Spreading Hugs (Original Post)

January 15, 2018

Some of you have told me you missed the first post I did some time back on “Spreading Hugs.”  So for you, I dug it out and am re-posting it here. The original post showed a photo of “The Wrong Wedding” and I’ve replaced it with my newest book, “The Wrong Groom.”  You’ll find a photo of “The Wrong Wedding” at the end.  Hope you enjoy the article and keep spreading those hugs!

“Good morning,

TheWrongGroom - copyI was just reading a message from someone who had read my latest book. They were telling me how they had needed a laugh and I had provided that for them. They also said, if they could, they would give me a hug, too, for brightening their day and a thought struck me. I would really like to be able to hug each and every person who has read my books! Wouldn’t that be great!

I would be a crying, blubbering idiot but I’d just like to hug each and every one of you because I know what you go through on a daily basis. The ups and downs of life get to us at times and there are those days we could all just use a hug.

Since I can’t be where each of you are, I had the idea of all of us identifying ourselves to each other out there. So here’s what I thought about at 2 a.m. this morning.

2Suppose each of us carries around our own copy of my book. Carry it face out so it’s easy to identify. Then, whenever you see someone with it, you don’t even have to say a word. Just walk up to that person and give them a hug! We’ll all know why. Hugs are definitely needed in today’s world. And who knows, someone who hasn’t read the book might stop you and ask a question. You might be just the person they need to survive their own hell of a day and you could be just the person to give them a hug or two.

IMG_2774I take copies wherever I go, and I try to leave copies in public places for others to find. I’ve left copies on airplanes, at restaurants, doctors’ offices, hospitals and as many places as I can because I know there are so many others out there who need to know they aren’t alone and who just might need a laugh or two. They need to know there is someone out there in this world who cares. My hope is that others will do the same. Now I know at this point in some people’s lives it’s not affordable. But, I’m hoping that when it is something you can afford to do, that you’ll purchase extra copies and give them out to someone who just might need to know they aren’t alone in their own private hell.

2ee81ad3f73d9e322b2b5f40ca7379a3--virtual-hug-big-hugsWouldn’t it be awesome to walk down the street, see someone walking toward you carrying a book you recognize and you both begin to smile as you hurry to get close enough to get a hug! Absolute awesomeness! Give them a hug!  Given them an extra hug and tell them it’s from Maggie!

TheWrongWedding-medium for webAnd, to anybody out there reading this who hasn’t read any of my books, who happens to need a hug, if you see someone carrying around any of my books, walk up and talk to them and you might just get the hug you need!” #spreadinghugs


Spreading Hugs

January 14, 2018

2013-04-19 01.00.59Today, I did something a little different than I usually do.  I’ve been stuck on a plot and sometimes, it just takes a little change in scenery to get unstuck.  That change of atmosphere helps stir the creative juices.  So, today, I packed up my laptop and went to a local coffee shop.  And guess what!  I got a hug!  What a great feeling and it was definitely a hug worth remembering!

Normally, I carry one of my books, inside my computer case, just in case I meet someone who wants to buy one.  I’ve done enough book signings around town that I occasionally run into someone who wants a copy for someone they know.

I was sitting there at a table out of the traffic flow, sipping my coffee and getting lost in my own little world of writing with no distractions – no phone ringing, no little doggie wanting to go outside, no laundry to do – you get the picture.

TheWrongGroom - copyPreviously, I had written a blog about “Spreading Hugs!” and how I had just read a message from someone who had read my book.  I thought about how I would really like to be able to hug each and every one of those people.  So, I came up with the idea of anyone who had read one of my books could identify ourselves to each other by carrying around a copy.  We could carry it face out so we could be easily identifiable. Then, whenever we saw someone with it, we could just walk up to that person and give them a hug!

I thought it would be awesome to walk down the street, see someone walking toward you carrying a book you recognize and you both begin to smile as you hurry to get close enough to get a hug!  Absolute awesomeness!  Today, I placed my book on the table, face up, so anyone walking by could see it if they chose to do so.  Then, I began my writing session.

5eca044f42607a2181fc02617af08365--snoopy-hug-peanuts-snoopyPeople walked by talking to each other and I continued to sit and write.  After about fifteen minutes, I had the feeling someone was watching me.  You know that feeling.  I’m sure you’ve had it at one time or another.  You just know someone is watching.  So, I casually glanced up from my computer screen and noticed a young lady, wiping off tables, glancing in my direction.  I smiled in her direction and went back to my work.  A few minutes later, I glanced up again.  She was still doing her job but continued to glance in my direction every once in a while.

Finally, she worked up enough courage to come over to my table and offered to take my tray.  I said sure and told her I appreciated her doing so.  I watched her eyes as she kept glancing down at the book laying there beside me laptop.  It took her another moment or two to find the courage to ask where I had purchased the book.  I explained to her I was the author of the book and if she had a moment or two to join me at my table I would tell her about it.  She pulled out the opposite chair and sat down.

I explained the plot line and why I had written the book and we talked for a bit.  I autographed the book and gave it to her.  I explained the idea of “Spreading Hugs” and that there were a lot of us out there spreading as many as we could and anytime she saw me from that point on, to be sure and collect a hug from me.

indexShe went back to her work and I went back to my writing.  Before her shift ended a few hours later, she managed to collect another hug.  Not only from me, but from another lady who walked into the coffee shop, carrying a book she now recognized.  This time, she was not shy.  She practically ran up to this lady and threw her arms around her.  The look of understanding on this woman’s face was priceless.  I saw the waitress point in my direction and moments later we were all three wrapped in an embrace.  Yes, spread a hug and you’ll get hugs in return.  #spreadinghugs

The Old Front Porch

December 17, 2017

13243908_572624809576089_8516657221579533912_oI grew up in the South.  One thing I remember very well was the old front porch.  Everyone had a porch of some sort.  Some were in the front.  Some were in the back and some went all the way around the house.  But no matter what kind you had, you could always find someone sitting on the porch.  Usually with some type of work in their hands – a big pan of green beans to break, purple hull peas to shell or a churn full of milk.  And there was always a big ol’ glass of sweet tea.

2013-01-13 04.06.00Anybody and everybody who stopped by sat on the porch.  They would amble up onto it, take a handful of those green beans and sit down in a vacant cane chair, if there was one, or sit on the steps and start breaking those beans without missing a beat of conversation.  The world’s problems were solved right there on that front porch or at least your neighbor’s problems were.  And everybody’s heart got blessed repeatedly.

Mornings you sat and listened to the birds sing and nights you listened to the cricket serenade.  Times were simpler back then.  You were taught to respect your elders and help your fellow man.

2013-01-13 04.13.56I learned a lot sitting on those front porches.  Things like “those who do not work shall not eat,” “do unto others as you would have done unto you,” “an honest days work for an honest days pay,” and many more.  When I grew up, I remembered my teaching and it served me well.

Stories were told about families and I learned about the relatives who came before me.  How they struggled and how they persevered.  There were the fun stories, too, of ghosts appearing in graveyards and pets who found their way home against insurmountable odds.  I’m sure those stories contributed to my love of writing.

12002872_614639088676325_1154290682625392594_nThere was rain on a tin roof, fish flopping in the creek and the ol’ hound dog howling at some critter he’d treed.

Yes, times were simpler on those ol’ porches.  I miss them.  What about you?


A Positive Attitude

September 30, 2017

10696440_10205112197867331_3579012955155885221_nIn reading some of the “positive attitude” books out there today, it seems they suggest doing a little mental exercise every morning and evening.  They suggest you visualize your life the way you intend for it to be.  In other words, see yourself as the successful person you want to become.  With that in mind, I set out to see myself as a New York Times Bestselling Author making my acceptance speech at the Romance Writers of America not only for one of the highest honors RWA bestows – the Lifetime Achievement Award (presented to a living author to recognize their significant contributions to the romance genre) – but for the RITA award also (the highest award of distinction which recognizes excellence in published romance books).

standing_ovationSo, I see myself walking out onto the stage to stand in front of the podium.  The conference attendees give a standing ovation complete with whistles, catcalls, hoots, hollers and a whole lot of yelling for five minutes and just as everyone begins to quiet down, it starts again.  Finally, though, I’m able to start my speech.

“First, let me say thank you for making me feel so special.  This is a moment I will never forget because I get to share it with all of you – my friends, my family and my fans.  Without you, I would not be here.  And that brings me to the second thing I want to talk about and that’s the “without you.”  Without each and every one of you, my lifelong dream of being a writer would never have come true.  My earliest memories consist of me lying on my parent’s front porch, making squiggles on brown paper bags and reading those squiggles to my dolls for those were the stories I created.

2013-03-25 06.09.26I was determined to be a writer and you helped me stay determined.  You were behind me all the way.  You cheered me on.  You bought my books and wrote reviews which helped me climb the success ladder.  That’s why I feel every single one of you should be up here on this stage with me.  We did this together.  WE DID THIS!  Not me.  WE.  I want to see each one of you reach your dream – whatever that dream is – I want to see you reach it.

So, right this very minute, decide your course in life.  Decide for yourself what your dream is.  I don’t care if you want to be a ditch digger.  There’s absolutely nothing wrong with that as long as you’re the best darn ditch digger you can be.  I don’t care if you want to be a doctor.  There’s absolutely nothing wrong with that as long as you’re the best darn doctor you can be.  Whatever it is, whatever that thing down deep inside of you, that thing that keeps whispering to you, whatever it is, bring it out into the light and go for it.  Keep your eye on that dream.  Right now, this minute, you can be.  Let that sink in.  You. Can. Be.

Walk as though you have already achieved your goal.  If it’s a million dollars you want, walk like you have a million dollars in your pocket.  Pull those slouchy pants up and walk like a proud person.  Pull yourself out of the gutter.  Stand up tall, hold your head up high and walk like a millionaire!  Conceive it!  Believe it!  Achieve it!  That’s what it takes.  And I’ll be right there in your pep squad cheering you on every step of the way.  I want you right here on this stage with me accepting your award for your dream.

13062118_1008227479212751_7052244287307933122_nYes, you were behind me all the way.  You cheered me on.  You bought my books and wrote reviews which helped me climb this success ladder.

WE DID THIS!  Not me.  WE.  I want to see each one of you reach your dream – whatever that dream is – I want to see you reach it and I’ll be right behind you pushing you forward, lifting you up, cheering you onward.

I want to be sitting where you are right now while you stand here in my place and say: WE DID THIS!  Not me.  WE.

So, wherever you are in life, make that decision and keep your eye on your goal.  You and I will succeed.  And don’t worry, we’ll build a bigger stage here to hold us all!”

12308766_1621742584756531_706295591390506370_nThere you have it.  After making my speech, I hold up my awards so all can see before walking off the stage to another standing ovation.

That’s my dream.  That’s my goal and I’m keeping my eyes on that goal.  And I know all of you are helping me as best you can and I do so appreciate that.

What’s your goal?  What’s that dream that maybe you haven’t told anyone about?  Tell us about it and let us be your cheering squad.  Thanks to all of you for being mine!

Where’s My “Do”?

September 27, 2017

Old Lady croppedHave you ever wondered why some people accomplish so much in their lifetime while other people are still sitting on the couch with their bag of potato chips? I have. I’d like to know “Where’s my ‘do’?”

By “do” I mean, where’s my drive, my ambition, my get-up-and-go – my “do”. Where’s my motivation to get up off the couch? What motivates you each and every morning of each and every day to crawl out of your soft warm bed, where you feel safe and secure wrapped in your little cocoon and head out to work or wherever it is you go?

Diaper BabyTake, for example, Bill Gates. What does Bill Gates have inside that made him want to get up and accomplish what he’s accomplished? Or, how about Oprah Winfrey? I could list hundreds of people who have found their “do”. So, how did they find it? What led them down the path to their “do”? When these guys or gals were babies, were they lying in their cribs one day, wetting their diapers, when all of a sudden they had an epiphany and thought “I’m going to get out of this mess and just “do”? And so, they did.

Where was my epiphany? I’m sure I wet my diapers. I don’t actually remember doing so but I asked my mom and she said I did – plenty (she would know). So where was my “do” epiphany? Have you had your “do”?

Couch PotatoWell, I’ve come to the conclusion that some of us are just born with “do” and some of us are born as “couch potatoes”. I’m a couch potato. I’d rather be sitting on the couch doing nothing – out in the zone somewhere. I’m basically a lazy person. I procrastinate a lot. I even procrastinate at procrastinating. I would rather not have to “do” anything.

But I know that I have to be my own “do” if I’m to become the person I want to become. When I’m sitting on the couch, out in that zone I was talking about, I see the “me” I want to be. Not the “me” I am. I know that if I want to become that “me” I have to “do”. I read in a book I was reading the other day, you need to make lists. So I sat down and made a list of the things I needed to “do” each and every day to get me on my way to becoming the “me” I wanted to be.

First thing on my list was “get up.” No kidding. I had to get up out of bed first thing every day so I put that on my list. I continued making my list with as many steps as I could think of. I do three morning pages each and every day, so I had to list those. (See Julie Cameron’s “The Artist’s Way” for how to do morning pages). After my morning pages, I have an appointment with myself. I’m the most important person in my life, so why not have an appointment with me. And, yeah, I know, your next question is so what do I do at this appointment – talk with myself! In a way I suppose I do. But I’ll save that for another day.

For now, I’m curious. Where’s your “do”? Let me know.


The Story of How My Toy Car Came to Be

September 9, 2017

Side View-3A lot of people have asked me about my “Toy Car.”  Her name is “Baby.”  She’s a 1976 MG Midget, Bicentennial model (thus the red/white/blue).  She’s from Alabama.

Back in 2001, my son and I were traveling on our way home to Alabama to visit our family.  When we got close, within a few miles of my mom and dad’s, I spotted Baby sitting in a yard with a “For Sale” sign.  She was a beauty, but I put the thought of buying her out of my mind.  But, seeing her there did start up the memories.  Ever since the first one rolled off the show room floor, I had always dreamed of owning one.

I have the keys with Daddy- 2001.05.20I know, most car enthusiasts wanted Chevys or some other such car, but not me.  I wanted an MG Midget.  Through the years, every time I saw one, those thoughts of owning one returned and this day was no different.  I really wanted that little car.  However, my pocketbook, as usual, just laughed.

So, continuing on our journey, my son and I arrived at my mom and dad’s.  The next day we were sitting out on the front porch enjoying the beautiful weather and watching the world go by, when, as usual, the talk turned to cars.  If I remember correctly, it was Joe, my dad and myself sitting there.  My mom had gone back inside to do something or other.  We chatted about the different cars passing by and I mentioned the car I had seen on the side of the road a few miles away.

After a little bit, my dad went into the house and when he came back out, he sat back down in his chair and said, “Let’s go look at that car.”  I said, “No use looking.  I can’t afford to buy it and even if I could, how the heck would I get it back to Iowa?”  Well, a lot of conversation ensued about the little “Toy Car” before my dad told me he and my mom wanted to buy the car for me.  They felt since they had helped my brother over the years, they felt it only right that they do something for me and if I wanted the car, it was mine.  Needless to say, I wanted the car so off we went to take a look at it.

DSCN2750We arrived and my little Toy Car was such a thing of beauty sitting there.  A convertible complete with a roll bar.  She looked to be in good shape and had had only one previous owner before the gentleman who now had her.  I knew I would be owner number three and she’d rest with me until I left this world and then she’d belong to my son.

My dad and I took her out for a test drive.  She purred like a kitten.  I was ecstatic!  We drove back to the gentleman’s house, signed all the paperwork and I left with “Baby.”

Now came the puzzle of just how we were going to get her back to Iowa.  It was May and college kids had rented every U-Haul thing in town to get their belongings home from college.  Eventually, we did find one U-Haul trailer.  It was the kind that has two runners for hauling cars which normally would have been perfect.  The only problem we had was Baby’s tires didn’t reach the flat portion of those runners.  She sat right on the raised edges.  One big jolt along the way would dislodge her and we’d be in a mess to say the least.

Mama and Daddy with Toy Car - 2001.05.20So, we tied her down the trailer so she, hopefully, wouldn’t move on the more than 800 miles we had to go.  My mom had given me a doll she had, to take home with me so we put her in the driver’s seat with her hands on the steering wheel and away we went.

Normally, we would have made the trip home in 14 hours but this time, we drove slow and found a motel to spend the night.  We had a room right next to a group of bikers.  Harleys were parked on both sides of Baby so I knew she’d be safe.

Next morning, we brought her the rest of the way home.

Joe standingNow, she has her spot in my garage.  She has a dust cover to keep her clean.  I take her out during the summer months and we drive through the parks.  We don’t travel on the freeways or interstates, because she’s too small and in case of an accident, all that would be left of us would be a greasy spot in the road.  To show you her size, my son is 6’4″.

Baby has been in the Iowa State Fair parade numerous times, and she always has fun wherever she goes.  So, if you happen to see her out and about, be sure to toot your horn and she’ll toot back.

Joe grinning

Yep, he fits!

Another Writer’s Dream Destroyed

August 29, 2017

What do you do when someone deliberately destroys your dream?  Or tries to.  Here’s what happened.

Old Lady croppedI hadn’t heard from a friend of mine in over a month so I contacted her to see what was up.  She was in a state of depression over something said to her about her latest book and she had simply given up her writing. With a few questions, I found out why.

It seems another person had told her they were unable to read more than a few pages of the new book.  This person said the book was riddled with so many errors it was pathetic and it had so many spelling errors, punctuation errors and typos that she couldn’t force herself to read it and that she had put it in her give-away pile and wouldn’t be reading the rest of it because it was so bad and that my friend was obviously not a real writer.

Now my friend took it all to heart and stopped writing.  It simply destroyed her fragile writer’s self-confidence.  She gave up on her dream because of someone’s hateful words.

There are a lot of writers out there who, because of their own ego feel they must destroy every other writer they possibly can out of sheer jealousy.  They can’t stand to see someone else achieving any degree of success since they themselves aren’t.  So, when another author succeeds where they haven’t then they feel it appropriate to, if you will, put them in their place as this person proceeded to do with their hurtful words.

If you want to say something about another person’s writing efforts, do it with grace, manners, and be helpful – not hurtful.  By that I mean, pick one or two things and offer a suggestion, not a criticism.  If there’s a passage that’s hard to understand maybe a simply “I didn’t understand this part.  You might want to read it and see if it can be reworded somehow.”  Simple things.  Unharmful things.

You can be helpful without being hurtful.  Keep in mind Karma is a bitch!  And Karma makes a point to come back and bite you in the long run.

Have you ever run into this type of person?  If so, how did you handle it?  Maybe it’ll help my friend find her dream again.  I hope so.

Alabama Bound

August 2, 2017

So, here’s the info you’ve all been waiting for. I know.  Yes, Biker Dude rode up to my house around 2:30 a.m. last Saturday.  As usual, he walked into my house and immediately hit the floor so Mouse, the little Diva of Doggies, could check him out.  He came complete with chicken stick in fingers.

Mouse was, of course, a little suspicious but it didn’t take her but a moment to decide the chicken stick was not something out to get her mommie.  But just in case it was, she ate it.  Once that was accomplished, she started her trip of sniffing all the way around Biker Dude.

Biker Dude, of course, lay there patiently until Mouse made her way all the way around him and back to the beginning where she began playing in his hair.  Once again, she recognized her old friend and he won her little Diva of Doggies heart.  She was satisfied and I could leave.

I arrived in Alabama about 6 p.m. Saturday evening and have been having fun ever since.  We’ve eaten, shopped, and went target practicing.

Thanks to all of you who showed up at Mr. Bill’s to see me.  It was a wonderful time and I so enjoyed seeing all of you again!  Always wish I could stay longer for another chance to see those who couldn’t join us.  Maybe next time I’m down.

Today we celebrated my dad’s 93rd birthday and he enjoyed himself with frog legs and fried green tomatoes along with some banana pudding and a peanut butter birthday cake.  Life is good.

Sometimes I Just Have to Laugh at Myself

July 6, 2017
Well, sometimes I just have to laugh at myself and the situations I get myself into.
DSCN3770I was doing some housework and was in the process of dusting. Doesn’t take too much brain power to dust, unless you have one bad knee. So, I have this coffee table that has a glass top to it. The glass top sits on top of a black panther. Now, in order to dust the panther (which really needed some dusting), I have to sit down on the floor because of my one bad knee.
Mouse-7So, I sit down on the couch and slide my butt onto the floor. Mouse, the little Diva of Doggies, of course, thinks oh boy, it’s time to play. So she’s nipping and biting around on the tail of my t-shirt while I’m trying to dust this thing. I’m schooching along on the floor, going around the coffee table dusting as I go (dusting the floor with the seat of my pants in the process – that’s multi-tasking).
It takes me awhile to get all the way around it, but finally I’m done.  And then, the problem starts.  I’m sitting there on my butt and I can’t pull my bad knee up to kneel on it (which I wouldn’t be able to do anyway) and I’m having a heck of a time trying to get the other knee to cooperate and fold up in the small space I have to work with.  So I try one way, and then another and I’m beginning to see the humor in my situation.
I can’t get up.  It’s the middle of the day.  I could call my son or daughter-in-law, but they’re both working.  As far as I know, all my neighbors are working.  Don’t have their phone numbers programmed into my cell phone anyway so wouldn’t be able to call them (may have to remedy that).  So, I’m running through numbers on my cell phone to see who might be able to come rescue me.
I could call the Fire Department or the Police but I figure they have better things to do and besides, Mouse would not let them through the door.  She’d definitely try ripping off their little toe if they even got close to her mommie.
So, I’m thinking okay, writer friend Darrel Day from Ackley or writer friend Birdie Hawks from Winterset.  They’re both in my phone and usually home during the day.  But, before I break down and call them to drive into Des Moines, I’ll give it another try.
So, I wiggle and squiggle until I finally get up on the one good knee, and then I’m stuck again.  Bad knee isn’t going to push me up off the floor without complaining a whole lot!  But, it’s that or look like a total idiot when someone comes to break in my door to get inside to get me up off the floor.  Wait a minute!  Some of those firemen are quite nice looking hunks.  I may have to rethink this!  Hmmmmmmmm, this could be fun!
I’ll let you know what happens.

An Open Letter to Author Sharon Sala

June 26, 2017

Dear Sharon,

WhippoorwillAs you know, we have never met but I feel as though I have known you for many years.  The reason I feel that way is because many years ago I stopped by my local bookstore one evening on my way home from work looking for something new to read.  I happened to pick up a copy of a book that seemed interesting to me, although I had never heard of the author.  That book was one you had written entitled “Whippoorwill.”

I bought the book, took it home and sat down to read a chapter or two before going to bed.  I read the first sentence and everything around me disappeared.  The town of Lizard Flats sprung to life along with the town’s whore, Leticia Murphy.  I felt her sense of hopelessness and longing in the first paragraph and I immediately hoped, by the end of the book, she would get her “second chance.”  The next thing I knew it was morning and I had just turned the last page of the book.  I had laughed.  I had cried.  Needless to say, the book did not disappoint.

I went to work that day with no sleep.  I cursed your name and told everyone in the office about this most wonderful book I had just read.  Several of the ladies went out on their lunch break and bought their own copies.  They, too, came in to work the next day with no sleep.

The Amen TrailSince the book had already been out a few years when I first stumbled upon it, I knew there had to be more books out there by this same wonderful author so it was back to the bookstore for me and I was delighted to find there were two more books in the series of the life of Leticia Murphy.  I bought them both.  I was like a kid in a candy store!  Or a heroin addict with his next fix in hand.  I couldn’t wait to get home to begin the next book, “The Amen Trail.”  Same scenario happened.  Thank goodness it was a weekend.  I was again up all night lost in the world of Leticia Murphy, the town’s whore, and Eulis Potter, the town’s drunk.  I laughed.  I cried.  I sighed.  I cringed.  These characters were alive on the page.  I could hear their words and feel every emotion.

The Hen HouseBut, it didn’t stop there.  As soon as I finished that one, there was one more to go and I couldn’t stop now so I spent the day reading “The Hen House.”  It was an emotional roller coaster ride to the very end.  I just didn’t cry, I bawled.  This woman had been through so much, yet she was strong and withstood the storm.

As I have done on so many occasions now, I picked up a book to read last night.  It was one I’d read countless times before.  Yes, I’ve been up again all night with my friends, Leticia and Eulis as they start their adventure in a town called Lizard Flats.  Today, I’ll travel with them on “The Amen Trail” and tonight, once again I’ll bawl as “The Hen House” comes to a close.

All I can say is thank you.  Thank you from the bottom of my heart.  Masterfully written, full of emotions, characters worth rooting for and beautifully written prose.  Everything a book should be.  I long for the day when I can say my own writing is half as good as Sharon Sala’s.  That will be an accomplishment I can be proud of.

May your imagination never end and your writing never cease.  Always, Maggie