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Some helpful ideas for dogs during the day

Monday, March 31, 2014

Activity suggestions for my dog while I am away:

Long nap
Stare out window at cars
Meditate/be thankful about winning lot in life
Crochet/knit/cross stitch/hem jeans
Bark, but only to attractive "one of the guys" extent, don't overdo
Search for cheese shreds on floor
Nap again, new position
Start blog (dog or human interests/cooking/fashion)
Check blog traffic/improve SEO
Try online dating, free and paid because open mind
Take out recycling
Check Kong toy one more time for dried peanut butter crumb
Make e-blueprints for bathroom remodel
Dust baseboards
Write great American novel
Develop more cogent opinions on French prime minister situation
Take selfie near window at best light of day, three quarters angle
Sell some small things on eBay, then buy one really great thing with profits
Start smoking because of midlife crisis, decide to quit same day
Pee on tile
Pee on hardwood
Pee on washable bathmats
Pee on back porch
Pee on front stoop
Pee on leg of wooden chair
Pee on anything with a hard surface, basically
Recall fond memories of peeing on old carpet
Scrapbook portions of old carpet for posterity
Put portions of old carpet in time capsule in yard
Nap, dream of peeing on carpet

Not activity suggestions for my dog while I am away:

Pee on brand new carpet just installed last week

Remembering Grandpa

Thursday, February 6, 2014

My grandpa died a year ago Friday. I wrote a eulogy and read it at his funeral, and meant to post it online back then, but things were a little hectic. I know he'd like people to read about him, though. He was a celebrity that way.

Being a journalist has taught me how to ask questions and listen, something I take for granted most of the time. But it made me think it was really special to be able to use those skills to interview my own family. And then it made me think that it doesn't take special skills to talk to each other more, even if it's sloppy. Share the stories, good and bad. Write them down. Don't forget. It's simple if you do it.

Here's the eulogy. 

The baby came screaming into the world on Oct. 18, 1924. When his parents gave him a bath, he turned the color of blueberries. They were certain he would die so they called in a priest and a doctor. He was baptized once and named Adam. Then, in his first great act of defiance, he lived. He was baptized again and named Wilford. 
He sunk fast and breathless into the things around him. He made a scooter from an orange crate and a two-by-four, tin cans for lights and a dismantled roller skate for wheels. He made a model airplane powered by rubber bands, and when it crashed, he fixed the front with strips of bamboo. It kept crashing, so he tied a lit match to the plane and watched it come down in flames. 

After high school, his parents gave him a 1937 Harley Davidson motorcycle. He painted it by hand, dashing a lightning bolt down the side, and posed against it in leather boots and gloves, leg cocked and lip curled.

During World War II, Wil’s friends were being called up. Wil was not, so he asked why. The draft board workers found his papers stuck in the back of a drawer. He picked the Coast Guard because no one else was in line that day. He learned to shoot guns, to lower life boats, to speak in Morse code.

He learned ju-jitsu and boxing, how to save people and how to march in parades. He was lost at sea for a week. He spent eight hours at a time searching for overturned sailboats, kids on rafts, helpless fishermen, stalled and broken ships. At least twice, luck and instincts kept him off planes that crashed. 

He met Rita Smith at the roller rink back home. He asked her for a spin during couple’s skate, and they waltzed together on wheels. When she came to dinner, he made his mom set the table with their finest dressings. Rita’s mother loved Wil. She made him cream pies, and when they didn’t turn out, he promised to drink them with a straw. Wil and Rita worked together like a see-saw. Where Wil was wild, Rita was steady. Where Wil wanted the sky, Rita wanted the ground. He took her up in an airplane – once. He took her on his motorcycle – once. He proposed at Lakeview Park in January 1946. She had been ready for it since Christmas. 

Wil was a pipe inspector, a salesman, a tool designer, a foreman, a process engineer. He was president of KTS Met-Bar until 1995. He ran Wil’s Radio Shop, fixing radios on the nights and weekends. He worked two jobs at once to support his wife and their six children. 

He bought the lot next to the family home on 21st Street so his kids could have a place to play. He loved to invent stories, letting the kids fill the holes in silly voices. He took them to the drive-in movies in their pajamas and sprung for large root beers and Snyder’s chips. After seeing Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, he bought everyone chocolate bars. Rita kept a tight budget, but when Wil did the grocery shopping, he brought home cigarettes and moon pies. 

He hated going to bed angry, so he’d apologize to everyone, even if he wasn’t wrong. He often slept on the floor. Maybe he liked how it felt. Or maybe he wanted to see his teenagers come through the door at night. Just when they turned off the television, he’d pry open an eye and say, “Hey, I was watching that.” 

Wil connected with each of his children in different ways. Mickie was his oldest, and he was the only one she would let teach her to drive. Barbara was his baby and he picked her up every weekend from college, even through snow and ice. Nancy and Wil critiqued each other’s writings and spent hours in his computer room learning new gadgets. He loved to talk about the military and engineering with Dennis, and visit real estate properties all over town with Dale. Pam drove him everywhere, and when he finally gave up his car after much protest, he told her he’d repay the favor one day when she couldn’t drive. 

He loved his 14 grandchildren and 2 great-grandchildren and was genuinely interested in our lives. He passed on stamps and books and gadgets from his basement. He showed us things he invented and saved specifically for us. He taught us about history, how to write cover letters for jobs, how to beat the high score in Snood. He called us all “George,” and told us to save our money for good whiskey. He picked up his grandsons from school. “Did you learn anything today?” he’d ask. “Nope,” they’d say. “Good,” he’d say. And they’d buckle in and drive away.

He and Rita were their own Bonnie and Clyde. When the kids told them to lay off the McDonalds, they went in the morning before anyone was awake. They knew all the breakfast spots in town, where Rita ordered eggs over medium and Wil ordered his softly scrambled with rye toast, “Toasted,” because he didn’t want warm bread. Wil enjoyed a monthly Manhattan, and Rita knew one was enough and two was too many. She knew, too, that her husband needed to do things to feel like himself, needed to mow the lawn, needed to visit Kathy at Subway and bring Julie the turkey at Thanksgiving, needed to pass out Christmas bonuses at his old shop. And Wil knew Rita needed him there, sitting at the helm of the table making jokes and sneaking cookies, starting big ideas with, “I was thinking…” So at night, when the errands were done and the visitors had left, they would lie in bed and hold hands until they fell asleep, and in the morning, Wil would wake up, look at Rita and say, “You’re my favorite person in the whole world.” 

Wil faded, quieted in body but not spirit. While sick in bed he drew a stunning portrait of his doctor.

He examined the tissue boxes in his hospital room and invented new uses for them. He fought and fought and fought, raised his hands in the air, then left softly with his faculties, his curiosities and his visitors around him. 

The day Wil died, his grandson, Max, walked through Wil’s basement. He found a little yellowed sheet of paper Wil had written on years before, buried beneath a book on a desk. It said, “If a tiny baby could think, it would be afraid of birth. To leave the only world it has known would seem a kind of death. But immediately after birth, the child would find itself in loving arms, showered with affection and cared for at every moment. Surely the baby would say, “I was foolish to doubt God’s plan for me. This is a beautiful life.”

Obitchuary is getting good reviews! I am eating cookies.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013


Check out reviews for Obitchuary from IndieReader, whose reviewer called the book "a near-perfect blend of sweet, tart, and salty," and ForeWord Reviews, whose reviewer said I have a "ear for dialogue and a deft hand with humor." 

I am pleased. As you might imagine, putting something you wrote up to the mercy of honest critique is only slightly less terrifying than standing naked in front of a panel of Olympic swimmers and saying, "Ok, now all at once, everyone count the cellulite. GO!"

I hope everyone is having a happy holiday season. Mine has been interesting and has involved a lot of hunkering over the cookie tray, crumbs from nutty bars flying left and right.

Don't forget, you can still pick up Obitchuary for your e-reader for 99 cents, or in paperback for the holi-daze.

K, back to cookies.
a near-perfect blend of sweet, tart, and salty. It's an excellent antidote to the stresses of everyday life, a perfect book to curl up with on the couch when the economy or politics have got you down. - See more at:
a near-perfect blend of sweet, tart, and salty. It's an excellent antidote to the stresses of everyday life, a perfect book to curl up with on the couch when the economy or politics have got you down. - See more at:
a near-perfect blend of sweet, tart, and salty. It's an excellent antidote to the stresses of everyday life, a perfect book to curl up with on the couch when the economy or politics have got you down. - See more at:

Glossy magazine pages are the best

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Hey, girl, heyyyyy. Look who's in Publishers Weekly Select this month.

RECAP: Times Festival of Reading was fest-tacular

Monday, November 18, 2013

Life! Egads, it gets in the way. I would tell you about it all, except the Internet would run out of space and patience. I'm lucky I still have actual human friends.

Let's stick to something simpler, like an overdue recap: The Tampa Bay Times Festival of Reading was a total smash. It was standing room only in my session about Obitchuary. Everyone seemed to laugh in the right spots and ask great questions. One precious child even said, "Are you going to make it into a movie?" Oh, youthful optimism, so bright, so dear. Let me just get Mr. Scorsese on the horn and work that out.

The night before the festival, I attended the official cocktail party, where authors milled around nibbling crudites and miniature meatballs. Inevitably, I ended up in a corner with several winners of the Pulitzer Prize who were kind enough to ask about my book. I ended up with verbal food poisoning, saying things like, "She, like, kills a guy, with like, well, it's wine that tastes like juice." And then I slunk away to the bar to guzzle wine of my own to cope. It was basically the scene from Bridget Jones where she asks Salman Rushdie where the loos are.

But, it all worked out fine!

Here I am outside my session, coyly pointing to my name on the sign (should have shoved it in my purse like Dan Akroyd with the salmon in Trading Places). You like the dress? I got it on sale at Bebe. It made me feel like a crime fighter. 

A couple days post-reading festival, I appeared on Bob Andelman's podcast, Mr. Media. Bob is also a client at DGLM and has written many, many books of his own. Back when I was writing obits for the paper, I wrote one about his mother-in-law.

Before we Skyped, Bob gave me very specific instructions not to touch my nose, because that all too often comes off as gold-digging, and not in the marrying for money sense, if you smell what I'm stepping in. I agreed heartily to this restriction. I would not touch my nose!

I touched my nose.

Anyway, watch the Mr. Media interview here. We talk about everything from the business of book publishing to the business of newspapering to why reporters all have foul mouths befitting sailors. It's a gas!

Don't forget, you still have 15 days to enter the Obitchuary giveaway at Goodreads. We're doling out 10 signed copies like they're going out of style (but, uh, they're not, of course. Very stylish, always).

There are more exciting things down the pipe, and I promise to also get back to blogging about things that aren't related to the book once stuff has calmed down a little. There is a lot of world out there that needs dissecting, plenty more noses that need touching. I vow to touch them all.

GOODREADS GIVEAWAY! Enter to win a free signed copy of Obitchuary!

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Jenny, my cousin, good friend and most enthusiastic reader, wrote me recently to explain why she prefers paperback books to e-books. The smell.

While I think my Kindle smells plenty fresh, I get that for some people, reading is a ritual that employs all (or some?) of the senses. Book pages can be a tasty aperitif for the nostrils, you dig? If you want to get in on this book-smelling action with Obitchuary, but don't want to fork over that equally-smelly cash, we have a solution. For the next month, we're hosting a giveaway at Goodreads. Ten lucky readers will win a signed paperback copy, mailed directly to you! Enter here:

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Obitchuary by Stephanie Hayes


by Stephanie Hayes

Giveaway ends December 04, 2013.
See the giveaway details at Goodreads.
Enter to win

And if you happen to love the smell of your e-reader in the morning, don't forget the e-book is still 99 cents through the end of the year. Good luck and best wishes in all your olfactory pursuits.

Don't miss the Times Festival of Reading Saturday!

Friday, October 25, 2013

Come one, come all, to the Tampa Bay Times Festival of Reading Saturday (that's tomorrow!). The event happens on and around the campus of the University of South Florida St. Petersburg. I'll be speaking in the adjacent Poynter Institute in the Bob Haiman Amphitheatre starting at 10 a.m. I'll be signing books after in Poynter, so be sure to swing by the book sales table at the festival and get a copy if you don't have one!

There has been lots of nice buildup to the event. There was an excerpt from Obitchuary in the Times last Sunday, with an adorable headline giving a nod to Penny's suffering liver.

I read a chapter for Florida Matters on WUSF, our local NPR affiliate, too! Listen to the show here, which includes some great snippets from other festival authors and an insightful interview with Colette Bancroft, Times book editor and brainchild behind the festival.

As for that book release party? Well, as goes life, it fell horribly to pieces when I least expected. The venue had a problem with the fact that I'd be selling books (uhhhh). Despite our best efforts to explain that we were not selling timeshares or snake oil, they just pictured:

We were bounced out at the last minute. But, some of my best friends still crashed my house for a makeshift signing, which honestly might have been better anyway.

Wine and cupcakes. Better than cocaine tooth drops.

Hope to see you all at the reading festival Saturday! I'll post some pictures from the event soon.