I Think I’ll Take the Day Off

pause and reflectMonday, Tuesday, and Wednesday we drove 600 miles.

Each day.

Yesterday, I didn’t even know what day it was.

Today, I’m sitting in Phoenix while it rains.

In Phoenix. In late April.

Back home, we left 70 degree weather. Which turned to a day-long blizzard the next day.

Schedules are good. Habits are good. Plugging along, doing the work — also good.

Sometimes, though, it makes more sense to pause and reflect. Or just pause.

I’ll be back with my usual brilliance next Friday. In the meantime, if there’s something you’d love to see me write about, tell me about it down in the comments.

It’ll give me something to reflect on when I’m done pausing.

Real Mystery Writers Attend Mystery Writers’ Conventions. Right?

Left Coast Crime 2015: Crimelandia!Next winter we’ll be taking a break from the bitter cold of northern Wisconsin to get soaking wet in Portland, Oregon at Left Coast Crime.

Until James Preston asked if I was attending LCC and Bouchercon this year (both within driving distance of where he lives, lucky dog) I hadn’t even considered writers’ conventions.

I love being with people. It’s one reason book-signing events still appeal to authors. We want to look our fans in the eye, feel their adulation, take their cash with our own grubby little paws. Okay, maybe not that last bit.

In my previous careers I’ve never considered conventions as a way to promote myself. A web developer’s convention? Scarier than Bloody Words, I assure you.

… more … “Real Mystery Writers Attend Mystery Writers’ Conventions. Right?”

Limits Are Not Limitations

hit the wallAfter 7,000 miles, a good chunk of it in a single week, I am spent. (I realize all my posts lately seem to be “life lessons from Joel’s traveling and how it affects his work” and now that we’re settled, er, settling, watch for real life genuine content again soon.)

(Aw, this is real live genuine content. It applies to your art and mine. Just watch.)

I finished the text for one book. Editing is in progress, but slowly.

Sue’s business life changed significantly for the better, opening new possibilities for us. Still, it’s change. Even good stress is stress. Try having a child. Most glorious event in human life. Also on the short list of most taxing, physically and emotionally.

Am I behind on this, that, and the other thing? Yup.

Am I frustrated about it? Nope.

… more … “Limits Are Not Limitations”

The Clash at the 23rd Mile

and the winner isMarathon runners hit a wall of physical failure near the end of the race. The will may be strong, but the human body has limits, and one of them arises at about 23 miles of constant forward movement. Issues with glucose and other chemicals I don’t know the names of shut the legs off, make the arms refuse, turn the trunk to oatmeal.

I don’t know if it’s that my allergies are especially bad (curse you, California plant life!) or the broader concept of approaching the senior discount at the movie theater, but I’m tired. We have 2,152 miles to get home, and I’m tired. Today we drive from Newport Beach to Surprise, Arizona. Not a bad day for us. Six hours door to door. We’ve done 16 at times. But I’m tired. I’d stay right here except that I’m 2,152 miles from home. I keep hearing The Clash doing Should I Stay or Should I Go? except the answer is obvious.

Nearing the end. That’s one of the times Resistance is strongest. … more … “The Clash at the 23rd Mile”

Resistance vs Reality vs Reasonableness

is it about the work or is it about the wrench thrown into it?Homeless, wandering the desert, the intrepid writer of Chandleresque cozies inched toward the final chapter of his book.

There he’d been, plugging away, over 4,000 words a day, when the house he lived in was sold, with circumstances forcing his family to move out and plan for a month-long “workation” in only 5 days.

They did it, and drove south.

It was warmer than he likes in Phoenix.

He picked up a cold in Santa Barbara.

He’s generally been busy enough, disrupted enough, tired enough to stop writing for a while. Wouldn’t be entirely unreasonable, right?

One of the places Resistance shows up is at the end of a project. … more … “Resistance vs Reality vs Reasonableness”

After the Storm There’s No Time to Relax

To stretch that anchor/storm metaphor:

After the storm has passed the crew can’t take a break. First order is damage assessment and vital repairs.

Once the fires are put out, literally or metaphorically, the ship still needs sailing. A myriad little things need tidying up.

If the crew takes it easy after the storm they condemn their ship.

… more … “After the Storm There’s No Time to Relax”

Forge Ahead Unfettered

After 3 days with no posts you’re probable wondering where I am.

I am in New Mexico. Tucumcari, to be exact. Fascinating as that must be for you, the story behind it is a lesson in how balance and moving forward go hand in hand.

We knew when we moved in a year ago that the house we rented was for sale. After 3 years on the market (in a seriously “buyer’s” market) we weren’t concerned, especially as seasoned nomads.

Last Wednesday we got the message that the house sold and the new owners wanted to move in April 1st. While the landlord is only required to give 28 days notice ours made a special effort and gave us 35.

The challenge was that we were leaving on this Arizona/California trip 5 days later, and won’t be back until after the final date. … more … “Forge Ahead Unfettered”

Stopping to Speak as We Travel

The first week of March and the first week of April we’ll be traveling this route:

Rice Lake to KC to ABQ to PHX to SAC
Click for a larger map

If you live anywhere along the way and have a group who’d like to hear my presentation Taking the Pain and Mystery Out of Becoming an Author please let me know.

We’ll be spending time in Phoenix and Sacramento, so those windows of opportunity are a bit wider.

William Least Heat-Moon: My Own Kerouac

With all respect to those who loved him, I couldn’t find anything to hold onto in the works of Jack Kerouac. Perhaps it was because I dipped into On the Road after I’d read Blue Highways and expected Kerouac to write like William Least Heat-Moon.

I realized that I just wanted to read more Blue Highways.

Over the decades, as people seem to be reading less and less, Heat-Moon’s books have become longer and longer. He spends over six hundred packed pages discussing the land of Chase County, Kansas. Five hundred recounting crossing the United States by boat. Yes, it can be done. Over four thousand miles by water and less than one hundred by land.

His books seem to be written from the voice of his own needs. … more … “William Least Heat-Moon: My Own Kerouac”

The Vicarious Adventure of Words on Maps

photo http://www.sxc.hu/photo/119902 by michu webski http://www.sxc.hu/profile/weblifeI love maps. I love the visual representation of a reality that allows us to go somewhere and look at things we might not otherwise be able to touch and see and smell.

Maps can show us where Marco Polo went. They can show us how to get to San Francisco or Montreal or some other beautiful place. In his book River-Horse William Least Heat Moon included maps of his voyage across the United States by boat. Virtually all my adventure travel books, The Ra Expeditions, Kon Tiki, The Brendan Voyage, Enchanted Vagabonds: they all include maps.

Maps are visual and tactile. I like maps printed on nice paper, whether it’s in a book or hung on a wall.

But maps without words are less than half of what they should be.

Location names, topographical features, labels, directions, all give meaning to what would otherwise be amorphous colored blobs.

Even better are maps which have personal notes on them. When a previous adventurer notes here’s where that exciting event happened, this is a place to avoid, you have to see this, a map becomes more than a representation of geographical features, of direction and distance.

It becomes an adventure in itself.