be doing is much simpler: Chilling the hell out before this gets even more insane than it has already.” – Katherine Timpf Indeed. Dear readers, we’re not, you and I, now or anytime soon, going to have an “honest conversation” about or “real look” at or talk about “social justice” for my alleged […]

 Posted by at 4:17 pm
Jul 062016
 

This is one of my favorite photographs. It’s a self-portrait of Tracy Caldwell Dyson aboard the International Space Station in 2010, two weeks before she came home. Tracy Caldwell Dyson, who would have so totally been my girlfriend except that we grew up on opposite sides of the country and did completely different things, has […]

 Posted by at 11:08 am

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