Monday, November 12, 2018

Island Life Sentence VBT

Peg Savage has contractually agreed to move to Key West, Florida. The smudged signatures on the damp cocktail napkin are irrefutable proof.

“An adventure…” her husband Clark says.

Peg can’t swim; she’s afraid of bridges (there are 42 of them); and she doesn’t want to leave her friends. However, after a bottle of Cabernet, a move from Chicago to the southernmost city in the United States seems like the best decision ever.

But now Clark has taken a long term job in Cuba and she’s on her own.

Neither her dog Nipper, nor the ghosts in the attic, offer up any good advice. But how hard can it be living in paradise?

Peg dives into island life but the more effort she makes, the wider her wake of catastrophes. She is tortured by a paddle board, a giant poisonous toad, the local Conservation group, and the patron saint of hurricanes. Not to mention the persistent sweat rash under her left breast.

A tropical depression descends on the island – one that can’t be cured with medication. Peg must gather her strength if she has any hope of surviving the storm.

The next day, when Clark greeted Peg in the kitchen, his face lit up with hungover happiness. Peg held up the still-damp paper towel contract – black ink sticking to her index finger and thumb.

“Yes, here’s the proof.” She dropped the drunken pact into the desk drawer on top of the crusty remains of past contracts that refused to lie flat. She could just make out the blotchy inked words company, job and dog on the corners of the stacked agreements.

“It’ll be fun, an adventure.” Clark kissed her lips, his breath a mixture of mouthwash and sour bar towel. “I’ll make the arrangements. We can get away at the end of the week.”

Peg wished that he would stop saying the word adventure.

Who has influenced me as a writer

I love humor. Slapstick. Farcical. Burlesque. Dry. Droll. Anecdotal. Sophomoric. Screwball. You get the idea.  I’m attracted to funny people, authors and animals (not necessarily in that order).

I’m hoping you’ve read something (anything) by Carl Hiaasen. He’s a Florida writer who gets it. He’s written many books but two of my favorites are Tourist Season and Razor Girl, (I can’t type the titles without smiling). 

Here’s a quote from Tourist Season:
“Never would she admit to her Otter Creek neighbors that her unhappiness was anything but a widow’s grief, or that sometimes, during Florida’s steambath of a summer, she longed to be back up North, in the city, where one could actually walk to the grocery store without an oxygen tank.”

Razor Girl is based on a real life criminal. A woman drives to the Keys and gets into a car accident while shaving her private parts. When I moved to Key West 5 years ago, this news story is what sparked my desire to create a blog about the crime down here.

And, of course, there’s The Onion. The cleverest people in the world write these articles--the headlines alone are genius.

For example, here’s The Onion’s  Mother’s Day headline:

And also this Onion article:

Personally, I don’t know what I’d do without my girlfriends.  It’s important to have tight female bonds.  I’ve realized just because I’ve moved geographically far away from these fabulous women, doesn’t mean we don’t communicate on a regular basis. In fact, we make a bigger effort now that we need to schedule our together time. They listen, laugh and support me unconditionally. I try to do the same for them--but usually it’s all about me.

I worship Tina Fey and Amy Poehler. They’re long time, loyal friends and kick ass comediennes.  

From Yes Please by Amy Poehler:
“You have to care about your work but not about the result. You have to care about how good you are and how good you feel, but not about how good people think you are or how good people think you look.”

From Bossypants by Tina Fey:
"I was walking home alone from school and I was wearing a dress. A dude drove by and yelled, “Nice tits.” Embarrassed and enraged, I screamed after him, “Suck my dick.” Sure, it didn’t make any sense, but at least I don’t hold in my anger.”

Key West is hugely influential to my writing. Every time I venture out of the house, it’s a story.  Yesterday, a nesting Mockingbird chased the dog and me down the street.  It swooped at my head, pecked at the dog’s butt, then stood its ground directly in front of us on the sidewalk. As my 50 pound (bird) dog cowered in fear behind my legs, I placed my hands firmly on my hips and spoke in a firm tone to the menace, “you know you are like 5 inches tall - right?”  It flapped its wings and made direct beady eye contact.  It was like looking into the soul of the devil.  We about-faced as fast as our 6 legs would take us.

Key West is an island of writers. I am a mere grain of sand in the land of colossal mountains.  I volunteer weekly in Books & Books Key West --my boss? Judy Blume. Last summer,  I sat next to Meg Cabot at a Take Stock in Children symposium. Come on. How great is that?  

Rich or poor, funny or not, one thing we have in common is we all sweat a lot.  It rhymes and is true.


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Don’t forget to visit the other stops on the tour.

Author Bio and Links:
After raising three boys in the suburbs of Chicago, Carrie Jo Howe now lives in Key West, Florida with her husband and her dog. Her latest novel, Island Life Sentence, is a fictional account of an American Midwestern woman who feels like an alien in the “one human family” of Key West. Carrie Jo’s first book, Motherhood is NOT for Babies, received a rave review (thanks Mom), and works wonderfully as a form of contraception. Her blog Florida Keys Crime Report, tells of all the goings on in the Keys, where bank robbers get away on bicycles, and perps caught with undersized, pinched, out-of-season lobsters get more jail time than drug runners. She is currently working on the sequels to Island Life Sentence.

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  1. I am enjoying these tours and finding all the terrific books my family is enjoying reading. Thanks for bringing them to us and keep up the good work.

  2. Who is your favorite literary character of all time? I hope your book is a success. Bernie Wallace BWallace1980(at)hotmail(d0t)com

  3. Enjoyed reading the blurb and the exerpt, want to read more.