Road Trip

From Loretta:

Coming to you from somewhere near Richmond VA. I don’t know where I am exactly, only that it’s way south of where I live by about ten hours’ drive time. My husband says it’s supposed to be nine hours. Or maybe eight. But that’s guy travel. Guys pride themselves on how far they can go without going. I need pit stops. Lots of them. Not only am I coming to you from a foreign country but I’m on a foreign computer—his lap top, which has everything in the wrong place, so getting from the beginning to the end of this blog may take as long as it took to drive here. And I am thinking, Why didn’t I think to ask one of the other Wenches to fill in for me? (I’m also wondering why I keep hitting the blooming “g” key or else two keys simultaneously and where are aLL those capital letters coming FROM? ) Well, it was a last minute decision. My POS is not quite done. So this is a big gamble. Yes, there are only a few pages left to write, but the way some books go, a few pages could take a few months. However, I Am thinking positively. Getting away will refresh those tired grey cells. Besides, we are here for an important family event, an 80th birthday party—AND those don’t come around SO OFTGEN. Plus, I get to watch him pacing around the car as I return from a pit stop, which is always fun. Also, there is the fun of amusing him during the drive.

The current entertainment is his quizzing me on birds of prey, i.e., can I tgell the difference between a buzzard and a hawk. No, I can’t, really, though he’s explained it A JILLION tgimes. But I’m always game. I write novels, after all. I don’t really know what I’m doing, butg I’m game, and I’ve managed to write 13 and 95/100ths full-length books so far. So, “What’s that up there?” he’ll say. And I’ll peer up through the windshield, and look at this black shape circling up there, riding the air currents, looking for something to eat from, like, a mile up in the sky. “Buzzard,” I say, thinking, Maybe it’s a hawk? “Right!” HE says. So I get a point. Or something. So faR, I Have correctly identified all the black things up there a mile up as buzzards. Hey, I’ve got a 50-50 chance of being right every time. Another fun quiz is identifying landscape featgures. We are crossing the Delaware Memorial Bridge and he asks, What river is that down there? And I peer down through the window and think really hard and say, “the Delaware River”? And I get another point. Emboldened by my success with the buzzards and the river I say, “Ask me who’s buried in Grant’s tomb. Go on, ask me.” So he asks me and I get another point.

We also amuse ourselves by trying to identify singers we hear on the radio. With family in VA, he has traveled this road a lot, so he not only knows the route blindfolded but also where the cool public radio stations are. So we get to hear some very interesting music. On the better public radio stations, the variety is amazing. You never know what you’re going to get. Elvis Costello singing with Lucinda Williams, followed by a terrific folk singer I never heard of, then the Grateful Dead. And I thought how rare variety was getting to be in radio as well as television, and I thought about this interview I just did in a hurry for All About Romance (to be posted Monday or Tuesday, BTW). One of the questions was about the dearth of variety in historical romance. Traveling reminds me that this narrowing of choices applies elsewhere. Every shopping mall, wherever you are, seems to have the same stores.

On the positive side, I know I’ll find a Borders without much trouble. Which we do. And inside the Borders I can count on a strong romance section. And in this one, I find a bunch of my books. And I”m excited—not simply because they’re still on the shelves, despite not being recent releases (Lord of Scoundrels was there, for instance)—but because the thrill of seeing my books in a bookstore is not gone. Probably will never be gone. And it never stops feeling good when I find a manager and say, “I’m the author of these books. Would you like me to sign them?” In Borders one can pretty much count on getting an enthusiastic Yes. So let me say that variety is great but there’s something to be said, too, for finding the familiar in unfamiliar places.

I also want to say that gas is way cheaper down herfe than in Massachusettgs. $2.09 for regular. That’s all for now, folks. We’re heading out to the barbeque joint.

12 thoughts on “Road Trip”

  1. Funny how, when we were younger, that familiar place on the highway was Howard Johnsons & his 28 flavors. Now it’s Borders and B&N. 🙂
    But you’re right, Loretta: they are almost always very friendly to writers “on the road”, no matter how weary or unlike our author photos we may look. Finding books on the shelves in faraway places is a little like running into an old friend.
    And yes, gas is cheaper in VA. My parents live there, and my father can’t let a phone conversation go by without gleefully reporting the latest low, low, low prices Down There (as opposed to Up Here.)
    Eat plenty of BBQ for the rest of us, okay?

    Reply
  2. Funny how, when we were younger, that familiar place on the highway was Howard Johnsons & his 28 flavors. Now it’s Borders and B&N. 🙂
    But you’re right, Loretta: they are almost always very friendly to writers “on the road”, no matter how weary or unlike our author photos we may look. Finding books on the shelves in faraway places is a little like running into an old friend.
    And yes, gas is cheaper in VA. My parents live there, and my father can’t let a phone conversation go by without gleefully reporting the latest low, low, low prices Down There (as opposed to Up Here.)
    Eat plenty of BBQ for the rest of us, okay?

    Reply
  3. Funny how, when we were younger, that familiar place on the highway was Howard Johnsons & his 28 flavors. Now it’s Borders and B&N. 🙂
    But you’re right, Loretta: they are almost always very friendly to writers “on the road”, no matter how weary or unlike our author photos we may look. Finding books on the shelves in faraway places is a little like running into an old friend.
    And yes, gas is cheaper in VA. My parents live there, and my father can’t let a phone conversation go by without gleefully reporting the latest low, low, low prices Down There (as opposed to Up Here.)
    Eat plenty of BBQ for the rest of us, okay?

    Reply
  4. Gas is $2.09 here in Tulsa, too! Yipee!!!
    Radio Stations:
    We used to have a public radio station that played hit songs from all decades/genres and I absolutely loved that. My husband and I like a wide variety of music and we both enjoyed this station. They were on the air for about 4 months then converted or sold to a Talk Radio format. BUMMER! I get so sick of hearing the same songs over and over again on the other stations.

    Reply
  5. Gas is $2.09 here in Tulsa, too! Yipee!!!
    Radio Stations:
    We used to have a public radio station that played hit songs from all decades/genres and I absolutely loved that. My husband and I like a wide variety of music and we both enjoyed this station. They were on the air for about 4 months then converted or sold to a Talk Radio format. BUMMER! I get so sick of hearing the same songs over and over again on the other stations.

    Reply
  6. Gas is $2.09 here in Tulsa, too! Yipee!!!
    Radio Stations:
    We used to have a public radio station that played hit songs from all decades/genres and I absolutely loved that. My husband and I like a wide variety of music and we both enjoyed this station. They were on the air for about 4 months then converted or sold to a Talk Radio format. BUMMER! I get so sick of hearing the same songs over and over again on the other stations.

    Reply
  7. Denise said: ‘Gas is $2.09 here in Tulsa, too’. Good grief! Is that per US gallon?? The stuff is cheaper than water! The price has dropped just a little here (UK) over the last few months, but in the summer, it reached £1 per litre in many areas. (That’s about $7.60 per US gall., if my calculations are right).
    I thoroughly enjoyed Loretta’s typos, especially the intrusive G’s everywhere. 🙂
    I must say that I have never quite had the courage to introduce myself in a bookshop where one of my books is on sale, though I have been known surreptitiously to rearrange books, my own and those by friends or colleagues, in order to display them to better advantage.
    😀

    Reply
  8. Denise said: ‘Gas is $2.09 here in Tulsa, too’. Good grief! Is that per US gallon?? The stuff is cheaper than water! The price has dropped just a little here (UK) over the last few months, but in the summer, it reached £1 per litre in many areas. (That’s about $7.60 per US gall., if my calculations are right).
    I thoroughly enjoyed Loretta’s typos, especially the intrusive G’s everywhere. 🙂
    I must say that I have never quite had the courage to introduce myself in a bookshop where one of my books is on sale, though I have been known surreptitiously to rearrange books, my own and those by friends or colleagues, in order to display them to better advantage.
    😀

    Reply
  9. Denise said: ‘Gas is $2.09 here in Tulsa, too’. Good grief! Is that per US gallon?? The stuff is cheaper than water! The price has dropped just a little here (UK) over the last few months, but in the summer, it reached £1 per litre in many areas. (That’s about $7.60 per US gall., if my calculations are right).
    I thoroughly enjoyed Loretta’s typos, especially the intrusive G’s everywhere. 🙂
    I must say that I have never quite had the courage to introduce myself in a bookshop where one of my books is on sale, though I have been known surreptitiously to rearrange books, my own and those by friends or colleagues, in order to display them to better advantage.
    😀

    Reply
  10. Susan/Miranda, I’d totally forgotten about HoJos. Makes the current array of same old, same old look like variety. So are we spoiled or what? Radio was pretty limited, too, until FM started happening. Then we had years of real choice. Now we are back to talk and, as Denise M says, the same songs over and over–except for NPR and some college stations. AgTigress, we in the U.S. are really spoiled. We don’t realize how cheap our gasoline is until we go abroad. Then we faint. As to courage in bookstores–it always makes me feel very odd, very PUSHY. But booksellers have told me that their customers love signed books. The bookseller in VA wanted to make sure my “Signed by Author” stickers were bright and shiny, so no one missed them. I think of it as part of my job–one of the uncomfortable parts.

    Reply
  11. Susan/Miranda, I’d totally forgotten about HoJos. Makes the current array of same old, same old look like variety. So are we spoiled or what? Radio was pretty limited, too, until FM started happening. Then we had years of real choice. Now we are back to talk and, as Denise M says, the same songs over and over–except for NPR and some college stations. AgTigress, we in the U.S. are really spoiled. We don’t realize how cheap our gasoline is until we go abroad. Then we faint. As to courage in bookstores–it always makes me feel very odd, very PUSHY. But booksellers have told me that their customers love signed books. The bookseller in VA wanted to make sure my “Signed by Author” stickers were bright and shiny, so no one missed them. I think of it as part of my job–one of the uncomfortable parts.

    Reply
  12. Susan/Miranda, I’d totally forgotten about HoJos. Makes the current array of same old, same old look like variety. So are we spoiled or what? Radio was pretty limited, too, until FM started happening. Then we had years of real choice. Now we are back to talk and, as Denise M says, the same songs over and over–except for NPR and some college stations. AgTigress, we in the U.S. are really spoiled. We don’t realize how cheap our gasoline is until we go abroad. Then we faint. As to courage in bookstores–it always makes me feel very odd, very PUSHY. But booksellers have told me that their customers love signed books. The bookseller in VA wanted to make sure my “Signed by Author” stickers were bright and shiny, so no one missed them. I think of it as part of my job–one of the uncomfortable parts.

    Reply

Leave a Comment