Thursday, February 18, 2016

Happy WHAT Day?


HANK PHILLIPPI RYAN: So, birthdays. My thought is that we are required to celebrate, because yes, of course, we are glad we were born—which is what they’re about, right? But I really don’t see why we have to give each annual event a number. How about having, you know, Hank Day. Susan Day. Rhys Day. Whatever our “birth” day is, that’s how we figure out when our celebration day is, and who cares about the actual passage of time. See what I mean?

(October 17—yes, my Celebration Day. Much better. "Which one?" you ask. "Why, this year’s of course!")

One's birthday—or whatever we’re going to call it—is also a lucky day, that’s for sure. (And when we were kids, we’d try to extend to birthday WEEK, which my mother never acknowledged with anything but a sneer.) And I always felt October was “lucky,” too, by extension.

Now the fabulous Shawn Reilly Simmons—you know her from her incredible work at Malice Domestic right?--has a couple of birthdays coming up.

Wait—she has more than one birthday this year?

Yup.

Happy Birthday to Me, and Me Again

By Shawn Reilly Simmons

I’ve been thinking about birthdays a lot lately. It seems every week I’m wishing a friend Happy Birthday, or a Happy Book Birthday, in some small way sharing in their excitement on their special day. Tomorrow happens to be my birthday. I’ll be turning 45, so it’s one of those milestone years, one of the ones that ends in a five or a zero.
A few days later on February 23rd, I’ll be celebrating another birthday when the first two books in my Red Carpet Catering series will be published by Henery Press.

I had nothing to do with the scheduling of the book releases, but I wasn’t surprised when I was told they would be in February. It’s always been a lucky month for me, and I’ve often thought it had some kind of magical pull, like it’s my own special month for major events.

 Great things have happened in my life during the shortest month of the year: I met my husband (on the very last day, the 28th, 9 years ago, so just under the wire), three years later we got married in February (on my birthday, in fact, which seemed like a good idea at the time, but in retrospect just causes him a lot of anxiety, especially since it’s the same week as Valentine’s Day). Many years ago right out of college I was hired for my first real marketing job in New York City during February. And now I can add “became a published author” to the list of significant milestones that have occurred during the month.

I will now always remember my 45th birthday as the one where I achieved my lifelong dream of becoming a writer, the dream that I’ve had since I was eight years old. That’s a pretty great birthday, taking second place only behind my wedding day six years ago.

Some women don’t mention their age. They keep it to themselves for various reasons, many of which I completely understand. My books are set behind the scenes on movie sets from the head caterer’s point of view, a job that I have done myself. Acting is one profession where ageism (and sexism, not to mention inequality in pay) is still a driving force in a woman’s career. 

A woman’s age is used to define her, pigeonhole her into a certain type of role, and is sometimes used to exclude her from becoming a love interest, even to a much older male actor (we’re talking a 20 year age gap sometimes!). Actresses are under a lot of pressure to appear a certain way, for fear they won’t be considered for the roles they’re pursuing. 

When I was cooking on sets, I would watch many of the actresses eat like little birds, picking at vegetable trays and salads, while their male costars shoveled whatever they felt like onto their plates.

Luckily I’m not auditioning for a film role, so I can say proudly that I’ve earned every one of my 45 years. Not only that, I can say I’ve improved over time as a friend, wife, mother and now a writer. I see a few wrinkles around my eyes these days, but along with them I’ve accumulated a hugely supportive base of friends and fellow writers, so much love, a bit more knowledge, and lots more experience. 

So bring on the birthdays!

What’s the best birthday that you’ve ever had? Are you particularly fond of a special time of the year? How do you like to celebrate your milestone birthdays?

HANK: Do you even celebrate your birthday? J But here’s a present for you, either way! Shawn is giving away a copy of Murder on a Silver Platter and Murder on the Half Shell (ebook versions, your choice of platform) to one lucky commenter. SO even simply say: Happy Birthday! And you’re entered.

*****************

Shawn Reilly Simmons is the author of the Red Carpet Catering series featuring Penelope Sutherland, on-set caterer and chef to the stars (Henery Press). Murder on a Silver Platter and Murder on the Half Shell will be released on 2/23/16 and are available for pre-order now. Murder on a Designer Diet, the third book in the series, will be published in June. Shawn is on the Board of Malice Domestic and a member of Sisters in Crime. When she’s not writing, Shawn is running, cooking, drinking wine or reading. She lives in Maryland with her husband, son, and English bulldog.

www.ShawnReillySimmons.com

@ShawnRSimmons

Facebook.com/shawn.reillysimmons



60 comments:

Joan Emerson said...

Congratulations, Shawn; your books sound delightful and I’m looking forward to reading them. February certainly does seem to be your special month!

When our children were small, birthdays were a very big deal . . . we even celebrated half birthdays.
John and I are rather casual about our birthdays [even the milestone ones] and any celebrating we do is rather low-key. Of course, if we’re talking about a birthday for one of the children or the grandchildren, then there’s always a lot of celebrating for their special day!

Kathy Reel said...

Happy Birthday, Shawn, and congratulations on your dream coming true! Your books sound so entertaining, behind the scenes of a movie set. They're sure to have lots of interest. And, I second your fondness for February. It's my birth month, too, and growing up, three out of the four kids in our family had February birthdays. My older sister and brother both shared a birthday (born 7 years apart) and I had one all to myself toward the end of the month, so we had lots of celebrating in February. Now, I have a granddaughter who has her birthday on Valentine's Day, so the month is even more special. I'm a big fan of birthday weeks, too, and it seems celebrating with friends and family sometimes turns out to be spaced over a week. Of course, for me, deciding what book I want for my birthday is always part of the fun, and now, Shawn, you've come up with two right before my big day.

Grandma Cootie said...

Happy Birthdays, Shawn! How exciting and wonderful for you. Your books and past career sound interesting. Sad that there is such age bias for women; some things never seem to change. We do celebrate birthdays. Not the big elaborate surprises or events but always special and fun to have our very own day.

Edith Maxwell said...

I'm SO happy for you, Shawn! Happy, happy, happy birthdays (one for you and one for each book...). I can't wait to get started on your series. But tell us, why are two books releasing at once?

FChurch said...

What a great month of birthdays and special moments, Shawn! Congratulations! Always enjoy reading behind-the-scenes books about the movie industry--will be looking out for yours--and two at once--a special treat!

Hallie Ephron said...

Chiming in: Happy birthday to yoooooou.... I do celebrate in small ways. Like Shawn, a big birthday for me was the year I had my first book published. I'd set myself a goal of having it by the time I reached 50. I missed by a year. And I treat myself to a day when I don't have to do (or eat) anything I don't want to. We're not big on gifts -- the best is when my daughters call to sing me Happy Birthday.

Writing is a great career if you want to age AND keep hitting those high notes and being invited to the ball!

Deb Romano said...

Hi Shawn, and Happy Birthday!

My birthday is coming up in a couple of weeks, and I may just give myself the gift of one of your books!

I do like to celebrate birthdays as a celebration of Life. I am grateful for each year. So many relatives on my dad's side of the family died much too young.

My worst birthday might have been the day I turned 8: my parents took me to an ear/nose/throat doctor who told me he'd be removing my tonsils and adenoids before very long, and "I would like to do it today, but it's your birthday, so we'll wait a couple of weeks!" Many years later, I had the pre-employment physical for my current job on my birthday, and began the job ten days later. Now I celebrate my birthday and my work anniversary in the same month.

Lucy Burdette aka Roberta Isleib said...

Happy book birthday Shawn--so excited for you! I'd hit 50 when my first came out--I was horrified to see the first line of the local paper's story included that number. So much to celebrate!

Writer question: what was the thinking behind publishing two books at once?

Hank Phillippi Ryan said...

Yes, Hallie, so correct--writing is great for birthdays not mattering! (My first book came at 55! So yeah, Shawn--you're a baby!) Happiest of Birthdays. In every way!

ANd birthday month--so far, every big thing in my life has happened in August. Good stuff, fabulous stuff, terrible stuff WHen August comes around, I begin to wonder. ANy reason for that, anyone know? Is August a thing?

Hank Phillippi Ryan said...

And wow, I am fascinating by behind the scenes at movies--tell us MORE!

Brenda Buchanan said...

Happy Birthdays, Shawn, and congratulations on your new books!

I also feel that I've earned the wrinkles and (in my case) the gray hair. I celebrate the passage of time each year when December rolls around. Older and wiser, that's me.

But all your February milestones! Wow! I don't have a special month of the year, but momentous things do tend to happen to me around holidays. The universe is more ordered than we think sometimes.

Mary Sutton said...

I never made a big deal of my birthday. Even as a kid, my birthday was exactly a week after my younger brother's, so we always had to "share" the birthday celebration, including the cake. It kind of killed the excitement - for me at least, since I was six years older and the things that appeal to a six-year old rarely appeal to a 12-year old, you know?

That changed in 2001.

Yes, my birthday is 9/11. I will admit that #28 kind of stunk. But the next year I was asked, "Wait are you really going to celebrate your birthday on the anniversary of 9/11?" I was shocked. Yes. Yes, I was. I had dibs on the date. It was mine long before it was a day of national tragedy, so why shouldn't I celebrate? And what better way to thumb my nose at those responsible for such a tragedy that to celebrate and celebrate big?

So every year, I take the day off work (if necessary). I buy the most extravagant cake from the local bakery (cheesecake, chocolate, and fudge, usually only consumed once a year because I'd weigh 200 pounds, otherwise). I get presents, including a selection of truffles from a local chocolatier. Yeah, I observe the moment of silence, but otherwise party on!

Shawn Reilly Simmons said...

Joan-our son is five, so birthdays are once again a big deal in our house. We go all out, lots of friends and family...drape our house in Lightening McQueen decorations (or whoever is his favorite that year). Those childhood birthdays are the best-as it should be. Thanks for sharing!

Kaye Barley said...

Shawn, Happy Birthday, Sweetie!!!! SO so proud of you I could pop!

So far, knock on wood, I've been okay with celebrating the occasion of my birth, no matter what the number. I'm wondering though, honestly, how I'm going to feel in a few years when that number is 70. Seventy sounds, to me, like well - you know - older than I really could possibly be. Am I supposed to stop wearing my cowboy boots? Do I have to clean up my potty mouth and start acting more mature? What?!

Shawn Reilly Simmons said...

Grandma :-),
Thank you so much! And you're right-age bias against women is ridiculous, especially in the extremes it sometimes takes in Hollywood. Casting directors should stop and think what over 50% of the audience thinks!

Shawn Reilly Simmons said...

Edith-thanks so much, and thanks for being my pretend writing coach (I still try and keep pace with you daily, quietly on my own). Henery decided to bring the two first out together after they took over the series. I had previously published a version of them under my own imprint. Since then they've been overhauled by the editorial team, revised, reshaped, repackaged and redesigned. The third is due out in June, and that one I wrote only for them. It's been to a of work, but the books are stronger for it, and I'm thrilled at the time and attention Henery spent on them. I couldn't be happier!

Shawn Reilly Simmons said...

Thank you so much! Yes, I'm a big movie fan from a very young age, so doing that job was a total thrill for me. I hope you enjoy them!

Shawn Reilly Simmons said...

Hallie-that's a perfect celebration, just taking the day for yourself with no guilt. Eat the cake, drink the wine, take the nap...perfection!

Shawn Reilly Simmons said...

Kathy-wow! February certainly is a big month for you too! As a kid I always thought it was cool when my friends had February birthdays too-because it's the shortest month, so the odds are less, right? I imagined we were in a special club. I'll raise a glass to you on your day too!

Shawn Reilly Simmons said...

Deb-me too! I always think, well, I looked great in my twenties, but I didn't know a quarter of the things I know now. I prefer to think of it as being seasoned, or aged like a fine wine as opposed to a spring chicken or green onion :-)

Jackie Jones said...

Happy birthday Shawn and happy book birthday! I am a big movie buff, so looking forward to reading your series.

I have 2 birthdays as well. It all started a week after my 35th in June of 2003. I became seriously ill and had to have mitral valve surgery that Fall. So I consider October 6th as my other birthday, a Very Grateful birthday.
Hope everyone has a great day!
Jackie Jones (:

Shawn Reilly Simmons said...

Lucy-Ha! That's so funny. I figured I'd get out in front of it, I guess. Henery decided to bring the first two out simultaneously when they took over the series. I had previously published versions of them under my own imprint. Since then they've been "deconstructed" by the editorial team-totally overhauled and reshaped into what they are today, which I have to admit, much stronger & better books. I'm so grateful to everyone at Henery Press-they're an amazing bunch! Thank you so much for your good wishes.

Shawn Reilly Simmons said...

Hank-you're ageless & stunning every day! I do think there are fluctuations in the year for all of us. Every time I've moved its been in July or August. I don't move house in winter, apparently. Our son was born in August on a 105 degree day-which I was so happy for! (Nothing like being hugely preggo in the dead of summer...)

Shawn Reilly Simmons said...

So much fun-but really hard work and really long days. We were typically on set for 14 hours each day-first ones on, last ones off. And we did two meals a day for about 300 people, who all came through the line at once. We cooked outside a lot, and when it was winter-we were freezing. But it was an adrenaline rush that kept us warm-and we made amazing food (no cafeteria food for the A-listers). The coolest thing that happened on set for me was cooking for a movie starring Daniel Craig when he found out he was going to be James Bond. I was a little star-struck anyway when he would come to eat (so handsome...and extremely nice) but after that it was all I could do to not drop a ladle on his plate. I loved the work and I'm so grateful I had those experiences!

Shawn Reilly Simmons said...

Brenda-totally agree! I love getting wiser, and I noticed people started treating me with more respect somewhere in my 30s...as if I'd proven myself and knew a few more things. I'll take that over beautiful youth any day!

Shawn Reilly Simmons said...

Mary-oh wow! I can't imagine a 12 year old girl and a 6 year old boy having the same idea for a filing birthday party...I kind of liked those older birthdays when you'd just go out for a drink with friends and keep it simple.

I love your celebration style-that's perfect! And it's your day, so you make it special.

My grandparents had 7 kids and a few of them had September birthdays. We always joked they just really loved celebrating the new year. ;-)

Susan Elia MacNeal said...

Welcome, Shawn — great post! Love having a young kiddo in the house and planning and celebrating his birthdays! (This year's is going to be a party at one of those rock-climbing wall places.) I'm fine with mine, but prefer something more low-key — champagne with hubby and friends, that kind of thing. My high school graduating class just lost one of our own this month — so I am reminded anew that birthdays are a privilege.

Shawn Reilly Simmons said...

Kaye-you better not! You just keep doing you, the one that we all love to pieces! It's cliche but age really is just a number-I'm mentally hovering around 33, and will be till further notice. Big hugs to you! Xo

Kristopher said...

So great to see Shawn here at JRW today. So looking forward to reading the books - can we all just take the month of March off to catch up on reading, please?

I'm turning 45 this year as well, and while I have no specific plans to celebrate it as a milestone, I couldn't be happier with where my life is right now. Well, other than giving up the day job of course (which isn't going to happen, so no need to dwell on it).

With my husband, family, friends - I really have all that I need. I am proud of what I have built with BOLO Books and the continued spreading of those reviews to other publications. I think we all get the rewards of our efforts as we get older (and we appreciate it so much more with age).

Shawn Reilly Simmons said...

Jackie,
Thank you! And I love that you celebrate both birthdays-very fitting, and so much to be grateful for.

Shawn Reilly Simmons said...

Susan, perfectly said. They are a privilege! Whoa, rock climbing is probably in our future. Our boy is nothing if not active. He's getting into Superheroes now, so we're going to have to rope a lucky relative into dressing up as someone this summer. I'm sure they'll all be really excited about that ;-). Thanks for sharing!

Shawn Reilly Simmons said...

Kristopher, I figured out a few months ago from one of your posts we were the same age and the nerd in me though "how cool!" You're right-where we are now is only built on where we've been, and you've built something wonderful. You know I'm a big BOLO fan, and that I've gotten to know you a little in person is the coolest.

Shawn Reilly Simmons said...

Thanks for inviting me onto Jungle Reds today! So much fun! Sorry my responses are a little wonky--I had to do them from my phone (somehow computer isn't cooperating). But I love your energy and enthusiasm--and your warm welcome. And happy birthday to all of you, no matter what day it is!

Karen in Ohio said...

Late to the party tody, but celebrating for you, anyway, Shawn. How exciting!

Yes, I celebrate, and am grateful for every minute, every wrinkle, and every grey hair. I proudly tell my age, as does my 86-year old mother.

Birthdays are a big deal in my family. Yesterday was my grandson's 11th, and my daughter put his picture on Facebook, showing how he celebrated: eating sushi out, and reading a novel he is currently obsessed with. He is my (our) kind of kid!

TFJ said...

I celebrate both my birthdays: the day I was born and the day I had my colostomy surgery (a "new" me was born that day). Don't have any problem with telling people my age, either: 58 this past November. And agree with celebrating not only the birthday, but I actually encourage birthday folks to celebrate their birthday season! And yes, November has always felt particularly lucky for me as well. Can't think of any examples at the moment.

Happy birthdayS, Shawn!

~Tricia

Deborah Crombie said...

Welcome, Shawn, and happy birthdays, plural! I'm fascinated by movie behind-the-scenes stuff, and by food, so your books will be double winners for me. And isn't Henery great?

My first book birthday is in February, too. A good month! I'm a June girl, as is my daughter. Her birthday is June 25th, so when she was younger we always made a big deal over her half birthday on Christmas Day.

And we're big believers in the week-long birthday. Sometimes, by the time I've celebrated with family and different friends, I manage to stretch them out even longer.

Hubby always says he wants to ignore birthdays, but I think they should be celebrated. My dad always said, "It beats the alternative," and I fully agree. (He lived to 96, so he had it down.)

Julie Hennrikus said...

Happy Birthdays Shawn!! And a big Happy Book Birthday. What a terrific achievement--truly a dream come true. I got great advice from Hank and Hallie about my book birthday--enjoy every minute.

Looking forward to seeing you at Malice, and to raising a glass!

Hank Phillippi Ryan said...

Yes, yes, so well put Susan-birthdays are a privilege! I'm with your Dad, Debs. xoo

Kristopher--when??? We'll celebrate HERE! Wanna do a celebration blog for us?

Karen, he IS our kind of kid! Wish him a HB from all of us.... And Tricia, you are practically a teenager!

Lisa Alber said...

Congratulations, Shawn, on your milestone birthdays! I love the covers of your books -- Henery Press does such a good job, doesn't it?

I had a milestone birthday last month ... but I didn't celebrate in a big way. The problem with January birthdays, at least for me, is January itself. Ho-hum. Post-Christmas, in the heart of winter darkness (S.A.D. anyone?). So the going joke with my friends is that I celebrate my birthdays in the spring. :-)

Hank Phillippi Ryan said...

Shawn--Henery is amazing, no question. What did you learn form the their editing process?

Hank Phillippi Ryan said...

My point exactly, Lisa! You get a celebration day each year--who says it has to be on your actual birthday??

Celia Fowler said...

Happy Birthday and Happy Release Birthday! You are right about the years ending in "5" and "0" as being milestone years. I think that my best birthday was my 30th when I got a plane ticket to London. Best trip ever!

Jgal said...

Happy Birthdays Shawn! You are lucky to have so many wonderful things to celebrate in February. Your books about behind the scenes on movie sets sound intriguing, and have been added to my TBR list.

I’ve always enjoyed my February Bday too. Sharing a Bday with George Washington, February 22, always gave me the day off work, until they combined Washington’s and Lincoln’s birthdays into President’s Day. At least I still get a day off near my birthday.

Congrats on your new book releases!

Pat D said...

Lisa, be like Queen Elizabeth and celebrate your b-day in the summertime. I'm not really into celebrating MY birthday, but I'm happy to do things for other people's birthdays. If that made any sense. We had some pretty awesome parties for my son when he was a kid. Nowadays if someone asks my age I tell them (it's 66) but the number doesn't mean much to me. I'm MUCH younger in my head! I've always loved the fall season best, maybe because I'm a November baby. As is my son, little brother, godson, and departed grandpa and uncle. Congratulations Shawn on being part of Henery Press. They have some great authors!

Shawn Reilly Simmons said...

Karen in Ohio--what a great kid! I'm proud to say I've read to our son every day since he was 6 weeks old, and when he was 3 1/2 he started reading on his own. He's in Kindergarten now, but they pull him out during reading to sit in with the first graders because he's so far ahead of his class (and he's even out-reading some of the older kids). So proud of him--and for us for raising our kind of kids!!

Shawn Reilly Simmons said...

Julie, I can't wait to see you too! And I'm so happy for you and your Agatha Nom--I let out a "squee" when I saw your name come through on the slate. We will definitely be toasting come April!

Shawn Reilly Simmons said...

TFJ-Life is for celebrating, and what better to celebrate than a new lease on life! Bravo-so glad you join in with the birthday season concept--a little more joy in life is always a good thing.

Deborah-My granddad used to say the same thing about beating the alternative. Which I didn't understand fully as a 9 year old, but I get it now. LOL--so cool you can share the birthday fun with your daughter too.

Lisa--yes, Henery is a great group!! And I hear you about winter birthdays (especially January). My sister is a July and she always got a pool party. It's still too cold for that even in South Florida...

Shawn Reilly Simmons said...

Hank-the editing process was enlightening, humbling and intense, but all for the good. I think it's tough to see all the things that an objective reader sees, the repetitive phrasing, leaning on conventions, etc. For me, the focus was on streamlining the books, developing the characters more deeply and cleaning up some repetitive dialogue. When I came through the other side of it on these two books, I started writing book 3 for Henery with fresh, wide open eyes to the things I previously used as crutches. (they still had stuff to say about Designer Diet, but less overall LOL). The care and attention Henery Press gives to their authors is so encouraging and wonderful. I couldn't be happier to be in the Hen House.

Shawn Reilly Simmons said...

Celia, You can't beat that gift. If someone gives me a plane ticket to London tomorrow, I'll probably faint.

Jgal--thank you!! I hope you enjoy them. They were fun to write. We are lucky that President's Day gives us a little vacation around our birthday--cool stuff does happen in February!

Pat D--November is big for you! Thank you so much, and keep on with that mental age. That's the one that's most important, anyway.

Lisa Alber said...

Pat D, I could do the summer, totally. In fact, I moved last year and now have a fantastic desk/backyard, perfect for a summertime party. So maybe I'll start celebrating in the summer instead of spring. I'm picturing some very nice summer cocktails. :-)

Hank Phillippi Ryan said...

And Lisa, you can always PRACTICE the summer cocktails...like, now....

Yup, Shawn, there' no treasure like a good editor!

Lisa Alber said...

Hah, yes! It's never to cold for summer cocktails.

Ritter Ames said...

I was born at 11:45 p.m. in a later time zone than where I live now, so I tell everyone I have two birthdays since it would have already been tomorrow here when I was born. Anything to get extra cake and best wishes, right? Can't wait to read your books! But please don't put me in the drawing--I already have them preordered :)

Shawn Reilly Simmons said...

Did someone say cocktails?? Now you're speaking my language!

Ritter-thank you so much! I hope you enjoy them. And I love your creative way of scoring two legit birthdays!

Dru said...

Congratulations Shawn! Happy Birthday! I'm so proud of what you've accomplished.

Kait said...

Happy birthdays, Shawn! And Happy February! Looking forward to the release of your books. For those of us not in front of (or even around) the movie cameras, there is a vicarious thrill hearing about them first hand.

I don't celebrate my birthday, no reason, just don't although I won't work on it. The best birthday present ever--the first moon landing. I remember watching and hoping that they would get out of that danged capsule before the clock struck midnight! They did.

Shawn Reilly Simmons said...

Dru Ann- thanks for being one of my biggest supporters, from the very beginning...I love you to pieces!

Kait-you always have the coolest stories. And not working on your birthday is a great way to mark the day. Keeping it your own is perfect.

Shawn Reilly Simmons said...

I had such a blast here on Jungle Reds yesterday! Thanks to you all for making me feel so welcome. Using an online randomizer, Tricia (TJF) was chosen to receive copies of the books! I hope you all have a great day--off to celebrate my birthday. Again.
Shawn

TFJ said...

2/28/2016

Oh, thanks so much Shawn and to the online randomizer! Where shall I send my contact info to receive the books?

Thanks again!

~Tricia (shows up as TFJ in comments)

Shawn Reilly Simmons said...

Tricia,
Great! Email me at shawnreillysimmons@gmail.com and then I'll have your email, and I'll forward the books on to you. Thanks for participating and have a great day!!
Shawn