books, hippies, Writing

Writing about Peace, Love and You Know What

The first book in my bilingual series for kids is out. Now here’s something for the grownups. My novel Peace, Love, and You Know What — an experiment in ePublishing — will soon be released.

I’m one more close read away from handing the manuscript over to Michelle Gutierrez, who is designing the cover and the book’s contents. We met this week to go over concepts. Michelle read the novel and I trust her designer’s eye to translate what I wrote into a reader-catching cover.

We’re doing Kindle first, then paperback. I might even do an audio version if people can stand my Massachusetts’ accent.

So what’s Peace, Love, and You Know What about? Hippies, to be specific, college hippies who are planning a three-day graduation bash. Yes, it’s a comedy.

There’s Tim, who is actually faking his graduation, and his roommates Mack, Manny and the poetry-spouting Joey. Then, there’s Lenora, their queen who is graduating and splitting for Europe. Tim and Lenora have been tight friends for four years and he figures this might be his last chance with her.

The three-day bash is a big hit for every hippie freak and dirty professor at Westbridge State College. You name it, they do it … but I’ll tell you more when I get closer to the launch.

I want to backtrack a bit and give credit to my friend Craig Dirgo, an author of thriller fiction who encouraged me to try ePublishing. It’s a bit of a story on how we met but one afternoon I listened to his take on the topic with an open mind. While Craig spoke, I thought about how I now get music, news, television, movies etc. via the Internet. Why not books?

I’ve gone the traditional route of agent — I actually had two — and publishing house with no success in getting the novels I’ve been writing into the hands of readers. It is time for me to try something different.

Of the books I’ve written Peace, Love, and You Know What is a solid choice for this try. The early ’70s was an exciting period of time. Perhaps the book will be a bit nostalgic for those who lived through it and a curiousity for those who didn’t. There’s enough sex in it that I will be hesitant to show the book to my mother, but I bet she will be proud anyway when I tell her it’s published.

ABOUT THE PHOTO ABOVE: The VW van belongs to my friends Mary and Hector. It may make an appearance on the cover of this novel.

books, Native American, Taos

A Give and Take with Anne Hillerman

Questions. I love asking questions. I love hearing answers. So it’s a good combination for what is becoming an occasional gig — interviewing authors who come to Taos.

I’ve done it with Katherine Ann Power, a longtime fugitive who did time for a 1970 bank robbery in which a police officer was killed, and twice with Valerie Plame, the former CIA operative of “Fair Game” fame.

rocksThis time I interviewed Anne Hillerman, who just published “Rocks with Wings.” That’s her above greeting and signing her book for fans at Moby Dickens Bookshop in Taos.

This is the second in her series using the characters and the Navajo Nation setting of her late father, Tony Hillerman. At the time of the interview the crime novel was No. 11 on The New York Times Best Seller List.

Anne, who was on a large book tour, preferred being interviewed than doing a reading. I was happy to oblige.

I prepare for such interviews by reading the book ahead of time and coming up with questions, easy and hard. I don’t show them to the author ahead of time. I prefer spontaneity.

I found a great deal to ask Anne. The so-called softball question was why she decided to carry on the family tradition. Anne, who has worked in the news business, was inspired when she wrote a non-fiction book “Tony Hillerman’s Landscape: On the Road with Chee and Leaphorn,” with photos by her husband Don Strel.

In “Rocks with Wings,” Anne strengthened the women characters, including, I felt, giving tribal officer Bernadette Manuelito, the tougher case to solve than her husband, Sgt. Jim Chee. Anne was gracious and lively during the event. The audience was attentive. What more could I ask for?

I have a few more gigs this month. Cindy Brown, the author of the “Taos Hiking Guide.” Then there is Steve Tapia, a wildlife biologist. Both will read and answer questions at Taos Mountain Outfitters. Finally, I will interview Hannah Nordhaus, author of “American Ghost,” at Moby Dickens, later this month.