Making Mum Proud

A couple of days into my end-of-summer vacation, I was succeeding at my goal of cutting off all communication with the outside world. It definitely helped that the internet was dodgy where I preferred to drink my morning coffee, on the balcony overlooking the beach. After a few frustrating minutes out there waiting for my web browser to load, it would stress me out so much I was forced to flip down my screen and continue devouring my beach read instead. (The Knockoff by Lucy Sykes and Jo Piazza. And yes, you will eat it up too.)

Our country could have gone to war or to Mars, or Lord help me, all the Fall boots at Nordstrom could have gone on sale, and I would not have known about it.

These are the chances we take going away, escaping, completely checking out, and the rewards of mental clarity and hours spent floating in warm seas are worth the risks of not knowing who Donald Trump pissed off today or having to pay an extra $50 for black studded booties.

On this particular morning it was raining, which shrunk my teensy to-do-list in half. Read book on beach? Or read book on balcony? Mother Nature, bless her, had made my decision for me.

But my daughter had a different agenda. Children on vacation are ALL about agendas. Water parks. Amusement rides. Mini golf. Ice cream. My kids’ to-do list stretched for more miles than the shoreline beyond my balcony. And today, Bean decided, was the perfect day to go find the souvenir shop Grandpa had told her about, the one that was promising the free* hermit crabs. ("free” with the $12.99 purchase of tank, gravel and food).

She brought me my phone so I could google the directions, knowing at the tender age of 9 that I could do that faster on 4G then I would over Wifi. And that’s how I came to see the text message from my writing partner Anna.
Check your email—2 bits of good news
It was the modern day equivalent of a message-in-a-bottle. Outside communication I couldn’t possibly ignore. Anna would not have reached out to me like that if it wasn’t truly good. Not even to notify me about Nordy’s half-yearly shoe sale.

I went back inside to get the laptop buried at the bottom of my suitcase, turned it on and impatiently waited for Mac Mail to load. Good news number one was a blurb about my book from best-selling author Sarah Bird (Above the East China Sea), in which she describes my and Anna’s soon-to-be released novel Copygirl as "funny as hell."

I could have closed my laptop right then and been walking on sunshine for the rest of that cloudy day.

But, like a lucky-feeling contestant on Let’s Make A Deal, I had to see what was behind email number two.

And it was this review from Publishers Weekly.

The write-up opens with this…
Here’s what happens when girl power storms Mad Men, according to former ad agency creative writers Mitchael and Sassa. Whether it’s accurate is unimportant, since they got it wickedly funny and smartly sweet.

And ends with this…
Mitchael’s and Sassa’s collaborative narrative is seamless, and their story is a high-octane, electric look at Madison Avenue craziness from a pair who’ve been there and done that. A very fun read.

And if (shame-on-you) you didn’t bother to go read everything in between, trust me, it’s all good too. I felt so many emotions—surprise, relief, joy—that I did what any well-adjusted, confident grown-up in my position would do. I went running to go tell my mommy. Fortunately I didn't have to run far, since she was staying in the hotel room next to mine. Her door was cracked so I banged one time and went barging in, screaming, 'Wait ‘til you hear the review that just came in, the one that gets featured on Amazon and!'

As she, my dad and their two best friends finished up their pancake breakfast, I read them the whole piece word for word. There were oohs, ahhs and smiles as I enunciated, my enthusiasm infecting their own. And when I was done, my mom smiled like I’d just won an Oscar.

Then she turned to her friend Kay and said the absolute last thing I was expecting to hear. 'Attila the Mum, that’s ME,' she beamed proudly, referring to the plot summary portion of the review that mentions how the heroine tries to win the approval of her overbearing mother.

There were 202 words in that review, some positively flattering, and instead of telling me 'nice job' or 'way to go', my mother honed in on "Attila the Mum", inserting herself.

'What makes you think that character is YOU?' I laughed incredulously. 'She could be Anna’s mom for all you know. Or an amalgamation of every mom we’ve ever met.'

But my mom shook her head, insistent, not buying a word I was selling. The irony was, here I was, trying to make her proud, just like my heroine, so the parallels weren't much of a stretch.

And she was proud, just not for the reason I expected. Even though "Attila the Mum" is not exactly a compliment.

But I guess it's true what they say, 'there's no such thing as bad press'. And 'it's better to be known for the wrong reasons than not talked about at all.'

As I get ready for Copygirl to come out on October 6, I know there will probably be more written about it (let's hope) and it may not all be favorable. I can't just check out, stick my head in the sand and ignore the world beyond my walls. But I'm returning from vacation refreshed and excited. No matter what happens with my book this Fall, good or disappointing, I can always find comfort in a new pair of boots.

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    Marie Terry

    1. Thanks Mrs. T. I couldn't have done it without all the strong Moms in my life like you! xo


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