George Saunders, Salty Potatoes, and So Much More

We took the ferry into town. I visited my mom. Put on latex gloves and massaged her swollen, purple feet and legs, trying to get them to a more natural color. I filled up her candy bowls, and we sang.

It was one of her better days. She remembered me. Was able to do harmonies. No matter how she’s feeling, or how foggy her brain, music always seems to call her back somewhat. Soothe her.

Some days are better than others. Tears always seem to hover, just beyond her shoulder. Sometimes they alight. Unexpected things can be the trigger, and they descend over her crumpling body and face, like fast moving clouds.

But today was a good day. No tears. She knew who I was. Life was being gentle on both of us.

I went home, a little tired, as always, after a visit with my mom. But glad, too. For having visited.

If I hadn’t had all this work piled up, I probably would have gotten into my pajamas and crawled into bed and pulled the covers up over my shoulders for a half hour or so. But I couldn’t. No time to baby myself.

Samantha and Ron were coming over for an early dinner, then we were going to attend the George Saunders reading of his new novel, Lincoln in the Bardo.

George Saunders is one of my husband’s all-time favorite authors. Don’s been flying high for the last two weeks, so thrilled to have scored tickets to this event.

Don started cooking shortly after 1 p.m. I was happy he’d volunteered to make the bulk of the dinner—the main course and veggies. All I needed to do was the mashed potatoes and a batch of cookies. Easy. Thank goodness. I’ve been crazy busy these final days leading up to my novel’s release.

So busy in fact that I briefly flirted with the idea of bailing on the reading to gain a few more hours in my day.

I didn’t, of course.

I wouldn’t.

This reading was a BIG deal to Don.

But in my fantasy world, for a second, I bailed. It’s not something that I’m proud of.

As I worked in our makeshift study, longing for my writing room at home, the fragrant smells of my husband’s braised short ribs danced enticingly around me. But I stayed in my chair. Didn’t go in to taste. Ate some more jellybeans and continued to work.

After a while, he poked his head into the study. “Honey?” he said, “you still planning on making the mashed potatoes?”

“Yeah. Why?” I said, dragging my mind away from my computer screen to focus on him, leaning up against the doorframe. “What time is it?” Never mind that the time is always in the right-hand corner of the computer screen. I wasn’t raised to tell time by computers and phones. Habit I guess. I’m always looking for clocks on the wall and watches.

“Ten after four.”

ZOINKS! Our guests were going to be here in fifty minutes, and I was wearing saggy drawstring sweats and a baggie shirt. I needed to peel, boil, mash, and season a bag of potatoes, make a batch of cookies, and get changed.

I flew around like a whirling dervish. I was doing great! I was some kinda super woman! I peeled those potatoes in record time. I had those suckers in the pan, and while they were cooking I whipped up the cookie dough. While the oven was heating, I ran upstairs, washed my face, changed into humanoid clothes, then sprinted down to the kitchen.

“I’m an amazing, modern, multi-tasking woman,” I thought proudly as I lobbed off a large hunk of butter and poured a few glugs of milk into the pot. I flung some salt in and pepper. I was feeling pretty pleased with myself, until I tasted them.

The flavor was good, nice and buttery, but that is where the goodness stopped. Too much salt. WAY too much salt. The potatoes were not salvageable.

I am a terrible cook when I am deep in a book. It’s like the writing takes all the creativity and finesse out of me. It’s weird.

We had to make noodles. Dinner was late. But we made it to the reading in time.

George Saunders did not disappoint. The venue was packed. He was funny and sweet and witty. We had wondered what in the heck he was going to read, since the book is told from zillions of voices. But George was ten steps ahead of us. He had a bunch of local volunteers up on stage with him, reading the various parts.

It was a wonderful example of excellent problem solving. A good time was had by all.

I will confess, though, the chairs were rather hard, and I’d been sitting at my desk all afternoon. So, although I was enjoying the reading and basking in all the gloriousness that is George Saunders, my butt was very relieved when it was over and I could stand and shake out the stiffness.

We talked and laughed on the way home, the night air whooshing past. When we arrived at our place, we didn’t want the good times to be over, so we walked our friends down the hill to their car, the moon, a blurry mist through the clouds.

When we got home, our dog greeted us in her usual manner, her body one joyous bundle of wiggling warm dog and fur. I nestled my face against her little body. I could feel her heart pounding against her tiny ribs. I felt lucky.

I went to the study to finish the piece I’d been working on that afternoon.

I flipped on the computer.

There was an email, from Nancy and Cissy.

An email with a subject line that read: Guess who you’re getting a cover blurb from?

I clicked open the email and nearly FELL out of my chair!

Because the cover blurb that was contained in the email was from none other than the world famous, New York Times Bestselling Author, Jayne Ann Krentz. JAYNE ANN KRENTZ! Whose writing I LOVE and ADORE! Whose newest novel, The Girl Who Knew Too Much, I have been restlessly waiting for. That Jayne Ann Krentz!

And she wrote … “Sara Flynn’s SOLACE ISLAND is a high-energy page-turner that delivers a feisty heroine, a sexy hero, a lot of warm-hearted romantic-comedy and some very chilling suspense—all done with a fresh, modern edge.”

Best. Day. Ever. The author, Jayne Ann Krentz, aka Amanda Quick, aka Jayne Castle—whose regency novel, Rendezvous, I tried to read aloud to Don when our relationship was in the tender fledgling stages, so he could see why romance novels were so much fun—liked my writing! She blurbed my book.

And for those of you who were wondering, no, I didn’t convert him with Rendezvous, so I tried with Mistress.

No luck.

But then, he’s crazy about all those super hero movies. And me? Not so much. So, I guess we are even.

The good thing about him listening to my Jayne Ann Krentz gushing over the years is that he knew what a big deal this was to me.


For as long as I live, I will never, ever forget this day—or Jayne Ann Krentz’s generosity! Taking the time in her busy schedule to read this brand new author’s book.

Thank you, Jayne. THANK YOU!

3 thoughts on “George Saunders, Salty Potatoes, and So Much More”

  1. My pleasure! SOLACE ISLAND is a great start to what I know will be a very successful romantic-suspense series. Congratulations and all the best with the publication of SOLACE ISLAND.

    1. Meg/Sara says:

      Oh my goodness! I was just out to dinner with my sister, Jennifer, and I was telling her about my new writing adventures. She was trying to teach me to be more adept at social media, and she said, “Like don’t, Meg, for instance, post blogs about how you rub Mom’s swollen purple feet! You are a romance writer now and you want to write about pretty things.”

      Well, I started laughing, couldn’t stop. “Oh dear, Jen, that’s just what I did.”

      She started laughing, too, because she thought I was joking.

      Which just made me laugh harder of course. Because it was funny, but I was also embarrassed. “But I did. Jenny. That how the first blog on my new website starts. Me rubbing Mom’s swollen purple feet!”

      We laughed so hard, couldn’t stop.

      “Oh, Meg,” she said, shaking her head, an affectionate smile on her face. “You nut.”

      When we got back to my house she wanted to read the now infamous blog.

      And that’s how I found out that you had left a comment!

      Now, Jenny was excited, too! You see, I gave her a bunch of your books. Starting with Mistress.

      Anyway, that’s why it took me so long to notice your comment. Because, I didn’t know there was a comment.

      Thank you, for all your kind words! xo

  2. Jennifer Tilly says:

    I can’t wait to read this book! Meg is a natural born storyteller and is particularly adept at conveying a sense of time and place.

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