When did common sense become politicized? When did we stop thinking rationally? Honestly, I’m concerned. You see, most sane adults understand that there’s a pandemic that has taken the lives of more than half a million Americans and an estimated 2.57 million human beings worldwide.
We know that the virus is mutating and that even though there are now vaccines to mitigate the spread of Covid-19 only a small percentage of the population has received the vaccine as of March 5, 2021. We are not anywhere near the point of herd immunity.
And yet certain governors in the U.S. have decided that it’s time to do away with all the restrictions. They’ve opened everything up. No more masks. No more social distancing. No more limits on the number of people who can gather in groups. No more common sense.
Ah! Sweet freedom. Freedom to kill and be killed. Freedom to not care about our friends and neighbors. Freedom from common sense. God help us all.
I sold a copy of my book to a telemarketer yesterday. Usually, I ignore numbers that I’m fairly certain are spam, but this one originated from Washington D.C. and I thought, Hey, it might be President Biden, so I accepted the call.
Turns out, it wasn’t Potus, but it wasn’t exactly a telemarketer either. Instead, the caller was from a charitable organization that I support. I politely listened to the caller’s spiel and then replied, “I’m sorry, but I can’t make a recurring monthly donation at this time. I’m a self-published author and I’m never sure what my royalties will amount to.”
“Oh?” She said. “What do you write?”
I grinned to myself. “I have a novel that was published in December. Mayhem at the Happy Valley Motor Inn and Resort.”
“She laughed and said, “What?”
I repeated the title.
“Oh my,” she said. “I’m buying that right now!”
We talked a few minutes more then said our goodbyes.
At the top of the hour I checked my sales on Kindle Direct Publishing. Now, I have no way of knowing if the kind caller was the purchaser of my book, but I did make a sale for an ebook that hour. And that’s why they call me, The Hustler. (Note: I think I’m the only one to use that nickname, but maybe I’ll start a trend.)
Studly Doright and I finished watching The Wire last night. Wow, what a great series! For some reason, though, we both thought the show ran for eight seasons, so we were totally shocked when it ended after season five.
Now we have to search for a new series. That’s always tough, especially when the one we’ve just finished watching was outstanding in every way.
So now what? I’ve suggested the sci-fi series, The Expanse. I’ve read all the books by James S. A. Corey, and they are excellent. Studly isn’t as into sci-fi as I am, so I’m going to have to campaign extra hard for that one.
And then there’s Big Sky based on the novel The Highway by C. J. Box. The book was so good, but I haven’t heard much yet about the series other than a few grumbles about casting choices from other readers of the book.
We’ve watched and enjoyed Breaking Bad, Peaky Blinders, Shameless, Godless, Hell on Wheels, Schitt’s Creek, Ozark, Better Call Saul, The Queen’s Gambit, Band of Brothers, Lost in Space, The Mandalorian, and probably a few more I can’t recall.
And we tried watching Longmire, Yellowstone, and The Good Place, but couldn’t get into those. Studly wouldn’t enjoy Downton Abbey, or The Crown, and I doubt I could coax him into watching Bridgerton; although, that one intrigues me.
So, what’s next? Is there a gem out there that we’ve overlooked? If we don’t find something else soon, I’ll be forced to watch motorcycle videos on YouTube. Help.
A few days ago I had what I thought was a brilliant idea. Sales for Mayhem at the Happy Valley Motor Inn and Resort have been good, but reviews were a little light. The reviews the book received were outstanding; there just weren’t that many of them.
So, I thought, why not have a drawing on my Facebook author page? When the number of reviews reached 40, I’d draw a reviewer’s name at random and give away either a Scout’s Honor coffee mug or a signed copy of Mayhem. Cool, huh?
Except I didn’t take into account that many reviewers on Amazon use nicknames or initials instead of their actual names, so for the last couple of days I’ve been trying to figure out who “Keek” is, and who among my readers might be “Amazon Customer.”
Also, and this is both a wonderful thing and an almost impossible impediment, I don’t personally know at least five of the reviewers! How would I contact them if they won?
Sometime this weekend the number of reviews not only reached, but exceeded the 40 mark. I was able to track down all but two reviewers through connections on Facebook and friends of friends, but those two were untraceable. I felt awful, but went ahead with the drawing as promised, and notified the winner.
So, any suggestions for future giveaways are welcome. I believe this was good for book sales and review numbers, but as Mayhem wanders away from my core group of friends and followers, it might be impossible to track down a winner. This one has given me a massive headache. But I’m also smiling!
Since publishing Mayhem at the Happy Valley Motor Inn and Resort, I’ve joined several writers’ groups on Facebook. In one such group I encountered Sandra Lynne Reed. The title of her book, The Drive in ‘65, intrigued me, so I bought it. And LOVED it.
I had some questions for Sandra about her book, and she graciously answered them.
To give you some context for our interview I borrowed this from the book blurb on Amazon: In 1965, two sisters packed up their five children and their mother-eight people-in a nine-passenger van and traveled North America for fourteen weeks. After living in Alaska for twenty years, they wanted to see more of the world, and show their children what lay beyond Alaska’s borders.
Sandra Lynne Reed was thirteen that summer. The tiny town of Moose Pass, and the southern edges of Anchorage, one hundred miles north, defined Reed’s provincial childhood, and left her curious about the world she saw in magazines and on television-strange places that were her own country. In a summer of ‘firsts’ she and her siblings discovered the magic of fireflies, natural wonders, and treasures of history. On their tinny transistor radio, they followed news of the space race, the Civil Rights movement, and the escalating war in Vietnam. The musical sound track of the British invasion and the rising rock and roll era followed them as they circled North America, traveling as far south as Mexico City.”
Me: Sandra, the first thing that struck me as I began reading The Drive in ‘65 was the way you wove current events of the time into the story of your family’s trip. It’s not just about the road trip, but also about the social and political upheaval of the time. Was that your intention from the beginning or did you decide as you wrote that the tale had to include those elements?
Sandra: I began writing about the drive to preserve the family history, and at first did not include many broader events of the day. But with the encouragement of some writer friends and critique partners, I began to see that there was a wider audience for the story. I also realized that more context of the times would be needed, especially for readers who didn’t live through the 1960s. Including the wider context required a lot of research into the details of the news and culture of 1965.
Me: I can’t imagine my mother and her sister venturing into the great unknown as your mom and your aunt did. Even in the 70’s and 80’s when cars and roads both were superior to what your family was dealing with my mom would’ve been a nervous wreck. Did you realize at the time just how brave they were?
Sandra: At that time, I didn’t recognize their courage. I knew the trip would be a big adventure, and was glad they had such a great idea. Driving the highways in Alaska in the 1950s and ’60s required some bravery and could be pretty adventurous, so the trip seemed “normal” to me in that way. But as I grew up, and even more so as I began writing the story in earnest starting around 2014, I came to realize what a courageous undertaking it was.
Me: I don’t think it’s a spoiler to tell my readers that your mom and your aunt Phyllis intended from the beginning to write about the trip. If they’d written this book, what might they have included that you didn’t and vice versa?
Sandra: Phyllis and Mom intended to write the book as a series of letters, somewhat embellished because our actual letters were not entertaining enough to suit them! Some of their early beginnings on that book still exist in the archives of The Drive. They wanted to write about it shortly after our return, which would not have included the long-term effects the trip had on all of us. And they probably would not have included some of the difficult and painful family events that I did. They envisioned a more comic rendition of the story.
Me: The story isn’t all fun and games, though, and we learn a great deal about your family dynamics. How difficult was that to write? At any time did you think “Hey, I don’t want to tell this part.”
Sandra: Some of those were difficult, and I did debate about including some of the more painful stories. Some were included to illuminate the characters, and to reveal some of the effects the trip had on us all. But they are only my perspectives, and sadly, most of the others were no longer living by the time I was writing the book, so I could not consult them.
Me: You were thirteen when the eight of you took off on the adventure. If you could give your twelve-year-old self some advice prior to the trip, what would it be?
Sandra: I’d have loved some advice to help me feel less insecure and geeky! And I wish I had kept a detailed and thoughtful diary–I’m sure I did have advice from my mom to do that, but didn’t follow it. I confess, I have never been a faithful diary keeper!
Me: I can so picture The Drive in ‘65 as a movie. If Hollywood came knocking on your door, who would you like to see cast as a 13-year-old you?
Sandra: I’m very out of touch with actors in that age group! So after a little Googling around, I might choose Brooklynn Prince or Mckenna Grace.
Me: Thank you Sandra for taking the time to satisfy my curiosity. Now I’ll have to Google those actresses!
Sandra’s book brought back so many memories of trips with my family during the same time period. I was only nine in 1965, but the events of that decade are still etched in my heart and mind. And even though we never embarked on a trip of this magnitude, I could relate to her feelings of joy and angst, excitement and homesickness. I highly recommend The Drive in ‘65. It’s available on Amazon and as an ebook for Kindle.
Gracie is upset that I won’t allow her to go outside on the screened-in porch this afternoon. It’s an 80° day and the sun is shining, but there’s a breeze blowing the pollen around, and my allergies just can handle it.
So Gracie is making do with the next best thing.
That tail starts flicking about now and again leading me to believe there might be a lizard teasing the cat from outside the window. This cat leads a really tough life.
If you’ve read my book, Mayhem at the Happy Valley Motor Inn and Resort, you’ll find this cartoon even funnier than it already is. If you haven’t read my book, you really should. You know, to be in on the joke. I knew there was a reason I loved The Far Side so much.
I have lots of different earrings, but unless I’m accessorizing for a special occasion I always wear my favorite pair. The ones pictured below.
They aren’t fancy and they weren’t expensive, but I purchased them several years ago on our trip to Scotland, and they’re by far my favorite souvenir from that, or any trip. But today, after getting my hair cut and styled I must have neglected to put the little rubber thingie on the wire.
Fortunately, the earring didn’t fall off until I’d returned home and then it had the decency to fall into my lap at a point in time when I was sitting still. I shudder to think what might’ve happened if it had fallen off at PETCO or in the cafe where I had lunch.
I lose things on a fairly regular basis, but I’ve held on to these earrings for a good long time. Maybe this close call will make me pay attention in the future. Maybe.