Tell ‘Em They Mattered

Pat Conroy tells an interesting story about modesty. He was on a book tour, somewhere in New England, I believe. He said he loved to visit the local indy book stores, to browse, buy some books and to check if his titles were on the shelf. He was quite famous already, The Great Santini, Prince of Tides, South of Broad. You know, that Pat Conroy. He steps up to the register and the store clerk exclaims, “Oh my God, you’re Pat Conroy!” and she immediately runs to the back … [Read more...]

Own Your Calling

The man who braved my ice-covered driveway was so quiet the dogs didn’t bark. Shoveling it had become an exercise in futility in the punishing cycle of snow, sub-zero cold, followed by more snow, which has characterized our St. Louis winter. Perhaps the snow muffled the sound of his footsteps, because I didn’t notice either, that someone had come and gone, leaving a large manilla envelope outside my door. Or maybe I was just preoccupied. I was writing a eulogy, on … [Read more...]

The Privilege of Breathing

It was one of those "stuck behind a truck with a ladder" moments yesterday. Do you ever feel this way? Like your entire life is stuck in slow moving traffic?  Zero forward momentum? I’ve frequently joked that “My Life Behind a Plumbing Truck” will be the title of my next book. Lord knows this book isn’t moving fast enough. Most authors, unless they’re either lying or have no ego, (unlikely)  will tell you that they dream of their book being on the New York Times Best … [Read more...]

Brotherly Love

The first person to show up for my first-ever book signing was my little brother Paul. It’s a good thing the restaurant manager didn’t throw him out. He does, after all, look like a homeless person. That’s because he is. Sure, he couch surfs from one person’s house to the next, until something or somebody nudges him to the next. Paul’s been without a couch to call home since my mother passed away six years ago and I honestly don’t know how he continues to survive, but … [Read more...]

What Writers Dream Of

Friday was a bittersweet day. The arrival of the first box of books, like real, live books, y'all, was due at my publisher's office any minute.  She told me she'd call the minute the shipment arrived. I tried not to think about it. I tried to remain focused on the pressing matters at hand, finalizing the last few tweaks on a video project for a corporate client:  prison nurses -- the irony is just too rich sometimes. Of course the other thing that really had me … [Read more...]

Survivor: Albuquerque

We need to hook a U-turn so I can tell you about Albuquerque. Merely typing the letters, A-L-B-U-Q-U-E-R-Q-U-E evokes powerful emotions. That’s because I had to type that word 9,000 times in journalism school. And even though I’m holed up in yes, another Motel 6, this time in San Luis Obisbo, with a stunning view an aluminum warehouse and mid-coast California mountains, (more like humps on the horizon compared to the Sandias) from my balcony window, there’s important … [Read more...]