Posts Tagged ‘Pat Bean’

Here’s Mary, tour guide extraordinaire.

Today we’ve put the Magic Dog on a leash and walked down the street to the Corner Cafe, where we’ve caught up with Mary Montague Sikes, a woman who knows exactly what a vacation should involve–an exotic location, a mysterious, studly stranger, a beautiful woman (who is “us,” of course), a spice of danger, and romance. How do we know this? Her popular Passenger to Paradise series proves it. She’s been writing books that offer her readers a taste of the perfect summer vacation for 10 years now.

Bodie: Hi, Mary, thanks for meeting us. We’re all curious, though–why here?  What is The Corner Cafe, and what’s so special about it?

Mary: Almost every small town has a gathering place—a diner, a cozy family-run restaurant. That’s what the Corner Café is for me. This quaint little restaurant has been in business for many years and is now a community landmark.

Bodie: But The Corner Cafe  is also a charming collection of short stories produced by Dani Greer, mastermind and blog book tour maestro, and you have a short story in it, right?

Mary: Right–“A Face at the Window.”

Bodie P: “A Face at the Window” starts out like many of your travel books–a young woman finds herself in dire need of a vacation, so she packs a bag and heads out. But that’s where the similarities end. Your central character, Arianna, has tragically lost a child, and in seeking to escape the anniversary of her loss she winds up in Milwaukee, possibly one of the least “exotic” cities in America. And there’s not a whiff of beefcake in sight. What prompted this story?

Mary: Last summer we spent several days in Milwaukee where I visited the beautiful art museum located on Lake Michigan. One of the exhibits that most impressed me was the bronze sculpture with a countless number of the same male figure, mouth open in a cry. That exhibit left a lasting memory for me. The story itself was prompted by something that happened years ago when our middle daughter was four years old. We were crossing a street to one of the Smithsonian Museums when she suddenly disappeared. I still remember my terrible panic which, of course, she never understood. What if I had never found her?

Bodie: Remember that movie, Tootsie? There’s a scene where Jeff (played by Bill Murray) says, “I don’t want people to say, ‘I saw your play. I liked it.’ I want them to say, ‘I saw your play. What happened?’ “A Face at the Window” is like that. I read your story.  And after I read the closing words I found myself wondering, What happened next? I don’t want to give away the end of the story for those who haven’t read it yet, but is there anything you can share without doing that? If you see Arianna and her daughter in another ten years, where are they? What are they doing?

Mary: That’s a very good question. In this age of the Internet, people do reconnect. Children find parents they never knew. Sometimes reconnecting can destroy a family. I know of one such case. I can see this story as the beginning of a novel. I’m going to think about it.

Bodie: In Arianna, you’ve written a character who badly needs the sort of escape your “Passenger to Paradise” series offers. Since we’re just heading into summer, can you recommend a few summer reading destinations you think we’d particularly enjoy?

Mary: I love the Caribbean where St. Martin is one of my favorite destinations. Although I haven’t written about it yet, I have a story set there waiting for me to tell. My book Secrets by the Sea  is set on another favorite Caribbean Island, Antigua. A sequel, Jungle Jeopardy,  is more of an adventure and is set in Central America. Jamaica is my favorite destination of all—we’ve been there more than a dozen times. My very first novel Hearts Across Forever  is set there. If you enjoy reincarnation stories, you’ll want to read this one.

Bodie: Thanks, Mary, and thanks for introducing us to The Corner Cafe. (All right, all right–full disclosure prompts me to admit that I already know about it, and this is part of a little thing we like to call a “blog book tour,” where a bunch of us bloggers get together and decide we’re going to blog about one thing–in this case, a book for which many of us contributed a short story or two–and we’re going to do it in succession. And so the party rolls across the internet, going from blog to blog, spreading the glad news that The Corner Café is open for business. Tomorrow The Corner Café book tour visits Heidi Thomas‘ very fine blog. Stop in and say hi. If you’d like to download The Corner Cafe for yourself, you can do it here for the very fine price of 99¢. Or, if you’re really thrifty, wait for a free download weekend–I believe we have one coming up soon (like in a couple of days).

Mary: Thank you so much for having me as your guest, Bodie. Now I want to hit the road for one of those beautiful destinations where a fragrant summer breeze dances through my hair.

And thank you, Gentle Readers, for joining us on this stop of The Corner Café’s blog book tour. Here’s the tour itinerary. Please join us for tomorrow’s scheduled event!

June 8 Heidi Thomas http://heidiwriter.wordpress.com
June 11 Marian Allen http://www.marianallen.com/
June 12 W.S Gager http://wsgager.blogspot.com
June 13 Chris Verstraete http://candidcanine.blogspot.com
June 14 Helen Ginger http://straightfromhel.blogspot.com
June 15 Kathy Wheeler
June 18 Morgan Mandel Double M http://morganmandel.blogspot.com
June 19 Pat Bean http://patbean.wordpress.com
June 20 Shonell Bacon http://chicklitgurrl.blogspot.com
June 21 Alberta Ross http://albertaross.wordpress.com
June 22 Karen Casey Fitzjerrell http://karencaseyfitzjerrell.blogspot.com
June 25 Pat Stoltey http://patriciastoltey.blogspot.com
June 26 SB Lerner http://www.susanblerner.com
June 27 Maryann Miller http://its-not-all-gravy.blogspot.com/
June 28 Mary Montague Sikes http://marymontaguesikes.blogspot.com
June 29 Stephen Tremp http://breakthroughblogs.blogspot.com

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It’s funny how quickly one’s heart can be given away. Maggie has stolen mine. Those of you who follow Pat Bean’s wonderful travel blog already know all about her, but for those of you who don’t, Maggie is a small black Cocker Spaniel, and she’s been visiting me this week along with her pet, Pat Bean (why yes, I DID read 101 Dalmations). Unlike many Cockers, Maggie’s got Dignity. She’s the most self-possessed dog I know. While she likes to have her ears rubbed, she’s not a fanatic on the subject. She’s a grand old lady who knows what she wants, and who she is. She’s not a dog to fawn. When Pat and Maggie first arrived Pat assured me that Maggie was happiest napping in the motor home.

Maybe she would have been, but The Boy and I wooed her with cheeseburgers, and she did us the very great favor of accompanying us to the house and napping on a quilt in the kitchen while Pat and I worked on transforming one of her travel blogs into a book. From time to time Maggie got up and went and checked on the House Leroy, the cats, and The Boy (she liked The Boy best), checked my hand for a possible overlooked cheeseburger, then curled up on her quilt again.

There’s something about a dog sleeping on the kitchen floor. I hadn’t realized how much I missed it until Maggie made the spot right in front of the kitchen sink her own. The Magic Dog is great, but he lives only in my memory. Maggie was warm, and wiggly, and amply moustaschioed. She was here. This morning Pat and Maggie hit the road again, off on a journey that has lasted the best part of a decade now. I bought Pat an omelette for breakfast, and  a couple sausage McMuffins (with egg and cheese) for Maggie. And then they drove away.

All day, it’s been very quiet around here. Maggie’s quilt lies forlorn and empty in front of the sink. Her water bowl sits in the corner. I know if I were a better housekeeper I’d have already tidied away these small reminders, but there it is. I’m not a better housekeeper. When my nephews were toddlers they left our town and moved to California with their parents. The day they left we celebrated my nephew Aaron’s second birthday. After my sister drove away in the U-Haul my brother and I cleaned the apartment, locked the door for the last time, and took the remnants of the cake back to our apartment.

The apartment felt empty, and too quiet, like my house does now. Small handprints smeared the television screen, and the cake sat on the cupboard until it petrified. Looking at it hurt, but looking at the empty place where it had been after my brother did what I should have done and threw it away hurt even more.

I’ll wash the blanket and Maggie’s water bowl soon, just like I eventually removed the He-Man action figures and small Spider Man boys’ underwear from my purse after the boys left. But not quite yet. Good-bye, Maggie. Good-bye, Pat. May the road rise up to meet you. May the wind be always at your back. May the sun shine warm upon your face, and rains fall soft upon your fields. May your tires never blow out. May you never get stuck behind an eighteen-wheeler with faulty mudflaps when it’s raining. May your radiator never boil over. May all your Park Rangers be young, wealthy, handsome and friendly. May the Les Schwab men run fast when you pull in, and may a McDonalds appear on the roadside every time you are hungry (that’s for you, Maggie). And until we meet again, may the Deity of your choice hold you in the palm of his, her, or its hand. If he, she, or it has hands. Take care, you two.

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