Monday, August 28, 2006

Giddy Delight

Patty here…

Being so new to this writing game, everything that happens fills me with giddy delight. I just received a copy of the latest Reader’s Digest Special Editions volume in which COVER YOUR ASSETS is included along with books by Jeffrey Archer, Nicholas Sparks, and Rosie Thomas.

At the end of the book they profiled me but also my Westie, PJ, the prototype for Tucker’s dog Muldoon. He’s handsome, eh?

Even more amazing than having my book condensed in a volume for the venerable Reader’s Digest is seeing how they edited the manuscript to fit their format. Impressive. Even more impressive is that I discovered a whole new career: Condenser. I don’t know about you, but my high school guidance counselor never told me about that one.

There are so many jobs out there that I never knew about or if I knew about them, I certainly never viewed them as realistic careers. Take writing for instance. I was always an avid reader, but I never imagined that I could write an entire book. The idea didn’t take form until I was in graduate school working toward a masters degree in business. Now I’m starting my fourth novel and still scratching my head in wonder. Sometimes we find our passion late in life. The hard part is finding it at all.

I began working when I was thirteen, and I’ve been at it ever since. The fact that I’ve had so many jobs has made me fearless about changing careers, mainly because I’m not big on regrets.

“No man ever said on his deathbed, ‘I wish I had spent more time at the office.’” –Anna Quindlen

“Success is often achieved by those who don’t know that failure is inevitable.” –Coco Chanel

“You may be disappointed if you fail, but you are doomed if you don’t try.” –Beverly Sills

A writer friend of mine, who is also a job gadabout, once suggested that we list all of our work experiences and compare notes. It turned into a pretty hilarious exercise. I won the goofy job contest with this one: Easter bunny at a children’s party. You haven’t lived until you’ve seen me in bunny feet.

Coincidentally, I'll soon be heading to Bouchercon, The World Mystery Convention in Madison, Wisconsin, where I'll be on a panel on Thursday, September 28, 2006 at 1:30 p.m. with Don Bruns, Barbara D'Amato, Chuck Zito and moderated by David J. Walker. The title? "But what I really wanted to do!" We'll each be talking about the wacky and wonderful non writing jobs we've held and how they figured into the plots of our books. And that's why I don’t regret working at any of those jobs. Each has provided rich soil for growing novel ideas.

So what’s your wackiest job ever?

p.s. Here are some shots of my trip to Maine

On the boat after many days without a shower. Be thankful this post isn’t scratch-and-sniff.

Castine, Maine

Relaxing at the Castine Yacht Club.

Boats anchored in Pulpit Harbor

Happy Monday!


  1. Patty, I can just picture you doing the Bunny Hop!

    I, too, have had a checkered employment history. My first job, at 14, was working for Dairy Queen. (They fell under intrastate versus interstate employment practices, so they got away with hiring us fourteen year-olds for $.25 an hour and all the ice cream we could eat.)

    The boss was a one-eyed man with a pirate eyepatch, and his favorite management technique was repetition of the phrase, "I'm keeping my eye on you."

    He also said "this is the only job you'll ever have where everyone who comes in actually wants to be here, and is happy to see you."

    He was wrong. It's also true at book signings.


  2. Patty, very cool about Reader's Digest . . . even better that you are actually able to enjoy the condensed version and not cry (as I probably would) over all the wonderful things they cut. As I brace for Hurricane Ernesto down here in Florida, I was wondering if tree trimmer is somewhere on your resume of odd jobs. If so, you could make a fortune here in about 48 hours!

  3. Louise, the story of your one-eyed boss is hysterical. Why oh why aren't you writing comic novels?

    And naked that James or is Paul visiting Florida again? Or Jackie on book tour? I was in a critique group for nine years and learned early on not to think that any of my words were too precious to cut. It was actually interesting to see what a neutral observer thought was nonessential prose.

    And just one word of advice about Ernesto. GET OUT OF TOWNNNNNNNN! When it's all over I'll come and trim trees. I need another entry on my resume. Stay safe...

  4. How did you like Maine? I actually grew up around the Castine area.

  5. Steve, lucky you! I loooooovvvvvve Maine. It's so beautiful and unspoiled. It features one picturesque town after another. Have you ever been to the general store in Port Clyde? It's like stepping back in time.

    A few years ago I was in New Harbor at Shaw's Wharf where they filmed Message in a Bottle with Kevin Costner. I was ordering lobster from the person at the counter. The conversation went something like this:

    Me: I'm from Los Angeles
    She: Why?
    Me: Because I can't live in Maine.
    She: Oh, that explains it then.

  6. Congrats, Patty, on the Reader's Digest edition! Isn't it fun to see it that way? SACRED COWS came out with a James Patterson and two other books in February. I was so impressed with the condensation, and if I hadn't known where it was cut, I wouldn't have noticed it!

    I cooked supper for the residents of a nursing home when I was in high school. I also had to clean up afterward and found many a pair of false teeth in water glasses. Figuring out whose were whose was challenging...

  7. Congrats to you, too, Karen. I was truly impressed that they cut or summarized in a way that didn't take away from the story.

    False Teeth in the Water Glass. Sounds like a great name for your memoir. But the experience of finding those choppers sounds like a big Eyew!

  8. There's always something about 'bunny slippers' or 'bunny feet' that never fails to make me smile. Ta, Patty, for sharing. :-D
    Congrats on your 'condensed' version of your book!
    I don't know about the wackiest job I've ever had - mine have all been pretty, and disappointingly so, mundane. But when I was in the airforce back in Australia, I got to drive a case full of champagne to my boss's residence out at Nelson's Bay - northern beach area of Port Macquarie, lots of blue sky and subtropical vegetation - in a windy, rattly old service jeep. It was absolute bliss - one of the best afternoons of my career.
    I nearly ran over a little honda car too once, whilst driving a big old wobbly ambulance...but that's another story.

  9. Marianne,

    The air force in Australia? That's hardly mundane. Sounds like a GREAT story. Hope you're busy writing your memoirs. I'll be first in line at your book launch party.

    Cheers! And thanks for joining in.

  10. We had Rosie in for a book signing in March, she's lovely. xx

  11. Glad to hear that, Mark. I'm looking forward to reading her book, even if it is the condensed version.

  12. Patty,
    It all seems pretty mundane to me, but friends are amazed and think the opposite. I'm still trying to sort that one out.
    In 1982 I joined the Airforce (RAAF) at 17 y.o. - rather green and a bit naive - and squashed ten years of growing up into two. There were some really cool times and some really awful ones - but that's what makes us who we become. I kinda wish I'd taken a few more photos, written a few more notes, or at least written a journal. :-D Yes, there are anecdotes but they'd take all night and a lot of coffee, cake and wine to tell, or a lot of long emails. The only fighter jet I went for a 'jolly' (ride) in was a two seat Macchi trainer piloted by one of our aircrew instructors: deer-in-the- spotlight-me threw up before we pulled any 'Gs'. Er, g-forces. My best flight was in WWII vintage Winjeel shore patrol plane - it had propellers instead of jets, and I got to fly it for awhile. Bliss.
    Oops. I'm drivelling... sorry.

    PS: My favourite uncle, Keith, who is ex-Navy from the Vietnam era, kept some of my RAAF friends spellbound till dawn the night of my 21st birthday party, telling stories of his Navy days. See how it goes? Mind you, he had a lot to tell. Some of it not pretty.

  13. Marianne, I'll provide the coffee, cake and wine. You provide the stories. Deal?

  14. Okay, Patty. What part of the USA do you live in again? I've just come back from my third trip to California in eight weeks. I live in Rhode Island. Sigh. Jetlag...
    If I supply the cake, it means I get to have a cooking binge. :-D Why does everyone think that cooking from scratch is so unusual over here? BTW, can we invite Jackie and Cornelia too?
    So, what to you want to know? :-D

  15. Of course we'll invite Jackie and Cornelia. And we want to know everything. Dish, girl!

  16. Patty:
    Okay, while I collect my thoughts - they practically kept me from sleep last night, thanks to this exchange :-D - I'll give you some links and my email address to start with. :-D
    Eulogy For a Dream