Sunday, September 28, 2014

Second Summer

It's that time of year where the days get shorter and the inevitability of what's coming (Winter!) looms large. Thankfully we have been gifted with a couple weeks worth of fantastic weather. Dry air, temps in the low to mid 70's, and high wispy clouds. Just perfect, day after day. It's like a second summer for us.

The weather enabled me to get out a couple of times this weekend and do some fishing, painting, and biking. This time alone always allows me to reflect on where I'm at, where I'm going, and where I've been. It is during these times of assessment and inventory that I realize how lucky I am. Whenever I start to get down or worried about the future, it helps to take stock of what I have and what I've been through. Doing that today absolutely changed my perspective.

Sunrise on Beaver Lake
Part of what I was mulling over was the rich set of friends I've cultivated in the past few years. Some are brand new, some are old friends that go back decades, some are Facebook friends,  but all are part of who I am right now. I'll confess that I am the world's worst friend, but I've managed to surround myself with people that know me for who I am. They know I'm not going to call them on a moment's notice and say lets hook up for coffee or a beer. But they also know that if asked, I will welcome the chance to catch up on things. As a friend, I follow well, but lead by seclusion, if that makes any sense.

I guess I've always had a good set of friends, but my writing group has increased that exponentially. These friends share the same interests and because of them, I've met more people than I ever dreamed. As my wife will confess it's changing me from a total introvert to a closet extrovert. (Shhh...don't tell.) I enjoy people more than I ever have and frankly, it's kind of scaring her. (And me too.)

And on my ride and in my kayak I thought about the summer gone by. The trip to New York, the book release, Sarah's graduation, the book tour, and the cabin in Mercer. I tend to always look to the "next" vacation and seem to forget all the ones I've been fortunate enough to have taken. This summer was epic by any stretch of the imagination, and I needed a bike ride to reiterate that to myself.

I thought about the joys and sorrows I've experienced and how each of them has become part of my "badge". The joys of a beautiful, loving, loyal wife and two children who I couldn't be prouder of. Couple those gifts with the tragedy of losing a father, brother and sister at an early age, and you kind of cover the complete emotional spectrum from joy to sorrow. But each event has made me who I am. As much as I hated going through the death of my brother, it has changed my life, my outlook and my path in ways nothing else could. God is and will use it for good.

And lastly I got to ponder the beauty of our natural world on a larger scope and the splendor of the autumn season in Wisconsin. I got to witness an amazing sunrise on Beaver Lake on Saturday and keep having my breath taken away by the tree colors around Waukesha and Milwaukee. Every year I seem to appreciate the changes more than the year previous. The changing of the leaves is one of God's miracles. Sometimes He's such a showoff.

So, this post so badly describes what was running through my head on my bike today as I cruised at 15 MPH in the thick of one of the best fall days ever. It's probably because I think much clearer under the sun with nothing but the wind in my ears and the sun on my back. But what I did want to emphasize is that if you're feeling down, or worried, or just kind of blue, it helps to take stock. Big problems get much smaller when you put them in their place along the timeline of your life.

And it's best done outdoors on a perfect fall day.

Blogging off...

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Uncovering the Cover

The old saying goes, you can't judge a book by its cover, and I believe that's true. However a book's cover is the first thing people see when they are looking online, in a bookstore, or in the library. I came across an article on Twitter the other day that talked about the importance of a good cover. The author mentioned that of the many books she had published, she actually hated a couple of her own covers. Because the publisher had ultimate say however, the author was overruled and the crappy cover won. I don't recall how the book sales went for said crappy cover book, but my point is, sometimes you just have to suck it up and take what's given you.

The cover design process for Dirty Shirt was relatively painless. My publisher, eLectio Publishing, actually worked quite closely with me and, ultimately, we ended up with a great cover. That's not to say there wasn't some severe anguish on my end, because there was. When it is your first book, you want the cover to be the best thing ever published, (and it never is). My publisher asked for design ideas from me, the most graphically challenged person in the world. I gave them some general concepts and sent them a few images to work with as well.
My second choice

My first choice was to have something to do with the broken down Malibu picture. I thought it summed up the humor in the book and would make a great cover. A graphic designer friend of mine assured me that the picture was way too busy for a cover, so I shelved that idea.

Other ideas and images included pictures of all the brothers standing by a lake, sunsets over water, people portaging a canoe. They sent me a first batch of covers and while there were some real duds, there were a couple that I kind of liked, there was one that I thought was perfect. Before I get to that though, I wanted to show the one I thought was a close second. >>>

I liked this cover a lot, but thought it looked a little disjointed. I thought it told the story about some of the characters, but it seemed a little busy too. So I kept looking through the covers they had sent me.

My original first choice.
When I came to this one I thought, "That's my cover!" Unfortunately I was alone in my feeling for this one. With the exception of my co-workers, (all mapping people, mind you) everyone else hated it. I had one person tell me they "wouldn't pick it up in a bookstore." Another said "its ugly". My mom said it looked like someone threw spaghetti at a wall. Still another said she didn't know what it was when she first looked at it.

It's an old map, people, and I happen to like it. Everyone's a critic. Seriously though, this was a reality check for me. To go with something I like but everyone else hates would be a really, really bad idea. I took it to heart and decided to keep looking.

After I'd shown the cover designs to a few of my friends, one of them took the ideas and mocked up a few different variations of what had already been done. Eventually, he took a picture of my dad and made what is now the cover of the book. I showed it and a couple of others he mocked up to those same friends and they all said "That's your cover!" Everyone I showed it to said the same thing. The picture seemed to capture the essence of the book, most said, so I decided to go with it.

I wish I could tell you more about the date and place of the cover. All I know is it was taken sometime in the 1960's in the BWCA. The necklace around his neck is a St. Christopher medal. I wish I knew where that ended up. What a keepsake it would have been. Same goes for the watch. I'm not sure what's with the hat, but if anyone can pull off wearing a hat like that, it's my dad.

And finally the picture itself says so much about his state of mind in the wilderness. He was "in his element" in the woods. And frankly if I had caught a walleye that big, I'd have a smile on my face too. This was dad's happy place, and it's mine too. It makes the perfect cover and now, I can't imagine anything else being anything else but second best.

Blogging off...

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Success Comes in Threes

It has been a fun weekend in my world of writing. In the past four days, I've attended two book launches for colleagues of mine from AllWriters' studio. This is a really cool problem to have, actually. When people you've worked hard with for years start having success along with my own, well, it's really fun.

This past Thursday night, one of my writing instructors, Michael Giorgio released his first novel Justice Comes Home at Martha Merrell's Bookstore in downtown Waukesha. His story is a mystery based on an event in downtown Waukesha that was held after the close of WWII. He uses the clever town name of Devlin's Crossing in place of Waukesha and uses the crowd gathered at the town center to set the stage for a murder. I won't give away any more of the story, but suffice it to say it is a really fun read. He mixes mystery, intrigue and humor throughout to keep the readers interest.

Anyhow, it was a great evening. Michael and his wife Kathie were instrumental in helping Dirty Shirt become what it is, so I am forever indebted to both. The Waukesha Historical museum even sent a historian along to give a framework for the event. A nice touch.

Then, yesterday I attended Lynn Carol Austin's book release for her first novel, Ten of Swords. This event was held at Water to Wine in Brookfield. Lynn's book sees the paths of a Christian and a Tarot Card reader cross with some fun consequences. When she read, the room was rapt. In addition to being a great writer, she's quite a storyteller. She left the audience wanting to hear more.

Lynn's reading was accompanied by a harpist which was a nice touch. It did leave me wondering how I came to this point in my life where one minute I'm watching the lead singer for Cage the Elephant stage dive into the crowd at the Bradley Center, and the next minute drinking Chardonnay and listening to a harpist at a book signing. I'm pretty convinced it's the sign of either a rich, broad life, or a serious identity crisis.

The jury's still out.

The success string continues this week when, on Thursday, I'll be going to yet another signing, my third in a week. This time it will be for Diane Valentine who wrote her first memoir Family Secrets. This one is also being held at Martha Merrells.

On top of those three items, I got more good news on my book. It is now in circulation at both the Superior and Eau Claire libraries in Wisconsin. These are bigger markets, so I'm happy to be in both. It's still cool seeing it in ANY library, but the more the merrier. More to come soon.

I also found out it is in Wisconsin's Digital Library, as an eBook, which is great news too. When I heard that books are occasionally "purged" from library shelves after they have not been checked out for many years, I was a little shocked. The cool part of the digital library inclusion is that I'm guessing that means it will be available into perpetuity, as files don't take space like a hard copy does. An author can hope, can't he?

Personal sales are still going well too. People continue to send pictures of themselves enjoying the book in various places. I just can't describe how much fun this whole experience is. I am a lucky man to have such a supportive audience of readers, friends, family and colleagues. I appreciate every one of you! So, thanks again.

Blogging off...

Friday, September 19, 2014

Animal House

I missed my post last night, so am playing catch up tonight with a brief post. I've been running non-stop for two days.

Anyhow, it's day two of no women in the Landwehr household. Sarah's in Minnesota, of course, and Donna is in Nashville, Tennessee with friends. Furthermore, at the moment, Ben is at the high school football game, so it is just me, the dog, two cats and Bob Marley on the stereo to break the silence.

These are always strange stretches when the wife's away, both good and bad. I think she REALLY needed a trip to herself and I am quite enjoying the freedom of not reporting to anyone except for Ben and said dog and two cats. She left us with plenty of food, as she always does, so we're good with that. It's a bit like a middle aged/prepubescent frat house around here right now.

Some of the differences I've noticed in the short time the house has been male dominated include:

1. The toilet seat stays up without fear of verbal admonishment. No worries here.

2. A five dollar "hot and ready" Lil Caesars' pizza covers for dinner and lunch for both of us with out so much as turning on the oven. Score!

3. Due in-part to #2 above, the dishwasher only gets run every third day.

4. When I instructed Ben that he needed to make his lunch for school Thursday, he said "Maybe I'll just buy my lunch, Dad." Like father, like son. He gets all of his culinary prowess from me. Lord help him.

5. It seems that clothes laundered separately because of white vs. colors, can be dried together (can't they?) without issue.

6. A general state of "unkemptness" is really okay until the night before she comes home.

7. Meals at times are eaten standing up and can be totally without a course structure.

8. Garlic bread counts as a meal.

9. I can stay out as late as I want. But I don't want.

10. I'll get to it when I want to get to it. It will get done, though.

And so, if you're not doing anything the next few days, stop on over to Alpha Kappa Thi and see what's happening. Tomorrow I'm having a carpet cleaning party, so be sure and wash your feet before you show up to help move furniture. 

Oh, and be sure to bring a pizza and a six pack when you come.

Blogging off...

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Arena Rocked

It has been a couple of decades since I've been to an ice arena rock concert. I think the last time was Eric Clapton at the St, Paul Civic Center ala 1986 or so. Oh, I've been to quite a few shows since then, but none were in the setting normally reserved for hockey and basketball. You know the kinds, where it's more of an echo chamber than anything, and at the end your ears are ringing. The Replacements, a band out of Minneapolis once made a song titled "I bought a headache" which references the very St. Paul Civic Center I mentioned above. One of the lines was "Eight dollars, fifty cents, I bought a headache." More often than not this was true.

A Stub Sampling 
Back in my twenties, that was what we did. It was the only way to see many of the bands I liked. They played the large arenas and, acoustics-be-damned, we paid to go see them. Some were better than others, but because I was (and still am) such a music nut, I went many times. Many more than any audiologist would ever recommend, certainly. I have the strange distinction of having the stubs from every concert I went to. Weird I know, but now that I have them, I'm not sure what to do with them after 30 years. I think they should be part of an art piece someday. We'll see. Here's some of the many>>>>

Of course everyone remembers their first concert. Mine was the Electric Light Orchestra in 1978, a band I absolutely lived for for a few years. They came to the Civic Center and I wanted to go so bad and none of my friends wanted to go. So I went alone, which seems a bit desperate, but I didn't care. It was my first concert and I still swear to this day it was the loudest I've ever been to. The coolest part of the show was the lasers they used throughout. At the time, it was cutting edge and was spectacular to see. A memorable night, for sure.

So anyway, when Ben said he really wanted to go see the Black Keys, I told him I would go with. I happen to like them a lot too, and when he had no friends that could go, I offered to drive him and go along.

We went out to dinner at his favorite pizza place (Ian's Pizza) and then hurried over to the BMO Harris Bradley Center. The opening act was Cage the Elephant, who both of us liked a lot too, so we didn't want to miss it.

We took our seats in the nosebleeds that were stage left. They were off to one side, but not bad seats by any means. They had the highest seats cordoned off, and the arena was only about 3/4 full, which I had never seen in a concert before. Usually things were sold out solid.

When Cage the Elephant came on the bass drum hit me in the chest like a .44 magnum. I had forgotten how loud these shows were, but after the initial shock, we both settled in. The lead singer for Cage was as energetic and flamboyant as Mick Jagger. Very entertaining. Ben seemed to be enjoying it as well, and even pointed out the girl in front of us who texted the ENTIRE time. It was insane.

After a 20 minute equipment change, the Black Keys came on. They took the sound level up a notch and put on an incredible show. They are a two man band with several "studio musicians" who seem to travel with them. The lead guitarist's solos were executed with brilliance. The guy was amazing. Coupled with a drum beat that could defibrillate a stopped heart, it made for a wall of sound that was on the near side of epic. It was a sonic streetfight.

All of it brought back to me the reminder of why I love seeing live music. I realized again why I saw so many in the 80's and 90's. The energy, the noise, the big screens, the light show, and just the spectacle of it all. It's hard to pin it down to one thing. I love it all. Unbridled fun. And for myself anyway, it's like dancing in that the only ones there are other people who love the performers as much as you, so it's like one big happy family. No one feels out of place. Old and young alike.

Was it irresponsibly loud? Yes, Was it overpriced? Probably. Are my ears still recovering? Yes. Do I regret one note? Absolutely not. I'd do it again in a heartbeat.

I still say I want a searing guitar solo done at my funeral. If you know me you'll understand.

Blogging off...

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Travel Log Part III - The Cabin

Okay, so when I last left off on my zillion mile journey, I had just sent my daughter off to college. This followed an up-north book tour to Ely, and a trip to a couple of Minnesota state parks and the Minnesota State fair.

After all of that "vacationing", I needed a vacation.

As per the plan, we drove up to Mercer the day after we'd gotten home from Minnesota. We always know when we're getting close to our destination when we see the graffiti on the railroad bridge over highway 51 that reads "T-Bird Country". I've been told that the T-Birds are the mascot of the local high school. In any case, whenever I see that sign, my blood pressure drops another 10 points. It means rest and relaxation.

There were several standout moments at the cabin this year. The first was while Steve and I were fishing on Friday morning. We were on our favorite non-disclosed lake in the early afternoon hours when I got a bite on my spinning rod while throwing a bucktail lure. I told Steve that it felt like it was good sized so he readied the net. 

As it approached, the fish, which we quickly realized was a musky, dove and tried to go under the boat. I pulled it back out so Steve could make a stab at it with the net. Just as I was bringing it in for the last few feet, the leader broke and my line smacked Steve in the face. 

Oh the humanity!

I stood there in shock. I might have cursed a time or two, I can't recall. 

Or, wait a minute. Yep, I guess I did. It might have been loud too. 

Steve and I guessed it at about a 32-34" muskie. My brother Tom, who wasn't there, said it was nice of the fish to have allowed us to measure it before it broke the leader. He said it made for a much more accurate fish story. 

It's good to know that the BWCA sibling tease/teardown is still alive and well. 

In any case, I thought about the fish the rest of the weekend. I'm still thinking about the fish. I've rehashed what I should have done differently - more drag, tire the fish out, don't horse it - but none of that can change the fact that the leader broke. It might have helped prevent it, but, oh, never mind. It makes me mad just reliving it. 

One of the other memorable moments from the weekend took place in the screen porch of my brother Paul's cabin one afternoon. Somehow all the boys ended up there, including Steve, Paul, Ben, his friend Van and myself. Over the course of a couple of beers with Paul and Steve we all got to laughing pretty hard a couple of times. Boys being boys - talking fishing, jobs, sports and life.

I called the event the "sweat lodge" because it was kind of a coming-of-age moment for the boys. We talked about goofy stuff, but some grown up stuff too. Paul had some moments of great candor, I'll call them. The boys who also fished for a time in the boat with Paul thought he was a scream, with his bluntness and sometimes colorful language. Ben will likely never forget Paul's description of his jury duty stint where he described the plaintiff getting needles stuck in his neck. As I said, it was a bit candid. Too candid sometimes. But like we said, what happens at the cabin stays at the cabin.

Another memorable moment took place on the water. One morning on while fishing near Paul's boat on Spider Lake, he managed to land a small musky while we watched. It was a small musky for sure, but as the saying goes, "A musky is a musky". One of my hopes going into the weekend was for Paul to catch one. He tries hard every year, and since I'd gotten one the day before - sort of - I was hoping he'd get one. Mission accomplished. 
What this meant was that Rob's "Muskie Man" shirt got passed on to Paul for the year. My sister Jane originally bought it for Rob when he caught his first muskie. Now, every year we go up, we pass it around the family to whoever catches a muskie. The rundown goes:

2011 - Sister Jane (Passed to her from sister in-law Jane)
2012 - Sarah (34" tiger muskie)
2013 - Me (40" muskie)
2014 - Paul (27" muskie)

So, the legacy continues. I love the tradition we've created and it's so cool that our kids are part of it now. Even if some of it does take part in the screen-porch-sweat-lodge-of-laughter-mischief-and-tomfoolery.

The last memorable event was helping my friend's kids catch fish. There is nothing like fishing with kids. I love introducing people to the sport. With kids, they get such a rush out of it that it makes it fun for me as well. It's always lots of work, hooking worms, unhooking fish and maintaining order on the dock, but all worth it. The kids (5 and 4) had a blast and I think they are "hooked" on fishing, so to speak. 

Blogging off...

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Travel Log Part II - College Sendoff

The middle portion of the never-ending trip to Minnesota a couple of weeks ago, involved sending my eldest off to college at the University of Minnesota. The day before we did this though, we took a trip to the Minnesota State Fair. Donna  and I absolutely love Minnesota's version of the fair. Not to dismiss Wisconsin's, which is very good in it's own right, but there's just something about the Minnesota fair.

We talked a bit while we were there and determined that much of its appeal was in the grounds themselves. There were lots of trees and shady areas to sit. The grounds are much larger and more spread out too, which helps. Also, one of the neater things they did was set up a program where if you donated a certain dollar amount, you could have a bench dedicated with a name on it. This made for lots of options to rest your legs.

The grounds are fine, but frankly, we went for the food. We ate our way around and got all the required goods. Tom Thumb donuts, Pronto Pups, Izzy's Ice Cream (Jello Salad flavor), Chocolate Malt from the dairy building, micro brew from the beer garden and most of all Cheese Curds from the
Mouse House. We even saw Al Franken walking around schmoozing the crowd. We also met up with a second cousin I met on Facebook for a quick book signing and photo-op.

Let me just say that the move-in process at the U of M is nothing short of phenomenal. We were assigned a time to show up to the unloading zone. When we got there 3 students ascended on us and started unloading the van. When they were done, I was told to park it in a ramp while they brought it to the room. They were courteous and efficient. Within an hour we had her room set up. It was refreshing to see because we were all kind of fearing the worst.

We walked with her across the Mississippi River bridge to register for Welcome Week at Coffman Union. Thinking back, I realized it was the first time I'd crossed that bridge in almost 30 years, (1985). The campus was familiar, yet strangely foreign. The students looked impossibly young and I felt incredibly dad-like and old. There were many happy times on that campus, years that were some of the best of my life. I knew It would be a radically different experience for her. At the same time. I was glad that the U of M was her chosen school, It meant I would be able to better relate when she communicated what was going on at school.

After she registered at Coffman Union, we walked her back across the river and we all went out to dinner. Campus traffic is all different now because of the light rail running down Washington Street, so we ended up going to Perkins, because parking was crazy everywhere else. (An event at Northrup Auditorium made sure of that.) After dinner we drove back to her dorm and dropped her off.

Saying goodbye was one of the toughest things I've had to do in a while. We have prepared her well for her college career, but that doesn't make her absence any easier. After our long teary hugs and goodbye, she walked away with confidence. We kept waiting for her to turn around, but she never did. I am kind of grateful she didn't, as it would have made it harder for both of us. It was clear that she has waited for this day for a long time, and when she crossed that line of goodbye, there, quite literally, was no turning back.

So here we sit in a house with one empty bedroom. It is strangely quiet at times. My girl cat is confused and lonesome. The second car sits idle more often now too. Strangely enough, I miss scolding her for staying up too late and I also miss her sleeping till noon. I get daily texts, but they cannot fill the silence of her absent voice. I miss her greatly, but know she is exactly where she needs to be.

She will be fine.

Blogging off...

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Electively Paige: Dirty Shirt by Jim Landwehr

Electively Paige: Dirty Shirt by Jim Landwehr: Publisher: eLectio Publishing Buy the Book: Amazon Add to your Goodreads TBR List! Visit the Author:  Website | Blog | Facebook | T...

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Travel Log - Shirt's Homecoming

Yesterday I got back from a four day vacation which wrapped up the book tour/college sendoff/up-north vacation travelling flurry. It brings my total travel mileage to about 1800 miles in 11 days, or roughly 163 miles a day. It was insanity on wheels. Feats of great posture wrecking stamina, and hours of road numbing boredom. If this is what the road life of a rock star is like, well, I'm glad I dropped those guitar lessons when I was nineteen. I like road trips as much as the next guy, but we all have our limits. It really is possible to get too much of a good thing.

Rather than trying to synopsised all 3 trips in a single post, I thought I'd break it up into it's three parts.

  • Book tour
  • College move/sendoff
  • Mercer Vacation
I call the first part a book tour even though it wasn't really a tour per-se. I think the tour goes on all the time, as I bring up the book to my next door neighbor, friends from high school, people at work, etc. It was as close as I could come up with given my limited time, money and geographic range.

The ultimate destination of the trip was the Piragis book signing in Ely. I tell people it was more of an ambassadorial trip back to the area of the book's genesis because that's what it was. In addition to the book signing, I intended to donate my book to area libraries along the way as well as check in with the Duluth Fitgers bookstore to see how the book was doing. 

My son Ben accompanied me along on the trip, which made the trip a blast. We drove at our own pace, stopped when we wanted, ate where we wanted and just enjoyed each others' company. He used his iPad and PhotoBooth to create some crazy picture that cracked me up so bad I almost drove off the road. Here are a couple. It felt good to be laughing so hard with my son. The trip provided lots of "guy time", for which I am grateful.

I let him drive for much of the trip as well. There were a few hair raising moments like the time:

  1. He was reaching for the A/C button and managed to ride on the shoulder zip-strips for a few seconds.
  2. We came upon a piece of retread from a truck tire in the middle of the road. He slowed to a dangerous 40 MPH or so, before I loudly declared that he needed to swerve around it, not stop for it for fear of being rear-ended. Yikes!
  3. He passed a car and before he was more than 3 feet in front of it, he changed back into that lane. Needless to say the guy re-passed us and gave us a quick lesson in lip reading and what I think was American Sign Language. 
 When we got to St. Paul, we went out for burgers at Mickey's Diner in downtown St. Paul. Part of the reason we went there is because it is such a landmark, and I've always wanted to get him there. It was like stepping back in time 50 years. Despite it's unassuming interior, much of it original, the burgers were amazing. Definitely worth the trip.

The next day we drove from St. Paul to Duluth. I checked Fitgers books and they were sold out of Dirty Shirt, so I left my card and asked the clerk if she'd reorder. She assured me she would.

As I was driving into downtown Ely, I was shocked to look across the street and see my mom, sister and niece walking into a restaurant. After dropping my book at the Ely Library, I went back to where I'd seen them and they informed me that I'd ruined a good surprise. They and my other niece and four cousins had all driven up to Ely for my signing. Later at the signing, my brother Tom showed up as well. He had portaged into the BWCA the day before and camped a night, only to surprise me.

In any case, it was great to see all of them. What a great show of support! It meant the world to me, especially when I saw that they had shirts made up with my book cover on the front.

Later that night we all rented a pontoon and went for a ride on Shagawa Lake and then went out for dinner. I can't say enough about my family.

The next day Ben and I stopped in a couple of gift shops and came across a Chainsaw Sisters hooded sweatshirt in Ely Surplus. It stopped me in my tracks to know that some of these logo'd items were still out there. Took me back to 1990, for sure. 

After we left Ely, we wound our way through the state back to St. Paul. We stopped at Jay Cooke State Park, which was beautiful and then on to Taylors Falls which was also pretty cool. 

Overall the book tour portion of the 11 day road trip was phenomenal. I'll look back on my "mini book tour" with great fondness for many years.
Dirty Shirt went home and was welcomed with open arms. 

Blogging off...