Monday, November 15, 2010

Happy Birthday to Us!!!


Five years ago, a small group of writers stepped out in faith. We wanted to share a few things with the world – hope, encouragement, our journey, and the little bits of wisdom that work for us as we navigate the waters of writing, publication, and life. Along the way, I hope we’ve done those few things, but we’ve done one other very important thing – created some wonderful, lasting memories between ourselves and with our readers. This year, we wanted to share some of our favorite memories of the past 5 years with you.



Two months into our blogging experience, the Playfriends took our first road trip. It wasn’t far – just seventy miles. But we were free of husbands and children and the rest of the world for overnight. Angel’s Suburban had not yet been dubbed “The Playmobile,” complete with an airbrushed tag on the front. Instigator was still a Krispy Kreme virgin (though we solved that on the trip). Problem Child had to sleep on the floor on Amazing Child’s inflatable mattress designed for a small (in other words, short) child. I still remember AC’s tear-stained face as Darling Geek held her in his arms and she called out and waved, “Bye-bye, inflatable mattress.” Smarty Pants was our computer guru who got us hooked to the internet at the motel room (she had a cat5 cable since this was before the days of widespread wifi). And I was still trying to figure out this whole writing business. Still am, actually. We blogged that first night and called it “Playfriends Gone Wild, Volume 1.”

Day and night #1 went smoothly (see reference to Instigator’s initiation to Krispy Kreme) and we all tried to settle in for a good night’s sleep (well, all except PC on the inflatable mattress but she was a trooper to take one for the team). The following morning we were surprised by a call from one of the Mavens who’d been called by another Maven who’d seen on TV that the police department in our get-away town had busted a meth lab in operation in a motel that was part of the same chain where we were staying. A quick view of the morning news revealed not only had the meth lab been operating in the same motel where we were, it was in THE ROOM RIGHT BEHIND US! We shared a bathroom wall.

Had we known this might portend a general disposition toward Playfriend travel disasters, we’d never have given PC that Leatherman tool in Atlanta.

We did have a bit of plotting fun with the incident though. Here’s what Angel wrote in our follow-up blog titled “But Not That Wild!”

“But in true creative fashion (after getting over the shock), we began to brainstorm how this could work in a book. We entertained ourselves throwing together a hokey plot with a single female alone in her hotel room, the undercover DEA agent next door whose scraggly appearance weirds her out when she meets him, and the meth lab that explodes one night, taking out the wall of her room and forcing them on the run.”

And here’s our scraggly DEA agent after the explosion. ::grin::


What’s my favorite Playground memory? Without a doubt, it’s any one of the conferences we’ve all gone to together. Four or five of us sharing one bathroom must be hilarious to anyone from the outside looking in. Honestly, you don’t really know someone until you’ve watched them put on Spanx. And you just have to be friends with anyone who will hook your strapless bra for you.


Sharing rooms. Staying up until two o’clock in the morning talking about writing, family, kids and life. Eating peanut butter-covered brownie bites because someone was smart enough to pack the important things. Working on pitches because someone *cough* didn’t come prepared. Sharing jewelry. Sharing clothes.

Blown knees and cut fingers, we’ve been through it all. You’d think that after five days of forced togetherness we’d get tired of each other. We don’t. You’d think we might fight. We don’t. In fact, most of the time I should be concentrating more on the conference and less on having a good time with my friends...but I know I won’t. Part of what I love about conferences is spending it with Angel, PC, SP & PM. It wouldn’t be the same without them.



My favorite memories aren't really specific, but they always involve the five of us, sitting around, just talking. Those nights sometimes run together - maybe we're on a porch, or in a hotel room somewhere, or in someone's hot tub or living room, but we're laughing and talking. The subjects will vary greatly from moment to moment - we'll be discussing a point one minute, something one of us read on the internet a minute later, and shortly thereafter, our kids or our parents or our weight loss.

Lather, rinse, repeat - and pay attention, because the conversation can hang a sharp left with no warning whatsoever. (Like the time we were plotting Kira's book, and the conversation meandered away from the plot for a moment, so I left the room. A couple of minutes later, I come back, and the book that used to be set at a nudist resort is now set on a peach farm and there's dead people in it.)

So I guess my favorite Playfriend memories involve laughing until we cry and crying until we laugh.


Or, on a less sentimental note, the look on SP's face when she realized I brought silverware to the Dixie Stampede. ~grin~


Like PC, there have been a lot of great moments over the last five years, but my favorites usually involve us sitting around and talking about anything and everything. There's usually food, occasionally screaming at children is also involved, but always fabulous conversation and laughter. To me, it’s really not a Playground gathering if I don't get the chance to make PC's mascara run. Earlier this year, we got a chance to take our gathering to a whole new level - to the hot tub. When we go to the mountains, rarely does a night go by that we don't climb into the Jacuzzi. We even went out in the snow. There's no stopping us.


It’s the one time I can put on a swimsuit without feeling fat, grab a bottle of hard lemonade or a glass of wine and spend time with my peeps until we turn all pruney. A lot of time we plot and brainstorm. Instigator gets very inspired by steamy water, so that works for her. When we're on a roll, we can do two books a night (although note taking is difficult with water and alcohol, so the morning after usually includes some re-caps). Sometimes we lament our personal drama and tell funny stories about our lives pre-Playground. It's just nice to sit around and relax for once.

You know how much excitement can usually result from one of our trips, so given that no one has injured themselves or had a wardrobe malfunction in the hot tub makes it a banner event on its own. We actually like it so much that when PC sent us the link to a house she was thinking of buying and it had a Jacuzzi, I was sold, sight unseen. :) This is a Playground tradition in the making and one of my favorite memories.



I had promised I would pick one memory, and I had: dancing at the Harlequin Party at every conference. I chose this memory because its fun, out of the ordinary, and a fabulous bonding experience. I also chose it because it is unique for me. You see, I’ve never danced in public before. In high school and college, I never went to dances or clubs. My husband has never taken me dancing. So when we were invited to this party, I have to admit I freaked. I mean, me, dancing in public? I’m not slim, smooth, or sexy. I was sure I’d be the person talked about the next morning by everyone there… and not for a good reason.


But let me tell you, there is nothing like boogeying with your best friends in the midst of pounding music, belting out your favorite lyrics, and smiling until your face hurts. If anyone talked about me the next morning, well, at least I didn’t know it. But I’ll never forget these moments of freedom and fun with my favorite friends.

Unfortunately, when trying to choose the pictures that went with this post, I had a difficult time limiting myself to just one memory. Each photo was accompanied by a smile and an “ah, I remember…”. Our first group pictures. First sale celebrations. Lunch with our Mavens. Sightseeing. My Golden Heart final. Phone calls. Late night talks. Tears. Hugs. Squees.


We’ve done it all. In the past 5 years, these women have gone from being my best friends to being my sisters. We can be as different as night and day, but we all have a similar drive, similar work ethic, passion for our writing, our families, our lives. You, our readers, have been there with us to celebrate, commiserate, brainstorm, and dream. We’ve gotten to know far too few of you through your comments, precious in-person meetings, and email exchanges. Today, we hope you will once again celebrate with us.

And in joyful birthday tradition, we’ll be giving away birthday gifties! Our appreciation of lovely alcoholic beverages (and their rightful role in all celebrations) has led us to put together a proper present including 2 martini glasses, a mini-shaker, Cocktails for Dummies, two mini-mixer bottles, and books, including ones from our own Kimberly Lang and Kira Sinclair.


And who knows what other prizes might be given away today?!?! To enter, simply comment about your own favorite memories – what’s the best thing that’s happened in your life over the last 5 years?

Thank you so very much for your comments, advice, humor, and encouragement here on the Playground. It wouldn’t be nearly as fun a ride without our dear friends!



Linda Henderson said...

Well there are a few good things that have happened over the last five years. They finally found a treatment that would work for my severe RA. My oldest daughter have a baby girl. My youngest daughter had a baby girl, then a baby boy. So I've got three grandkids 5 and under. So it's been a busy 5 years for my family.

seriousreader at live dot com

Jane said...

Happy Birthday to the Playfriends. The birth of my niece was one of the highlights. I was in the room when she came into the world and even though she lives in another state and I don't get to see her often we're close and get along very well. I also got to see and experience two of my favorite teams win championships.

Anonymous said...

PC selling her first book has to be the highlight of the last 5 years. Getting to see my child's dream come true is the fulfillment of my own dream for my daughter's happiness.

Happy Birthday Playfriends!

PC's Mom

PM's Mother said...

Finally! We have a girl in the family! The birth of my oldest grandson's daughter four and a half years ago was very exciting and rewarding. You see, I have three grandsons and NO granddaughters -- and now I have a great grandaughter! I don't get to see her often, but pictures on the internet keep us in touch. By the way Grammy, don't you have some new photos of her?

Laurie said...

CONGRATS on your 5 years together. I've only been visiting a little over a year. I've enjoyed your blog site!

My daughter's wedding June 30, 2007 was the highlight of the last 5 years! She's happily married. Her husband Dave fits in perfectly!

alinaduffer said...

Happy Birthday Ladies! I loved reading about all of your wonderful memories! I miss having girlfriends close by to hang out with.

As for 5 highlights of the last five years, lets see. I gave birth to my third child, Sammy. Who looks nothing like me, lol! My husband got a new job that he really enjoys. We bought our first house. So nice to put down roots after years of Military moves. We got a new dog who drives me crazy, but I love her to death. And last would be that I have been writing and am getting ready to submit my manuscript. Lots of great things have happened but these are a few of them.

Hope you all have a wonderful day!!

Maven Beverly Barton said...

Happy Birthday to The Writing Playground. Y'all are an awesome group!

Smarty Pants said...

*fans eyes* peace... *breathes through nose*

Happy Birthday to us! How exciting. Five years. Wow. I have to say its been really awesome. My life before was a little dull. Now I am almost never bored and I have the bestest friends a girl could have.

I'm offering up an additional 2 book prize pack if we reach 50 comments today. Tell your friends to drop in!

Maven Linda said...

Happy birthday, Children! I have many good memories through my life, but one of my favorite concerning the five of you is playing "Cranium" with you, and Instigator trying to act out the sinking of the Titanic. I laugh every time I picture that :-).

Autumn Jordon said...

Wow! Five years. Congrats, ladies. You have a amazing thing going on. Here's to another five years.

Playground Monitor said...

Such wonderful memories! I don't know how I could have gotten through the last 18 months without these ladies at my side for moral support.

I'm offering up a book and a Christmas surprise if we hit 50 comments.

Addison said...

Congratulations on 5 wonderful years - here's to many, many more!!!


PJ said...

Happy Birthday, Ladies! Five years is an accomplishment you should wear with pride. It's apparent from your blogs that you already wear it with joy. I wish you many more years of blogging, writing and fun together! Cheers!

One of the highlights of the past five years for me has been attending my first RWA National in DC and then repeating the experience last summer in Orlando!
Another was starting a romance blog with three friends. We've just celebrated the completion of our first year. I hope that we'll be able to follow your lead and one day celebrate our fifth birthday as well!

CrystalGB said...

Happy Birthday! I have enjoyed all the posts. Buying a home is one of the best things that has happened to me in the past five years.

Rhonda Nelson said...

Happy Birthday, Playfriends! I adore each and every one of you and am so thankful to call you all my friend. Hugs!

Darling Geek said...

Happy Birthday Playground!

Problem Child said...

Wow, bangs. That's a long time ago.

And a picture I didn't know existed. Glad I got rid of that green shirt.

But yay! Happy Birthday to us!!

Pamela Hearon said...

Happy Birthday Playfriends!!! It's been an amazing five years, watching this site and your group evolve into what it has become. I'm so proud for all of you. Your accomplishments warm my heart. But I'm especially proud of my fabu CP--Problem Child. I still get a zing each time I walk into a bookstore and see her book on the shelf.
Getting to know you and being included in so many of your activities has been pure joy. Thanks for that. And you threw launch parties for my books--so what is there not to love?
Wishing you many, many successful years ahead.
Squeee and ((((hugs))))


robynl said...

Happy 5th birthday to you!!
Over the past 5 years we also had a granddaughter born and she is the only gd amongst 4 grandsons. She is cute and giggly.

Both dh and I retired but dh is going strong still helping others and working for people here and there.

I had breast cancer, 2 surgeries, 5 weeks of Radation(5 days/week) and am now in remission.

Keep bringing us those awesome books ladies.

Instigator said...

I love y'all! I'm late to the party (as usual) but this time it wasn't my fault. We've been having network issues.

I wouldn't trade a single second of the last five years. Y'all have been the rock that has gotten me through some tough times and the champion I've needed on several occasions. My life wouldn't be the same without y'all!


Lynn Raye Harris said...

Happy 5 Years! You've made me realize that my own blog is now 5 years old too. I started it about 5 months or so before y'all started this one. Mine is just me tho, and therefore it rambles and fades away and zooms back to life sometimes, etc. No crazy adventures over there, LOL.

Wow, 5 years.

I found y'all through this blog when I was venturing into the great unknown, aka Alabama, and I'm very glad I did. You have been terrific friends to me from the moment I arrived -- and I'm pleased to have gone on a few adventures with you in the years since. :)

So here's to another 5 years! ::clink, clink::

Maureen said...

Happy Birthday to you! During the last five years both of my children graduated from high school and my two nephews were born. I hope you all have another great five years.

Minna said...

Well, learning some Japanese is one of them.

susanwilson44 said...

Many happy returns, loved the pictures.

runner10 said...

Happy Birthday!! I'm so glad I found you!!

chey said...

Happy Birthday Ladies! Cheers!

Cathy M said...

What a wonderful post, and happy birthday to all of you.

The best event was when my son was discharged from the Navy and came back home to recharge and assess his future. Having him back home was crazy, loud, wonderful, frustrating, fun, and most of all, gave me many days full of laughter.

Wouldn't have missed this time to make some more memory days.

caity_mack at yahoo dot com

catslady said...

Happy, happy Birthday. I don't have a particular favorite but I definitely enjoy this blog - the give and take, a place to visit where everyone knows your name :)

Lois said...

Happy Super Dooper Birthday! :) Hope its going strong for another 5 years! :)


PS - and hope that you got my email for the Facebook contest, totally forgot about asking until now. Oops. :)

Smarty Pants said...

Yes, Lois, I mailed it last week. Thanks for being patient. The post office and I have issues...

I'm ready to crank this party up a notch. Time to fire up the blender, plug in the chocolate fountain and get Carlos and Eduardo to bring me a fruity beverage. Every Monday could use one of those.

Thanks for joining us, everyone! Another question - what's your favorite part of the Writing Playground? Articles? Guest Bloggers? Our generally funny outlook on the world?

Angel said...

So many wonderful memories. We so rarely take the time to look back on them in appreciation. Thanks, everyone, for joining in the fun!

I do believe Krispy Kreme and teeter totters are in order! Oh, Eduardo...


Linda Winstead Jones said...

Happy Birthday! Late to the party, but here. :-) -- LJ

Virginia said...


Katherine Bone said...

Plug in the Disco Ball, the partay is only beginning...

Happy Birthday Playfriends! ;)

Katherine Bone said...

Dare I ask why Cap'n Jack has made no appearance?

Jean Hovey said...

Happy Birthday

Gretchen Stull said...

Congratulations on five wonderful years, ladies!

Julie Miller said...

Congratulations, ladies!! Happy Birthday!

Cathy M said...

My favorite part of the Playground are your unique posts about your funny outlook at the world. You always make me smile.

caity_mack at yahoo dot com

Jennifer Mathis said...

congrats on 5 year and what great memories you shared . In the last 5 years I have had 2 children

Jennifer Mathis said...

guess I should have read all the comments before I commented first . Anyway to anwer Smart Pantsy question I enjoy ur fun outlook on life :)

Michele L. said...

Wow! 5 years already? That sure flew by! Happy birthday to you all!

The last 5 years have been busy ones for me as I take care of my elderly mom. Bless her heart!