Monday, January 15, 2018

The Ink Penn Newsletter for January 2018

The Ink Penn Newsletter
January 2018

Recovering from the Holiday Season
Are you worn out, even though you had some time off? Lord Banjo and I had a busy book signing season, and then the Royal Parents enjoyed a white Christmas in Whitefish, Montana. Lord Banjo was thrilled to spend Christmas with his critter sitter and her family, and we Royal Parents enjoyed our trip, especially the dog sledding adventure. Now, though, we're all happy to be back home. (Visit my Facebook page to see a video of the dog sledding.)

How do you recover from the often jam-packed Holiday Season? Lord Banjo is lying around enjoying belly rubs and dreaming about starting another book.  Me? I've been reading lots of books: Yes, I'm mostly a mystery lover and an Anglophile, but Megan Abbott's book takes place in the US, and I did just start Chris Bohjalian's The Sleepwalker, which is set in Vermont. Next on my list is The Nearness of You, a spicy romance novel by KG Fletcher. 
A Giveaway for the New Year
Good news! We're running a Goodreads Book Giveaway for each of our books, and you can enter to win. If you read to relax and wind down, here's your chance to try some light-hearted reading in the New Year. We guarantee at least a few smiles and maybe even a laugh or two.

The Giveaway for Lord Banjo the Royal Pooch runs until February 10, and the Giveaway for The Ink Penn: Celebrating the Magic in the Everyday ends January 31st. Click the blue links to visit Goodreads to sign up. Of course, if you'd rather not wait for the contest results, you can always visit Amazon to get your copy today.

Did you know that if you follow me on Goodreads, you'll get alerts when I post a new blog? 
Keeping up with Lord Banjo and the Royal Mum
Okay, okay, I know must of you are much more interested in Lord Banjo than you are in me, but there are several ways you can keep up with us both.
  1. For pics of my boy, visit the Photo Gallery at Also, we'll soon start scheduling book signings for the spring, so you'll want to check the home page for upcoming events.
  2. I, the Royal Mum, have a Facebook Author Page, where I post whatever strikes my fancy: my newspaper columns, pics of Lord Banjo, interesting links, and COMING SOONAsk Lord Banjo. It may be my author page, but milord wants to participate too.
  3. Last but not least, Lord Banjo the Royal Pooch now has his own Instagram account. "About time," he says.
Please feel free to forward our newsletter to your friends, especially if you gave them a copy of one of our books as a gift.  That way, they can keep up with us too.
We Wish You a Happy, Healthy New Year!
Write Lord Banjo and the Royal Mum, once known as Kathy Manos Penn, at, and stay up to date between newsletters by following us on Facebook.

Sunday, January 7, 2018

Finding Humor in a Tale of Woe

I couldn’t do anything but shake my head and laugh in disbelief as this tale of woe unfolded.  It all started at 1 AM in the MARTA parking lot upon our return from a trip. “We’re not going anywhere; the car won’t start,” groaned my husband. He tried again, and luckily it started.

Because he came home with a bad cold, my husband got up early Thursday to head to Urgent Care and took my car because, you guessed it, his wouldn’t start. Sick as a dog, he came home, tried unsuccessfully to start his car, and went to bed. I figured, “No worries; he can rest and call AAA tomorrow.”

Fortunately, he felt worse Friday, so  I called AAA. They couldn’t start the car either and towed it to the dealership. I call it fortunate my husband felt worse, because he couldn’t fret over his car much less drive it, nor could he deal with the service department, and that was a good thing. Why? Because this saga continued for nine days.

The dealership called to ask what was wrong with the car; it started right up for them.  They seemed to doubt my story until I reminded them AAA had the same problem. I described the icons that appeared on the panel, and they responded, “We can’t fix the problem if we can’t replicate it.  Want us to run a diagnostic and charge you?”  What else could I do? I didn’t want it back without an explanation.

They called that night to say they’d keep trying on Saturday and call me.  Cool, except I got no call day two, and it was now New Year’s weekend. Tuesday, day five, I spoke to someone who promised to call right back. Then I took my still sick husband to the doctor and discovered he had bronchitis.

In all, I spoke with three folks Tuesday and Wednesday who promised to call but didn’t. Even the parts department got in on the act because the switchboard bounced me to the wrong area twice. Finally, day six, a woman answered the phone, said, “Give me 15 minutes; I’ll call you back,” and she did.

She told me they still couldn’t identify the problem, but there’d be no charge. By now, we were beyond ready to pick up the car. Day seven, I dropped off my husband and headed up the road.  My phone rang, and I heard, “What keys did you give them? They can’t find them.” I suggested they look in the glove box for the valet key, as I was pretty sure I hadn't given them that one. The next call was, “I thought you said there was no charge; oh wait, now they agree—no charge.”

Wait, there’s more. I was right; I had not handed over the valet key, and our set of keys was somewhere at the dealership. Yup, we left another message but got no response. Day eight, we drove back. I found someone who swore he’d looked everywhere for our keys and would have to make us a new key and fob. I told him he didn’t know how lucky he was that my husband was sitting in the car and not standing in front of him. After an hour of waiting, this guy figured out the fob wouldn’t be in until the next morning. Honestly, all I could do was laugh.

Back we went day nine, prepared to leave the car and keys for 90 minutes and have lunch out. The manager assured us he’d get it done in 45 minutes, so when my phone rang 45 minutes later, I expected to hear, “Your car’s ready.”  Instead, I heard, “I have to pick up a fob. Would you like to bring the car back another day?” Was he kidding?  I replied,”Get the fob; we’ll wait.” Hearing this story, the restaurant manager comped my beer and suggested I switch to hard liquor. After two hours, the call came in that the car was ready.

I continued shaking my head in disbelief as I wrote this story and never did pour a stiff drink. I made do with my usual glass of wine. 

Thoughts?  I'd love to hear your comments at

Friday, December 15, 2017

The Saga of the Boots

It all started with a plan to spend Christmas in the snow. We decided to visit Whitefish, Montana, a ski town just outside Glacier National Park that's been named one of “America’s 50 Prettiest Winter Towns” by USNews and one of the “Ten Best Ski Towns” in USA Today’s Readers’ Choice poll.

I don’t ski, and I live in Georgia with little to no need for cold weather gear. While my husband bemoaned the fact that he’d only recently given away his ski pants, I’d never owned any. On my one ski trip to Beech Mountain in the 70’s, I was such an abysmal skier, that I never tried the sport again.   I have a warm winter dress coat suitable for business travel to New York and Chicago, but not for activities like dog sledding.

Though I figured I wouldn’t get much use out of a cold weather wardrobe, I knew I needed to shop for a few basics. We planned this trip far enough in advance that I was able to take advantage of spring catalog sales to get long underwear and a fur-trimmed quilted coat. Serious shopping for a few more key items began in the fall.

Wool sweaters started arriving in the mail; ski pants were available at a local sporting goods store, and warm boots were next on the list. Yes, I have lots of boots, including a black fleece-lined pair that comes out every year to wear in the few inches of snow we get.  They’re warm but not comfortable enough for all-day wear plus I wanted to take two pairs of boots on the trip. Thus started the great boot hunt. I ordered two pairs from Amazon. The first pair seemed promising style-wise but perhaps a tad big and likely not warm enough.  While waiting for the second pair to arrive, I hit the mall.

There I found a pair of short boots, good for warmth but still not perfect. Time was awastin’, so I brought them home in case I couldn’t find anything better. Next, I headed to DSW, where I discovered a perfectly adorable pair of fleece-lined lace-up boots. Now, I had three pairs of new boots at home. The next day, the final pair arrived from Amazon. They weren’t especially warm, but they fit like a dream and were good looking to boot! I was beginning to feel like Cinderella trying on boots instead of glass slippers.

Decision Time
It was decision time. Could I make do with only one new pair? Could I use the old black ones for dog sledding and the new lace-up pair for dinners out and touring the town of Whitefish? Perhaps I needed the last pair from Amazon even if they didn’t travel to Montana.

All it took was my husband’s observation that what I had were two different kinds of boots, and I might need both. Decision made. I am now the proud owner of two new pairs of boots: one fashionable fleece-lined pair for my trip and colder days at home, and another slightly more practical pair to wear with jeans and leggings throughout fall and winter.  Of course, I may have to enlarge our closet to house my growing collection of boots, but that’s a worry for another day.

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