05-26-18 – Blog Queen - Sarah Raplee

Monday, January 25, 2016

Buckets of Lists

January 25, 2016

Happy New Year! 

As a writer of humorous mysteries for baby boomers, I’m all about experiences. I think we boomers were born with a bucket list gripped in our tiny fingers―with two-sided sticky tape and Elmer’s glue. My parents encouraged me with a mantra: “You can do anything you want, as long as you try to be the best at it.” 

Those words were a gift . . . and a curse. The parental prod turned me into an obsessive-compulsive raccoon in search of shiny objects.

Now, as one who is eligible for a senior discount at life's buffet, I keep my lists in drawers, post them on my computer with tape, and hot-glue them to boards to plot my stories, some with crazy dialogue of characters who haven’t even been created yet. I didn’t have goals; my charge was to turn life into The Hunger Games, conquering experiences to learn more, feel more, and know more. After all, I could do anything, as long as I tried to be the best.

From toddlerhood, I wanted to be an entertainer who moved people to feel. I drove my parents nuts when I sang instead of talked. I declared one day a week as “opera day”, where everyone in my family had to sing what they had to say. At the age of nine, my parents channeled the madness into voice lessons, acting lessons, and lessons on every instrument I could get my hands on. By age twenty, I’d earned by degree in music and had performed in dozens of operas, soloed in recitals, and crooned to newly married couples on their wedding days. The goal wasn’t to be famous; I only wanted to stand in front of an audience and pour my heart out.   

I went to work for an opera company in Portland, Oregon, cracking the cap on the business side of music. The experience fueled me to achieve success off the stage. From the new perspective of a theater seat, I wanted to know what compelled people to become part of a story. That curiosity led to a twenty-year executive career in the Broadway entertainment industry. My world became one of studying dialogue, emotion, and passionate behavior in order to fill a theater. Ticketsfists full of themallowed exclusive access to stories.

After enduring six corporate mergers and acquisitions, it was time for me ball up that particular list. Cash out. Throw down my cards to start a new hunger game. New factors had begun to stack the deck against me: ailing parents, draining estrogen, and the passing of so many of my immortal music idols. But wait―the people I care about are supposed to live forever! I swept my arm across the table to gather my experience winnings. 

In my fifties and armed with my health, my sheer will, and my husband of thirty-two years―oh, and our shamefully spoiled cat―I heeded the lyrics of the late, great Louis Jourdan and got off my “big, fat rusty dusty” to become a fiction writer. I unloaded all those years of daydreams and experiences into words that compelled people to laugh, to cry, and to turn the page. I had come full circle. 

While writing has been the most challenging of my quests to date, this journey has been the most rewarding. I have found my calling, one that remains true to the first wish on my little-girl list. Today, a few arthritic knots and calluses grace those once-tiny, open fingers, but I still hold tight to the lure of shiny dreams. And when my hands cease to work, I'll sing my stories into a microphone . . . just like I did as a child.

There is no list . . . it's life.

Courtney Pierce is a fiction writer living in Oregon with her husband of thirty-six years and bossy cat. She writes for baby boomers. Her novels are filled with heart, humor, and mystery. Courtney has studied craft and storytelling at the Attic Institute and has completed the Hawthorne Fellows Program for writing and publishing. She is also a board member of the Northwest Independent Writers Association and is active with Willamette Writers, Pacific Northwest Writers Association, and Sisters in Crime.

Colorful characters come alive in Courtney's latest novel, The Executrix. When three middle-age sisters find a manuscript for a murder mystery in their mother's safe after her death, the book gives them a whole new view of their mother. Is it fiction? . . . or truth? Sibling blood becomes thicker than baggage when Mom becomes larger in death than she was in life.

Look for Indigo Lake, the second helping of the Dushane Sisters Trilogy, in March, 2016. More laughs, more tears . . . and more trouble. Protecting Mom's reputation might get the sisters killed―or give one of them the story she's been dying to live.

Visit Courtney's website at Her books can be purchased at Windtree PressAmazon, Barnes and Noble, Kobo Books, and at several independent bookstores in the Portland area.


Paty Jager said...

Great post! I learned even more about you!

Judith Ashley said...

I'm just pre-Boomer by age and I know all my life experiences find their way into my writing. I'm somewhat awed by those people in their twenties and thirties who have rich stories to tell. At that age, I was still learning and absorbing Life - much as I still do currently. Thanks for the retrospective!

Sarah Raplee said...

I found myself alternately laughing out land nodding my head in recognition while reading about your life journey, Courtney! Outstanding post!

Courtney Pierce said...

Thanks all! Sorry for the late response. I had technical challenges yesterday. When the computer guy asked for the original 8-year-old software disks to reload a program, do you think I could find them? Heck No! I finally found them by accident in a case shoved in among 300 music CDs, filed between Adele and the B-52s as "Apple".

Husband logic. What's even scarier is that I know him so well that I actually went there to look!

Now off to help the bucket list of one of my readers. I'm recording my new book, Indigo Lake, for her on CDs. She has a brain tumor and has trouble reading. She wants to hear it before I'm ready to launch. That's the fun part of being an Indie writer. I know my readers and can go over-the-top to make them happy.