Sunday, April 17, 2022

Happy Birthday, Kimba and Hiro!!

 Monday, April 18th, is 

Kimba's and Hiro's 15th Birthday!!!

We never could have anticipated the impact finding those tiny newborn kittens in a box would have on our lives. Beyond loving them to the moon and back, writing about Kimba started me on the book publishing journey that now includes eleven titles. 

Tiny babies in their bathtub nursery with a stuffed mama cat.

Big yawn from a tiny Hiro. You can see Kimba's head under her.


My, Kimba, what big ears you have!

We are grateful to still have them with us and living healthy, if a bit slower, lives. Kimba doesn't climb ladders anymore, but she chitters at us anytime we step out of line or alter her schedule. Hiro still convinces Daddy to do everything she wants. We are all looking forward to many more happy years. 

Hiro still comes running when a bag of anything cheesy opens.

Kimba is still the queen of sleeping in freshly cleaned sheets.

We will be at the Dogwood Festival in Siloam Springs, AR, next weekend, so stop by the Serenity Mountain Publishing booth and say hello . . . and pick up a book or two. 


Wednesday, February 23, 2022

Women in Publishing Summit

 


My topic this year will be "Self-Editing So Your Manuscript Shines."

This is my second time speaking at this online conference, and I highly recommend not only the workshops and talks but also the active community created around this event. You can still get tickets and join us. Just tap here!

This four day virtual event covers all of the key aspects an author or aspiring author needs. (Everything is live, but recorded, so you can watch and re-watch at your convenience.)

Day 1: Writing Craft & Tips

Day 2: Editing, production, routes to publication

Day 3: Marketing all day long

Day 4: How to grow your author business

Sponsored by GracePoint Publishing, Pub-Site, ProWritingAid, Aurora Publicity, Your Book is Your Hook, and a whole group of amazing companies who believe in the mission, AND are offering great discounts on their products, you're sure to leave with amazing content under your belt, great discounts on services you need, and a COMMUNITY to support you along the way.

No matter where you are on your author journey, this summit is for you. It covers everything from writing to publishing, and from marketing to whatever comes next. If you haven’t finished your book yet - heck, if you haven’t started your book yet - you’ll learn from this summit. And people who have published multiple books will also learn from the 60+ presenters who will be sharing their knowledge.

Probably the most special thing about this event is the community. We spend a year together in a private Facebook group where we're networking, sharing resources, and helping each other out. We also have a monthly networking event, which everyone is loving!

So join us!! 
Get your ticket now and use the coupon code: 50OFFWIP22 to save $50!



Friday, January 28, 2022

Bianca Sequel Is Here!

 Wait no longer, Bianca: Journey to Ryuugito has arrived and is ready for purchase!


At Amazon.com.

At other ebook retailers.

For autographed copies directly from Meg's online store.



Yes, that's a unicorn on the back cover. Of course Bianca will meet some interesting creatures on this second adventure. It felt only logical there should be a unicorn in there somewhere. Especially a magical one. You'll have to grab a copy to find out more!

Happy Reading!






Monday, January 10, 2022

Betty White: More Fabulous Than She Seems (Part 13, Final Chapter)

Chapter 11:  Growing Old


In 1987, Betty wrote, “I don’t want to fight old age, but I’m not about to invite it to live in, either. I want a nice symbiotic relationship with it, where we are totally unaware of each other.”[1]

That was an attitude toward growing old that Betty learned from her mother. Never waste time dreading the next day—or next birthday. That is just the ultimate way of being ungrateful for all the good in your life. Death is just another adventure ahead, not something to be feared. Betty found this very comforting. [2]

Betty says she avoids feeling jet-lag during her many cross-continent airline trips because she never resets her clock. She just keeps going forward as if the time has not changed. “Maybe the reason I don’t feel my age could be that I never reset my calendar either,” she thinks.[3]

“If one is lucky enough to be blessed with good health, growing older shouldn’t be something to complain about. It’s not a surprise, we knew it was coming—make the most of it. So you may not be as fast on your feet, and the image in the mirror may be a little disappointing, but if you are still functioning, and not in pain, gratitude should be the name of the game.”[4]

Betty says: “I can credit my folks for my genes. That said, I can’t get over that at this age I don’t feel this age. I’m not trying to be any younger. I’m not lying about my age. If I were lying about my age, I would say I was 89. I’m just at one of those good times in one’s life. I’m at one of the high spots. I’m healthy enough to enjoy it. I’m surrounded by friends I adore. Isn’t that kind of the best way to sign off?”[5]

At the end of her televised 90th birthday special, when Betty was finally up on stage and honored with a long standing ovation by her many friends and co-stars over the decades, she winked and blew a kiss toward the sky—thinking of Allen’s presence right there with her and thanking him for being a part of her long, fabulous, and truly amazing life.

 


White’s agent and friend, Jeff Witjas, told People, “Even though Betty was about to be 100, I thought she would live forever. I will miss her terribly, and so will the animal world that she loved so much. I don’t think Betty ever feared passing because she always wanted to be with her most beloved husband Allen Ludden. She believed she would be with him again.”

On December 30th, 2021, Betty White passed away in her home of natural causes. It hit fans particularly hard because it was only a few days before her 100th birthday on January 17th. People magazine had already released a special issue about Betty and featured a cover story about her in the regular edition for the week before her birthday. 

 



The People article quotes Betty: “My mother always used to say, ‘The older you get, the better you get. Unless you’re a banana.’”[6]

Over the years, Betty shared a story of her mother comforting her on the subject of death. She assured Betty that there is more to experience on the other side of what we see as death. Those who have passed on now know the answers to what lies ahead.

Rest in peace, Betty. Now you know.

 


And this concludes my series on the fabulous Betty White. 

Betty White: A Celebration will still be screened at movie theaters on January 17th. 

You can participate in the Betty White Challenge by donating to your favorite animal charity or rescue organization before the 17th. I donated to Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge, where I volunteer regularly. What a great way to honor Betty's memory!
 

Cheerios, apples, oranges, and avocados for the bears.


[1] White, Betty, Betty White in Person, ibid, p. 101.

[2] White, Betty, Betty White in Person, ibid, p. 91.

[3] White, Betty, Betty White in Person, ibid, p. 96.

[4] Hewitt, Bill, Betty White: An Illustrated Biography, p. 94.

[5] imdb.com

[6] McNeil, Liz, People magazine, “Forever Funny,” January 10, 2022.

Monday, January 3, 2022

Betty White: More Fabulous Than She Seems (Part 12)

Betty White passed on from natural causes on Thursday, December 30th, in her home. It breaks my heart that she didn't make it to her 100th birthday, only two weeks away. In her honor, I will wrap up this blog series as I had planned, with a few obvious adjustments. RIP, Betty. You made all of our lives brighter.


Chapter 10:  Advice and Success

What final thoughts and advice does Betty have after so many decades in the spotlight? Betty feels that everybody needs a passion. It is what keeps life interesting.

“I rarely hear the alarm clock,” she admits. “Even when I have to get up early, I’m usually awake before it goes off. I need about four hours’ deep sleep and I’m good to go. I chalk it up to my passions and enthusiasm. I can’t imagine living any other way.”

“I’m so fortunate that I not only have a passion for my profession but that that profession allows me to indulge my other passion—for animals—and work for their welfare. If I was in any other profession, people might not listen to me.”[1]

 


Are there acting jobs that she thinks, looking back, she should have taken instead of saying no? Betty says that she does not regret any role she has turned down because she feels it was always for the right reasons.

She was asked to play Helen Hunt’s mother in As Good As It Gets, which involved a scene where a dog was tossed in a garbage chute. She understood it was supposed to be funny, but she was worried that it might encourage someone to try it. It really bothered her. They wouldn’t cut the scene. She didn’t do the movie.

Making commercials is another place Betty selects carefully. Even though the work may pay well, Betty says she will not endorse something she does not believe in and actually use herself.

“Maybe it’s a reaction to hearing all those schlock pitches in the early days,” she says. “In today’s climate it may sound archaic, but I still have a thing about integrity. Call me crazy.”[2]

 


Betty says honesty is very important to her and was a virtue her mother taught her about in many ways. Her mother, Tess, would say: “Bets, you can lie to anyone in the world and even get away with it, perhaps, but when you are alone and look into your own eyes in the mirror, you can’t sidestep the truth. Always be sure you can meet those eyes directly. Otherwise, it’s big trouble, my girl.”[3]

Betty says she has tried to prove this wrong. “I stare back at my reflection and try to rationalize my way out of something, but it never works. Those eyes in the looking glass take on a life of their own. It still works, Mom. Even after all these years.”[4]

“Honesty is a virtue greatly to be admired, but it is strong medicine to be taken . . . and dished out . . . in careful doses.” She continues, “Being frank is fine, but not to the point of brutality. If you feel your ‘honest’ opinion will really benefit someone, then go for it . . . but if the hurt incurred will outweigh the benefit, keep your mouth shut. Truth is resilient and can be stretched pretty far. Lies . . . even little white ones . . . should be avoided like the plague . . . not only for moral reasons, but because, unless you are a master of the game (in which case, I don’t want anything to do with you), they are almost always going to come back to haunt you.”[5]

Betty feels that this sense of honesty is what has made her so successful in her TV career. She tries to keep every situation in a show as real and honest as she can. It has made the audience feel that they really know her and that she is a part of their lives.

 

 
Betty has gotten used to complete strangers acting like they are her friends. She cannot walk down the street, even in dark glasses with a scarf on her head, without hearing several times “Hi, Betty!” like she is a family friend.

She feels that this is the difference between being a TV star and a movie star. Movie stars are larger than life and up on a screen and feel very distant. TV stars come right into your home. Maybe they are around when you have dinner. You feel close to them. And her fans certainly feel close to her. But it doesn’t bother her. She feels it is a wonderful vote of confidence to have someone feel that you are part of their life.

Her fan club, Bet’s Pets, has been around since 1971. “I have found my fan club to be a group of constant and loyal friends through good times and bad. They are much appreciated,” she says.[6]

She is also grateful that they make huge efforts to support the charities that Betty herself works for. A large part of their work involves fundraising and making donations to animal-related charities.

 


But true and honest friends of her own have been hard for Betty over the years. She admits to being a workaholic, jumping from one project to another. Having a full schedule doesn’t allow for keeping friendships the way she would like. She often remarks that her husband Allen was her best friend. But there are others that have come into her life and stayed over the decades. She says that they know who they are.

“Friendship takes time and energy if it’s going to work. You can luck into something great, but it doesn’t last if you don’t give it proper appreciation. Friendship can be so comfortable, but nurture it—don’t take it for granted.” She also admits that she likes men best, even if it’s not politically correct. They are much more interesting to her.[7]

 


Show business is competitive, she admits, but in the end you are only competing against yourself. That is all that really matters, when all is said and done.

“Competing against yourself, day by day, stretches your capabilities and allows you to grow . . . just don’t make the standards too high,” she warns. “Remember, the object is to wind up feeling good about yourself . . . so the goal must be attainable . . . the rest is up to you.”[8]

She says the hardest times can be when you are really successful and on a roll. You can’t get caught up in the hype. “You have to keep your feet on the ground and remember that this is what you’ve worked for all your life. And now that you’ve achieved it, you don’t want to screw it up. You can’t get carried away with your image, because you know better than anyone else who the real person is. You don’t just luck into integrity. You work at it.”[9]

The vast majority of TV viewers would say that Betty has pulled off being a star without losing that part of herself that fans have loved for 70 years. That goal of honesty and integrity comes through in the work that she does, both as a professional actor and in her philanthropy and charity work.

Interestingly, after so many awards and famous roles, Betty says that she really hopes her legacy includes her work with animals. “The animal world has really come to the point where we realize what a major part of our lives they are, so that’s how I’d like to be remembered.”[10] Her work with the Morris Animal foundations, including giving the seed-money for developing a pain management program for animals after surgery, will never be forgotten by those who were touched by it.

For now, Betty is still best known to us at the woman who can always make us smile. “You can tell that Betty has always had a giggle in her heart,” says Wendy Malick, her co-star on Hot in Cleveland. “You can just tell she’s approached her life with gratitude and joy.”[11]

Writer David Wild may have summed it up best. When he had a chance to write some lines for Betty as a part of a TV Land award show, he said it was “pure bliss.”

“I hold this truth to be self-evident,” Wild says, “Betty White is a genuine comedy goddess. . . . Betty White was—and is—the consummate professional, the sweetest and most adorable comedy machine.”[12]

 


A 2013 article that again established that Betty is America’s Most Appealing Celebrity, says: “Like the Energizer bunny or a vintage steam engine (which was still in use around the time of her birth), Betty White just keeps going and going.”[13]


{Come back next week for the final chapter "Old Age" 
and remembrances from those who knew her best over the decades.}



[1] White, Betty, If You Ask Me, ibid, p. 30.

[2] White, Betty, Here We Go Again, p. 260.

[3] White, Betty, If You Ask Me, ibid, p. 7.

[4] White, Betty, If You Ask Me, ibid, p. 8.

[5] White, Betty, Betty White in Person, ibid, p. 23.

[6] White, Betty, Betty White in Person, ibid, p. 41.

[7] White, Betty, If You Ask Me, ibid, p. 170.

[8] White, Betty, Betty White in Person, ibid, p. 55.

[9] White, Betty, If You Ask Me, ibid, p. 252.

[10] Hewitt, Bill, Betty White: An Illustrated Biography, p. 64.

[11] Hewitt, Bill, Betty White: An Illustrated Biography, p. 81.

[12] Wild, David. May 11, 2010. “‘Golden Lady’: A Lifelong Fan’s Playlist for the Great Betty White,” www.huffingtonpost.com.

[13] The Globe and Mail, Inc. April 10, 2013. “Really? Betty White named America’s most-appealing celebrity.” http://www.theglobeandmail.com/life/celebrity-news/really-betty-white-named-americas-most-appealing-celebrity/article10982312.

Monday, December 27, 2021

Betty White: More Fabulous Than She Seems (Part 11)

 Chapter 9:  Stage Fright and Awards Shows

Betty remembers being terrified to get up in front of people when she was in grade school. By high school it was better, but she never totally outgrew that stage fright. It still happens today every time she goes onstage. Butterflies in her stomach.

“Butterflies, as beautiful as they are,” she says, “should stay in the garden where they belong.”[1]

Betty believes that all actors have stage fright of some sort and it is just part of the job. And she still feels it.

“Waiting to make an entrance onstage, your mouth dries up, you can’t get your upper lip down off your front teeth, your heart is around your knees.”[2]

“You’re taking a chance every time you step in front of an audience,” she says. You could forget your lines or make a fool of yourself. It is about fear, but it is also about embarrassment. You run that risk every time you step on stage or in front of a camera. “So is the stage fright due to fear of forgetting lines? Fear of drawing a blank on what to say? Fear of making a fool of oneself? All of the above.”[3]

Backstage before taping an episode of The Golden Girls in front of a live audience, each of the stars had their own way of dealing with their butterflies. Betty says she would get “aggressively cheerful,” trying to rouse up the spirits of the group.

“Unable to stop myself,” she says, “all I need is a letter sweater and pompoms.” But she admits she may sometimes overdo it a bit. “One night all three of those ladies are going to deck me.”[4]

 


And big award shows are just as bad, if not worse. She says that while you are sitting in your seat or at your table you forget about the whole big audience that is there with you. But if you win and have to go up on stage and face that audience, it is overwhelming. “When you turn around, the impact of what you see scares anything out of your head that was ever there!”[5] She does not prepare speeches, and she is always sure she will not win, even though she does quite often.

 


She also admits that she hates “red carpets”—the walk into the award show where stars are expected to do interviews and have their photo taken by hundreds of paparazzi. She says these events are fun to watch at home, but the reality of it is very different. It is blinding and deafening and you can be easily overwhelmed by the yelling and commotion. But she realizes that it is part of the job.

“You can’t resent it,” she admits. “It’s a necessary evil to promote a project. It’s a hazard one just has to get over. It’s not my favorite part of my job. . . . I would rather go to the dentist for a root canal.”[6]

One way that she gets through them is the sense that her beloved husband Allen is still nearby. When she wins an award, he is up there with her. “. . . he’s never very far from me. Ever,” she says.[7]

“Stage fright is uncomfortable and all that, but it’s a life saver. Because the panic that sets in you’ve gotta counter, and you’ve gotta get a handle on that in order to do what you’re doing. So the stage fright is what puts the edge on a performance.”[8]

Based on all the awards she’s won over the decades, Betty has certainly learned how to make that stage fright work in her favor. And as viewers, we are none the wiser about those butterflies in her stomach.

{Come back next week for the next chapter "Advice and Success"!}

 

[1] White, Betty, Betty White in Person, ibid, p. 85.

[2] White, Betty, Betty White in Person, ibid, p. 84.

[3] White, Betty, If You Ask Me, ibid, p. 118.

[4] White, Betty, Betty White in Person, ibid, p. 85.

[5] White, Betty, If You Ask Me, ibid, p. 53.

[6] White, Betty, If You Ask Me, ibid, p. 71.

[7] White, Betty, If You Ask Me, ibid, p. 66.

[8] White, Betty. Betty White: First Lady of Television, ibid.

Monday, December 20, 2021

Betty White: More Fabulous Than She Seems (Part 10)

Chapter 8: Hot and Off Her Rocker

Betty was not supposed to be a regular on the first scripted sitcom for TV Land, Hot in Cleveland. She agreed to do the pilot episode in 2010, and then she was talked into a few spots in the early episodes playing the sassy (and often downright naughty) Elka Ostrovsky. As more and more episodes were picked up, she said she couldn’t possibly do it. Her schedule was already packed with amazing things to do. She did not have the time. Shooting a TV show can mean four or five days a week and ten hour days. And, let’s face it, she was 89 years old! But Betty hated to turn down an opportunity to be on a great show.

“I have the backbone of a jellyfish,” she says of that decision.[1]

 


She finally agreed to all the planned episodes—twenty in all. And Betty continued as a regular on the show until its final season in 2015, with her love-life as the focus of many plot lines. Women in their 90s have a love-life? Betty was happy to portray a character who flirted and dated and behaved more like a twenty-year-old. It is hard to imagine the show without Elka. She even had the chance to reunite with her Mary Tyler Moore castmate Georgia Engel as the ditsy Mamie, Elka’s best friend, for almost twenty episodes.

As her reward, Betty won a Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Comedy Series in 2011 and 2012. Hot in Cleveland was a huge success for the TV Land network, was rated the number-one television show on cable, and is often listed as “staring Betty White,” despite the other three veteran TV series actresses on the show as well.

“What absolutely boggles my mind,” Betty says, “is that I find myself in yet another hit series, having a ball with a wonderful cast and crew. One of those in a lifetime is a blessing, two of them is a privilege, but three out of three? I owe Someone, big time.”[2]

She also hosted the prank show Betty White’s Off Their Rockers for NBC television, where old people get the better of younger ones, often in very naughty ways. Her agent had to talk her into doing it, but it was also nominated for an Emmy Award for the first season and ran for two more.

 


“Oh well, that’s the silliest thing in the world,” Betty says of the show, “but we’re having a good time. . . . It makes no sense, but if we keep our sense of humor, we have fun!”[3]

Carl Reiner, who joined Betty on Hot in Cleveland for eight guest spots as her love interest, said of her, "She's one of those people who's always welcome to whatever show she's in. She just twinkles."[4]

 


But all that twinkling and laughter doesn’t mean Betty is free from nerves and stage fright, even after six decades in the spotlight.

{Come back next week for the chapter "Stage Fright and Award Shows"!}

 



[1] White, Betty, If You Ask Me, ibid, p.37.

[2] White, Betty, If You Ask Me, ibid, p.37.

[3] Jeffery, Morgan. September 21, 2012. “Betty White Hot in Cleveland Q&A”, digitalspy.com. http://www.digitalspy.com/tv/interviews/a407248/betty-white-hot-in-cleveland-qa-we-get-a-little-bawdy-sometimes.html.

[4] Reiner, Carl. Betty White: First Lady of Television, ibid.