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Happy Tuesday to you all. I hope your week is off to a great start. It's been quite a while since I've added a new blog post, and I'm blaming Covid for that. My husband and I tested positive at the end of October and have been quarantining at home for 14 days. If any of you think this virus is a fake, I can assure you it's REAL and should be taken seriously. Between the two of us, we've had every symptom possible: fever, sweats, chills, body aches, loss of smell & taste, horrible cough, and FATIGUE (nothing I've ever experienced before, and I've had pneumonia on more than one occasion). So here comes my PSA...please wear masks, observe social distancing, avoid gathering in large crowds, wear gloves, use hand sanitizer, and wash your hands often. If we all work together, we can and will get this virus under control, but it's going to take ALL of us.


Updates on my first novel: There is a publishing company that is interested in acquiring my manuscript!!! I will be meeting with them via Zoom sometime in the next few weeks, and I'm excited and nervous about this. I'd been told that I need a literary agent to get my book published. I've queried tons of them; some have said NO, and others I'm still waiting to hear from. Now along comes this publisher that is saying YES. Being guardedly optimistic, I'm preparing my list of questions for our meeting, and we'll see what happens.

Stay tuned.


There is another update in my life that I'm finally able to share. I will be officially retiring from teaching as of December 18, 2020. That's right, 6 weeks from now. This was not my original plan, but plans change. Writing, editing, querying, publishing, and all that goes with it is time-consuming. There is finally interest in my manuscript, so after much soul-searching, I've decided to leave teaching after 34 years and pursue my writing full time. Strike while the irons hot!


While excited about this next chapter of my life (pun intended), I feel very sad about the chapter I'm closing. I can't imagine next August rolling around and not setting up my classroom and then greeting my new class on the first day of school. I will miss the incredible staff of people I work with, some for more than 20 years. I don't know how I'll begin each day without driving my car the usual route, parking in my usual spot, and entering a building I've taught in for over 30 years. And my best friend and teaching partner-how will we survive without eating breakfast together each morning as we plan our day? So many changes, so much unknown. I can't even picture what my life will look like this time next year.


So what do I do when I'm feeling stressed about those changes and the unknown? I write, of course. Writing is the balm that soothes my nerves. It's my way of releasing anxiety and working through problems and feelings. I hope you all have a way of doing this-walking, running, meditating, drinking wine, or eating chocolate! We all need some way of blowing off steam and releasing the stress in our lives.


Now for some comic relief (I hope). Here's a short teaser with one of my favorite characters to write, Mr. Erickson. I hope it makes you laugh just a little.


~~~ At exactly eleven o’clock, they knocked on Mr. Erickson’s door, and within seconds, he jerked open the door and stared at his guests. Unlike the last time he’d jerked open his door to Jillian, he was fully dressed in a pair of khaki pants and a blue plaid shirt–both equally wrinkled as if he’d slept in them. Better than the dingy skivvies I saw him in last time.

“Oh, it’s you, Book Lady. And this must be your friend, The Cop. Glad to see you two know how to show up on time. Well, don’t just stand there. C’mon in. I don’t got all day. My poker game starts in an hour, and if I’m late, I don’t get the good seat at the table. That rat, Harvey, will sit his fat ass in it.”


Grumbling to himself, Mr. Erickson shuffled into his dark living, which smelled of cigars and stale food. He plopped into his well-worn leather recliner and motioned for them to sit, too. Looking around, Jillian noticed everything was brown–the chairs, the couch, the carpet, the curtains. She wondered whether this was by choice or due to years of foul smoke from his Cubans. Ethan raised his eyebrows at Jillian, then chose a brown chair across from their host.


“Thank you for agreeing to speak with me, sir.” Ethan stuck out his hand, but the old man ignored the gesture. “Ok, not a hand-shaker. I’m Ethan Harden, the detective on this case. If it’s ok, I’d like to ask you some questions.”


“Save your breath,” Mr. Erickson grunted. “I’ll tell you what I saw, and you write it down in your little notebook. You have a notebook, don’t ya? All the cops on TV use one.”


Ethan took one out of his pocket and showed it to his witness. Mr. Erickson seemed satisfied and began his story.


“So, it happened like this. I was sittin’ out in the yard, makin’ sure none of her guests parked on my grass. You know, she was having a shindig at that store of hers. She sent me an invite, but I don’t really care to be around people.”


“Hm, imagine that,” Ethan mumbled under his breath. Jillian frowned at him and shook her head slightly. The old man didn’t seem to notice and went right on talking.


“Now, I’ll admit I was bein’ nosy watchin’ the comins’ and goins’ of your party.” Mr. Erickson nodded at Jillian. “It was more interestin’ than the fight on TV. TKO in the first fifteen seconds. What a bunch of crap. Anyway, at about ten o’clock, I saw the party was breakin’ up, and people were leavin’.”


Ethan feverishly wrote everything down. Good idea, Ethan. This may be your only shot at interviewing this cantankerous witness.


“I was watchin’ a group of real purty ladies all sayin’ good-bye to each other. One of ‘em, a real looker with curly red hair and a white coat, left the group and started across the street. All of a sudden, this black car, parked a few houses down from mine, come speedin’ down the street. The redhead froze in the middle of the road. I hollered, ‘Move, move’. But she just stood there and then–splat. The car plowed into her, and she flew up in the air. I saw her body land in the middle of the intersection, and the car turned onto Parker and drove away. That’s it.” The old man threw his hands up in the air and started to stand up.


“Mr. Erickson, that was great. I have a few follow-up questions, and then we’ll get out of your hair,” Ethan said.


“Make it snappy, young man. We may not have a lot of time here. The spicy breakfast burrito I ate this mornin’ is beginnin’ to disagree with my insides if you know what I mean.” He chuckled and patted his belly. ~~~


Thanks for coming back and sharing in my news. I will keep you updated on both my writing and my retirement. Please stay safe out there.


Until next time,

Jodi

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