Sunday, March 28, 2010

Riding Around in my Bun Warmer

MY HUSBAND AND I have never owned a "luxury car." Before we got married, Tom had a 10-year-old Volkswagen bug (only rolled once), and I had a 10-year-old Austin-Healey Sprite. As college students, we wanted to drive cars that were fun, cheap, and cool.

When we got married, we wanted a car that got good gas mileage, cost a reasonable amount, and was reliable. So we sold the sporty cars and got a Honda Civic. Very sensible.

When the babies came along, we traded "up" to a Honda Accord, with all the amenities offered in the 1970s, like manual roll-up/down windows, oil change lights, and a "handy dashboard coin box." Back then, things like air conditioning were high-priced luxuries we couldn't afford. We did, however, splurge on an AM radio.

When the kids got bigger, we bought the first in a line of VW Campers. We figured, why buy a station wagon or a minivan when we could get a stove, refrigerator, and two beds (for the price of our first house)? We loved those campers, despite several engine blowouts, because we could plug in a portable TV and VCR, and let the kids watch videos during the long drives to the grandparents' house. That was way before today's "in-car theater systems."

After driving a third camper for the past 13 years, I decided it was time for a new car. But this time, I wanted a "luxury car." At my certain age, I'd had enough of loud, drafty campers and teeny-tiny sports cars.This time, I wanted something comfortable. I wasn't just talking push-button windows, a Sirius sound system, and a built-in video monitor.

I wanted seat heaters. Bun toasters. Fanny warmers.

You don't get more luxurious than that.

We found the car of our dreams at a discount price, thanks to a massive sale by a downsizing company. The car, something called an SUV, had it all — the push-button windows (the driver can control all four!), a sound system that even plays CDs (which we don't buy any more, thanks to iTunes), and MY OWN air-conditioning controller (automatically set on "Hot Flash Relief").

The car also has a "step bar," which is great for small kids who can't reach the seats, (but we don't intend to let any children in this luxury car.) It has a folding "kayak carrier" in case we ever buy a kayak and head for the river. It has "cargo organizers," which are basically nylon bags to hold your trash. It has one of those "red buttons" you can push in an emergency (but mostly push by accident, usually outside a funeral or church service).

And it has a TV/video screen so I can go in the back and watch a George Clooney movie while my husband drives.

Most of all, it's got seat heaters. That has got to be the most decadent, nonessential accessory ever made for a car. Yep, it's the perfect car for growing old, driving too slow, and forgetting to turn off the blinker.

Unfortunately, it's not fuel efficient, doesn't fit into parking spaces, and isn't good for the planet, so I feel too guilty to drive it.

But on a cold morning, I sit in the seat, pretend I'm driving to Palm Springs, and heat my rear.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Blogging on a Blog Tour

THANKS TO THE PROLIFERATION of blog sites on the Internet, I'm on a "Blog Tour" with my new book. Two months ago I'd never heard of a blog tour. Now I'm an expert at virtual visiting.

Blog tours are becoming standing operating procedure when an author has a new book published. It's nothing like the old fashioned book tour. For that I had to cold call some far-off bookstores, ask if I could come and talk about my book, and then try to find my way home from Fresno, Modesto or Palo Alto when my GPS died.

On the old fashioned book tour, I had to wear clothes, bring bribes in the form of cookies and bookmarks, and sit at a table watching readers buy Stephanie Meyer's books by the armload.

An old-fashioned book tour is expensive, too, what with the cost of gas, a GPS, cookies and clothes, not to mention time consuming — a long drive, a two-hour "event" and an extra-long drive back after getting lost.

I would be exhausted by the time I arrived home, my cheeks were cramped from all that smiling (and sitting, if you get my drift), and my arms ached from hauling still full cartons of books.

Now it's perfectly clear to me why blog tours are the way to go. Making an appearance as a guest on popular blog sites related to my genre couldn't be easier. There is no traveling long distances, no hauling heavy books, no baking cookies. I don't even have to wear clothes if I don't want to.

All I did was send out a dozen queries to my favorite sites, like, and, and ask if I might "stop by." To my amazement, they all responded positively to my request, and I found myself with blog stops every other day for nearly a month.

Along with my queries, I sent a list of possible topics related to my new book, such as "How to Plan Your Own Killer Party," "How to Survive an Old-Fashioned Book Tour" and "How to do Research for Your Romance Scene."

Some sites chose a topic from my list, while some sites had specific topics for me to choose from, such as "Please include chocolate recipes." Others just wanted Q & A interviews, and the rest said I could write whatever I wanted. How cool was that.

Another blogger recommended that I stockpile a bunch of articles ahead of time, but I'm more of a deadline writer. I jotted the dozen or so dates on the calendar, and then wrote each blog while lounging on my couch, listening to music. I never got lost while traveling the entire country. I got to eat all my own cookies. And I could wear my PJs (or not) all day long if I wanted to.

When my articles went "up" on the Internet sites, I dropped by throughout the day to see if there were any comments, and responded to each of them, feeling as if I'd made some new friends.

Thanks to blog tours, I may never leave home again.
Or get dressed.