A lot has happened since I started my hiatus back in June. Our new Dodge caravan has trotted over 14,000 miles since then, taking us from Massachusetts to Arizona. “Us” being my wife, Maureen (Mo), and me on the eastern journey, and my Son, Ben, and his girlfriend, Stephanie, on the western jaunt. Both trips were a lot of fun! With Mo, it was our first vacation without the kids in 25 years. We spent ten sun-filled days in July on Rhode Island beaches with family and friends. We rented a furnished home while there, complete with a large back yard and twin picnic tables.
One night, we hosted a lobster fest and cooked 25 lobsters for 21 guests, complete with corn on the cob, potato salad, beverages, pie and ice cream. And we fed everyone at one sitting. The secret, besides paper plates and plastic flatware, is to cook the lobsters a few hours in advance and then serve them chilled over ice with bowls of clarified butter to dunk the bits in. That was the night I came up with a short story idea that became my September blog, Dining Here Tonight.
The western leg of the summer trips was just as much fun, although I did make a few business stops in Chicago and Pueblo to justify writing off some of the travel expenses. Ben, now almost 21, has been after me since eighth grade to take him to the Grand Canyon. Stephanie set out on our trip as Ben’s girlfriend and came home his fiancé. That was certainly the highlight of our trip and we welcome her into our family with open arms and hearts. This trip also gave me a chance to spend some extended time with Laura, my daughter, whom I haven’t seen in a few years. Laura has lived in Southern California for almost 30 years. She drove out to Kingman, Arizona where we were staying at my friends John and Mary Ann’s winter home for the week. From there, it was a short drive to the Grand Canyon’s Western rim and its cantilevered glass bottom “skywalk” that extends over the ledge; breathtaking doesn’t begin to describe it. Expensive does, though. If you want to walk out there you’ll first need to pay $75, and no selfies. All cameras must be left with someone else or put into a locker. You’ll need to pay again to have your picture “professionally” taken out there. Barf bags are free, though. Ben went, Steph and I saved the coin.
The four of us also spent a fun evening in Lost Wages (that’s Las Vegas to those of you who have never been) just people watching; not gambling. It’s much more fun. All you need to do is stand there – anywhere – and a circus-full of pimps, pretenders, hustlers and faith healers will eventually parade past you, all shamelessly hawking their wares. You can get anything you want in Sin City, even instant redemption! Laura has been to Vegas many times on business trips, as have I, but her trips have been much more recent. She knew right where to go for the best steaks, cheapest drinks and most dazzling displays, as well as where to watch the weirdest people in the world.
In other news…
Time to get back to writing. I’ve been working on some stuff for a new novel, just in my head, I haven’t thought anything through enough to want to put it down on paper yet. I’m the type of a writer who needs to know where I’m going before setting out on the journey. Once I know that, I can figure out all the scenic, psycho and suspenseful bits. If only there were an app for this… Siri, plot me the fastest, most exciting route from Chapter One to The End.
Still no luck with finding an agent to represent BROKEN STRING. I’ve sent out 31 query letters so far, of which about half the agents responded with sugary variations of no. Finding an agent is tops on the list of things to “keyboard” in the new year, but I’m only giving it a few more months before I start considering the self-publish route. I’ve been looking at Kickstarter again, comparing notes with the last time I thought about it a year ago. The prospects seem even dimmer now, based on the even larger percentage of books (other than children’s books) that go unfunded now. Need to research it more.
I turned 68 in October and promptly retired. Thank you very much. I sold both of my internet businesses to longtime friend and business associate, Steve Hyer, and IGD Solutions of Clarkston. Steve and I have worked dozens of deals over the past 15 years and I am fully confident that my customers are in good hands. That was important to me in this sale as most of them have been with me for over ten years and now feel like family. Many customers receive my blog: Thanks, and my best to all of you!
This frees up my time to write and to do the antiquarian book business, maybe lose a few pounds. Mo and I want to move into a ranch-style home, some place with enough property where the dogs can run free, maybe with a small barn and a couple of turnout paddocks. That means fixing this place up to sell next summer. To that end, we finished the deck on the back and brightened up the kitchen with a new stone backsplash and fresh paint. The problem lies in all the other rooms. Bookcases take up so much space in every other room, the rooms don’t “show well.” To help get some of those bookcases gone, I turned the garage into a 20 by 20-foot library and that’s helped. But now Pugster, my Mini Clubman, will be hibernating outside this winter. Sorry, Pug. Someone’s gotta lose.
More to blog about in the New Year, but for now, Merry Christmas and happy holidays, everyone!
Available in paperback on Abe, and on Amazon in paperback & ebook.
Freya available in hardcover and limited edition from the author. Quantities from Countinghouse Press.
Welcome home, Phil, and congrats on widening your family circle and retiring. One way or another, I look forward to seeing Broken String in print.