My ghost author, Joanna Campbell Slan, is busy getting ready to go to Malice Domesticin Bethesda, MD, and Festival of Mystery in Oakmont, PA. At Malice, she'll moderate one panel and be a participant in another. It's been a busy week for her and me with the release of Ready, Scrap, Shoot, the fifth book in my series. I know that Joanna's been thinking about one particular question she'll be asked at Malice, and I wanted to weigh on it because, ahem, it really is all about me.
See, the moderator asked Joanna to be thinking about the ways in which I've changed. And golly, don't you know I have? It's been nearly seven years since Paper, Scissors, Death was first written, the first book in my series. Back then, I was the stereotypical stay-at-home soccer mom, who lived in a McMansion in a fancy suburb of St. Louis. Today I'm a widow, working full-time, living in a converted garage, in a quirky suburb of St. Louis. Besides losing my husband, the biggest change has been that I'm gainfully employed, doing something I love.
Now my life revolves around my daughter, my friends, and the store.
What a difference it makes in life to have meaningful work! A reason to get up in the morning. A place to go with people who share your interests. A way to express yourself, to add value in this world, and to make money.
I love what I do. I help people preserve their memories, and mainly those are good memories. Sometimes I help them put sad memories to rest. Like when a mother has had a miscarriage or when someone has passed on. Heck, I've even done a divorce album or two. The act of committing your memories to paper can free you to move on. I've seen that happen countless times.
Our store is a gathering spot for people. Recently Joanna visited the Paper Niche, a scrapbook store in Davie, Florida. She was struck anew by the camaraderie, by the close friendships the customers had developed. This weekend she'll be at Everything Scrapbooks & Stamps in Lake Worth, Florida. It's her second visit there, and last time she and the women at the store had a blast laughing and learning together.
Someday maybe she'll visit Time in a Bottle. When Joanna does, she'll probably find me hunched over a work table, helping a customer save her memories. I think she'll recognize me, even though I've changed.
Yes, I've grown as a person. I'm more confident, more assertive, and happier. Some of that is because I'm older, and life has a way of forcing you to grow up. But mainly I think I've changed because I have a wonderful job, and it's brought out the best in me.