MQ: Hello, Fantastic Readers across the other side of the screen! How y’all doin’ today, sweeties? I’m here on the beach tryin’ to track down a Ms. Vickery an’ accordin’ to my directions, this right here is her RV. Yoo hoo! (waves) Ms. Vickery, Billy Bob says I was to interro-- um, that is, interview you today for my column. It’s called, ‘Ms. Quote’s WORDS with…’ And you’re the ‘with’ today! (gives bright smile)
Ms. Quote's WORDS with...
RJV: (glances up from where she reclines on beach lounge) Ms. Quote, did you really mean to wear six inch stiletto heels in all this sand?
MQ: You noticed! But, um, yeah, that sand is as heavy as concrete! (shakes one delicate foot packed in a pound of wet sand).
RJV: (sighs) Maybe we should start the interview instead. Please, make yourself comfortable. (waves to vacant beach chair)
MQ: Thanks, but -- oh! It’s so windy here! (pushes bangs away from where strands of hair tangle before her mascared eyes).
RJV: Hm. (purses mouth) Maybe you’ve never actually been to a beach before?
MQ: (stares after one false eyelash that is swept away in a strong gust) How can you tell?
RJV: (hides smile) Just face the wind, dear, and you’ll be fine. (clears throat) Now. Which book did you wish to ask me about today? Oh, yes. Looking Through the Mist. Did you bring a list of questions?
MQ: Uh huh. (rummages through handbag the size of an index card) But they’re not here! Oh, golly. Now I remember…(brow wrinkles in thought) I took ‘em out so I could make room for my microphone. Here it is! (holds mike in one hand and gives it a hard shake) How did sand get in there???
RJV: (rolls eyes) Your first question, Ms. Quote?
MQ: Hm? (gives RJV questioning glance, and then giggles). Oh, that! Well, let’s see…uhhh…what was your story about, sugar pie? For the life of me, I can’t remember a thin’!
RJV: (groans) Okay. How about a blurb? (turns book over and reads) Romantic mystery with a twist... Psychic Jessica Wilder was a consultant for the FBI until she suffered burnout. She starts a new life for herself. Suddenly, the visions are back with a vengeance — children are being kidnapped. How can she not try to save the children? Detective Jonathan Lansing doesn't believe in psychics. Can the woman in front of him help? Or is she involved?
MQ: Ooh, goody! (clasps hands together) How is your romantic mystery a ‘twist’?
RJV: Ha! Well, that has nothing to do with Chubby Checkers or dancing, though I used to love to "Twist the Night Away" on occasion. The "twist" in this story is that Jessica, the heroine, is psychic. Most of my stories include something out of the ordinary – a twist of the unusual that makes them different.
MQ: Okay. I get ya…I think. Anyway, what was Jessica’s ‘burnout’?
RJV: Well, it didn't have anything to do with squealing tires...though Jessica really likes hot cars. She would love to have a turquoise blue Ferrari and do a real "burnout". Seriously, she had too many overwhelming psychic visions of terrible things happening to children and her mind, needing rest, shut them out for a time.
MQ: And the title’s ‘Looking Through the Mist’. Why doesn’t Jessica just take a hanky an’ wipe that misty fog off her windshield?
RJV: Most of the mist and fog are in her head during her visions and not on a windshield (whispered aside) – and I still don't think she's as 'foggy' as you seem to be.
RVJ: (grins) Never mind. Next question?
MQ: How’s this -- what was the first impression Jessica and Jonathan had about each other?
RJV: He thought she was a beautiful phony and she thought he was a real hunk. She was mortified to meet such an attractive, sexy man and then have to tell him she "sees" things.
Can you imagine meeting a good-looking guy and saying, "Oh, by the way, I have these visions so don't let it worry you if I sort of 'zone out' on you."
MQ: I do that quite a lot, actually. Zone out, I mean. (eyes widen) And I don’t look through any mist a’tall.
RJV: (nods) I believe it.
MQ: Well, now, you know, Ms. Vickery. I can be an investigative reporter if given half a chance! Maybe Jessica should hire me on some of the cases???
RJV: Well... ummmm... Jessica appreciates the offer, but she's sure that you already have your hands full keeping up with other investigations. Besides, Jessica really likes Johnny to help on her cases – certain fringe benefits, like a stolen kiss now and then, you know.
And she doubts if you, Ms. Quote, would be strong enough to carry her when she 'zones out' from having a vision as Johnny does.
MQ: Oh. (puts finger to cheek in considering gesture) That’s a good point. Okay, what about you? Can you tell the world a itsy bitsy about yourself? Here. (extends microphone) Most of the sand is gone now.
RJV: Gee. Thanks. (accepts mike gingerly) Something about me? All right. I have been married to the same very patient man for 34 years and I have one son and three wonderful grandchildren. We live in South Carolina, USA, and we slip away to go RVing at Myrtle Beach whenever possible. Long walks on the beach help me unwind and often ignite my imagination.
MQ: Long walks on the beach? In all that concrete?
RJV: Some folks stroll barefooted, you know.
MQ: Ugh. (makes face, then shrugs) Well. Anyhoo. Two questions. How did you meet Very Patient Man 34 years ago? And is Myrtle Beach cousin to Girdle Pinch?
RJV: And here’s the answer to the first question: I picked him up at the jockey lot (now called a flea market by most) and yes, those have been around that long. He was selling coins, antique glassware, and pocketknives. We saw each other there every Saturday for a while and talked a bit, then finally he asked me to have a hot dog with him for lunch. The proof that he would be a Very Patient Man came on the evening of our first "official" date.
MQ: Oh, the romance starts! (edges chair closer) Do tell.
RJV: I am, I am. See, there was an auction barn across the street from where we lived. The KKK chose that evening to rent the barn and have a rally. (This was 1972.) They were burning a huge cross over there to close out the meeting just as he arrived. The traffic was terrible as cars circled the side roads to see what was going on. Police cars were parked everywhere, including our yard, to be sure there was no riot. Had he been any other man he would have headed for the hills, but he came in and I introduced him to my parents. He told them he had not expected quite such a warm welcome or such a crowd.
MQ: That’s…(gulps) certainly different!
RJV: Isn’t it, though? And to answer your second question: Afraid not, dear Ms. Quote. For an investigative reporter, you sort of – ahem – missed on this one. Myrtle Beach is a city not a person. It's named after the wax myrtle trees that grow there, near the ocean. It is my favorite place to relax and soak in the salt air. We hope to relocate here for our retirement.
MQ: You soak in the air? (frowns in confusion) Without a bathtub?
RJV: Ah. Yes. Well, let me continue. I began reading and writing at an early age and thought I had died and gone to Heaven when I started school and found the library. Since then it has been my pleasure to entertain and inform others with the written word. A former technical writer and bookkeeper, I began writing articles and then romances in 1998. I am of the old school and believe that true romance tales should lead readers to the bedroom door and then leave a little something to the imagination.
MQ: (looks around) Where is that old school?
RJV: Ahem. (drums annoyed fingertips against arm of beach chair) Shall I simply finish by mentioning that though my primary focus has been on writing sweet to sensual romance with a twist of the paranormal, adventure, mystery, or suspense along the way, I am now broadening my horizons into the field speculative fiction and experimenting with more suspense.
MQ: That was sure a long sentence! Do you know it had 48 words?
RJV: (gives sweet smile) Isn’t your column titled ‘WORDS’?
MQ: Oh! (chortles) Um…so…what’s the best part of bein’ an author that you enjoy?
RJV: What an intuitive question, Ms. Quote. (whispered aside – you really surprised me with this one...) I don't think I can name just one thing. I enjoy letting my imagination run loose to create twists and turns that will ensnare a reader along with my characters. I also enjoy making my characters "human" with flaws, worries, and problems such as we have in real life. I am astounded and blessed by all the wonderful authors and readers I've met. But the most special part of being an author is when a reader unexpectedly drops me an email or a comment that they read my book and loved it. No award or amount of money is better than that.
MQ: Say, that’s good, Ms. Vickery. Can I quote you on that?
RJV: (raises brow) Just be sure you don’t MisQuote.
MQ: (blinks) Huh? (starts at sound of dune buggy motor approaching) Why, there’s Billy Bob!(stands and waves)
RJV: An escort! Where is he driving you?
MQ: He wants me to find this extraordinary kind of lemon tree and interro-- er, interview the fellow that grows it. Bo..Bu..Buck?
RJV: (sits straight up) You don’t mean Grandpappy Beauregard and his special recipe of lemonade?
MQ: (snaps fingers) That’s it! Do you know him?
RJV: Can’t say I’ve met him. (reaches for bottle of Dr. Pepper on side table) But I’ve certainly heard of him.
MQ: Well, I’d better skedaddle. It’s been a hoot gettin’ to know you, Ms. Vickery, an’ gettin’ to know all those lovely authors on your blog. Thanks so much for givin’ me my first assignments.
RJV: Our pleasure. (watches as the petite, shapely blonde trudges in her sand-caked heels toward the waiting dune buggy. As the two drive away, RJV raises her bottle in farewell.) Cheers, Ms. Quote!
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