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A book for my birthday


Recently while traveling in Dublin, Ireland, I learned that James Joyce chose his birthday for the release of his novel “Finnegan’s Wake.”

“If James Joyce can use his birthday as a deadline, so can I!” Using a saddlebag full of my spotty logic I knew it was time to launch the book by my birthday in November. Yes, it will be a double celebration.

Books are not released these days they are “launched.” I’ve worked on my book over a year, a patchwork memoir originally composed of my best personal columns from the last 40 years that tell stories about my life. But then I added new stories about my life before I settled down to writing columns. I wrote about my exciting teenage years competing in rodeos because that is when my adrenalin was flowing at its highest.

I couldn’t leave out the part about working in Hollywood in the film business and encountering movie stars like Warren Beatty, George C. Scott, Clint Eastwood — on movie sets or in their homes. Aha! writing about them — great experiences a young woman in her twenties and grist for this writer finishing a memoir. This part was a kick to write.

So the my manuscript got much better, I’m hearing things from my marketing and website person, “What’s your brand, Mary?”

I picture a brand on the rear end of a cow, at least that’s what it meant when I grew up around animals. “Double Bar K” I say.

“What’s the K for?” she asks?”

“K is for Kick ass!”

“No,” she says. “Your brand in one word or phrase tells who you are!”

“But I am many people in the book,” I say. “It moves chronologically: teenage rodeo champion, movie actress, mom raising two kids, woman alone after marriage breaks up, woman happily remarried late in life.” I add, “Through it all I wrote columns locally and in the Chicago Tribune, and two mystery novels on the side. And I have to get it down to one brand?”

“Yes, define yourself.”


“Let’s think on that one,” she says.

There is an ocean of difference between writing a book and launching a book. Since I grew up in the Space Age the first thought that comes to mind about launching is Cape Canaveral and rockets, even spaceships full of astronauts heading for the moon. Webster says launch means to “hurl or send forth with some force.” Also launch means “to start something new.”

So this morning, I woke up at 2 a.m. picturing my book shooting into space. “No wait,” I said to my husband who was asleep. “I’d rather go with the other meaning of launch which is to slide a new vessel into the water.”

“Sure, sure,” he mumbled and turned over.

If I’m pregnant with a book, honestly that’s what it feels like, it’s my baby. It might be bald or pudgy but it’s mine.

I text the marketing person. “Can we launch my baby, I mean my book in the bathtub?”

She writes back. She’s up all night too. ‘No, no ... in a cloud an internet cloud, Twitter and Facebook, YouTube.”

This will be fun, but for me it’s like going to the moon, the territory completely unknown. What will feel like and what will be the results?



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