#SNARKTEMBER 26th with Shannon Baker
National Women Road Warrior Day was created to celebrate and honor the nation’s traveling businesswomen. This day honors the women who juggle both the personal and professional aspects of their life while keeping everything running smoothly. Women Road Warriors are organized, masters at scheduling, as well as expert travelers. They can meet the deadlines at work and still keep the family on schedule, even while they’re hundreds of mile apart.
My family challenges as a Road Warrior take me back to when my kids were at home. Now, with them grown and on their own, I can travel with relative ease. I only have my crazy Weimaraner to worry about, and my husband’s soft rule of a five-day limit (because he misses me, not because he can’t grill his own burger).
I consider myself to be lucky in the motherhood department. My two daughters were born in the mid 80’s in a ridiculously rural area in the Nebraska Sandhills. Seriously, our town population was 300; the whole county had 1000 people. The cow to people ratio was 50:1.
We had a family-owned feed store, so the lucky part is because that gave me lots of flexibility. Since my then-husband and I were in partnership with a business and kids–along with his parents, who didn’t have as much say over our kids as they’d have liked–everyone made it possible for me to Road Warrior our little angels all over the place.
I didn’t travel for my career or pleasure but because our schools didn’t have a bus. Whatever activities my kids participated in, my job was to get them there. And my kids did it all. Band, chorus, sports, plays, quiz bowl… everything! Most rival schools in our area were over 100 miles away. Add to that, one daughter who took dance classes and one who took piano, both different nights, in a town 60 miles away.
People, you must understand this was the dark ages. Well before The Moth Radio Hour or This American Life podcasts. A time when cell phones were the stuff of Dick Tracy cartoons. (Come on, you know Dick Tracy.) I had a bushel basket of cassettes, so we listened to plenty of music. Few restaurants, so I generally packed sandwiches.
Maybe my experience doesn’t fit the standard image of a Woman Road Warrior but the description says “juggle personal and professional aspects” and, that totally describes my life. Along with helping customers at the store and doing all the bookkeeping, I was working hard on a writing career. I wrote features for regional papers and journals, freelanced articles for magazines (remember, Al Gore hadn’t hit the scene with the Internet, so no blogs), and constantly worked on novels.
I busted my butt at the feed store, kept up writing, kept a day-planner so I wouldn’t waste time and energy, and expected my kids to do their part. My mother-in-law thought I demanded too much from my daughters. On the first day of school, when the teachers sent home “contracts” for me to sign saying I’d make sure my child completed her homework by initialing their work, I’d send back a note of my own. (My kids can recite this note today.) It said, “Dear Teacher, Homework is a contract between you and my daughter. It is her responsibility to do the work. If she fails that responsibility, please let me know and I will get involved.”
My mother-in-law was also kind enough to tell me my priorities, which were, according to her: 1) her granddaughters, 2) her son, and 3) the business. She believed I shouldn’t have time left over for anything else. Bless her heart. (This makes it sound like the Wicked Witch, but, really, she was great most of the time.)
I kept writing. Even though it was hard to find the time. My kids saw me making sacrifices, writing when others watched TV, sitting in my car between their ball games to edit while friends went to dinner, staying up late and getting up early.
Fast forward fifteen years. My daughters are both accomplished individuals working on amazing careers. And me? I’m traditionally publishing my sixth novel October 17th. The best thing about it all, is that my kids have told me (I know, it’s pretty amazing) that seeing me work so hard and not ever give up has been an inspiration for them.
My new release, Dark Signal, is the second in the Kate Fox mystery series. It’s set in that crazy rural place I told you about. I’m giving away the first in the series, Stripped Bare, for a comment here today.
Shannon Baker is the author of the Kate Fox mystery series, set in the isolated cattle country of the Nebraska Sandhills. She was voted Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers’ 2017 Writer of the Year and Stripped Bare earned the author a starred review in Library Journal (as their Pick of the Month) and a nomination for the 2016 Reading The West Award from Mountains and Plains Independent Booksellers. She also writes the Nora Abbott Mysteries (Midnight Ink), featuring Hopi Indian mysticism and environmental issues inspired by her time working at the Grand Canyon Trust. Shannon makes her home in Tucson where she enjoys cocktails by the pool, breathtaking sunsets, a crazy Weimaraner, and killing people (in the pages of her books).
The mystery author will be traveling across America for special events and conferences. See her full schedule: http://shannon-baker.com/where-ill-be/