Okay, Beauty Shop for Rent is a total work of fiction, but I did slip in a few tidbits from my life! Like . . .

. . . Edith’s favorite horse is Mr. Ragman, an old Appaloosa. He’s named after a horse I had in high school, who was used for the Riding for the Handicapped program. Mr. Ragman may not have been the most attractive horse out there, but he was bombproof, faithful, and that baby could run the barrels!

Edith also had a deaf Australian Blue Heeler named Bodie. Here’s my deaf Heeler, Allie, who unfortunately passed away. We miss her!

Also like Edith, my favorite smells are . . .

. . . new leather, sweaty horse,

… and, like Abbey, puppy breath!

Granny Po and I share the tendency to get way, WAY too uptight while playing bingo . . .

. . . and she was very correct when she mentioned how hard church ladies work on fried oyster night. I found that out at my old church!

Only one character is based on someone I know and that’s Gena. She was inspired by my husband Bob, who is the most optimistic guy I’ve ever met. Bob is the one who clued me in about the five year plan–where things that won’t matter five years from now isn’t worth stressing out over. Good advice, really. His reaction? Very honored . . . and relieved he wasn’t the inspiration for the antagonist!

I don’t have a picture of it, but whenever we drive to Ocean City, Maryland, I love it when we reach the bridge and get that first panoramic view of the city. You can’t help but get excited by seeing all the kites, parasails, roller coasters and commotion. That’s why my favorite line in BEAUTY SHOP FOR RENT is from Chapter 24, page 264, where Abbey and the Gray Widows reach that bridge:

“But now the town didn’t cast the same spell. Instead of enchanting, it seemed noisy and cheap, almost tacky, like I was no longer childlike enough to see its beauty.”

This line gave me chills when I wrote it, because it shows how much of an adult Abbey has been forced to become.

My favorite chapter? Chapter Thirty, the final one. It’s set at the Carroll County 4-H Fair, that I’ve been a part of for–wow–at least thirty years!

I’d show my horse there every year, and rabbits as well. This Himalayan rabbit won best in show one year, and best in show at the Maryland State Fair as well!

My family really does watch the horse and mule pulls every year without fail, and yes, we do bet on the winners!

Like Caddie, I showed pigs one year. And yes, like her, I was also peed on in the show ring. If you look closely at my left leg, you’ll see the proof.

Unlike Caddie, however, I was never a Farm Queen. But at the State Fair one year, my horse was going nuts from all the rides at the midway and almost knocked over the farm queen moments after this picture was taken. Does that count?

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