On the Road with Never Sit If You Can Dance

The official launch of my mother-daughter memoir Never Sit If You Can Dance: Lessons from My Motherisn’t until April 23rd.  But because of early invitations to literary festivals my joyful book is already inching its way out into the public. 

My mom was called Babe, and my first impression of being out in the world with Babe is that my mother stories are acting as an immediate catalyst, unleashing mother stories in the audience and in book buyers.  Organizers are always advising authors to make our presentations interactive, to engage the audience, not to just read from our book.  

But I don’t have to do anything especially interactive because I’ve found that after I speak people can’t wait to tell me their stories.  Although I’m still impacted by the emotional stories I’m telling—recently when I was  recording the audiobook, I couldn’t stop crying--I wasn’t expecting my stories to unleash such a flood, such a outpouring of mother stories from the audience.  


At the CALM Celebrity Authors’ Luncheon in Santa Barbara after I spoke about my mom’s dancing, one woman rushed up to tell me that her mom took up tap-dancing in her mid-eighties.  


At the Literary Guild of Orange County’s annual event I mentioned how surprised I was that one of my favorites is Lesson 13: Sometimes Life Begins Again at 95. Because Babe blossomed at 95 when she moved into a senior living community, and I wasn’t expecting that.  Later when  I was at the book table, autographing books, a woman came up to me, and looking me straight in the eye, said, “I’m ninety-five.”   This tall brunette looked healthy and happy, and I took her comment to mean that she was blossoming at 95, too.  In our culture that’s something we’re not necessarily led to believe is a possibility. 

I’m enjoying the interactions with other authors, too.  In Santa Barbara I was in the book signing ballroom, and the mother of the youngest author, a eighth-grader, gave me a compliment on my red satin blazer—a cool splurge for the book tour—and I thanked her and told her about Lesson 10: Don’t Be Drab.  I also mentioned that since authors are the entertainment, we should dress accordingly.  This mother then turned to her daughter, the author, who was wearing a plain blue and white dress, and said, “See, did you hear that?”


A friend, who knew my mother, and had just read the book, suggested I give out vintage handkerchiefs when people bought a book.  So, I ordered 108 vintage hankies on Amazon.   When I asked a book buyer if they’d like a handkerchief to go along with their book—they were fanned out on the table in a rainbow of colors--it also unleashed such stories of nostalgia for their moms and their mom’s handkerchiefs.

My next out of town gig is the Annapolis Book Festival, and I’m looking forward to the stories and the interactions with people who attend.  If you’re near Annapolis and the Key School on April 6, stop by and introduce yourself and share your stories.

Jo Giese is an award-winning radio journalist, author, teacher, and former TV reporter.  jo@jogiese.com












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Day 14--The Final Leg--Home!

Hope and Grace

Hope and Grace

Monday, April 25, we leave Los Olivos at 9:20, and pull into our driveway at 11:45 AM. Eddie’s West Coast Birthday Road Trip has lasted for 14 days, 2,363 miles!

"Are we still friends?” I say to Ed as we drive south on PCH into Malibu.

“Definitely,” he says.

“Did you like your Birthday Road Trip?”

“Yes. It’s something I always dreamed of doing. I get to check it off the list.”

At home, I take out the bottle of wine he bought us last night in Los Olivos. He says he was attracted to it because it’s the same vintner that produced the terrific wine he was enjoying at dinner. On the other hand, I take it personally. The label says Hope and Grace. A lovely way to return Home.

Day 13 Sunday Sacramento

We wake up at the Citizen Hotel feeling road weary. Last night's experience at this hotel didn't help.

After a lovely dinner at the Grange, the excellent restaurant here at the Citizen, we returned to our room. I had my pajamas on, and had poured myself another class of wine, and we're both snuggled in bed, but there's no denying there's some huge loud ruckus very nearby. We're on the 8th floor, what's going on? Finally, we can't stand the noise anymore. The front desk says there's a wedding in their event area on the 7th floor.

So why did someone put us in a room on the 8th floor directly above the wedding!? Was it the only room left in the hotel? No. Eventually they offer to move us down to the 3rd floor. We pack up, Ed puts on his clothes, I go in my pajamas. By the time we get settled in our new room I need a bit of Ambien to sleep.

At dinner we sat next to a couple, and Eric, the husband, struck up a conversation with us. Turns out he and his wife, both 39, are retired. (He was with the sheriff's department, and something about a helicopter crash where he was the only survivor apparently left him with many disabilities--though none visible--and a huge settlement.) Anyway Eric and Stacey tell us about their road trip--37 days, 9,400 miles. And only one argument, adds Stacey.

Favorite road snack!

Favorite road snack!

Boy, we're on our 13th day. To think that we could have 24 more to go boggles the mind of this weary road warrior.

I know we're lucky to have this experience, and yesterday was fabulous when Mount Shasta popped into view. Today I'm looking forward to the agricultural areas we'll drive through. But I do think my friend, Nanette, had the right idea when she said, So are you renting a car and flying back? Next time.