Tune in Tomorrow!

Want to hear a radio interview I did to promote my new book, IF I WERE THE BOSS OF YOU, before the pandemic?

It will air tomorrow, April 9th, 2020! Tune in if you can!

12:40 p.m. on In Focus during the noon news hour.

Where can you hear?
Online at www.troypublicradio.org; Listen Online to HD-1
89.9 FM WTSU central and east Alabama
88.7 FM WRWA southeast Alabama, Florida Panhandle
91.7 FM WTJB Columbus and southwest Georgia at 1:40 Eastern

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10 Funny Happenings in My Socially Distancing Household

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A global pandemic is not my usual brand of humor. . . although I do actually use those words on p. 8 of my new book . . . who knew??? A funny list to distract you:

  1. My iPhone no longer recognizes me. I’m not joking. My stay-at-home attire is so bad that the facial recognition software used to identify terrorists can’t even FIND me in the make-up-free, pony-tail-sporting, glasses-wearing vision of beauty that I have become.
  2. I am currently wearing a t-shirt with Muppets on it. I am a grown woman. A serious person. First of all, Muppets make me happy, and secondly, my current requirement for clothing is that it can stand up to bleach and disinfectant.
  3. My neighbor’s dog is hiding under the bed when she gets his leash. All our dogs are being walked like we are training for the Olympics.
  4. We are talking about what we are planning for lunch and dinner while we are still chewing our breakfast bars. That one might just be us.
  5. Amazon may cut me off. I find online shopping soothing, so I may be referred to a 12-step program in the next week or so. I assume we will be sitting 6 feet apart.
  6. I am passing out snacks in my house like I’m a flight attendant trying to keep unruly passengers in their seats on a flight that has been holding on the tarmac way too long.
  7. I can personally attest that 24 hours news coverage is real. They aren’t playing re-runs of Petticoat Junction at 3 AM. I now know the anchors’ work schedules on 3 networks. We’re kind of friends.
  8. I’m glad one of my kids is home even though she now views me as the warden of Cell Block C. I wish I could put a nanny cam or a GoPro on my two other kids, even though I know they have to go in to work, so I could check in to see if they are okay about 17 times a day. That seems reasonable to me right now.
  9. I’m actually wiping down the mail. I’m not proud of it, but I’m doing it.
  10. My latest book, If I Were The Boss of You, was just released. It was doing well. Now, all my events are cancelled. I can’t get to my readers. A few weeks ago, that would have been devastating to me. So much of my heart went into this book. Now? I don’t even think about it. Bigger fish to fry. If that’s all I lose to this virus, I’ll be one lucky woman. My priorities are in the best shape of my life.

I’m thinking about all of you out there. Be safe. Be kind. And remember to laugh a little every day. It’s good for you and the world.

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Bestseller! Woohoo!

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Love waking up to the word “BESTSELLER” on my publisher’s web site this morning! I can’t wait to hear what YOU think! This is my favorite part of the book process–when you tell me what chapters, lines, and words resonate with you and your life. That’s why I write! Get to work on those online book reviews for Amazon, Goodreads, etc., or give me your feedback on social media at my facebook fan page, mrtswag@twitter, or contact me through my author web site at https://www.melindaraineythompson.com. I have lots of speaking events coming up, so I hope to see you over the next few months!

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How To Treat Your Guest Speaker

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  1. Pay them. Don’t make them ask for the check like you are a drug dealer. Don’t forget to add expenses.
  2. Be honest about how long you want them to speak. Mean it. Don’t take up half THEIR time with YOUR introduction or housekeeping which forces them to frantically make cuts on the fly to stay in your time frame.
  3. Offer them water. Snacks. A meal. Mints. Whatever’s appropriate. Show them where the restrooms are. Speakers are HUMAN—not robots-for-hire. They need to eat and sleep, too.
  4. Offer to pick them up at the airport or hotel so they don’t have to worry about transportation. If you provide a driver, your speaker will likely offer to name a child after you.
  5. If you know, tell your speaker what to expect from your group—age, gender, demographic, attention span, expectations . . . all the little quirks of your organization.
  6. Leave treats in the hotel room or a thank you gift basket. Don’t include a whole bottle of wine or fresh flowers if your speaker flew in. Can’t take them on a plane. Sadly, those gifts go to housekeeping at checkout.
  7. Have your event ready-to-rock. Podium. Mic. Signing table. Ask before about technology requests. Test the sound system on the day of the event.
  8. Reach out about a week before to confirm and remind of unique details, especially if there have been date or time changes. Identify one contact person and cell number for day-of questions.
  9. Ask your speaker to provide a short bio. You won’t have to write it! No mistakes from a last-minute online search for biographical material! Bonus: the speaker won’t have to worry about repeating information you randomly decide to include in the intro.
  10. Don’t expect them to speak for free, donate to your cause du jour, or perform additional work unless you’ve previously worked this out. This is your speaker’s JOB. Like you, speakers prefer to choose which causes they support with pro bono work, and they speak to charity events ALL THE TIME.
  11. If you aren’t providing transportation, save your speaker a parking space, and give precise, detailed directions.
  12. If your speaker does a great job for you, remember to write a good online review and recommend him or her to your friends and colleagues. Those of us who work as guest speakers talk to one another, too. You don’t want to be one of those venues or organizations we ALL avoid.
  13. Treat your speaker like an honored guest—not like an indentured servant. If you do, your guest speaker will work hard to personalize your event and make it extra-special!

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My Dawson Neighbor

fullsizeoutput_1a19Early one morning as I dashed toward the gym from my car, virtually unrecognizable to the world with my scraped-back pony tail, inch-thick glasses, and no make-up, (I hope you are getting the full mental picture of this because only Jesus and a dog could love me in this state) a friend called out to me from the sidewalk.

“How are those Baptists treating you?” she shouted in a way-too-loud voice for 6:15 am.

“What do you mean?” I responded in a much more appropriate decibel for pre-dawn conversation.

“You’re Episcopalian!” she pointed out, as if I didn’t know this already. “You think they’re going to let you in?”

That encounter got me thinking which almost always leads to trouble or, at the very least, an essay, article, or if I really can’t help it, a book. I’m a writer. One phrase or something I witness or overhear can infect my imagination like the throw-up virus. I have to vomit it all on paper—or my laptop, to be precise. Although my handwriting looks like an illiterate kidnapper penning a ransom note, I can fly across a keyboard.

Real writers do not sit at beautiful desks in front of stained-glass windows sipping steaming mugs of tea waiting for God to send something down from a mountain top anymore, just in case you were wondering.

Inspiration comes at the most inconvenient times—when I’m trapped in a dark movie theater and have to crawl across the laps of moviegoers to scratch a few lines on the back of my ticket before I forget them or at 3 o’clock in the morning when I am lying awake beside my sleeping husband. He has the audacity to sleep peacefully through the night. I should be happy that he sleeps so well. Unfortunately, his sleep talent makes me want to bang a pot over his head with a wooden spoon to wake him up. Sometimes, I find myself a wee bit disappointing.

The pre-dawn hours are when my worries bubble up, real worries, like whether my children are texting and driving, and insignificant ones like whether or not I have enough cookies for the baby shower. I worry about my children, my aging parents, and work. I worry about what the world is coming to. In those dark hours, I can’t even pray. I can only repeat, over and over, “Please, Lord.” That’s when I begin to write. The first draft is always in my head.

This year, I had a terrible accident. I slipped on a sheet of ice and shattered my knee cap. After surgery and physical therapy, I was told to join a gym. I didn’t want to. Every step hurt.

I joined the FRC because I live in the neighborhood, and the gym is reasonably priced, safe, easy to navigate, and welcomes everyone, regardless of age or fitness level. I’m not the only woman in black leggings and a really big shirt! I’ve found encouragers there among staff and patrons, friends who’ve reared their children alongside mine, folks I’ve worked with in school concession stands or sat by at the pool or park.

I’ve lived in Homewood for over 30 years. I can see our tiny, first house from the one we live in today. Our family is a part of the community, and we’ve learned over the years that Dawson is a good neighbor.

My first encounter with Dawson was 20 years ago. Church members helped my elderly neighbors take down their Christmas tree. I never forgot that. I’ve watched Dawson answer the question of who is my neighbor again and again—by feeding the hungry, reaching out to Spanish-speaking mothers and children, taking loads of kids to camp, and by providing young men with courts for early-morning basketball games. When I exercise, I love to hear their back-and-forth ribbing of one another. It reminds me of my own children, aka the ungrateful wretches. (I called them that in a public radio interview. I didn’t think they’d ever hear about it. They did. Now it’s a family joke.)

For a while after the accident, I could only ride a stationary bike. Now, I walk on the elevated path in the gym 28 times around the court, two miles, and I watch the clouds and people through the large windows. I’ve observed little acts of kindness that moved me to tears—help for an elderly woman who could not park her car, a bike accident where an older child comforted a younger one, and a man who pulled over to buy a warm cup of watery lemonade just because a kid was selling it.

After a few months, something happened. To distract myself from the pain, I began to pray as I walked. At first, I used prayers that were familiar to me from The Book of Common Prayer and the liturgy I participate in every Sunday morning in my own parish, St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church. I prayed for the poor, those who mourn, the dying, the friendless, the hungry, the homeless, and for those who are alone. I prayed for my family, my church, our community, our country, and for people all over the world. I prayed for you. Each lap became a prayer litany, a labyrinth of meditation.

For me, working out at Dawson became a form of worship, a dedicated time for prayer. The words chiseled over the front entrance to the FRC say: “To Be Found Faithful as God’s People.” Dawson has been a faithful neighbor to this Episcopalian, a friend, and a much-needed prayer partner.

The Baptists did, indeed, let me in. I’m grateful.

 

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10 Funny Things That Happened To Me On Book Tours

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  1. While waiting for my turn to be interviewed on an early morning news segment, I was asked to hold a snow leopard cub in my lap while the zookeeper, also a guest on the show, dashed to the bathroom during a commercial break. This was the only story from my book tour that my young children found interesting.
  2. Green rooms are exciting. And, no, they aren’t all green. All sorts of people are crammed in there together waiting for interview slots on television. I’ve met famous musicians, politicians, and comedians. In a green room in Mississippi years ago, I got into such an animated conversation with a civil rights activist about the importance of neighborhood schools, the producer put us on air together to continue talking—an ordinary suburban mom writer and a civil rights icon. I think we made some good TV!
  3. Once in Charleston, an attractive, young, clearly hungover news reporter turned to me as we were both snaking our mics underneath our clothes and clipping them to our lapels and said: “Look, I didn’t have time to read your book. I’m just going to say your name and the title of your book, and then you can talk for 7-10 minutes. Ok?” “I can do that!” I responded gleefully. I could not have been happier.
  4. I was once introduced as the keynote speaker for a big gala event, made my way to the podium during the applause, opened my black plastic binder, and discovered—not my speech—but Bach. Yep. Bach. I had a binder, sure, but it was my black plastic CHOIR notebook—not my SPEECH notebook. To this day, I have no idea what I talked about for those 45 minutes.
  5. Sound systems are often infested with gremlins. They always check out fine before the event. It’s in the middle of the event when trouble starts. I once made the mistake of stepping out from behind my podium mic and in front of the repeating speakers. You can guess what happened. Horrible reverb. Over and over. I could see steam coming out of the event coordinator’s ears and hotel staff scrambling in the back of the room. I turned off my hand-held mic, moved from table to table to entertain as many folks as possible, and while running my mouth, shaped the long cord holding my mic into a pretend noose . . . sometimes, you have to find the funny.
  6. At a book event in a big city hotel, I was in mid-speech once when a domestic argument broke out in the catering kitchen behind me. It was so loud I had to stop speaking. Naturally, both the audience and I wanted to hear what was going to happen next in the kitchen drama which included accusations of cheating, vows of revenge, and death threats—way more interesting than my prepared remarks.
  7. In a live television interview, my book was introduced to the audience this way: “Melinda Rainey Thompson has written a wonderful new cookbook that I think you will all love!” Never written a cookbook in my life. That was a tough pivot.
  8. At every event, I always leave time for Q&A. It’s my favorite part because I never know what I will be asked. Some questions come up over and over, of course: “How did you get your book published?” “What do you like to read?” “Where do you get your ideas?” I answer those on autopilot. Funniest questions I’ve been asked on the road: “Where did you get your dress?” Answer: “Saks. Clearance rack.” “Can I take you to dinner after?” Answer: “Depends. Do you have any restraining orders against you?”
  9. Every author event has a person in the audience who has written a book he or she wants to pitch to me for publication. The problem is: I’m a WRITER—not a PUBLISHER.
  10. In every signing line at a book event, there is someone who wants to dictate how I will personalize their “Just write ‘to the best mother in the world,’” one reader instructed me. “To the smartest person I have ever met” was another request. My favorite request to date: “To the biggest Southern lady I have ever met.” Talk about a dangerous double entendre! All true. Remember: I write nonfiction. I end up explaining how first person works over and over. “If I write that, “I explain, “it’s me saying it . . . not you!” My favorite signing tag is from author Jill Conner Browne. To EVERY man, she writes, “To the only man I have ever loved.” Still cracks me up.

 

I can’t wait to share funny moments from the tour of my new book, If I Were The Boss of You. Come see me on the road!   https://www.melindaraineythompson.com/

 

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If I Were The Boss of You

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     If I Were The Boss of You contains charming reflections, funny observations, and nagging worries we all share about our day-to-day existence. Who we are, what’s important to us, and the small choices we make every day determine the course of our lives. Thompson utilizes her own brand of self-deprecating humor to ponder age-old, big-life questions. “A Chromosomal Point of View,” “The Fake Eulogy,” and “A Smack Down by Jesus” will make you laugh out loud. “Tiny Indignities” will make you cry. “Angels and Aliens” will keep you up in the wee hours wondering what will become of us. No Southern nostalgia, magnolias and moonlight, or voodoo queens here. This is a twenty-first-century, bossy Southern woman’s take on real life.

Available in hardback and paperback Jan. 2020! Pre-order now on Amazon or Barnes and Noble!

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