HANK PHILLIPPI RYAN: So? Are you shopping? (I MIGHT go. MIGHT. But I am trying to avoid it. )
We have just hit some kind of Rubicon with the grandchildren. My 11-year old GC announced yesterday that he had “one additional thing to talk about” and that “If you don’t mind, Grammy” he was asking for “cash” for his holiday gifts so he could save p for a “big, speedy computer.” So much for the days of Thomas the Tank Engine, I guess.
But of course I am grateful for the baby children, and as the sun rises on this day after Thanksgiving, I am thinking about the year to come. And what I’m grateful for.
Ideas. That’s one major league area of gratitude. When you have a good one, there’s just nothing better, right? And the thing we call have to remember, and rely on!, is that you never know when the next good one is coming. The dedication of TRUTH BE TOLD says “always remembering You Never Know Day” (You know what that is, right? Jonathan and I created it—the anniversary of the day BEFORE we met. Because you never know.)
And as the debut novelist (and the first woman to win the St. Martins/PWA Best First PI novel competition in ten years for WINK OF AN EYE) Lynn Chandler Willis reminds us, the next good idea could be right around the corner. Even in adversity! Like when you're forced to shop for--tires.
The Thrilling Life of a Writer
by Lynn Chandler Willis
While I waited for the limo to take me to my book launch, I pondered the glamor of it all. No, really. Ok, I made up the part about the limo, but as the day approached, I did ponder. And I did wonder about that glamor part, too.
See, I had a book signing and reading scheduled on release day. Yeah! But as the day drew closer, I noticed my car was driving really wonky. Like really wonky. Kinda possessed like. I mean, seriously, when the road was wet—my car could fly. Airborne. Hydroplane. What ever you want to call it. The wrecker service likes to call it bald tires.
And, I'm kinda OCD about some things. Like driving in bad weather. I know—I know...all you northerners and mid-westerners can stop laughing now. I'm from North Carolina. Me, a car, and anything wet on the road doesn't mesh well together. I once had my son, who was only 16 at the time, drive me to work on a snowy day because I was too scared to. He was 16. Like because he was a guy, I felt safer with him driving. Go figure, right?
Well my book launch was coming up and I was keeping an eye on the weather. Truth be told (Wow! That would make a killer title for a novel.) I started watching long range forecasts six months ago, fretting about some freak snow storm blizzard thingy that could possibly (but probably not) drop a tenth of an inch of snow on our North Carolina roads.
The long range turned into the thirty-day, which turned into the ten-day and then the seven-day forecast and no snow or ice was predicted but we were supposed to have a cold, rainy day two days before my book launch. I needed new tires. If I was going to arrive at my book launch/signing/reading/reason to party I was going to need something with at least a little bit of tread on it to get me there safely.
Know that insurance commercial with the college kid on a “ramen noodle budget?” I'm not quite that bad, but am on a tight budget. I've also got nine young grandkids who still get all excited about Christmas, and, five of them have November birthdays, soooo...from the end of October through mid-December, any extra money goes toward birthday presents and Christmas gifts. New tires certainly didn't fit into my fourth quarter budget.
So I seek out one of those little corner shops that sells, um, gently used tires. As opposed to run ragged used tires. I pulled into the first shop I saw with rows of tires proudly on display near the road. Horseshoe hanging on the wall. It was an old, gently used former full service gas station.
No, actually, there wasn't anything gently used about it. Half of the painted on letters in the name of the place were scratched off or through so I was either at Frankle's or ankle's, or maybe it was Frankie's? It was hard to tell.
A guy that was bundled up like an Eskimo, and smelling like a case of burnt motor oil, came out of the cinder-block garage bay and said, “what size?”
Either he looked at my bald tires and assumed that was my reason for being there, or he read my mind and knew I was anxious to get this show on the road. He was not a man of many words. He told me he had a pair of the size I needed and I could wait in the “office” where it was warm while he put them on.
But before I headed to the warmth of his office, a buddy in a Pickup truck pulled up and hollered (we are in the south) “Hey, Muffy, you got a blah blah blah?” I couldn't tell you what he was asking for as all I heard was blah blah blah...Muffy was what had grabbed my attention. A guy wrapped up in an oil-stained coat that could withstand a -80 degree blizzard was named Muffy. I loved it.
As I sat in Muffy's office freezing to death—the portable heater barely worked—I fell in love with the whole thing. The can of hot dog chili sauce in the paint-chipped, broken cabinet. The horseshoe beside the door. The old bench seat salvaged from some old truck. And Muffy.
And that is where inspiration comes from.
HANK: See? You never know! So—given that your tires are okay—are you shopping today? For gifts—or for ideas?
WINK OF AN EYE
When twelve-year old Tatum McCallen finds his father, a deputy sheriff, hanging from a tree in their west Texas backyard, he sets out to restore his dad's honor and prove he didn't kill himself. He and his disabled grandfather hire reluctant Private Investigator Gypsy Moran, who has his own set of problems. Like a double-cross that sent him fleeing Vegas in the middle of the night.
Gypsy agrees to help the kid and his grandfather, Burke, because he feels sorry for them. Burke, a former deputy sheriff now confined to a wheelchair is all Tatum has left. When Tatum shows Gypsy a private file his dad had been keeping, Gypsy knows the kid's father was on to something when he died. Eight missing girls, a cowardly sheriff, and undocumented workers are all connected to the K-Bar Ranch.
Gypsy is quite familiar with the K-Bar Ranch. Before running off to Vegas, he spent his summers as a teenager working for ranch owner Carroll Kinley while romancing Kinley's beautiful daughter Claire. But Claire, now married to a state senator, is managing the ranch now and is more involved with the case Tatum's father was secretly investigating than Gypsy wants to admit.
Aided by adolescent Tatum and reporter Sophia Ortez, Gypsy begins pulling the pieces of the puzzle together, but it could end up costing him his life. Or worse—Tatum's life.