Beat me, it feels good when you quit. That is the slogan I am having made into a display for my desk. I think it sums up my decision to chase the illusive, and yet fun filled adventure, of making a career out of writing.
Please, let me explain with a quick summary of how the past year has played out. It has been a very amusing (?) adventure so I am quite sure you will find a laugh or two.
It was the first week of February, 2010, and I arrived home much later than usual one evening after a particularly trying day. The last thing I wanted to do was talk with anyone. Still, I ran through the phone log and had one call that the ID showed as private caller.
Before I could check for messages my thrice heated dinner was ready so that aspect of the follow up slipped my mind until the next morning. The private caller message was from Jay Leno, opportunity had knocked and I was to busy working to answer.
This was round two with Mr. Leno. On a previous adventure to Burbank our paths had crossed but with thirty minutes separating the event. Then when he had called to say he was sorry for having missed me, I was in El Segundo.
http://rcm.amazon.com/e/cm?t=1968adventurer&o=1&p=8&l=bpl&asins=0760319650&fc1=000000&IS2=1&lt1=_blank&m=amazon&lc1=0000FF&bc1=000000&bg1=FFFFFF&f=ifrThis was more than a year before the February call. Now, I had a phone number, and a rousing and frustrating game of phone tag ensued for the next couple of weeks.
As it turned out, Jay was inquiring about the possibility of an interview for the book club section of his website, Jay Leno’s Garage. The topic of discussion was to be The Big Book of Car Culture, a 2005 venture with Jon Robinson that had sold poorly in spite of being the recipient of the bronze medal at the International Automotive Media Awards.
Now, I had a chance to really give this book a push! With great excitement I called the publisher to relay the good news and was informed that as a result of poor sales the plug was pulled on this title – in January, the week before Jay Leno called.
I informed Jay and he suggested we proceed as my resume of published work in regards to automotive history was lengthy, and as a bonus, we http://rcm.amazon.com/e/cm?t=1968adventurer&o=1&p=8&l=bpl&asins=158388100X&fc1=000000&IS2=1&lt1=_blank&m=amazon&lc1=0000FF&bc1=000000&bg1=FFFFFF&f=ifrcould do a second interview on my book that profiled the Checker Cab Manufacturing Company. This was my first book, published in 2001, and even though it had sold slowly a second printing was underway.
Now, it was just a matter of coordinating schedules and I would have my big break. That took until November, after several cancellations and nearly intolerable delays. The videos of the interviews are at the bottom of this column.
In the mean time my next book, Ghost Towns of the Southwest, made its debut in April. So, a busy schedule that filled every weekend until June kept my mind off the ongoing schedule conflict with Jay Leno.
Much to everyones surprise, the new book sold the first printing in less than 45 days. It was such a surprise the publisher was left scrambling for a reprint.
In the mean time, I had a number of book signings scheduled and one http://rcm.amazon.com/e/cm?t=1968adventurer&o=1&p=8&l=bpl&asins=0760332215&fc1=000000&IS2=1&lt1=_blank&m=amazon&lc1=0000FF&bc1=000000&bg1=FFFFFF&f=ifrmajor event as the featured author. So, we went to plan “B” which entailed me signing books if the store had them, handing out post cards featuring the cover of Ghost Towns of the Southwest, and taking orders with the promise that I would stop at the book store to sign copies before the customer picked them up.
Now, the travel expenses exceeded my budget. Even better I was labeled a book defiler.
I stopped at one of these stores several weeks later to sign books after notification of their arrival was received. The manager was out but as I was familiar with the store, I knew where the special order books were kept.
I was in the process of signing books when a zealous clerk accosted me. She insisted I leave the store, after providing a phone number and address, for defiling books.
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=ifrThe next few months are a blur. Cars & Parts magazine closes up shop with zero notice and my position as associate editor vanishes faster than ice cream on the pavement in Amboy on a July afternoon. There are a number of book signings, I accept the contract to write a Route 66 encyclopedia and atlas, finish Ghost Towns of Route 66, work to promote Greetings from Route 66, try to find a reasonable but quality printer for photographs, and work my way through a small herd of family crisis and health issues.
Now, fast forward to the end of winter, 2011. The next book, Ghost Towns of Route 66http://rcm.amazon.com/e/cm?t=1968adventurer&o=1&p=8&l=bpl&asins=0760338434&fc1=000000&IS2=1&lt1=_blank&m=amazon&lc1=0000FF&bc1=000000&bg1=FFFFFF&f=ifr, is ready to print with a scheduled date for release of June 15, 2011.
I convince the publisher it would be in everyones best interest to speed up the process so we can introduce it at the International Route 66 Festival in Amarillo during the second week of June. As plans to promote the book are built on this, the tension based on flash backs of last years debut climbers higher with each passing day.
To compound those worries, I placed an order for Ghost Towns of the Southwest as the Kingman Area Books Are Magic (Kabam) festival is fast approaching. Additionally, I have several venues in New Mexico lined up for book signings as we drive to Amarillo.
The publisher informed me this afternoon that the book is again out of print and the next printing should be available by the first of June.
Meanwhile, my relief worker at the real job, the one that that supports the writing habit, is very ill (please keep her in your prayers) which means I am back to a six day work schedule. This also means it will be touch and go to get a replacement trained in time for the Amarillo trip.
To ensure the pressure is kept to an adequate level, just one notch above boil, I am still awaiting the results of some tests from the doctor, need to have a cap installed on a tooth, am striving to put in at least two hours of research every day for the encyclopedia, and still keep to a minimum goal of 5,000 words per week of text on that project. Then, this morning, I added HubPages to my writing endeavor in an effort to broaden the reach of my promotion in the hope of an increase in book sales, and, perhaps, land an agent or larger contract for the next project.
Beat me, it feels good when you quit just seems so appropriate. Still, I wouldn’t trade the adventures associated with writing for anything in the world.

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