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Give Me Independence

And Maybe a best-selling novel

Don’t you just love Independent Bookstores?

I went looking for a book for Kim’s birthday the other day. (Bonus husband points for not waiting until the last minute). I found something very intriguing from an author I wasn’t familiar with, and the purchase took me down a bunny trail to the Parnassus Bookstore in Nashville, Tennessee. Love it. I’d rather buy from an independent bookstore than Amazon any day. But something about it tickled my wrinkled and aging memory.

Oh yeah. That’s the book store that super-duper, best-selling author and all-around classy lady Ann Patchett opened up about ten years ago. I had forgotten.

You see, back in about 2005 when I decided to produce a series of author interview shows for the local Access TV channel, (Think Wayne’s World meets Literature), we did an interview with Ann while she was visiting Austin. We being Sara Laas as interviewer and me as producer, director, photographer, editor, and best-boy (whatever the hell that is in the movie business). That was when her award-winning novel Bel Canto came out.

The Parnassus website is beautifully done. But, naturally, I was drawn to a number of videos they posted near the bottom of the home page there. And one in particular. In 2012, after her shop had been open about a year, Ann was on the Stephen Colbert show before Colbert moved over to CBS’ Late Show. The interview was funny with a little bit of insight into trying to thrive selling books in the shadow of Amazon.

Give it a LOOK RIGHT HERE and then support your local bookshop.

Back here in Austin we’ve been working with the local indie mega bookstore BookPeople to conduct and post interviews with authors they draw. We posted them on our site Austin Liti Limits. It was all going swimmingly until the Virus hit and BookPeeps has been reduced to doing the author events virtually. We also regrouped and have been Zooming interviews with my good buddy Scott Semegran doing the interviews and I’ve been handling the editing.

We’ve got some good ones, including Owen Egerton and Meg Gardiner. Check those out and the next book you order online, you can get it just as quick and easily from BookPeople or anybody but Amazon.

Until then, stay safe, healthy and virus free.


Before it was History… It was News

While waiting to get the new novel The Printer & The Strumpet edited and proofed, I started looking ahead and musing over the next book in what may become a series of novels, perhaps, The Misadventures of Leeds Merriweather, book 1, 2, 3, and so on. Leeds got great reviews and decent sales in The Patterer, and the new book picks up his life’s story after he’s forced to move to Boston before the American Revolution.

I poked around some familiar blogs and online sources looking for something cool and groovy from that period that might provide inspiration. Then I came across a familiar act of protest that is so much like what is playing out in America today. What if history is repeating itself?

It was July 9, 1776.
After they gathered in the town square to read the Declaration of Independence for Washington’s troops in New York, soldiers and civilians tore down a statue of King George III and carved it into itty-bitty pieces.
And you thought Robert E. Lee, Stonewall Jackson, and the other Confederates are getting their just desserts.

Bowling Green in lower Manhattan, NY

The rebels shipped chunks of the statue to a foundry in Connecticut where they were melted down to make over 42,000 musket balls, ammunition that was later used against the British army. A few pieces of the statue survived, including part of the king’s coat and the tail of the horse he rode in on. Those are now on display at the Museum of the American Revolution in Philadelphia.

But what happened to the statue’s head?
It’s a mystery.

According to some reports, the mob lopped off the king’s head, intending to hoist it on a pike in some future protest. But after the statue had been dismembered and all the pieces piled into a cart, the rebels were waylaid by a tavern where the liquor was flowing in celebration of their deed. The plot thickens!

While the protestors were inside drinking and carousing, it seems that some Americans still loyal to the king took advantage of the moment. That bronze and lead Royal Rubble was left in the unattended cart outside. The Tories were able to run off with the king’s head and bury it in a secret location. Then, when they thought it was safe enough, they dug up the head and shipped it back to England.

No one has seen it since.

What will become of the Confederate statues and monuments that are justifiably coming down today, either at the hands of mobs or enlightened politicians? And will Americans a hundred years from now even know they existed?
Just wondering.

AND NOW! Another bad sentence from the world-famous Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest. A contest for the WORST opening sentence to an imaginary novel, (which we won in a previous century). From Robert R. Moore, North Falmouth, MA:

Emile Zola wandered the dank and soggy streets of a gloomy Parisian night, the injustice of the Dreyfus affair weighing on him like a thousand baguettes, dreaming of some massage or therapy to relieve the tension and pain in his aching shoulders and back, and then suddenly he thought of his Italian friends and their newly invented warm water bath with air jets and he rapturously exclaimed that oft misquoted declaration — “Jacuzzi!”