February 23, 2009

Rainbow Bookfest, February 28th, 2009

Come see me! I'll be on the memoir panel
February 28th, 2009
Langston Hughes Performing Arts Center
104-17th Ave. South, Seattle, WA 98144
I'm going to release my new romance*, an eBook, at the Rainbow Bookfest on Saturday. Come pick up a copy at the special price of $6.00 (after Rainbow, I'll be charging $2.00 extra for S&H). This is one of my green projects for the year. I have one more planned, a compilation of good work done by Northwest writers. I plan to post this on our website: http://www.northwestauthors.com/ . Yes, we can, America!
Bears in the Hibiscus
Janelle Meraz Hooper
Harvest Joy

When Mary’s husband, Brian, decided to end their marriage, it didn’t take him long to pack. That was because he had already been leaving, piece by piece, for years. Most of his clothes were already on the yacht that belonged to his father’s timber company. He had never been the outdoorsy type, so they had no closets filled with tents and blue-speckled coffeepots to sort through like some divorcing Northwest couples did. When the end finally came, she didn’t cry a tear; all she felt was relief. As he rushed from room to room, opening closets and cupboards to make sure he hadn’t forgotten anything, Mary searched for parting words to mark the occasion. She found none. The best she could think of was a few hand gestures that she managed, with great effort, to keep to herself.
It was a hard adjustment for Mary and her daughter, Kate. Now, nearly two years later, they were comfortable on their own. It was a Sunday morning, and Mary was on her deck. The sun didn't have any real warmth to it yet, but the air was fresh and lightly scented with spring.
She savored her days off, even though she considered herself incredibly lucky to get a job in a literary field at her age. She still didn't know what made the publisher hire her. She’d never used her degree in journalism, and the world was full of writers. Almost all of them were younger and more qualified. It had to be that she and the publisher were both single mothers trying to survive in a new world that had, without notice, changed the rules about men going to work and women staying home to raise their kids, prune the camellias, and make the meatloaf.
At least, the timing was good. Her daughter, Kate, was in high school now, and Mary had baked her share of cookies for the PTA, served on the county’s charity boards, and worked on the state’s political campaigns. She was bored, and ready for some new challenges. Ready but unprepared. Although logic should have told her that her marriage would end someday, she hadn’t made any preparations for joining the workforce. Divorce found her with an empty closet, her nails a wreck from the camellias, and hair that hadn’t seen a good cut since she’d found a coupon in the library parking lot one rainy day.
Oh. And she was an emotional wreck that, for some reason, she was unable to overcome or hide. Other newly divorced women managed to put on a perky face, bravely go to the next singles’ party, and flirt until they dropped. Why couldn’t she? Twice, for days, she’d planned outfits to wear to singles’ events. When she got there, she looked around at the men oozing with so much confidence they hadn’t even bothered to change out of their faded polo shirts and wrinkled khaki pants. Each time, she’d made a quick break for the parking lot. She was not that needy. She would never be that needy. She’d become a nun first.
It had been a shock to be single again, and realize just how little her stock was worth in the dating market, now that she was no longer in her twenties. Once reality had set in, she was no longer surprised or hurt when her phone didn’t ring on Saturday night. She had become like the big moon snails on the beach at Hood Canal. Still soft on the inside, but tough as a geode on the outside. With a clear idea of what was likely, and what was not, she was finally moving on with her life.
Stretched out in the old plastic lounge chair on her deck, Mary forced herself to start a whole new train of thought. She closed her eyes to daydream about the imaginary man du jour. She had a lot of them. Some were serious. Some were funny. Some were short. Some were tall. But they all had one thing in common: they all adored her.
Today’s man was one of the best so far. They were on a yacht on Puget Sound on a starry night. She snuggled into her hair and imagined him, thin, late fortyish, and bright. Mary squirmed in her chair and smelled his cologne. His closeness was electric as he sat beside her on some cushions on the deck and handed her a glass of wine. Together they gazed at the stars. She smiled. In her mind, it was easy to create a perfect world with no nastiness, no late child-support checks, no ex-husband, and no intimidating in-laws.
This gorgeous, literate man was nuzzling her neck and the side of her face. Mary could feel the gentle bobbing of the boat beneath them. “I want to make love to you,” he whispered. Feeling no resistance, he pulled the cushions off the bench seats and made a comfortable spot for the two of them on the floor of the yacht and cradled Mary in his arms. He kissed her long and slow on the mouth and ran his fingers through her hair. His hand moved down her neck and easily found her breasts. He slipped his hand underneath her bottom as he pulled one of his legs over hers. His soft laughter surprised her, and she felt the warmth of it on her neck. Before she could ask him what he found that was amusing, he rolled over and looked at the starry sky, took a deep breath of night sea air and said, “You know, I got a bigger boat than I needed for one person just so I’d have comfortable sleeping quarters on board.”
“Is that funny?” Mary asked.
“No," he said, “what's funny is we're sprawled out on the deck like teenagers...let's go below...”
“I kind of like it here.”
“Me too, but there's not as much privacy on the deck as you might think. We're close to the traffic channel and the bigger yachts passing us have a clear view of us snuggled up on our cushions. Besides, I bought matching sheets and everything.” He pulled himself up off of the deck and headed toward the cabin.
“I'll turn down the bed and you join me when you're ready. Then he winked at her and added, “If you dare...I plan to have my way with you!”
The mood was broken when the dog next door started howling at a siren on a fire truck blocks away. Mary pulled herself up in her chair and pulled her sun hat down over her forehead. Oh, what was the use? So she was lonely. What else was new? At times like this, she forced herself to remember that she had been alone for years before her divorce. Days and weeks went by when she barely saw her husband. Even when he was home, it was only physically. His mind was off someplace else. At family events, Brian’s absences raised his parents’ eyebrows. Mary made excuses for him, but she, too, wondered what he was up to. Was he really working? She suspected not, but there was no way to prove it, short of hiring a private detective. Snooping on people wasn’t her style, so loneliness and suspicion seeped into her life, like the mold that worked its way into cracks in her bathroom tile. She much preferred the loneliness she was experiencing now that she was divorced. It was a more honest kind of alone, and it didn’t hurt nearly as much as when she was married and her empty bed refused to answer her question, “Where is he tonight? Who is he with?”
She reached for her coffee cup. It was empty. Great. No sex. No coffee. What's next, world chaos? No wait, we already have that, she reminded herself.
The synopsis for Bears in the Hibiscus is on the previous post.
Quote du jour:
"Be good and you will be lonesome." Mark Twain
(epigraph, Bears in the Hibiscus)
Psst! Republicans! Knock it off. we're watching you!

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