The end of this month I will be releasing my two books, Magel’s Daughter and Magel’s Ghost. I am already gearing up for the reviews. To quote Jeff Goldblum in The Lost World, “Oh yeah, Oooh, ahhh, that’s how it always starts. Then later there’s running and screaming.”

Having been down this road before, I’ll share some of the things I’ve learned. First of all, the good reviews are so welcome. There’s nothing like approval. Then there are the bad reviews: here is where I start running and screaming. I find it interesting that in the past, when I’ve read my reviews on Goodreads, they post some self help which goes something like this: don’t take this personally, every author experiences a bad review. And please do not contact the reviewer to find out why they wrote what they did. Clearly, Goodreads understands and tries to talk the author down from the ledge. The advice is sound and helpful, but so is a large glass of wine with chocolate cake.

That said, when the dust settles, the bad reviews are the ones I learn from, and, like going to the dentist and having my teeth drilled or a colonoscopy, they are necessary. So I’m girding myself for the inevitable: a case of Pinot Noir, and Duncan Hines cake mix in hand.

The Wife Swap

There’s an old saying, “A man’s car is an extension of his…” You know how it goes. But this is all wrong, a man’s relationship with his car is more than that, much more. A car, especially a new one, becomes the love of his life. It’s as if he swapped his wife for a car. Let me tell you a little story:

My husband was in the market for a new SUV. For over a month he combed through the reviews of every SUV available, compared statistics, referred to the blue book re-sale, checked price differences on 2014 vs 2015. On the way home from work, while his dinner grew cold, he’d drive-by-shop the car lots. At night in bed he’d read through the ever growing stack of brochures on his nightstand. Our conversations were all about the color of the exterior/interior, leather quality, style differences, gas mileage, warranty, the endless list of accouterments. Somebody save me, I silently pleaded. Finally he narrowed down the list to four possibilities.

He managed to lure me into car shopping by promising dinner out, and being the supportive (and lazy) wife that I am I happily agreed. A funny thing happened to my sweet, well-mannered husband when we were approached by the salesmen–he’d turn from Dr. Jekyll to Mr. Hyde. A barrage of disparaging comments about the SUV under consideration would fly from his mouth, and they went something like this: 

The wheels look small and cheap. Replace them with the wheels I saw on the other model. There’s a scratch on the door. (I couldn’t see it) What’s with the cargo space it looks smaller? Inside the truck he wiggled his butt on the seat, motioned for me to get into the passenger seat and coerced me to wiggle. Are the seats leather? It looks like vinyl. Is that real wood on the dash? It looks like plastic. (wrapped his knuckles on said dash)There’s a funny smell in here. New car, I offered. No its a strong chemical smell. I could only smell new car.

Toward the end of our fun-filled evening we were at the fourth car lot. After my husband had thoroughly trash-talked the truck, he wanted to test drive it. When the salesman got into the backseat, my little sweetie told him to get out. The salesman awkwardly apologized and got out. I shrank into the seat. On the drive he turned every knob (and there are several) blasting the air conditioning, testing the radio, he punched the gas, slammed the brakes, turned sharp corners, and then asked me what I thought of the ride. What was I suppose to say? I felt like I’d been strapped into a roller coaster. Finally we return and I’m thinking he hates it and we’ll never make our dinner reservation. The salesman is waiting for us. “Would you like to come inside and I’ll write it up?” My husband says, “Nope. You know what I want. Give me your best price and email it to me tomorrow.” He turned on his heel and walked away. I stood there awkwardly, held out my hand and felt like apologizing for my husband’s behavior.

When my husband drove the new truck home the following week, I didn’t know if he’d be sleeping in the bedroom or the garage.