Hey there, lovely reader!
As we move into the holiday season ?, I am thinking of next year – what I want to do, achieve, who I want to spend my time with, how I want to move forward with my life. I reach a milestone birthday next year, a number I find unbelievable, so that has crystallized my thinking too.
There's some things I want to develop further, other things I want to start, and a few others that I'm thinking need to be over already. LOL.
But the themes stay fairly constant. I'm moving into a new season of my life, but mostly things stay the same: family, friends, writing. I've had enough good and bad things happen to me that I know the difference and that keeps my priorities grounded.
Today, I am reflecting, have news of a price drop in various regions, and an update on the Impossible Puzzle! ?
Everything is grist for t' mill
On October 30th, 1996, I arrived in San Francisco to begin my US adventure. Twenty-seven years long, it isn't over yet, not by a long shot. ✈️
It has been a ride and I'm so thankful to have had the opportunity to experience it. As I left my parent's home in 1996, I really had no idea what I was driving into. I had rented out my house, got a single ticket, a few savings, a visa for a few months, and some faith that everything would work out. ??
Since I arrived, I've got married, got a degree, raised two children, been a school volunteer (and carrier of coats,) had a couple of short-lived job-jobs, written some twenty-odd books, kept a cat, moved twice, flown thousands of miles between the UK and the US, experienced 27 Thanksgivings, been treated for breast cancer, learned how to speak (and write) “American,” and on. ?
But I was shaken when I got interrogated by immigration on my arrival. It was not a pleasant experience. They were suspicious of me not having a job to go back to and no return ticket. With hindsight, I can see how things must have looked. But, eventually, after two rounds of questioning, they let me in. And I had a story to tell.
Later I got interrogated by immigration again. At my green card interview, I was separated from my husband and we were questioned independently. I took our wedding album as proof our marriage was genuine. I happened to be eight weeks pregnant at the time.??
My immigration officer scoffed at my (very expensive) wedding photos and told me I could have staged them. I didn't have the right documentation (I took five forms!) and I appeared nervous. I wanted to say I was suffering from 24/7 nausea but by this time, I was flustered. It was early in my pregnancy and I didn't know what to do. Forty-five minutes of interrogation shredded my nerves.
Again, they let me go, and a year later, after I had anxiously over-prepared, I nervously returned for my final interview weighed down by documentation that supported my application. The immigration officer's first question was to ask after the whereabouts of my husband. I said he was in the waiting room looking after our six month olds. The interview concluded right then and there. Just like that. ?? ??
The immigration officer didn't need any more proof of my grounds for a green card. The interview lasted two minutes, if that. When I told her I'd been pregnant at my earlier interview, I learned that saying so would have spared me the suspicion – no one makes a dodgy marriage then gets pregnant with twins. Documents were stamped. Money changed hands. Jokes (jokes!) were made. And I'm still here.
Over the years, parts of me have been battered and are scarred, but I am still standing and in pretty much perfect working order. I have tons of opportunity. I have decent talent. I have loads of diverse experiences to draw upon. Who knows what the future has in store for me?
These are the things I think about. I'm an optimistic person. I have hope. I consider how I contribute to the world and do the most I can to make it better. When all the news is bad and I can't do anything, I wave thanks to other drivers and let them go first. It's the least I can do. ? ?
Diverse experiences are everything. They are what drive my writing. Without them, there would be no gas powering the engine. Books and their stories comprise the car built around their interplay. There's a lot going on under that hood, I mean, bonnet.
I answered a few questions in the Ask Alison section of my website this week.
- Which of my books are my favorite.
- Why I decided to write a series set in New Orleans.
- What I thought was strange when I first moved to the US but now really like.
- If you can download the starter library to your Kindle.
Thank you to Joy S., Kyley K., Kali J, and Lorraine K. for asking great questions.
If you would like to ask me something, just reply to this email and if I answer your question on my page, I'll send you a little something.
Mardi Gras Madness is also free in Amazon Prime in the US and Canada. You get MGM for free in your starter library but if you are a Prime member and don't want to use Bookfunnel, this would be a good way to go.
The impossible jigsaw
It wasn't so impossible in the end! I was missing two pieces which was a bit disappointing – the puzzle was given to me by a friend along with 27 others – but I enjoyed doing it and I particularly appreciated that it forced me to go from the inside out rather than the outside (edges) in. The puzzle challenged my brain to look at things differently in order to solve it, something that's very important for a mystery writer. ?