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A Woman Named Evelyn …

 

 

Vanity

 

 

When I was a little girl, my mother’s friends fascinated me. Especially Evelyn. Whenever we visited Evelyn, I loved to peek into her pink-tiled bathroom where the vanity was populated by gleaming glass jars filled with all sorts of potions and lotions. There was no question that those mysterious concoctions worked because Evelyn always looked good and smelled wonderful. But more importantly, she always had something interesting to say. Her positive energy filled every room she entered, and it was impossible to miss how men and women alike were drawn toward her. Yet she never would have been described as beautiful in the literal sense of the word.

 

Smart, energetic, generous, and quick to laugh, Evelyn exemplified what I now, all these years later, recognize as real beauty—the kind that isn’t limited to the physical and doesn’t diminish with the passage of years. Though she knew aging was inevitable, often laughing at herself for trying the latest miracle cream, she wasn’t about to give up on her joie de vivre or her beauty regime. To her they were inseparable.

 

Back in my mother’s day, Evelyn was the exception to the rule of aging. As the years passed and waistlines grew thicker and hair grew thinner, some women would tisk tisk about Evelyn, poking fun of her youthful enthusiasm as she set sail into the so-called golden years in her shiny new convertible. But Evelyn paid them no mind. She was too busy traveling, having fun, and hunting for the next miracle in a jar.

 

Evelyn was my heroine.

 

I’m delighted to be living in our current, stereotype-busting era where the words beauty and aging coexist in the same sentence. Susan Sarandon, Amy Tan, Barbra Streisand, Dolly Parton, and countless others have paved the way. And let’s not forget Oprah, Charlotte Moss, and Donna Karan. A big part of beauty is attitude with a hefty sprinkling of chutzpah. Add some genuine kindness to the mix and it’s intoxicating. There is nothing more attractive than a woman who exudes confidence, has embraced her passions and stitched life experiences (the good and the bad) into a tapestry of wisdom.

 

So what’s my personal plan as I face the road of aging? To be the absolute best I can be—fearless and interested and interesting and awake to the wonders of my life in all its stages. When I leave my earthly body, I want to look back and say, “Wow, now that was living!”

 

I could go on for hours on this topic, but I have errands to run. And, after I’m done, I’ll think of Evelyn as I zip down the highway to Nordstrom. I’ve heard that Estée Lauder has a brand new miracle in a jar.

 

 

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More info about Beth Hoffman …

 

 

Lately I’ve received numerous requests from readers and book clubs for more detailed information about me. Time doesn’t permit me to answer these requests individually, so I’ve put together a few paragraphs about my life  …

 

 

Pile of Letters

 

 

I was born on an elevator during a snowstorm, a story my father enjoyed telling whenever the opportunity arose. For the first five years of my life, I lived (along with my mom, dad, and older brother) on my grandparents’ farm. It was a rural area, and other than a few tolerant garden toads and a highly social chicken there wasn’t anyone to play with, so I created imaginary friends. I drew pictures of them and built them homes out of shoeboxes—furnished by pictures I’d cut from a Sears & Roebuck catalog. Eventually I wrote stories about my shoebox friends, giving them interesting names and complex lives.

 

From earliest memory, there were two things I loved above all else: writing and painting. I wrote my first short story when I was eleven and sold my first painting at the age of fourteen. I believed the sale of the painting was a sign of what direction I should take in life, so I chose to study art. I built a career in fine art, painting in the mediums of watercolor and oils, and that career soon segued into interior design. But I still kept writing short stories and dreaming of becoming a novelist. Life sent me on many creative journeys and I ultimately became the president and co-owner of an interior design studio.

 

Years went by, long hours and hard work brought success, and with it came the inevitable stress of business ownership. During the busiest year of my professional life, I nearly died from the same infection that took puppeteer Jim Henson’s life—group A streptococcal infection that resulted in septic shock. After finally being discharged from the hospital, I returned home to convalesce. I spent weeks reevaluating my life, and as I struggled to regain my health, my dream of writing a novel resurfaced. Yet no matter how I looked at it, there simply weren’t enough hours in the day to fulfill the demands of my career and write a novel. So I let the dream go.

 

But I yearned to write so badly that I began crafting newspaper and magazine story ads for the furniture in my shop: stories of who owned the pieces, who stole them, and who fought for them in divorce. The story ads were a hit, and I loved creating them, but it wasn’t the same as giving my all to a full-length novel.

 

One snowy January morning, a stranger called my design studio and inquired about the story ads I wrote. He said he and his wife loved them so much they cut them from the newspaper and taped them to their refrigerator. He wondered if I’d ever considered writing a book. Like an unexpected gust of fresh air, his words blew the door wide open. Right then I knew if I were to write a novel, it had to be now or never. I chose now.

 

Within three months I sold my portion of the design business, kicked off my high-heels, and began to write. Day after day my fingers blazed over the keyboard. I typed “The End” of Saving CeeCee Honeycutt nearly four years later. To my surprise and delight, the book went on to be a New York Times and international bestseller. Three years later Looking for Me launched and it also became a New York Times bestseller. Rights have sold to eleven foreign countries.

 

If there’s a moral to my story it’s this: take a chance, embrace your dreams, forgive, let go, and move on.

 

Oh, and there’s one more thing: be mindful of the words of strangers.

 

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“Looking for Me” has won the 2014 Ohioana Book Award for fiction …

 

 

I’m incredibly honored and so happy that I don’t quite know what to do with myself!

 

 

Ohioana Blog Post

 

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Wonderful book tour event …

 

 

Evansville Event

On Sunday, June 15 at 1:30 I’ll be speaking and signing books at the beautiful Evansville Vanderburgh Public Library in Evansville, Indiana. For every book sold at this event, I’ll make a personal donation to the Vanderburgh Humane Society, Inc. I hope you will come out to meet me and help support this worthy cause!

200 SE Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd

Evansville, IN 47713

 

For more event information, please click here.

 

 

 

Thrilled to share this news …

 

 

This is such an honor. LOOKING FOR ME is an Ohioana 2014 Book Award Finalist (Fiction).

 

 

Ohioana Awards

 

 

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