Tag Archive for: Barbara Plum

Kicking the Competitive Craziness

By AB Plum

If you’re a
writer, have you ever secretly—or maybe openly—dreamed of joining the ranks of
best-selling authors?

As much as
I’d like to deny ever having caught that virus—not deadly like COVID-19—I can’t
say I write without thinking about bestsellerdom.

simmers in my veins. By grade school, I burned to excel scholastically and in
sports.  To this day, I wear a pedometer
intending to walk at least five miles every day (and tack on a time limit in
which to attain the goal). I love comparing notes with my son, twenty years

Employed by
a multi-national corporation that hired 2% of applicants, I hopped on the fast
track. Aimed high. Won lots of awards. Burned out and cashed out despite offers
to remain.

On to
writing full time. Knowing in the back of my mind that getting published would
take time. Saying I understood the unlikelihood of attaining bestsellerdom.
Loving the fun of writing x-number of words daily. Or editing. Or choosing
different paths to publishing. Still … I daydreamed.

Now, I still
set 1,000 words as my daily writing goal. I get a real high from writing that
first 150 words in less than fifteen minutes. (I figured out that I can write
an email averaging 150 words in about 8.5 minutes. So, I doubled that time to
write on my WIP). Getting those first words down propels me to keep writing for
an hour). Believe me, daydreams of bestsellerdom do not distract me for the next two hours.

But when I
start laying out my launch plan(s), the idea of seeing my book on any of
Amazon’s Best Selling Lists will provide a certain je ne sais quoi (satisfaction isn’t quite right. Fulfillment comes
close. Gratification figures in, along with a sense of awe).

So, I’ve
ranked in the top 50 on several Amazon charts in the past. Last week? Here’s
the results of sales for Book 1 in the Ryn Davis Mystery Series during the
launch of Book 3, No Little Lies.

Okay, it’s a
niche category on Amazon vs the NYT.
(Niche category is definitely a positive spin, I realize). But … I’m not so
competitive that I’m going to ridicule the ranking. When I caught the notice
(by chance, since I don’t obsess over the level by checking it feverishly every
hour on the hour), I laughed out loud and did the Snoopy dance.

***   When AB Plum isn’t Snoopy dancing or
walking, she plays and writes just off the fast lane in Silicon Valley. Visit
her website for updates and special offers:  


Grab a copy of No Little Lies here

psychopath’s terrifying game of cat and mouse pits him against Ryn Davis where
she is most vulnerable—a past she has denied for years. His ties to organized
crime make him even more dangerous and places her in ever darker jeopardy .
is in control? What really happened to her mother? Why can’t Ryn

Is facing her past
the path to survival or death?

Pandemic, Protests, and Privilege

By AB Plum

Paraphrasing E.L. Doctorow, “Writing is a socially
acceptable form of committing murder.”

I’ve been killing a lot of characters this past month.

Not because the pandemic has demanded much of a change
in my life. I, basically, lead a life of privilege. I think killing “the bad
guys” is my way of venting frustration about the handling of the pandemic fueled by institutional racism.

Food, good, fresh food,
appears on my table nightly. The house where I live provides more than adequate
shelter. Walking daily remains part of my routine. I am white, well educated,
and healthy (except for a heart condition that puts me in the “Higher Risk” COVID-19 category). One risk I don’t have to deal with: 
living in constant fear of the police.

I like to think I’m smart enough to be grateful for my
lot in life and to be sensitive to so many others less fortunate. (It sounds
self-serving, but I grew up poor as dirt and have never forgotten my deep roots
in poverty).

Unconsciously, I write about flawed characters who
often are well-to-do. Many of them, though, have memories of being poor,
disenfranchised, ill, mentally incapacitated, and marginalized because of race
and/or gender.

In my Ryn Davis Mystery
Series, she runs a safe house for former prostitutes. With Hispanic surnames,
little education, less money, and children with absentee fathers, these women
are struggling to learn computer skills that will give them better chances to map
out independent lives and to protect 
their children. None of them has ever met un policia they trusted.

Beau “Peep” Scott earned millions as a drummer in The
Stoned Gang. The rock group’s name is apt since Beau burned too many gray cells
to take care of his fortune. His parents were drug addicts who neglected him,
and he deals daily with people’s sneers about his intellect. He adores Ryn and
may be the only man she trusts completely.

Elijah White, former Stanford law school and business grad,
successful corporate attorney, and the oldest of five siblings, now runs his
own PI business in Southern California. He remembers going to bed hungry. His
father was shot and killed by a cop.

Angie, a former Ph.D. candidate in biology and the
abused, runaway wife of a Silicon Valley tycoon, is about to hang out her shingle
as a vet for the homeless. She lived on the streets when she met Ryn. She
shares an affinity with Elijah and Beau for 1,000 piece jigsaw puzzles. She
also understands classism from the perspective of a trophy wife to a toothless
bag lady.

These are a few of my regular characters in the series.
I’ve not killed any of them and don’t see that happening in the next book at
least. Instead, I look forward to exploring greed, lust, and power as the
primary reason for murder—and maybe for most of society’s woes.

***  AB Plum
lives, walks, and writes in the heart of Silicon Valley. No Little Lies, her third book in the Ryn Davis Mystery Series hits
Amazon on July 6. Preorder here.  

Tempus fugit and tempus repit

by AB Plum

What day is today?

A friend recently wrote me she’s
thinking the above question is a good book title considering our current
shelter-in-place practices.

I’ll admit, it’s the first question I
ask myself every morning while still in bed.

Actually, as soon as I wake up, I
turn the question into a statement: 
Today is Tuesday, April 14, 2020.

Years ago, many doctors took the
ability to accurately state current daily information as a good sign of brain
health. So … I like to hit all the germane calendar considerations:



TOD doesn’t bother me so much. I’m sheltering in place and
don’t need to go anywhere or do anything on an arbitrary timeline. A daily shaft
of sunshine through the blinds helps orient me to the hour within thirty or
forty minutes.

Back in my school days, child-rearing days, corporate-work
days, thirty or forty minutes made a huge difference in managing my day.

Or so I thought. 

Never arriving late carried a certain … virtuousness.
Arriving early put me on the path for sainthood.

Like most humans driven by the minutes flying by, I
expected the same obsession about time from friends, family, and co-workers
because I definitely believed in cramming 48 hours of activities into a day. (I
was adept at multi-tasking. Sleep was overrated.)

Or so I thought.

Writing full time changed my thoughts about time. Freed me
up. Allowed me to get lost in the timeless joy of creating stories.

Productivity wasn’t the goal. I felt just as satisfied producing
one page a day as turning out fifteen. Writing at all hours of the day and
night opened up new A-HAs and fun challenges.

Balance soon became a problem. I didn’t live in a yurt in
Outer Mongolia. My network of friends and family mattered. They wanted to know
about this new adventure/career/paradigm shift. And though I never worried
about burnout, I did worry about sitting in the attic, hunched over my vellum
in the wee hours, with bats flying in the belfry while I tried to recall:

·         DOW
My calendar lies in my closed desk
drawer. No need to review the week every Sunday evening and then in the morning
on each day of the week. I still paste Post-Its on my computer as reminders,
but I’ve cut way back on the number of those visual memory-aids.

What day is today?

It’s a new day. A day when the number
of coronavirus cases are still rising. But a day when I can go outside for a
walk. A day when I realize how little I need and how much I have.

“I wish it need not have
happened in my time,” said Frodo.

“So do I,” said Gandalf, “and so
do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we
have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.”

J.R.R. Tolkien, The Fellowship of the Ring  

**** AB Plum lives and writes in Silicon Valley, setting for her latest mystery series, featuring Ryn Davis, a character who never sleeps.


Read more


By AB Plum

When was the
last time you shook hands?

(Before the COVID-19)?

Even before
this latest virus became pandemic, most of us shook hands almost reflexively.
We meet new people, old friends, business acquaintances, our doctors and
multitudes of others. Out come our right hands.

Before I
broke the scaphoid bone in my right hand six months ago, I took pride in my
firm, steady grip. My high-school debate coach drummed into us—especially the
girls—how this non-verbal gesture gave us power before we ever spoke a word to
make our case. Limp, half-hearted handshakes gave our opponents one up on us,
he insisted.

And if we

Since we’d
probably meet our opponents in another debate, shake hands like a winner.

mammals don’t shake hands. Since they generally have an olfactory sense
superior to us, they sniff. Some anthropologists think sniffing led to handshaking.
At least one study has shown that many of us after extending our hands in
greeting, put a hand near our face.

C’mon, you
say. Why not scratching our nose? Wiping our eyes? Clearing hair off our face?

signaling it’s called and takes into account the above points but still
theorizes “People constantly have a hand to their face … and they modify
their behavior after shaking hands.” If you’re interested in more science
on the subject, check

about duration, placement, who offers a hand first, too strong, too weak, men
with men, men with women, different cultures, passing on viruses—all these
factors and more lead to anxieties about shaking hands.

A few fun
factoids about the history of this powerful body language:

did handshaking begin?
No one knows for sure; the origins are
Some claim handshakes came about to
dislodge hidden weapons in the earliest times.
We have a visual depiction from the
ninth century B.C. between an Assyrian and Babylonian ruler.
Homer refers to handshakes in both the Iliad and the Odyssey.
Ancient Greek funerary vases and
gravestone showed handshakes.
Likewise, ancient Romans offered
handshakes as signs of friendship and loyalty.
The Quakers may have influenced giving
handshakes over bowing.

Victorians made the handshake popular with
manuals on the etiquette of how, when and where.

What did one British Olympic Association’s head doctor advise athletes about handshaking in 2012?
Don’t …
shake rivals’ hands for fear of picking up a bug in the highly stressful
of the games and having performance adversely affected.

How long was the handshake between
Donald J. Trump and Kim Jong-Un last?
13 seconds.
What is the longest handshake recorded
(according to Guinness World Record)?
10 hours. 

Why didn’t George Washington shake
He wasn’t king, but he seemed to think nodding in public was a more appropriate behavior than the handshaking of “common” people.
What U.S. Presidential candidate studied
how to shake hands?
John F. Kennedy—ever aware of those TV

What Presidential candidate gave his
wife a fist bump at an election rally?
Barack Obama—a gesture greeted with
plenty of negative comments from TV pundits.
about shaking hands:

In mixed company, shake the women’s
hands first or not?
What about with “seniors”? Who
With children, shake their hands? At
what age to begin?
What about holding hands or elbows
afterward? For how long?
What is acceptable in lieu of a
handshake? Fist bump? High-five? Wrist claps? Elbow bump?
Given handshakes
are laboratories for germs, will they go the way of the albatross?


AB’s next
release, maybe in July, has several characters shaking hands. She’s rethinking
that body language since COVID-19 will be a part of the setting. The good news
for her is that daily solitary walks require no social interaction. Not even
with her alter ego, Barbara Plum.

Read the
latest Ryn Davis mystery now available.

Check out
her website to sign up for her newsletter or
to contact her. She does reply.

In with the new, out with the old

by AB Plum


Not a


Or personal

But … a
memorable personal event. (Personal, versus of world import, namely the end of
the Vietnam War). Following up on my non-NY’s resolution to clean out 3 boxes
of old manuscripts, I found the prologue to the first novel I ever composed directly on a typewriter.

An artifact,
I know. An IBM Selectric, to be specific. (Affordable only because my husband
worked for IBM and got a discount).

Before that
momentous undertaking, I’d written thousands of words in cursive and then
transcribed the manuscript to a typewriter.

prologue, six typed pages, lay on top of eight legal pads with the story handwritten on the front and back pages. With no margins.

amazed me—more than how bad the historical romance sucked—was how legible my
handwriting was. I’d once taught adolescent boys and often wrote on another
artifact—the blackboard (green, in my school). I also wrote in a diary and kept
legible notes on my daily planner.

Today, my longhand
is worse than when I copied that first Palmer cursive letter in early third
grade. My keyboard skills, on the other hand, have increased my manuscript
output to a level of proficiency and efficiency I’d never have achieved writing
by hand.

Still, I
miss placing pen to paper and producing elegant handwriting. (I possess zero
visual artistic talent, but I am in awe of beautiful penmanship). Sometimes,
when I am at an impasse at my keyboard, I take out an array of pens and free
write until the Muse comes back from her break.

Or until my
fingers cramp.  

my Luddite heart, I did a little research. Is cursive still taught in
elementary schools? If so, what has replaced the Palmer method? Is printing
easier to learn than script?

As with
so many forays into cyberspace, I had to stop “researching” and
resume pounding the keyboard. But the handwriting is on the wall …

we have done with the abacus and the slide rule, it is time to retire the
teaching of cursive.” (Morgan Polikoff, Asst Prof of the University of
Southern California’s Rossier School of Education, May 2013, New York Times).

In other words, in with the new, out with the old.

about you? Do you write or print notes on paper? Or do you prefer to text?

*** AB Plum, aka Barbara Plum, lives, works, and plays without
an abacus or slide rule in Silicon Valley. Her next book, Through Rose-Colored Glasses, scheduled for release on February 17,
is the second book in the Ryn Davis Mystery Series. 

New Year, New Decade, New Direction

by AB Plum

Welcome to the New Year, a New
Decade, and a New Direction

No writer’s block here. 

Gazillions of potential blog topics cry for the
Stiletto Gang’s “insights” over the next 365 days. This year, the
Gang has decided to add a new subject: the craft of writing fiction. We expect to
learn a lot from each other. We hope you’ll learn a lot about what goes into
writing word after word after word to evoke an emotional connection between
writer and reader.

Wednesday of each month

Look for a new craft post the first Wednesday of the

I’m up first—sort of like the first baby born each New

characters but names …

For me, the quintessential element of all stories is
characters (not necessarily human). We could do twelve months on developing
fictional characters, but I’m going with names—a subset, really, of that fictional

Also, I’m sort of a names nut. I collect unusual names—from
fiction, celebrities, and movies—pop culture at large. Magnus, The REal McCoy,
Risa, Ryn, Pierce, Detective Nick Ketchum, Bo “Peep”, The Stoned
Wall, and Lavender comprise some of the characters I’ve introduced in various of my
books. Here are a few basic ideas that drive me in finding the
“right” name: 

Names bring characters alive.
I have never written a novel or a short story for
which I didn’t have the main character’s name before
I started writing. Knowing that vital information adds dimension to other
aspects of that character I’ll introduce to readers almost from page one of the
novel. Examples of what a character’s name reveals to me: inner drive, personality,
goals, past secrets, childhood, disappointments, celebrations, etc.
of the best examples of characters whose names fit, IMO, appear in
Gone with the Wind.

O’Hara and Rhett Butler leap off the page when we meet them. The meaning of her
name is obvious (to native English speakers). His Old English name means
“small stream.”

stream” for a force of nature? Scarlett for a woman whose reputation as a
flirt grows worse throughout the novel.
You decide if the names fit the characters.
Names connote animals, places,
position, status, ethnicity, and more.
Wolf, Paris, Judge, Yuri.
I’m still waiting for a character to step
forward for whom I can use Wolf. I know the character type, but I’ve yet to
meet the specific fictional bearer of the name.
Names reflect culture, time, power,
ambiguity, certainty, subtlety and quirkiness

Octavia, Charity, Reina, Madison, Moxie
Crimefighter, Eulalia, Audio Science
I’d love to tell a story featuring a character
named Audio Science (the first-born son of actress Shannyn Sossaman). Maybe he
and Moxie in a romance?
Names reinforce gender, family,
history, religion, values, trends, imagination.
Caesar, Murphy, Napoleon, Lourdes, Peace,
Hannah, Pilot Inspectkor
Pilot Insectkor apparently comes from an indie
song and definitely sparks my imagination. I am still waiting for the right
character to claim the moniker.
Deciding on a name for a character—especially
for the Main Character(s)—is like naming a child. Making the name meaningful is
my first criterion in choosing a handle.

Risa, the heroine in my romantic comedy Prince
of Frogs,
means smile in Spanish. A pediatrician, she’s never met a kid she
didn’t like. Her smile is so big and genuine that her patients never cry when
she gives them their shots.
Nicknames and pet names can add depth,
complexity and insight to a character.
Risa enters the world with a mop of orange-red
The nurses tie a big pink bow on top of her head and present her to her mother with a flourish, proclaiming: La Ti Da! From then on she’s called La Ti Da because she’s so full of life, energy, and joy.
A few of my favorite names for fictional
characters include:
Elvis Cole (Robert Crais)
Stephanie Plum (Janet Evanovich)
Spenser (Robert Parker)
Temptation, OH (J. Crusie)
Chili Pepper (E. Leonard)
Scarlett O’Hara (M. Mitchell)
Sookie Stackhouse (C. Harris)
Hannibal Lector (Thomas Harris)
What about you—what are some of your favorite characters’
names? Any you hate?

Check back on Wednesday, February 5th
for the next blog on Writing Craft.

AB Plum, aka
Barbara Plum grew up in Southern Missouri. She knew she was in trouble
whenever her mother used her first and middle names in one breath. All three
names (usually yelled) meant a potential time-out until age 21. Her love of
names may have begun with her first puppy, Pickle Puss. Later, ThatCat and
YourCat became favorite felines.
Check out her
dark psychological thrillers and riveting mysteries :  https://abplum.com/
In the mood
for mood for paranormal or contemporary romance:    https://barbaraplumauthor.com/

Turkeys everywhere

by AB Plum aka Barbara Plum

The political junkie in me really, really, really wants to write a blog this month with
a political slant.

The common sense adult in me demands I holster my
trigger finger. Three repetitions of the adverb in the first sentence wakens my
Inner Editor screaming one question.

What insight do you, she screeches, bring to the
on-going political debacle?

Ooops, my editor’s less-than-neutral noun reflects the
political slant’s inherent volatility.

My Inner Editor returns to reason.

Thanksgiving approacheth. Why stir up gastric acids
even before the turkey and dressing, the green bean casserole, corn pudding. two
kinds of cranberry sauce, sweet potato casserole (with gooey marshmallow
topping), whipped potatoes, baked Brussel sprouts, creamed onions, pumpkin, Bourbon
pecan, chocolate, apple, cranberry-pear, coconut custard, and lemon meringue
pies are served?

Why not write about the First Thanksgiving?  Inner Editor suggests.
Something with a light-hearted touch?

All right, I like humor. Stuffing my darker side down
into my mental vault, I return to the keyboard.

What’s the difference between
Election day and Thanksgiving day?
On Thanksgiving, you get a turkey for the day. On Election day,
you get a turkey for four years.
OMG, my Inner Editor groans. You’re the turkey. Get
your head on straight. Thanksgiving doesn’t have an audience for anything that smacks
of politics.

So, I forget the humorous twist. The posturing Washington
turkeys aren’t funny. They’re ridiculous.

Consider a historical perspective, advises my Inner
Editor, sharpening her red pencil. Be sure to include a hook or your reader
will stop reading after the first line.

Exactly why I want to lead with: something hooky.

Unfortunately, most of the Thanksgiving hooks are
really myths. Deconstructing those myths leaves the early founders (Separatists—not
Pilgrims—debunking one of many myths) tarnished. 

Reframing those stories—learned in
kindergarten and earlier when we dressed kids in paper bags with a feather duster
tails—probably borders on political incorrectness.

Okay, so go with a few historical facts (i.e., not fake
Whew. We do have a couple of facts:
  • ·       
    In 1863 Abraham Lincoln declared the 4th
    Tuesday in November officially as Thanksgiving. (By proclamation vs executive
  • ·       
    FDR, in 1939, capitulated to changing the
    date to the 3rd Thursday in November. (To increase shopping days
    until Christmas. Whether sound economics or flack from various groups forced a
    date of the 4th Thursday in November, we may never know).
  • ·       
    Mashed potatoes didn’t show up on the first
    menu around 1621. Fact, potatoes weren’t a staple of New England at that time.
    Ditto for sweet potatoes—a Southern staple.
  • ·       
    Venison rather than turkey provided the
  • ·       
    The Separatists (known much later as
    Pilgrims) didn’t sport buckles on their shoes.  Or on their hats. Buckles became fashion
    accessories decades after the original “pilgrims” left England. In
    the New World, they were too poor for such frippery. Since they provided their
    own medical care, public assistance was a moot point.

AOBTW, the indigenous inhabitants of the
new world most likely celebrated “the first Thanksgiving” long before
the pilgrims immigrated. (I said in the beginning I wanted to write with a
political slant).

My Inner Editor isn’t happy, but it is her right to
pursue happiness elsewhere. And for all my border-line bah-humbug ‘tude, I am
thankful to live in this contradictory place where none of us is above the law.

In Silicon Valley. AB Plum reads too much political stuff and switches to writing
mysteries to “find justice”. She writes romantic comedy because love
transforms us.

A Love Letter to Subaru

By AB Plum aka Barbara Plum

Laughter, so
goes the cliché, is the best medicine.

Some days
Colbert is not enough to counteract the news headlines. Some days, despite
their screams, the headlines seem to begin and end with a whimper. Some days
news headlines demand a prescription for twenty-four hours of nonstop laughs.

Enter a
canon of television commercials. (Okay, this statement may reach too far, but
curb your disdain at the apparent oxymoron and read on).

The carmaker
Subaru has been doing its part for a long time to bring a smile to our faces.
They began their dog commercials around 2008. In 2013, they introduced the
“Barkleys” (a canine nuclear family of four—3 Golden Retrievers and 1
yellow Lab Retriever). The dozens of 30-second shots guarantee giggles,
guffaws, and outright belly laughs.

delivered without a spoken word (nearly heresy for a writer of fiction heavy on
dialogue). All with ordinary dogs placed in ordinary human situations. All
presented with tongue-in-cheek humor that makes me think if the world’s going
to the dogs, we should let it go.

I do not now or ever have owned a Subaru. I do not now or ever have owned stock
in Subaru. I grew up with canine companions, but none of them was a Golden
Retriever or Lab.


AB Plum, aka Barbara Plum, isn’t chortling over the “Barkleys,” she
lives, writes and pats all puppies she encounters on her daily walks in
Silicon Valley. Her latest romantic comedy,
Crazy Daze and a Knight is
one of the very few books she’s penned 
without a
four-legged, furry companion. 

But … All Things Considered features a ferocious feline. If you have time to
laugh, check out the Subaru dog commercials
here. And if the commercials don’t
brighten your day, check out
National Make a Dog’s Day.

Travel: A Path to World Peace

By Barbara Plum aka AB Plum

“Travel is fatal to
prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness …”  (Innocents Abroad)

On the other hand, there’s no
place like home.

After a summer of living in
Denmark, with side trips to Iceland, Scotland, Finland, and Estonia, I boarded
what I hoped was my last airplane for a while on August 31. We stood in line to
clear security at Kastrup, and I wondered if any other country besides our
Scandinavian haven had withstood such an onslaught of tourists.

Despite the hordes—and my
being patted down at the airport—the multitudes and I proceeded to our flights
without incident. Standing in front of Customs, I felt a frisson of tension.
(We learned before departing the US that Iceland is part of the Schengen Area).

So? You might ask.

Schengen Agreement … 

This Agreement allows people
and goods to cross 26 EU borders without visas or other kinds of border controls.
US citizens can remain in the entire area
a total of 90 days within a 180-day period. Pretty straight forward. (My husband traveled on his Danish passport and so avoided the “rules).

Yes, but …

I knew about the restrictions
before leaving the US on May 27 for Iceland. Iceland is part of the Schengen
Agreement. Six days there before going to Denmark meant I would exceed the 90-day allotment. I called
the Danish Consulate near my home in late April and got the reassurance that I could go to
any police station in Denmark and receive an extension of my 90 days.

Once upon a time, yes. In June 2019 …
I had to go to Danish Immigration with a long form filled out by my husband’s
lawyer-cousin. The clerks who handled my request warned us I would very likely have
my request rejected. (About a hundred people—Mid-Eastern women, mostly, with
small kids and babies—queued up to other lines to submit their papers). I never
learned the outcome of their petitions, but I realized my extension mattered
nothing compared to immigrants seeking asylum.

Ever optimistic about my own
case, I thought playing the “family” card would over-ride
bureaucracy. Family is a very big deal in Denmark. My husband’s family had
planned a major reunion for us and dozens of cousins on August 25. Our adult kids
were coming from the US to take part in the festivities. Et cetera. Et cetera. Etc.

Nothing personal … and no narrow-mindedness …
just the rules …

In less than a week, we received
the official word, delivered by Priority Mail. I had to leave on the 24th
or risk a hefty fine and exclusion from the EU for an unspecified time if I
violated the rules.
A trip to the American
Embassy resulted in no hope. Naively, I assumed someone in the US Embassy would
take up my case. Denmark, I learned, now has some of the strictest immigration
policies in Europe. And no, I could expect no help from US personnel.

A loophole …

A light shone at the end of
the tunnel though. One loophole existed. I could leave Denmark for 6 days (the
number by which I would exceed my stay) and then return to Denmark, giving me a
total of 90 days in the country.

But … but … where could I go?

The UK or Croatia. Or, of
course, back to the States. Choices, choices.
Brexit mania was all over the
European news in mid-July. Did I really want to go to London under those

After five minutes of
discussion about cheaper airfares, shorter flights, and another visit to
Croatia, my husband and I chose Scotland for our sojourn. I’d always wanted to
tip-toe through the heather—if I could visit during a rain-free period.


Raindrops keep dancin’ on my head …

Sunshine shone on us every
day except for our bus trip to Stirling to visit the castle. Since we’d enjoyed
perfect weather at Edinburgh Castle, we didn’t complain. Dozens of Scotsmen
told us how lucky we were not to have to resort to rain-gear, and we agreed.

Our six days in Edinburg flew
by. We missed the heatwave that hit the week after we left, and we returned to
Copenhagen almost glad for the need to make the side trip.

And yes, we tried haggis—almost
edible with a couple of cold local beers.

Our trips to Finland and
Estonia, planned before our imposed trip to Scotland, proved uneventful. Great
weather. Manageable crowds. Quiet and relaxing.

Heading home …

By the last week of August, despite
an amazing summer, we were ready to go home on the 31st.  An eleven-hour flight lay ahead of us so we
decided to check for lounge availability and pay for a more quiet place to
relax before takeoff. Pay, because Norwegian Air no longer provided free lounge
entrance for Premium passengers. If we upgraded to Premium-Plus status, then we
could stay for the 2-hour wait time for free. Another thousand dollars seemed
excessive …

As we checked with the desk
attendant regarding available space, she told us the charge would be $40
each.  We hesitated. Then, a young woman
behind us, offered to make us her guests. Surprised, but quite happy, we
accepted. We thanked her and discovered she’d grown up in Silicon Valley. She
now lives in Boston, but the world is a small place.

We settled in with coffee and
comfy chairs and marveled at our good luck. “Travel [really] is fatal to
prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness.”

How about you. Do your travel
experiences support Twain’s statement?
When not traveling the world,
Barbara Plum and her alter ego, AB Plum, live in Silicon Valley. Her latest
romantic comedy, Crazy Daze and a Knight
is available FREE through Thursday. 

Flexing, Resilience, and Going Home

By AB Plum

In a little over three weeks,
I’ll board a plane for a twelve-hour flight to the US, headed for:


Silicon Valley.


After two-plus months in
Copenhagen without a dishwasher, I’m really looking forward to that luxury.
(No, washing dishes by hand wasn’t the hardest adjustment. But … I washed
enough dishes growing up as the oldest of six kids to say:  been
there done, that

On the other hand, washing
dishes here three times a day reminded me of how many people in the world lack
water to drink or cook or bathe or clean their teeth. Our three-room Danish
apartment would make those resilient people think they’d entered Heaven. Nobody
forced me to take this sabbatical so no whining allowed.
Frankly, I’ll miss the
incredible public transportation. It took me a day or two to remember to click
on and click off trains and buses—not too different from San Francisco. And
maybe the easiest adjustment. Never having to drive or find a place to park has
reinforced how glad I am that I like to walk (because the train doesn’t stop in
front of my apartment). 

Returning home, I’ll have to
re-adapt to shopping for groceries once a week instead of every day. Having
three niche markets fifty feet from our apartment has changed our buying habits.
I wonder, though, if I’ve seen the future here? Consumers load their own
grocery bags (plastic, paid for if they forget to bring one). Plastic surprised
me since in our part of California, plastic is banned from supermarkets.

When we first arrived in
Denmark, I vowed to learn to speak Danish.

Didn’t happen. I’ve learned
to read and understand quite a bit. My vocabulary has expanded and my
pronunciation is somewhat understandable to a tolerant native. But speaking
full sentences? Expressing more than the basics: Where is [the bathroom]? What time is it? How do you say … In most
cases, Danes reply in English. But the majority of grocery store clerks still
greet me in Danish and ask if I want a receipt.

The elevator continues to require
an act of faith to step into, but my heart rate kicks up only about ten beats
instead of twenty. Flexibility. Resilience. The little steps matter.
Going to the airport is the
next big step. We’ve opted to go by taxi because of our luggage—too much to
handle on the train. We’ve about accepted the fare—almost a quarter of one
airline ticket. We congratulate ourselves on our adaptability. The fare still feels outrageous …

We leave on a Friday—bedlam at
the airport as we know from our earlier flight to Scotland. We’re flying on a
budget airline. The gates are practically in Germany. We’ll probably worry
until we board about what we’ve forgotten. Maybe our new-found flexibility will
extend to asking, What difference does it make what we’ve forgotten?
Because … the one huge change
we soon embraced after our arrival?

We can live quite comfortably
with far less “stuff” than we have.

If we had to walk out of this
apartment with nothing but the clothes on or backs, our medications, our
wallets, our passports, and nothing else—not even our laptop—we’d get along

Have you spent an extended
stay in a foreign country?

What was your biggest

Did you feel a bit smug about
your resilience to new customs, food, language, etc.?

AB Plum and her alter-ego,
Barbara, have spent the summer in Denmark, making sojourns to Scotland and
Finland. The first trip required a great deal of flexibility to resolve some
immigration issues. The second trip required a whole new mindset relative to

Despite a few turbulent days,
Barbara will meet her deadline for publication of Crazy Daze and a Knight, a romantic comedy exploring a second
chance at love.
Available on Kindle August 27.