I have heard it said that if you enjoy what you do, the money will soon follow. Well, I enjoy most every aspect of writing from the research, the travel, the endless opportunities for sharing my fascination with forgotten history and forgotten places, and meeting new people in our travels as well as through the books written. As for the money, I am not sure what the amount of time measured by a “soon” is but so far it has been two decades and I am still waiting.
In all honesty, I enjoy the many facets involved with writing so much that if we were to win the lottery, I would write until we were broke. Still, it would be kind of neat to make a living this way.
To illustrate the grand adventure that is writing, let me share a few highlights from 2010 in reverse order. I will also share a few exciting things that lurk just ahead.
This morning I received a note from Scott Piotroswski in Los Angeles in response to an inquiry about purchasing his book, Route 66 in Los Angeles County. Scott is the ultimate tour guide when it comes to deciphering the spiderweb of streets and highways that pertain to Route 66 in the Los Angeles area. As an added bonus he knows where every tarnished gem is hidden including those that have received a face lift or two with fresh facades.
So, to receive an offer of a personal tour is a very real treat. It also means I have another excuse for a road trip as it might be very difficult to take advantage of the offer on the upcoming September 11 trip.
This past weekend I was privileged to speak with Russell Olsen, the author of Route 66 Lost and Foundhttp://rcm.amazon.com/e/cm?t=1968adventurer&o=1&p=8&l=bpl&asins=0760334927&fc1=000000&IS2=1&lt1=_blank&m=amazon&lc1=0000FF&bc1=000000&bg1=FFFFFF&f=ifr. His astounding efforts to chronicle the evolution of Route 66 through a series of “then” and “now” photos make his book a must have for fans of the double six as well as those who are simply fascinated by glimpses into the past through modern windows.
The primary topic of discussion was in regards to illustrative material to be utilized in the current project, a Route 66 encyclopedia. As it turned out, one of his primary sources for older images was post card collector extraordinaire, Joe Sonderman.
His website filled with Route 66 related post cards is a veritable time capsule chronicling nearly a century of societal evolution as seen from a narrow ribbon of asphalt numbered with two sixes. Joe was gracious enough to allow use of his collection to ensure Ghost Towns of Route 66, scheduled for release next spring, added some flesh and color to the dry dusty bones.
Fortunately Joe has also found another way to share his precious treasure trove through the publication of a number of books. His latest, Route 66 in St. Louis, is
another one that should be in the library of every Route 66 enthusiast.
Joe’s books are available through most book stores including the big on line ones. However, you might consider a signed copy by ordering from
http://rcm.amazon.com/e/cm?t=1968adventurer&o=1&p=8&l=bpl&asins=073855216X&fc1=000000&IS2=1&lt1=_blank&m=amazon&lc1=0000FF&bc1=000000&bg1=FFFFFF&f=ifr
his website. The link is listed above.
Each book and each article written opens new and exciting doors. On September 11, it is another trip to Auto Books – Aero Books in Burbank, an absolute must visit for anyone interested in automotive or aeronautical books.
It was with a book signing at this store that the Jay Leno adventure began. I have to admit, an unexpected phone call from Mr. Leno on a lazy Saturday afternoon rates very high on my list of writing related adventures.
The upcoming trip to California will be a busy one that includes signing books in Burbank, meeting with Debra Holden at the Route 66 Mother Road Museum in Barstow, and photographing sites along the highway for a new print series as well as the Route 66 encyclopedia. Waiting to be added to the schedule would be a meeting with Hank Hallmark and Jim Conkle, and, possibly, a stop at the Wigwam in Rialto.
On September 27, I will again be a guest on AM Arizona. The excitement here is the opportunity to share some things discovered on recent trips and an excuse to make the long awaited trip to Crown King via the historic Senator Highway.
Adventures have definitely been the hallmark of this year.  Ghost Towns of Route 66 necessitated a trip east as far as Springfield, Missouri utilizing the trusty Jeep, a 1929 Rand McNally atlas, and the expertise of Jerry McClanahan encapsulated in the ultimate Route 66 guide book, EZ 66. http://rcm.amazon.com/e/cm?t=1968adventurer&o=1&p=8&l=bpl&asins=0970995164&fc1=000000&IS2=1&lt1=_blank&m=amazon&lc1=0000FF&bc1=000000&bg1=FFFFFF&f=ifr
This wonderful excursion provided an opportunity for introducing my wife to the wonders of the road east of Albuquerque including the MidPoint Cafe in Adrian, Texas. As an added bonus we were able to meet Melba with 4 Women on the Route in Galena, Kansas, and Laurel Kane and Ron Jones at Afton Station in Afton, Oklahoma.
Having a front row seat to the endless parade on Route 66 is never a disappointment and this year may have been the best yet. There was the micro car event, not one but two opportunities to meet with Dale Butel from Australia, dinner with Dries Bessels and his group from Holland, and the monthly editions of Chillin on Beale Street.
It would seem the organizers are hitting their stride as each month shows a marked improvement from the previous one and indications are the September edition, scheduled for the 18Th, will be the best yet. The theme for this Chillin on Beale says it all, Greetings from Route 66. A special souvenir will be given to the owners of the first two hundred owners of cars sporting anything related to Route 66, including home made posters spelling out why they love Route 66.
The highlight of the event is encapsulated in the title. A signed, pre release copy of the exciting new book, Greetings from Route 66 will be the grand prize for the evenings drawing. As always there is no charge for vehicle entry, participation, or to register for the drawing. The emphasis is on a good time in historic Kingman, Arizona. http://rcm.amazon.com/e/cm?t=1968adventurer&o=1&p=8&l=bpl&asins=076033885X&fc1=000000&IS2=1&lt1=_blank&m=amazon&lc1=0000FF&bc1=000000&bg1=FFFFFF&f=ifr
Milestones in my twenty year odyssey to become a writer were many this year and a few more are looming on the horizon. This was the first time a book I wrote, Ghost Towns of the Southwest, went into a second printing in less than three months. 
This was the first time I did not have to look for work after finishing a book. The contract for the Route 66 encyclopedia and atlas was approved just days after completing Ghost Towns of Route 66. It was also the first year our prints were sold in a fine art gallery and the first time I signed books, and prints, for international visitors as they rolled through Kingman.
At this rate I may be able to avoid spending the golden years as a greeter at Walmart!
Of course the real milestone, the one for which I am most proud and most humbled, is the forthcoming celebration of being married to my dearest friend for 27 years. I may still have a day job that supports the writing habit but there is little doubt that I am very blessed.
Well, in a nut shell that is a quick peak into the life of a starving artist on Route 66 in the year 2010. Writing may not be the quickest way to fame or fortune but it is most definitely the most exciting.
Meanwhile, back on Route 66 …

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