Saturday, March 12, 2016

Guest Post by Author D.R. Ransdell

The following is a guest post by author: D.R. Ransdell
Author of: Mariachi Murder,  Island Casualty, and  The Secret Lives of the Pink House Cats: Prose Poems by Five Felines
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Meeting the Unexpected

One of the priceless aspects of being an author is that I get to meet interesting people I wouldn’t have met otherwise. Sometimes such meetings are virtual: that’s how I met Simon (STRAY BULLET) Duringer, who interviewed me for his website. Last week I met Franci Washburn; we were doing a joint reading on musical mysteries at Antigone’s, a local, independent bookstore. The irony is that we both work for the same department at the University of Arizona!

But often I meet people who are even more unexpected. A month ago I contacted Antigone’s to see if they would carry my books. Sure, no problem. They would take copies on consignment, and all I had to do was to show up and sign the paperwork. It didn’t matter what time I went in; either way, all the necessary paperwork would be behind the desk.

Yet somehow I didn’t make it to Antigone’s. The store was less than two miles away, and I had a car. It was a store I enjoyed going to anyway--even though it’s one of those dangerous bookstores where you always find something you like. Yet day after day, I didn’t go. Oh, I didn’t have time before rehearsal. Oh, they might already be closed. Oh…. I had a wealth of excuses.

Now I understand why. I had some kind of weird universal clock that was ticking. When it finally went off, I headed for Antigone’s. As instructed, I asked the woman behind the desk about my paperwork.

“What was that last name again?” the woman asked.

“Ransdell. That’s R-A-N….”

“Did you say Ransdell?” a female customer asked enthusiastically. “How do you spell that?”

After I confirmed the spelling, she became practically joyous. “I’m a Ransdell too!”

My dad had always maintained that Ransdell was an English name. Although it’s a more common name now, it used to be that whenever we were traveling to a new city, my dad would check the local phonebook for other Ransdells. He hardly ever found one. Here, however, was a Ransdell standing right before me!
“Let me introduce my husband,” the woman grinned. “He’s the ‘real’ Ransdell.”

We exchanged information about our family histories. Keith’s relatives had come from Missouri. As far as I knew, mine had come from Illinois. I wasn’t too sure, however, and neither was Keith. I vowed to ask my dad for more details; Keith vowed to take a look at a few genealogical websites. Then we congratulated one another on our unusual names. Keith laughed about the way some people insisted on Rans-DALE instead of RAN-sdell. I shared my mirth over the many ways my students have chosen to misspell my name. Somehow the string of three consonants gets them into trouble. Thus I have been renamed everything from Ransted to Rendell.

Keith and I had a delightful conversation about our ancestors—both the ones we knew and the ones we could only guess about. And I was able to share information with them about the area. I learned from Keith that Ransdell meant Raven’s Dell. While I should have guessed at the etymology, I’d never actually thought about it before. Best of all, Keith’s wife was so excited to see her name in print that she bought one of my books.

Soon we parted ways, but I had learned two valuable lessons. One was that there is real joy in being an author and meeting people who otherwise would not have crossed your path. The other was that sometimes you procrastinate, unknowingly, for exactly the right reason. When you finally perform the task at hand, it might turn out to be the exact most perfect moment. I’ll never chide myself for procrastinating again!

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