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books

It’s Alive! Peace, Love & You Know What in Paperback

There’s nothing like a book in hand. That’s the way I felt when I got the proof of Peace, Love, and You Know What in the mail. Now it’s your turn.

The novel’s out in paperback. Just now.

Yes, I am big into digital. When I was a newspaper editor, I worked on the computer for many hours. I write my fiction that way. I keep up with friends and the news online.

I even own a Kindle.

But after all that screen action, I like looking at ink on paper. I like touching it.

I’m not alone. I have heard from people asking when they can buy the paperback version.

I hope you feel the same way, too.

You can purchase Peace, Love, and You Know What on Amazon. Here’s the link: Peace, Love & You Know What on Amazon

I’m keeping the price at $11.95, which is not a large profit margin for me, but I want people to buy the book and recommend that others do the same. Besides I am not a known name — yet I hope — in the literary world.

(And if you like reading it, I hope you wouldn’t mind giving it a review on Amazon. Thanks if you do.)

After the proof arrived early last week, I read it four times. In the process I found problems that needed to be fixed — missing words, inconsistent word usage, and a couple of other things — that I somehow missed in the umpteenth times I read the book before.

It was a relief, however, that I enjoyed the book each time I read it. I even laughed at parts.

Yesterday morning, Michelle Gutierrez, the book’s designer, uploaded the book to CreateSpace for paperback. (We will also be updating the electronic version very soon.)

She emailed me, “thanks for bringing me on this journey :)”

I smiled.

This project has been a learning experience s for the both of us — she about design, me about process and promotion. Today I got the A-OK the updated version met CreateSpace’s specs.

Michelle and I are going out to lunch to celebrate next week after the copies I ordered arrive. And, yes, we will be talking about more projects for the very near future.

ABOUT THE PHOTO ABOVE: That’s the proof copy plunked on top of books from my library.

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books, Taos

The Write Stuff: Two books about life

Here is my book review column, The Write Stuff, which appeared in the June 9 fiber edition of Tempo, the arts and entertainment section of The Taos News. Every two weeks I review books that have a connection to New Mexico.

This column takes on recent releases that reflect on two lives: one is a collection of autobiographical stories written by a beloved local doctor; the other is a noted author’s account of a boy growing up in New Mexico.

A Life Well Worn: A Collection of Personal Stories

Memoirs can be a tricky genre. A no-holds-barred telling may be satisfying for the author, but unfair to those who appear in the book. Others may not have such an interesting life after all.

But that’s not the case with the late Dr. Larry Schreiber, who tempers his observations with humor and kindness as he shares stories from his life, which includes over 40 years as a physician and humanitarian.

Schreiber is also the father of 14 children, including 10 who were adopted from around the world. He co-founded Child-Rite, which for 20 years placed 240 children with special needs in New Mexican homes at no cost to the families. (His first contact with children who have special needs is when he volunteers as a teenager at the Cerebral Palsy Center in New York.)

After interning in Albuquerque, Schreiber remains in New Mexico to work in medically under-served areas, where patients are so poor, they barter for care.

“Wood wasn’t all I traded for. Without trading I wouldn’t have a barn (OB and tubal ligation), a chicken coop and goat pen (delivery of a baby), or fencing throughout my fields (pneumonia and gall bladder attack). I even traded medical care for house cleaning. How else do you keep a house clean with 13 children? Trading felt good. It worked.”

He writes about finding love with his second wife, poet Cathy Strisik.

He takes readers on hiking treks in the mountains. Of one adventure in Nepal, he writes, “Looking up the ice wall at 19,000 feet, I realized two things: my heart couldn’t go any faster, and I couldn’t go any slower.”

We also learn how he deals with the effects of Parkinson’s disease, likely caused by his exposure to pesticides while working in a hospital in Cambodia.

His writer’s voice is likable. I imagine a twinkle in his eye as he recalls his experiences and the people he knew.

There is humor — one story about what an elderly patient in a hospital calls him made me laugh out loud. Then, there is sorrow — his grief over the loss of one of his sons.

But such is the case, indeed, in a life well worn.

Of course, with Schreiber’s death Jan. 18 the book is a bittersweet reminder of his profound value here and elsewhere. He died as he wished, at his San Cristobal home with his family beside him and a view of Lobo Peak through the picture window. The book was completed shortly before his death.

“A Life Well Worn,” published by Nighthawk Press, is available in paperback.

Schreiber’s children will read from their father’s memoir at an event Saturday (June 11), 6-8 p.m. at the Harwood Museum. Strisik will introduce the evening, which will include a video of Schreiber reading one of his pieces.

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The Sorrows of Young Alfonso

Rudolfo Anaya is a celebrated New Mexican author with an impressive body of work, including “Bless me, Ultima,” published in 1972. In his latest, Anaya writes about Alfonso, who at his birth was told by a
curandera, “The world is full of sorrow.”

Anaya chooses the format of the anonymous letter writer, presumably an old man, who tells Alfonso’s story to a person identified as “K.” The curandera’s prophecy comes true via an accident involving a train that leaves the boy handicapped. Later, he attends a university and emerges as a writer.

As Alfonso grows and changes, so does New Mexico.

“Now the prayers are being forgotten. This generation doesn’t pray like we did We spent hours on our knees. We had plenty to pray for. The war had taken the village boys; the Depression came, and with it the dust storms of the Dust Bowl. The way of living was changing from Spanish to English. There were new bosses and only menial work for the Mexicanos. The town banker spoke only English. Try getting a loan.”

Fans of Anaya and his writing style will undoubtedly enjoy this book. For others, reading “The Sorrows of Young Alfonso” may seem like dancing a slow waltz and wondering when the song will end. However, be prepared for a delightful dip toward the end.

“The Sorrows of Young Alfonso,” published by University of Oklahoma Press, is available in hard cover.

 

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books, hippies, Writing

A Whole Lot Going On

First, to those who anticipate buying a paperback of Peace, Love, and You Know What, the only holdup is the arrival of the hard copy proof. That is imminent. The biggest concern for Michelle, the designer, and me is the layout. This is a first for us.

I will let everyone know as soon as I pull the trigger — and as loudly as I can.

PeaceLove_Cover smallOn related topics, the electronic equipment I ordered to record Peace, Love, and You Know What is on its way. The prequel, Professor Groovy and Other Stories is in the batter’s circle. I scheduled a solo reading at SOMOS of Taos for July 8, a week after I am in a marathon reading as part of the open house at its new location.

Meanwhile, I am copyediting the next book to be launched — The Sweet Spot. This is one of my hilltown books. Here is a teaser: A big scandal in a small town — love and mislove, secrets and discovery, rich and poor, old families and newcomers, deep roots and fresh starts, violence and peace.

The Sweet Spot takes place in 1978. It didn’t happen in the small town of Worthington, where I once lived, but it could have. This book is not a comedy, but a couple of the characters are, well, characters, who may generate a chuckle from the reader.

Speaking of copyediting, I got inspired while reading a friend’s non-fiction book to do it as a sideline business. When I was given a sample copy, I found the book to be interesting and well-written, but, alas, it contained so many typos. Hundreds of typos. My friend had just sent it to the publisher, and I advised him to take it back. I volunteered my services to copyedit the book. The book had been edited — for pay no less — but still I found spelling errors, lack of hyphens, improper punctuation, and so many inconsistencies. I did four go-throughs and was happy to do it.

The experience got me thinking about doing editing for pay. I have been editing and copyediting other people’s writing, never mind my own, for decades. I know how not to get in the way of a writer’s voice. If I have questions, I ask them.

My aim would be not to let errors be a distraction to a piece of writing. And with the self-publishing opportunities now available, would-be authors need that kind of help.

Right now, I am figuring out rates, how to get the word out — you know, the business end of writing.

One final note, which I am adding after the original post, is about a rattle snake. I was getting water from the back spigot when a young rattler ambled about six inches from my foot. I am pleased at myself for not freaking out. Instead, I watched it curl beneath one of the currant bushes. I am going to pay attention to where I walk from now on.

My neighbor just found one on her back door. She called a friend, who chopped off its head, skinned it and took the rest back with him. He will use the fat as medicine and eat the meat. So the rattler didn’t die in vain.

ABOUT THE PHOTO ABOVE: This trio, playing lively Hispanic music, was part of the entertainment when Hank and I were at the Taos Farmers Market on Saturday.

 

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bobby and me 1970 copy
books, hippies, Travel

Returning to the Scene of the Crime

Well, I suppose it is if you consider smoking pot, dropping acid, and protesting a senseless war as crimes. Throw in skipping class for no good reason. But on a recent road trip Back East I visited my alma mater Bridgewater State University, the inspired setting for my novel Peace, Love, and You Know What.

auditorium

Front of the auditorium at Boyden Hall. The lit mag was located in the mezzanine, where the window is open.

I hadn’t been back since I graduated in 1972. Then, Bridgewater State College was a cluster of traditional brick buildings, except for a newly opened dorm. The college, now officially a university, has grown immensely with new buildings. The old ones have been repurposed. Its academic offerings likewise have expanded. A commuter rail, which I took, links the school to Boston.

But that’s not why I went. I was on a research mission in that I wanted to see the buildings and places I used in my novel.

A caveat: Peace, Love, and You Know What is a piece of fiction. It is not a memoir. Like other authors, I used what I experienced and had my way with it. That included the college, which I call Westbridge State in the novel.

221 summer street copy

This is 221 Summer Street, aka 221 Winter Street in the book.

On a fine May day, I walked to 221 Summer Street, the inspiration for the crash pad, 221 Winter Street, in the novel. From the amount of mailboxes I suspect it is still rented to students, but the building is far better maintained, at least from the exterior. So is the apartment house on Broad Street, the infamous Brown House where I once partied and later lived. Like a lot of buildings, it had new siding. Alas, the cinder block apartment complex AKA the Roach Motel was torn down long ago, I was told.

I visited Carver’s Pond, used in the book for the softball game between the rival Winter Street and Roach Motel hippie tribes. As a student, I sought refuge here even in the winter. Now it’s a park with walking trails.

newspaper office

The former newspaper office now used as a closet.

The campus was empty since graduation was held earlier that month. As I wrote, many of the older buildings, including the dorm where I lived two years, have new lives. I managed to sneak into the auditorium. The closet of an office, once a ticket-box, used for the student newspaper is indeed now a closet. I couldn’t get access to the mezzanine where the lit magazine was located. (I was once the editor.) The commuter lounge, a frequent gathering place, was long gone. I smile thinking about the times my group hung around that building, up to no good, according to the school’s administration.

restaurant

The restaurant was called Buddy’s when I went to school. It was inspiration for Ray’s in the book.

I headed downtown, which surprisingly hasn’t fared as well as campus, with empty storefronts and funky businesses. The coffee shop — Buddy’s when I was there, Ray’s in the book — still exists. It’s now called My Sister and I. The interior has been changed to give more seating. My friends and I spent countless hours there drinking bad coffee and talking. I ate lunch for old times sake.

I did stop at the alum office. The friendly women working there showed me the yearbooks from the time I was in school. I started with the one from 1970. The first page I opened had the photo you see above.

I remember the moment. I was walking with my boyfriend Bobby when someone yelled from a moving car and took our photo. I thought it was true love, but it ended months later, his choice. Like Lenora, one of the main characters in Peace, Love, and You Know What, I fell hard in love and suffered when things didn’t work out.

Here is a scene from the book. Mack and Tim are talking about a three-day graduation bash they are going to hold at their crummy apartment.

“Make sure Lenora hears about it,” Tim said.

Mack’s lips curled beneath his red mustache.

“A party without Lenora? Our queen? No way. Hey, Tim, maybe you should do the asking.” His grin got bigger. “She should be over that last guy by now. What’s his name? Tadd?”

“No, it was Brad,” Tim said.

“Brad. What kind of a name is Brad? Sometimes I wonder about Lenora’s choice in guys. At least he’s gone.” Mack’s brow pinched. “Doesn’t it take Lenora six weeks to get over a guy? I believe it’s time to finally make your move, Tim. She’s outta here next week.”

Tim sighed. Lenora’s last relationship was a close one. Things were getting heavy with the guy, a friend of Joey’s hiding out from some trouble in California. But Lenora’s romances lasted three months tops, the guys drawn by her open heart, soaking in her love as if it were sunlight, until it drove them away. Tim held her while she cried enough times to know the story. Her ex-boyfriends said they were living in the here and now. They reminded her about the war in Vietnam. Her response? War was all the more reason to be in love. They didn’t see it her way. She took the breakups hard, sobbing in her room, playing dreary folk songs like Dylan’s “Don’t Think Twice, It’s All Right” and snarling at the lines. She stopped eating, got real skinny, drank, and smoked too much pot, embarrassing herself a little in public. She wrote sad or hateful poetry until she came to her senses or lost interest.

Yup, that about sums it up. By the way, the alum office wants a hard copy of the book when it comes out. I did warn them it’s a bit raunchy.

UPDATE: Oh, so close on the paperback edition. Until then, here is the link to the Kindle version: https://www.amazon.com/Peace-Love-You-Know-What-ebook/dp/B01E03WMQC?ie=UTF8&*Version*=1&*entries*=0

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books, reviews, Writing

The Write Stuff

In my new life, I am a book author and a book reviewer. I will be writing a twice-monthly column called The Write Stuff in Tempo, the arts and entertainment section of The Taos News.

For those just catching up, my last day as The Taos News’ managing editor was May 5. After nearly an eight-year run in that position, I felt it was time for a change. Now I will concentrate on writing fiction, promoting it — such as my newly published novel Peace, Love, and You Know What now on Kindle — and doing freelance gigs, including this column.

I presume most of the books I review will be ones that arrive at Tempo Editor Rick Romancito’s desk. From the pile he’s already given me, I envision books, non-fiction and fiction, published by university and museum presses. There will be books by writers lucky enough to get a contract with a publishing house and those who have taken that on themselves. Many will be local writers, which given Taos’ creative energy won’t surprise me.

I’ve already sent Rick the first column with reviews of two books. I reviewed an album of black and white photos taken during the early ’80s. A newcomer to New Mexico, the photographer turned his camera’s lens on a few of the state’s Hispanic communities.

An academic wrote the second book about author Jean Toomer and his unfinished play about Taos. Toomer, part of the Harlem Renaissance, came to Taos in the ’20s at the invitation of Mabel Dodge Luhan, the grand dame of the arts.

I have always been a big reader. As a kid, I was holed up in my bedroom with a pile of books from the library. My favorites are the ones that make me forget that I am reading. My bookcases at home are filled with them.

I don’t anticipate every book Rick hands me will have the same effect. But my goal is to read them through to the end before I give a thoughtful but fair review. If the book has faults, I will point them out. I won’t gush.

Of course, reviews are subjective. Someone might love what I don’t and visa versa.

I’ve already read the next two books. I’ve taken notes and used pieces of paper to mark the pages that contain something significant I might want to note or quote.

Writing about writing: I like the idea.

This is a link to my farewell column in The Taos Newshttp://www.taosnews.com/news/article_b94efa7c-1245-11e6-a0c2-fbf2f6e1f94e.html

And here is the link to Peace, Love, and You Know What (soon to be out on paperback) on Kindle: https://www.amazon.com/Peace-Love-You-Know-What-ebook/dp/B01E03WMQC

PHOTO ABOVE: This is the first year since I planted our lilac bushes eight years ago that they’ve bloomed. (Maybe there is something symbolic.) Each spring I would cheer on the buds but then a cold snap would take them. This year we had cold but also snow, which might have insulated the buds. The bushes are outside the door we use the most. I plan to clip a few buds to bring inside because they smell so damn sweet.

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