I hate selling books. Ok, scratch that, it’s just that my most natural inclination is to write. Along with that comes an equally strong inclination to NOT SELL ANYTHING. Sales work feels like a dirty, undignified business to me and if I’m really good at anything it is convincing people they probably shouldn’t pay for my work. But the sober realization struck that if I didnt force myself to grow and get better at sales then I may as whilst give up on my writing career. No matter how beautiful the prose, if you’re slinging it out for free you have a hobby, not a career. And so it twas that I tricked my brain into the marketplace with the promise of travel. The sight of new environs and weird people stokes my creative fire. Having flooded the Oklahoma book market and previously toured the East with my first novel, I determined to hawk my wares in the Great American West. The purpose is to stock my books in as many indie book stores as possible and perhaps establish my “brand” outside the comfortable environs of my Okie home.
I’m making a few pit stops along the way to marvel at this country. My journal entries for the first seven days follow. There will be much more to come. If you live out West someplace and wish to recommend your favorite indie book store I will do my flat durndest to convince the proprietor to carry both of my books, Ezekiel’s Wheels and It’s Not That Hard To. Stick with me Frans, this will be a fun ride.
Because of the financial restrictions inherent in the life of a mere writer I am determined to tent camp as much as possible on this book tour. Left Oklahoma and drove straight through to Denver. It rained. I got a motel room. A disheveled man standing alone in the parking lot said, “hey, you got delivery from Tony P?” I hope he was talking about pizza. Either way, the answer is NO.
A nice lady cooked up the most beautiful Denver omelette I’ve ever seen. It even had hair! The Fox news ticker read, “Meth-laced soda found in Mexico stores.” I thought to myself, “Them boys got more dope than they know what to do with”… The first Indie Book store did not disappoint. Denver’s Book Bar serves fine wines, cappuccinos and literary-themed snacks surrounded by books of every sort. Left Denver and camped in Medicine Bow, Wyoming in the freezing cold. I ate a steaming rare piece of meat huddled in my tent, shivering and cursing my fool ideas.
Drove to Flaming Gorge Reservoir in Utah. It began to snow up high above the gorge and the route felt just like driving in the clouds. I saw nary a soul. Ate sausage and eggs put on a wind swept point overlooking the great lake below. Utah has the best road signs of any state. Every couple of miles a sign pops up that reads, “giant marine reptiles swam here” and “Stegosaurus wandered here” or “sea deposits of ancient squid-like creatures here”. Crossed the Strawberry River. This is a magical place.
Best Mexican food of my life at Red Iguana in Salt Lake City. The mole. Uhn. Stocked my books in the quaint SLC bookstore called King’s English. They’ve been in business 40 years so I feel privileged to trade with them. Makes me feel official. Great Salt Lake was stinky and beautiful. Took a taste. Hope I don’t grow an extry eye. It tastes…FUNNY. I saw mirages on the road just like in the cartoons. I’m straight as a string, honest. Stopped in the dead of night and camped on a solitary desert lake where jackrabbits have taken over. These suckers are bigger than some dogs I know. Giant comical ears. They tossed sand at my tent while I tried to sleep.
Driving into California I felt an irrational desire to dislike the state. I think because of the treatment my great grandparents received when they migrated here to find work during the Dust Bowl. But I found myself drawn in against my will. Driving in on the Sierra Highway each mile left me more slackjawed and bug-eyed. Took the Tioga Road up into Yosemite and camped at Porcupine Flat. Built a fire and ate eggs and jalapeno weenies for lunch. DELICIOUS.
Joined at camp by a group of six Spanish women. We didn’t speak the same language but I took a chance and said, “Mi Espanol es muy mal, pero, gusta vino de fresa?” The answer was a resounding “Si” and they gave me Jamon and hard biscuits in return. The last I heard of those girls they were giggling long after I’d retired to my sleeping bag for the night. Also met a young couple who climb and backpack. The young lady amazed me because she bikes and hikes across the country often by herself. She’s an artist and makes ceramic and wood spoons that she fashions out of wormwood that she finds on her travels. Her site is www.stubborndogpottery.com . I aim to buy myself one of those spoons. She is a lifelong Californian and gave me perhaps the greatest compliment of the trip when she said, “you seem like you belong here.”
Woke up VERY COLD. 21° in Yosemite. Time to go. I didn’t know until I got out of the park that part of the rock face of El Capitan fell off and killed a hiker. That news gave me considerable pause. I just hope he was living life with conviction and passion when it happened. I’ll take that over the alternative any old day. Set up camp near Sonoma Valley. It is SO WARM and I am SO GRATEFUL. I’m over the cold camping. Went to my favorite vineyards last night and guess who I found? OKIES! Okies who read! Also met two gentlemen from NYC who say they have a need for a creative writer in their business. Perhaps this hair brained scheme will pay off after all. In a couple of days I plan to go maroon myself on an island and tent camp. During my research I have found that this island is populated with foxes that like to steal underwear. Perhaps that is why the price is right at $15 per night.
This is the halfway point of the 2017 Indie Book Tour of the Great American West. Much more to follow. Come with me, won’t you?