Off we go, from Sea-to-Shining-Sea on our Excellent Adventure Booktour celebrating the publication of Distilled Genius! Did we have fun? Oh yeah . . . we had fun ~ we saw our girlfriends! Grab a cuppa, get comfortable, click on MUSICA, and enjoy your
Last post we did England, this post, we’ll do America! Because that’s what we’ve been doing this last month … since August fourth when we embarked on our sea-to-shining-sea booktour . . . stopping at bookstores all across the hot-hot-hot US of A to see as many of our Girlfriends as possible, our first book-signing tour since 2016! Too long! We’ve finally landed, here in California, visiting family and seeing oldest friends for the first time since the dam-panic disrupted everything . . . and here I am, checking in with you, sharing the adventure. PS Rabbit-Rabbit! Happy September!🍁
Here we are, driving out of our driveway heading for the ferry . . . waving goodbye to Jack’s wonderful babysitter, Barbara . . . we’re in a rented car so we can turn it in at the end, and take the train home . . . it’s stuffed to the gills with two ice chests, all our vitamins, clothes, pillows, tea kettle, cups, camera, and pens. Would have loved to take Jack, but he is not the traveling kind! 🙀 A homebody if there ever was one!💖
Kisses goodbye and . . .
Off we went . . . with only 3,000 miles to go!
We weren’t the only ones traveling . . . I told everyone to meet me halfway … and they DID! While we were driving, we were seeing photos on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram, of Girlfriends in their cars coming to meet us too! So fun, this is Mary Brehm, with her husband Bill and their two daughters, Jessie and Sarah (and sweetpeas from their garden) on their way to meet us!
Mary, who I “knew” from the blog and Twitter ~ and me, finally meeting in person! No one really knew what to do about masks, sometimes we wore them, sometimes we didn’t. I just didn’t want to be like a bee, going flower to flower across the country, leaving any sort of bad pollen behind!
Bill, Mary’s husband, referred to himself, considering the company, as “chopped liver.” He was funny! Definitely one of the good guys! And not a bit chopped liver! Giver of my favorite flower!
Every event was filled with families like the Brehms, moms and daughters, sisters, grandchildren and grandmas, best friends . .💞
Kelly with her adorable baby, Marjorie ~ Girlfriends Elle, and Kathy
Daughter Amanda and her mom, Loretta
Mom Shalana, with her girls, Gentry and Cierra
Daughter Carlie with her mom, Suzie
Three generations: Stephanie, Violet, and Jan.
Sisters Nancy and Kathy
Kathy, on the left, is Kelsey’s Great Aunt!
Nora and her mom, Julie
Linda, is a first grade teacher, with her daughter in law, Jen.
Mom Bonnie, with her two daughters, Kristi and Bobbi
Mother and daughter, Marie and Molly
Olivia, Kayla, Leah … Sisters!
Daughter Gabrielle with her mom, Dana
Sisters Sandy and Betty
Meet Laura Ashley! Yes, her mom named her that! She loves it as much as I do!
Easy to do when you still get scared every time you have to talk in front of people! LOTS of heart-throbs!
I met old friends, This is Dawn . . . still bringing people together ~ she put us in touch with Prairie Path Books in Wheaton Illinois, and here we are!
Thank you Dawn!
My high school girlfriend Cathy came and brought her son Kevin and his wife Reyna. Cathy’s last name is Bliss! Isn’t that perfect? Ah, the memories we share!
And making more memories to share in the future! Say hello to Darlene and Barbara!
Linda and Christie, not the first time we’ve met!
Always so much fun to reconnect … Christie was on the Queen Mary with us!
Tawni, a very old blog friend I’d never met, in the middle ~ her Aunt Penny on the left, and Susan, who they met in line!
Lori is the sister of my island girlfriend Lynne! She lives in Salt Lake City . . . lovely to see her again!
Doreen and Greg Peterson ~ if you were a Twitter friend of Karen Peterson’s, I think you will know the lovely story of these newlyweds.After I wrote my first book, Heart of the Home in 1987, I started receiving mail from readers. Letters so nice the writers stopped being readers and started being Girlfriends. It was a complete surprise, but a wonderful one … Everyone writing about the things that brought us together, love of home and family, our petty pets, recipes, decorating, gardening, homemaking in general (most creative job in the world, all happiness depends on it) our other creative projects, our dreams, hope for children, and for the future . . . SUCH nice letters, I wished so much that everyone could meet each other and realize what a really wonderful world we live in. Didn’t matter where they lived, north, south, east or west, from the middle of the country, the bottom, top, or the sides, even from other countries, their letters all had everything in common: kind, courageous, optimistic, generous, working out the life things that come to us all, a treat to the heart. No computers when I first started, so the chances of us ever meeting were slim …
but baby, look at us now! My dream came true! Between the Willard, our booksignings, picnics, social media, and penpals, we’ve done a great job of finding each other, our kindred spirits! And totally organic! I met friends from 1987 at these book signings, all the way up to “brand new today!” Under the radar we have run … all word-of-mouth, friend-to-friend, sister-to-sister, but it’s true . . . 💞💝
The people standing in line at book signings are laughing and talking so much, getting to know each other, meeting up from the LAST booksigning, or the Queen Mary 2, or an English picnic, it’s all I can do not to get out of my chair and join them!💖
Looks like it was ALL Girlfriends at the book signings, but it wasn’t . . . lots of our kindred spirits brought their kindred spirits too… This is Amy and Carl.💝
John and Sharon💘
Malissa and Jacob 🧡
Me and darling friend JoEllen @alicesroses, meeting again. . .💛
Pudgie, Cindy, and Carol, you can tell by the name tags that we have met before!
I had the most fun . . . answering questions is so much easier than “giving a talk” … I get the best questions!
Christy, Jody, Lisa, and Lisa!
Sisters Johanna and Elaine ~ more family love!
Two adorable people. .. Kristina and Anjuli . . .
Four more adorable people … We didn’t get their names! But they were so color-coordinated 💞 ~ they said they didn’t plan it!
I gave a short talk about the inspiration for Distilled Genius, how inspired I’d been when I first discovered quote books back in the 1980s …in the nick of time as I was trying to figure out how to make a new life and searching everywhere for the secrets of life.
I talked about Holly Oak, how it was living there alone, and how my search for meaning had changed my life, discovering, through quote books and biographies, with the help of my heroes and teachers, the things that I would love and pursue all my life. I’ve always felt I write children’s books for big people, but never more than when writing Distilled Genius. How much I hope children will be attracted to the watercolors. I talked about hope and the future, and being passionately curious. I asked everyone when they were done with their book, if they would please donate it to their local school library, so kids can read the brilliant inspiring words of the geniuses of the world while they are still young, and know they are not alone. Lots of teachers at the signing were saying they would be using Distilled Genius in their classes. Made my day!
Me with Susan Shirley, “Miss Shirley” to her students! She was one of the wonderful teachers who asked me sign books for her class and school! Could not have loved it more! You can see her at work on Instagram …
Bookstores, Schools, Churches and Town Halls filled with Kindred Spirits . . .
I took pictures of everyone . . . sometimes I even included my finger . . .
With Scott, manager of Tattered Cover in Littleton, CO. He was the BEST!
A WONDERFUL store if you get a chance to visit! Tattered Cover, in Littleton CO … say hello to Scott for me!
Here are Alice, Lynda, Rose, me, and Kym at An Unlikely Story in Plainville, MA 💞 I did a really fun Zoom with Kym during the Pandemic . . . I think lots of you may have been there!
Ellen, me, Anastasia, and Lisa . . . at Rakestraw Books, in Danville CA . . .
Wes and Kate who own the Charming Learned Owl in Hudson, Ohio, commonly known by the locals as “The Owl” ~ it’s the shop around the corner we all dream about!
Hudson, Ohio, a charming town with a very special bookstore. The world would not be the same without our quaint atmospheric hometown Independent Bookstores (no two alike!), heroes of the Pandemic, keeping everyone creatively entertained with Zooms and Newsletters, Contactless Pick-ups, Support for kids and their stuck-at-home parents. They kept the home fires burning… many lost their employees, they had to stay home too, and somehow the owners, often alone, but sometimes with one or two crew, managed it all on their own, not only surviving, but thriving. Being invited by these book-lovers to launch my new book in their lovely bookstores was a pure gift. Gratitude is my middle name.
Susan, Vivien, and Roger from the wonderful Rainy Day Books in Kansas City, a community gathering place since 1975! They’ve withstood the tides of time for all these years! For us!
Kate and Sandy at Prairie Path Books in Wheaton, IL.
Because so many of the events were actually in churches or schools, I didn’t see the inside of a lot of bookstores! But look how cute they decorated Prairie Path Books! Just for me!💞
Here I am with the cute people work there . . . Sandy, Sandy (yes, there are two), Kate, me, Susan, Linda, and Leslie …
The girls at Titcomb’s Books … Love the body language between me and my friend Vicky Titcomb (that’s Vicky’s niece Rae between us, it’s a family affair at Titcomb’s since 1969)… Can you tell we’re both the oldest of eight children? We had to be bossy. Otherwise all those children would have been running around with no socks, with Cheerios stuck to their cheeks, wearing wet clothes, crossing the street without looking, and cheating at Candy Land like crazy! We know they never would have survived without us big sisters! 💖
Across America we went, Joe and I, loving every minute of it! Been a very long time, and we love our cross-country trips.
Over the river and through the woods . . .
🎶 . . . It takes two, baby . . . 🎵
All the views America has to offer . . . Barns and corn . . .
Small towns and big towns . . . and plenty of space with no towns at all . . .
But how gorgeous!
We drove next to this beautifully decorated train ~ I took this photo from my car window. BTW, we saw almost NO political flags or signs across the country.💞 Only the stars and stripes, I found that heartening.
Couldn’t even THINK of passing through Missouri without stopping to see this famous house, two blocks from the Mississippi . . .
This is the house where my hero Mark Twain grew up! Sam Clemens, actually! It was our second visit!
I put these two photos together after our first visit! I like to choose gigantic shoes I will never fill to be my heroes. Considering the lives they led, it always amazed me to think that people like Mark Twain or Ben Franklin were only children at one time. How did they get so much done???? Ben Franklin’s formal education ended at age 10…Same with Mark Twain, who was done after the 5th grade … but he gave a clue when he said, “Don’t let schooling interfere with your education.”
All our motels and hotels had different views and personalities. All we cared about was 1. air conditioning, 2. fridge, 2b. a freezer if possible, for the ice, 3. microwave, 4. electricity, 5. bed.
Out front of that little room we had views to forever. It was soooo quiet there. We thought the Field of Dreams was across the street, but I had my “Picture This” app for plant identification and it wasn’t corn … it was soybeans, the Field of Beans.🤣 Was so hot and parched and humid all the way across the country. Who plans a booktour in August!!! 🤣
See the temperature at the top? Worst it got on our trip was 106º … in a couple of places ~ it wasn’t under 90º! BUT, we had air-conditioning in that big ole’ car, and everywhere we stayed, and everywhere we visited. So it wasn’t bad at all!
We loved seeing some of the famous supermarkets our Girlfriends recommended as we drove along . . . this gorgeous grocery store is Harmons Neighborhood Grocer in Salt Lake City. You get in, but it’s not easy to get out!
We made a sort of ‘home” everywhere we went!
We had mostly blue skies, but every so often we saw something like this storm coming our way! Because of the world, weather took on a much bigger part of travel-worry than ever before! But we made it!
Hardly ever traffic . . . but sometimes…
Pretty cities, nicest people, delicious food . . . this is Kansas City, MO …
This is our first view of the Mississippi River . . .
Some bridge somewhere . . .
You get off the coasts and gas prices drop like a rock. We were surprised, we spent a little over $600 on gas getting across the country. We expected a LOT more! It was $5-something on the Island, it’s around $6 here in CA! But in between, not so bad!
I wonder how much this gets to the gallon???? It’s the Wienermobile! In a parking lot in Illinois! 💛 Last time I saw it was at the Piggly Wiggly in Reseda, California when I was about nine. I liked it just as much this time, and began singing that song, “My bologna has a first name, it’s O S C A R, my bologna has a second name, it’s M E Y E R . . . Ohhhh, I love to eat it every day, and if you ask me why I’ll say . . .
‘Cuz Oscar Meyer has a way with B O L O G N A.”
The moonrises and sunsets were spectacular . . . We always came home late . . .
Through the blinds . . .
Aneeeway … we left lots of signed books everywhere we went. 📚 Of course, I know you know, I could not have done this without Joe!💖
If you’d like a signed book, call one of the independent bookstores on the tour and make their day … Here I am signing books to leave with Kings English, in Salt Lake City, Utah… with Jac on the left, Lorrin, and Rob helping . . . and Joe wielding the camera!
Next week we’ll have our last West Coast stop for Book Talk and signing before heading back to Fall on Martha’s Vineyard ~ it’s in Southern California at Vroman’s Bookstore in Pasadena, 11 am on Sunday, September 11th. Hope you can make it! I’ve felt such an intense feeling of gratitude this last month, it hasn’t completely hit me yet how amazing this trip has been, it all went so fast, like a blur, it’s been such a lovely reception, and meeting everyone along the way has been the frosting on the cake.
And, it’s still not over! I’m getting cozy pictures from Girlfriends like Mary Ann @maw1984. I especially like her tabs! But even more? The kitty!
Kitties with faces of love, blankets, and tea . . . and Distilled Genius . . . 💝 from Michelle @dersarkat . . .
Distilled Genius has even gone camping with Joanie @okjoan! I couldn’t be prouder!💖
So here we are, on the Central Coast doing as we are told on this postcard, “Sharing the Experience.”
We’re unpacked, laundry is done, and we’ve had time to wander around the garden. . . plus, we’re . . .
Staying at the Studio, having lunch out with Kellee and Sheri! Wonderful to be together again, and look at that view we have!!
You walk into The Vista restaurant in Pismo Beach and are instantly bowled over . . . definitely a room with a view … the entire Pacific Coast laid out before you . . .
And dearest friends to catch up with. The last time we saw these two was when they came to the Island to visit us in the fall of 2019. Been trapped far away by covid ever since, but here we are again, and YES! Wonderful happy news for all of us, Sheri is coming back to work with Kellee, only two days a week, but we are sooooooo happy! Anyone who’s met her knows why! My two best girls do an amazing job and make a wonderful team.👏👏👏 So, let me think, what did they say I’m supposed to tell you? Oh yeah:
This is the new wall calendar … but like always we have a purse calendar, a Mini calendar and a desk-top calendar, too. You can read about them HERE!You’ll see this page again in Fall 2023!
I need to do another photo like this! This grouping stops at 2016 . . . There have been seven more wall calendars since then! I love laying them out so I can remember the history! All those years ago! What else? Oh, all kinds of little things . . .
Promise me the first thing you’ll do when you get your new calendar is choose a few days and put FUN on them. Be specific, make plans, make sure life doesn’t escape you! You put your dentist appointments on your calendar, don’t forget . . . ❌⭕️
A new Dream Charm is coming! Inspired by Distilled Genius, stars as seen from the rail of a ship across the ocean, my inspiration for the cover of the book . . . it’s coming later in the season, and it will say GENIUS on them, with little hearts . . . perfect for all the geniuses in your life, including you! I’ll let you know when they come in!
And new stickers for your packages . . . more moon and stars, more Distilled Genius! Available now!
These too, sweet new Notepads! Great stocking stuffers, more Distilled Genius!
And Kellee had more of these notecards printed . . . back in stock by popular demand, just in time for our season of love and laughter!🍁🍂🍁
Here’s what they say inside!
And in case you missed them the first time . . . we just received a new shipment of puzzles!
What a wild year we’ve had…. and now all the travel is almost over . . . in a week from tomorrow we’ll be at Vroman’s Bookstore, and then we’re on our way Home. Three-day train trip across the country . . . Just in time. . .because
We don’t want to miss a moment of this most beautiful time of year!🍁
I so look forward to this beauty . . .
To hearing the church bells and feeling that little fall chill in the air . . .
Watching leaves fly around our beloved home . . .
And blowing up behind our car . . .
Walking our walk through the woods . . .Cooking from my Autumn book, hugging our friends, and
Setting pumpkins out in the garden . . . and don’t forget, it’s almost time for Sleeping Weather! Ooooooo . . . .
Time to see our kitty! Just. Can’t. Wait!
Lumbering home by Amtrak … in our room with a view . . . Thank you dear friends . . . it has been a year of dreams come true!This has to be my longest Blog… VERY hard to condense so much in such a little space . . . I have a zillion photos I didn’t use ~ I hope I’ll get to use them over time. So much wonderfulness!🧡
Bye for now, Happy September! Love forever!💝 . . . ❌⭕️❌⭕️