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Tag: Broken Bones

Time Off

I’m a hard worker. I’m not bragging, more confessing. I am a workaholic. I’d go to meetings to try to find a cure, but who has time for that, right?

Then this last weekend I took off to Garibaldi, Oregon to share a booth with a friend and fellow author at their sole annual festival, Garibaldi Days.

Be quiet. I know how physical book signings go in the digital age for thriller authors. I’ve done several, with varying degrees of success, but all coming with valuable lessons, and in this case another added value: time off and brainstorming with a couple of brilliant minds.

I took my full Samuel Elijah Johnson series, Redemption, Temptation, and Confession. A few copies of Broken Bones. Happily Ever Afterlife and Dragonthology. Sherry Briscoe wrote a book of short stories titled Mists of the Garibaldi (it is pretty good. You should check it out). A local read it, and e-mailed her with an invitation, which she kindly shared. Rochelle Cunningham came with us, the co-author of Crash Landing in a Field of Outhouses, several memoir style vignettes by Ken Bauer, an entrepreneur and pilot with some interesting stories. She brought her first non-fiction piece, Codependency: The “Normie” User Guide: How the Non-Addict learns to Love when Love Hurts with her as well. She is currently working on a short series of children’s books and the beginning of a romance series. We sold some books, not as many as we hoped. But overall we did well.

My intention was to write a novella while we were there, but my mind changed as we sped toward the coast. Perhaps to truly reset, I needed a few days without writing. This was a total change of pace for me.

The results were astounding. My creativity flowed, but toward business. How do you sell more books? How do you leverage projects you were going to do anyway toward more sales? What do I really want to write anyway? And what do I really want to do with my new-found author freedom?

Answers flooded into my mind. I looked at a house worth half a million dollars, and seriously considered that while I might not buy that one, in a few years I could if I wanted to. I started to see my writing life in a whole new light: the errors of the past, and the way forward.

This morning, I started another story. Worked on two projects in progress, reassessing their direction. Ordered a book on marketing, and determined to apply the principles to every project I do.

More announcements coming soon. I’ll be releasing a new book soon, a short story collection with Marlie Harris, titled Ridge Falls: Into the Darkness. The sequel to Stray Ally is nearing completion. I’ve started the first in another series, and have plans for several more.

But my mind is clear. My path set. My feet and legs ready to run. All because I took just a little time off.

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The Muse is Free

Book Cover 1You put someone in a box long enough, without light, food, or water soon they embrace darkness, and it becomes part of them.

But that’s not what I did. A part of me revealed itself, and I let it play in the sunshine, let it run around in the light, smell the air, laugh and love.

Then I told it to go away. Childhood was over, and it was time for real life to begin.

“Oh, the desire is noble. And we love your creativity,” the anonymous they declared. “But your stories, they’re a little dark, aren’t they? Maybe you are right. Maybe it is what God intended you to be. But answer me this: what are you going to do for a living, young man?”

RedemptionfinalAfter all, everyone knows you can’t make a living as a writer.

“You should be an engineer. Or a scientist. Maybe even a pastor, a soldier, or a social worker. You need to find God’s will for your life,” they told me. “Stay away from that writer thing. You’re wrong. That can’t be all God made you to do.”

It’s not a joke. The sanctimonious ‘they’ told me those things. And I listened. What else was I supposed to do? Surely they knew what they were talking about. Pastors, teachers, counselors.

You ever try not to sneeze? For over 20 years? Oh, every now and then one gets loose. A sniffle, and allergic reaction. Use a tissue. Move on. When the only thing you were built for, the only thing you really know how to do, the only thing that when you are doing it you don’t feel like you should be doing something else, is sneezing?

TemptationNewYeah, that’s me. I was built to tell stories. Nothing else really matters.

My muse came bursting out of the closet, abused, beaten, bruised and starved, and took over my heartbeat, my breathing, my will, and saved my life. Saved my marriage. Saved my sanity. It would have been easier to jump. Swallow the pills, drink too much alcohol, just to get him to shut the fuck up.

But he wouldn’t. Like George Takei at a gay pride rally, he determined he would be, must be heard. And for once, I listened.

At first it was short stories. A collection of Broken Bones, bite sized pieces of emotion I stuffed inside myself, the only thing I gave him to eat. He raved like a starving monster at first.

Stray Ally by Troy Lambert - high resThen he wanted Redemption. Hardly satisfied, he then spoke of Temptation.  In between were short stories, better written, articulated with one thing in mind: keep the muse happy. Confession came last, and a chapter in my life closed.

I now approach the shore of a great ocean. The beach is peaceful. The waves calm. Off to the side, a dog runs, my Stray Ally. On the corner of the beach, two couples play A Dangerous Game. Under the water, at the edge of the sand, I see something.

It is a body, the corpse of a young girl by the look of it. In her dead and frozen hand, she holds a yellow flower, perhaps a symbol of hope.

In my mind, I know soon a Revival is coming. At last, my muse is working, and at peace.

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The Flashback

honda-cb-750-chopperThirteen years ago. October 13, 2000.

I rounded a corner. A Toyota pickup turned left in front of me, and I hit it at 45 mph. I ruined my bike, a CB750 I was lovingly restoring, and the freshly painted gas tank I’d just picked up and installed.

Broke the front forks and the triple-trees. Bent the front rim.

Shattered my right thumb, dislocated my shoulder, and got a nice piece of road rash on my right shin that would bother me for years. Still does from time to time. No one is sure why.

I was asleep October 12th–asleep at the wheel of life. The next day I woke up.

Thirteen years ago this coming Christmas day, I asked my wife to marry me, after we dated for almost two years. I told her she would have to wait until I was ready. She did. We married the following July.

102_1752In October 2009 we separated for six months.  In March of 2010 I was 40 years old and napping again. By April, I was awake. We nearly divorced, so when we reconciled, we rededicated our vows. We said I do again. That summer, I got serious.

I’m a writer. Always have been. A dabbler though, a pretender. This time the shit got real.

Did I want to be a writer for real? Did I like the idea of being a writer or actually writing? It was time to shit or quit: I woke up

and up

and up.

Book Cover 1A collection of short stories. Broken Bones. The wisdom at the time. If you are going to be an Indie writer, release a collection of your short work before your novel.

Check.

Write other stuff. Write what you know. Hundreds of articles on Motorcycle Maintenance for eHow.

Check.

Research and write new stuff.

Tons of articles for the now evolving Suite 101. Stuff I knew. Didn’t know, but researched.

Check.

Edit. Use your talents and hone your own work.

Check.

museum cautionCreate your own job. Oh, yes. Found research and papers that needed to be written. Found technology to do it better. Learned. Geology. History. Hydrology. Environmental science. Use these to write short films, do fun projects.

Check.

Three published novels now. That long ago scene on the motorcycle written into Temptation. Two more in the hopper, one complete one nearly so.

Check.

All the boxes checked. On the way to a career. A career, not a job I hate yet tolerate. Not something of fleeting interest. Writer. Editor. Researcher. Doing what I love. Five year plan: I’ll be working at home.

Check.

Prison Walls2April 2013. Wife wakes up. Hates her job. Geographically we are in the wrong place for this to happen. It’s not the right time. My plans, my career is taking off. But we have to move.

New location. New opportunities for me. For both of us. Five year plan, accelerated. I look around my home office, look at my keyboard, typing this. Dream realized. Opportunity knocked, we answered.

Awake.

cigarLast night, a strange show. Pins and surgery for the man on the screen. Suddenly I feel it again, beneath the scar on my right thumb. My shoulder aches. I see the hospital. Feel the pain, the need for drugs to quiet it. Rub my fingers along the lumps that were once protruding pins. Remember the physical therapy. It is a flashback. Suddenly I crave nicotine, a cigarette, a cigar, something. If I had one in the house last night, if it had not been so dreadfully cold … I might have ventured out, bought a pack. Or two. A new lighter.

A flashback. It takes time to pass. My nerves calm. My hands steady.

I’m awake.

Awake.

If it had not been for that day, if I had not woken up when I did …

The music starts and I begin to type, the words flowing faster as I pen the final scenes of my newest novel, the last in a series.

Confession.

The flashback is over.

Wake up. Before someone, something

wakes you.

tll2013

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Writing to Music

Do you write to music? I do, often a variety depending on my mood. Today a few friends and I talked about it over on Red River Radio. You can stream the show here: http://www.blogtalkradio.com/rrradio/2013/12/09/rfk-dellanis-tea-time

Below are my answers, with appropriate video links. The links can all be found in my rather schizophrenic YouTube playlist here.

Were any of your books inspired by a song? If so, which? Not specifically. A story in Broken Bones titled Amnesia was inspired (and includes lyrics from) the song Amnesia by Blue October.

Wish I could wake up with amnesia

Try to forget the things that I’ve done.

I wish I knew how to keep the promises

that I have made you.

But life I guess it goes on. . .

 

Do you find yourself including music within your books? Yes. There are several scenes in Temptation with music where it is used for both hypnosis and celebration. One of the final scenes involves a Mustang, Credence, and a car crash.

Do you use music for mood, pacing, etc in your novels? The music I listen to? Yes. I listen to quite a variety depending on what kind of scene I am writing.

Have you taken a song title for a book title? Nope. Never will I want the reader to use their imagination. I might include part of the song, or a snippet of lyrics, but I want my books to stand on their own, not be connected to whether someone likes a song or not, or even knows it to associate the book with it. A short story, maybe. But a book? No.

Are any of your characters musicians? In Temptation Gordon is a violinist. Other than that, no. That may change in an upcoming work, but it is hard for me to write musicians well as characters because I am not one. I love music, but when it comes to making it, I am very mechanical.

Do your characters’ musical tastes reflect yours? Yes and no. I don’t emphasize them in my books. They might listen to certain things on the radio. The struggle is, my musical taste is wide, eccentric and varied. The difference between life and fiction is that fiction has to make sense. No one would believe a character that has musical taste like mine.

What kind of music do you listen to when you write? Totally depends on the mood. I’ve posted a playlist, and I always say if you rooted through my computer, my music player, my phone, you still wouldn’t know what my favorite kind of music was.

Is there any type of music you will absolutely not ever listen to? I never say never, but I am not an old country, twangy, I lost my dog type person. It certainly doesn’t ever inspire writing for me. But I will listen to me some Big and Rich. Those guys are like the hair bands of the ‘80’s to country. The modern sex, drugs, and Rock and Roll.

Some authors make playlists for every book. Have you done that? Nope. My books are as musically schizo as I am. So I doubt anyone would want t listen even if I did. I did create a video for the Samuel Elijah Johnson Series, and there are several songs by Within Temptation that fit the book Temptation.

What are some of your favorite musicians? If we did this question by decade, genre, or style it would not be any easier. It varies from day to day. Some of my current favorites are Blue October, the indie artist from Texas David Ramirez, Disclosure, Daft Punk, Jean Michael Jarre, Giorgio, The Kinfe, Mumford and Sons, Joe Satriani, Rush, Floyd, and I am on a classical/opera kick early in the mornings.

If you had the chance to put together the perfect band, who would be in it? (Drums, vocals, guitar, bass, keyboard) What is your favorite instrument in the band?

    • Drummer: Rick Allen, Def Leopard, Great Drummer, great story. Unless Miss Margery was available.
    • Voacals: Male: Freddie Mercury, #1. Female: I’ll be contrary and say Lzzy Hale of Halestrom. They are not the greatest band by any stretch, but for female rock vocalists she has to  be in the top few. Below you will see her and another of my favorites, Amy Lee doing a duet.

  • Guitar: Living: Joe Satriani or Slash Dead: Randy Rhodes hands down, Steven Clarke (formerly of Def Leopard) a close second.
  • Bass: Geddy Lee. Don’t Hate. Appreciate
  • Keyboards: Keith Emerson, ELP
  • Violin-Multi-Instrument: Ryan Delahoussaye

If you were stuck on a dessert island and had only one album to listen to, what would it be? (Yes, this assumes you had unlimited power but no wi-fi) Pink Floyd, Dark Side of the Moon or Daft Punk Discovery. Whatever was in the CD player at the time of the crash. Both all around great albums I can listen to over and over.


Do you ever get songs stuck in your head that simply won’t go away? How do you purge them? Yep. I sing them, play them on the air drums, or both. A little chair dancing never hurts.

I hope you enjoyed the show and all of my answers. Rock on and write on, not necessarily in that order.

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Will Work for Stephen King

TemptationNewI’m a King fan. I know, another one. We’re like Starbucks in Seattle: you can hardly chuck a rock without hitting one of us. You can draw many parallels between his life and mine, minus the self-publishing trend, eBooks and my work as an editor. I hope in the end, my career goes better than his.

Better? Come on! That’s ambitious isn’t it? Of course. I recently made my way pretty deep into Doctor Sleep, and realized something (again) about King: he needs an editor.

“Wait,” you say. “He’s a big name author published by Simon and Schuster. How can he need an editor?” Honestly, for the same reason I do, and all authors do. I recently went through a re-edit of my second novel Temptation and have been editing another rather long paranormal romance (more on this another day) and guess what? King has the same issues every writer does.

Sentence structure. Some of his sentences are just too long. Not something Joe Average reader might notice, but something I picked up on right away, mostly because I do it too. Some of his transitions are poor: he puts conjunctions at the beginning of sentences and ends them with prepositions. All these are common errors in early drafts. Stephen is not a super-writer. He is just a writer.

Wordiness. Anyone who read The Stand and then later read the unabridged version can tell you that Stephen King is wordy. Don’t get me wrong, he tells a great story and his ability to hold reader attention for 900 pages is remarkable to say the least. My favorite works of his are shorter though: Eyes of the Dragon, The Gunslinger Series, and the novellas of Different Seasons. Those novellas are the sources of the films Stand by Me, The Green Mile, and Shawshank Redemption. In my opinion it is some of his best writing.

Fails to follow his own advice. Okay, guilty again. I tell you kill your darlings, not use cliché, blah, blah, blah. I stole the advice from King in On Writing and from other writing instructors who tell you the same things. Then I turn around and break the rules myself. Example: “Never open a book with the weather.” Rule broken: An entire story in Broken Bones is based on the weather.

Stephen King is a victim of his own success. An editor sees his name on the title page and thinks ‘it can’t be that bad.’ Maybe they second guess their editorial ideas and leave faults they would otherwise correct. Maybe he is not as open to suggestion as he once was, but I hope this is not the case.

I am most of the way through Doctor Sleep now. I love the book and the story. This is not a negative review, I’m only pointing out things I see.

So do I want a Stephen King like career? Only if I will continue to face tough editors who force me to make hard calls, am humble enough to accept their correction, and only offer my best to you, the readers.

Hire me Stephen King. I won’t overlook your errors, I’ll edit the hell out of your work, and in the end the Constant Reader you speak of will only benefit.

Check out the re-edited version of Temptation and the powerful first book in  Samuel Elijah Johnson series titled Redemption.

Watch the video trailer below.

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A Peek at my TBR List: Lessons Learned

handinjuryI’m sitting here, typing with a rather sore hand, and so last night I decided that today might be a good time to catch up on video edits (that I can do with one hand) and on my To Be Read list. In the middle of the night, while waiting for more ibuprofen to kick in, I mentally wnet through the list and discovered something amazing.

I have to preface this by saying I am not a genius. Recently I’ve been reading Rise of the Machines by Kristen Lamb. It outlines what kind of marketing works for books, and why traditional methods don’t work. Why am I reading Kristen’s book, and not one of the dozens of others out there on the subject? Because I “know” Kristen from her Facebook page and her blog, which attracted my attention with its very practical and practicable writing and marketing tips. Hmm. let’s look at the rest of the list, and see what we can learn from it.

Every writer with priority on my TBR list is a friend on Facebook or Away from Keyboard. (We used to say In Real Life, but social media IS real life any more). Okay, not everyone. I am reading The Art of Happiness by His Holiness the Dalai Lama and I don’t “know” him, although I have seen his image on meme’s several times. Here’s a list of authors:

Vincent Zandri, Hugh Howey, Allan Leverone, Heath Lowrance, Poppet, Karen Vaughn, Dellani Oakes, Brid Wade, David Toft, Paul Keene, Madison Johns, Alan Jankowski and Stephen King. Maybe I don’t “know” that last one, but I once nearly met him at a book signing years ago, so he probably barely remembers me. I’m sure he’s read my work though. Amazing list, right? And I’m sure I am leaving someone out. Here’s something else about my list.

meeteauthorI’ve paid for every book on the list. Okay, there are two exceptions to this. Vincent Zandri sent me a copy of one of his, and I traded Paul Keene a signed copy of Redemption for his book Among the Jimson Weeds. Other than that, I buy the author’s work. There is a reason for this. First, it helps support the author. We all love free books, but we authors also like to eat. I give away some of my books, but most I sell. Therefore I don’t ask other authors for free books, and when I buy them as I can.

Also, then if I don’t like the book, I don’t feel obligated to leave a review or even give feedback to the author. Now, to be fair, I vet books pretty well before I buy them. I read excerpts and select reviews, ignoring the ones that offer too high of praise or too much criticism. I try to review, even briefly, as often as I can.

What does “know” mean on social media? These are not folks who spammed me with links until I gave in and bought their books. No. I’ve interacted with them. Kristen Lamb and I both like to cook and fire weaponry. Another friend (I highly recommend her romances to those who read that genre) Debbie Robbins and I talk scotch and travel. The rest of us all talk books, what it means to be an author, and about our families, our jobs, and our lives. Paul lives nearby, and he and I are pioneering a local writer’s group.

BookshelfThese writers have offered me nothing for their mention here, and they haven’t all read and reviewed my work. This is not a quid pro quo post. You do for me, I do for you, or vice versa. I read what I like. I have been offered free books, even sent free books by other authors (unsolicited) that I have not read or read and/or not reviewed. If you send me something without asking, this will likely be the result. I read these authors because I like them, and as an extension I find I like their work.

Here is the bottom line: be real and be connected on social media. Those you connect with will buy your work, read it, sometimes review it, or sometimes not. Not everyone will buy, but then that shouldn’t be your goal. Social media is about being social. So go ahead. Look at your To Be Read list, and see what you can learn. Chances are you “know” a lot of people on it.

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Show Me a Story

inumber2We all love storytellers. My grandfather was one, and a good one. How do you tell a good story from a bad one? One thing makes the difference for me, and I bet it is for you too.

My 11 year old is a story teller too, but he has yet to perfect the craft. He tends to—well, ramble. He includes details that the listener doesn’t need to know, and frankly isn’t interested in. In the process he tends to leave things out that the listener might find relevant and need to know so the story makes sense.

We want to picture the story we are being told in our heads, whether it is told in a book or in person. We want to know what the person the story is about experienced. It’s the old author adage of “show, don’t tell.” Truthfully the truth lies closer to “show and tell” the old elementary school day that everyone looked forward to.

Get to the point. Today, I brought this pencil to my own show and tell. It may look ordinary, but it’s not. Whenever I write something down with it, whatever I write comes true, no matter how mundane or how fantastic. I wrote the words I love you with it, and handed them to my wife twenty years ago, and it’s still true today.

eraserAvoid long flowery descriptions. It’s just yellow stick with a graphite core and a #2 on the end closest to the metal thing that holds the eraser. The eraser works. If I erase what I wrote and if what I originally wrote can be undone, it is. The eraser has made me afraid more than once, and I use it cautiously now, especially after what I learned from my cat.

Build tension. My cat got hit by a car, and I ran to my room. I wrote “I hope Oreo lives forever.” I was young, and the pencil was new, and I didn’t know what forever meant. It wasn’t more than five years later that I went back and erased that sentence so Oreo could move on. He was lame by then, and that’s also when I discovered it’s not always better to live.

Oh yes. I keep the journal, with everything I write with the pencil. I didn’t always, but I learned quickly it was a good idea. And sometimes, like today, I erase only parts of what I wrote, and fill in with new, better words. Words with clearer meaning.

Skip the parts that readers tend to skip. Oreo is dead. So are my parents. I’m sitting here, wondering what to write next, now that I know when I’m supposed to die and how. It’s easier to write things down when they are about others, not about me. I touch the now stubby pencil to the elderly, blue-lined journal page, and write the word “please.” It seems like a good start.

Leave the reader wanting more. Want to know then end of the story? Stay tuned.

 

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The Write Software: Mac vs. PC

pc-vs-mac_dsc_8015_mhughes_croppedThis post is not to add fuel to the big overall debate of Mac vs. PC. It’s to explore it in only one area, that of writing. Also, it will not be conclusive. Why? There’s no “write” answer. There is a right answer for you, but your choice may not be the same as someone else’s. We’re going to evaluate the first step in the process of choosing the write software by looking at the primary machine options.

Affordability: Mac’s are more expensive than PC’s when it comes to initial investment. However, as far as long term viability is concerned, Mac’s tend to last longer. They are upgradeable, but so are PC’s. Another debate for another post: Mobile vs. Desktop determines which machine will work best for you. What else you want to do with your machine, and what kind of writing do you do? Do you need video capability? Graphics? Programming? What markets do you write for? Also which platform is best depends on what kind of software you want to run: Pages or Microsoft Word, Scrivener or other “writer specific” software, all of which we will look at over time.

The bottom line on affordability is this: if you already own a PC, switching to Mac will be costly. Die hard Mac fans will tell you that once you make the switch, you won’t go back to PC ever. So conversely, if you already own a Mac, including an iPhone, iPad, or other iDevices, switching to PC can be costly, and you can experience compatibility issues, but more on that in a moment. If however you are relatively new to the computer world, and you don’t already own software licenses and exclusive hardware, you have to look at your short term budget, long term budget, and what you think your future needs might be.

One final note that may sway you the Mac direction: Mac can run Windows in a couple of different ways. I won’t get into the tech details here, other than to say it can be done, so all of your programs could transfer. If you are determined to make the switch, this can be a way to solve some issues.

Another note is that you may not need anti-virus programs with Mac, although they are still a good idea, especially if you run Windows in some form on your machine. There just aren’t as many viruses written for Mac, primarily because government agencies and companies tend to run PC, and those people are better targets for hackers.

MacPCLearnability: How easy is each system to learn? I recently when through this debate, and here is the bottom line. The new Mac Operating System (currently Maverick 10.9 released this month) is very similar to the previous OS. It is fairly easy to adapt. The converse? Every time Microsoft updates an OS there comes with a learning curve and countless updates as they fix things they did not fix before the initial release. Apple tends to sort those things out ahead of time.

Other than that, most programs are written to be fairly intuitive. My word of caution: there are some programs that you need to spend time with before you truly become familiar with them. Spend an afternoon or morning on tutorials. If nothing else, they will teach you shortcuts and tricks you would not otherwise learn.

Either machine can be learned, and the more tech-savvy you are, the easier adapting will be. Mac is much more consistent than PC, and its operating systems are fairly intuitive.

Compatibility: This was the number one decision point for me, because of the other things I do, and who my clients are for certain products. Yes, you can run Windows and most Microsoft programs on Mac, but if you work in a dedicated PC environment, there are some file types that do not translate. You need to use different formatting for portable hard drives and thumb drives to be compatible. If it is just you, and you run all Mac products, you will fare well.

If you work with publishers and editors on a regular basis, you will still need Microsoft Office, at least Word. There are solutions for this dilemma, but remember, only 19% of people run Apple, and most businesses run PC. This means some of the features in Pages may not be compatible with Word, and advanced features commonly used like Comments and Track Changes may not translate. This simply means you must either by the Mac version of Office, or run Windows on your Mac. There are other program compatibility issues as well, and we will tackle those in later software posts.

This is one of the longer posts in the series. So what’s the bottom line? Depending on what else you do with your machine, and what others in your household run, you may want to stick with either Mac or PC. Also if you already own software and other compatible devices, you may want to also consider that.

Your short term budget may determine what you buy. Shop around, make hands on comparisons, and if you have questions feel free to leave them in the comments, or contact me here.

Until next time.

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Human Powered Season: The Next Chapter

Bike LaneIt’s been a fun time, riding my bike all summer, though it’s also been filled with frustration from time to time. We’re a region and a world that is geared toward the automobile and the consumption of fossil fuels.

I have to confess that I’m addicted to ease of travel too. There were times when I could have taken the bike, but the car was right there, and no one else was using it. It’s hard not to hop in, turn the key, and go. No need to grab the back pack, make sure I have the lock, choose the destination carefully to make sure I have a place to secure the bike, and take more time to get there and back. Sometimes I went with the bike, sometimes the car. But I learned some things this summer.

People look at bikes as toys, not transportation. If you ride a bike for transportation, you’re either poor, a health nut, or some other kind of weirdo trying to recapture your youth. Riding bikes is something kids do, or something adults do for exercise, usually stationary in a gym with an iPod or headphones for listening to the TV news. It’s not seen as a vehicle, and if you use it like one, no one takes you seriously. If we lived in a different area, I’d enlist my entire family in this adventure, and we’d sell the car and just rent one when we needed it just to show people we were serious. As my wife commutes 20 miles to work each way though? I’m pretty sure she’s not going for it.

Bike Lanes are designed around the toy principle. The bike lanes in my town are designed for only a few things. Primarily they are geared at children: either children that ride their bikes to school, or children who ride their bikes to parks to recreate. The bike lanes end there. True, adults should know how to ride, and share the road, but so should drivers. They don’t. For the most part, if a bike joins the flow of traffic, obeying all applicable traffic laws just like a car, the rider is taking his life into his hands, especially in this area. In bigger urban areas, and in some ways the downtown Boise area, things are better. Not much. You still read about cyclists hit on a regular basis.

Bike RackBusinesses don’t cater to cyclists because there aren’t enough of us. The businesses with no bike racks a couple of weeks ago (click here)? When I called they seemed surprised that anyone cared. I mean, if you have a car, why would you ride a bike to their business? Some seemed astonished anyone even noticed they had no bike rack. Apparently I was the first one to point it out. You’d think they’d want people to be in shape, care about the environment, and improve local air quality, but they don’t. A coffee or restaurant is more likely to have a drive through than a bike rack, and those are often off limits to cyclists for “security reasons.” (More on this another time)

So what’s next? Fall is a great time to ride your bike, if you ignore the thunderstorms, fall allergies, and the smoke from the tail end of wildfire season. Temperatures are great, and the kids are back in school.

So at least during the day, you have those bike lanes to yourself. I’ll be riding. See you out there.

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Jumping the Shark

You know those moments when a book or a series of books just goes a little too sideways? When the author uses some crazy plot twist to make things work, as a substitute for good writing? Well, I happens to every writer from time to time. There are even terms for it, but my favorite has to be “Jumping the Shark.” Why? Because I remember the episode well.

It was Hollywood (Part 3) from Happy Days originally aired September 20, 1977. In parts one and two, the Cunninghams accompanied Fonzie (Henry Winkler) to Hollywood as he’s been discovered and a director thinks he is the next James Dean. Turns out, they like Ritchie (Ron Howard) and want to sign him to a 5 year contract. He must decide between Hollywood and college. The Fonz is challenged by the ‘California Kid’ (Hollywood’s equivalent Fonz) to perform a dangerous stunt, jumping a shark on water skis. (Watch an excerpt from the episode below)

Fonzie was cool, but never a water skier. However, clad in swim trunks, a life preserver belt strapped over his signature leather jacket, he climbed on to the skis, and did it. Horrible. Even as a kid, I thought it was horrible.  But did I stop being a fan of ‘Happy Days’? No.

Infused with some better writing, the series went on to be successful until 1984, and then went into syndication. Old episodes actually were re-aired on ABC while new episodes were being filmed, and were titled “Happy Days Again.” Overall the series  aired for 10 years, from 1974 top 1984, and ran in syndication for years.

Someone tell you this book or this story of yours doesn’t work for them. Maybe they even say they are no longer a fan of yours? Take heart. Maybe you just ‘jumped the shark.’ Maybe they just don’t like that story, or certain words that you used. However, maybe, just maybe you’re the next Happy Days, and will go on to great success for years to come.

 Your useless trivia fact for the day, brought to you by troylambertwrites.com, and the Samuel Elijah Johnson series. Also thanks to the letter “e” without which this post would have been impossible.

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