Sunday, May 4, 2014

Life een Za Coolah for Me

I am serious when I say: Life is so cool.  Fascinating coincidence, bizarre happenstance, serendipitous stuff, quirky twist of fate, déjà vu mind bomb; they seem to happen all the time.  Here’s a recent example:
I’m fishing on the beach on a recent Friday night with a couple friends, the sun’s just starting to go down.  We’ve got our poles baited, cast and set in pole holders, kicking back in our collapsible chairs, adult beverages, sunflower seeds – you know, Miller Time, just like in those commercials.  Life is swell.  Then, two women walking the shoreline pass us and I instantly recognize one of them. 
“Mary?!” I call out.  A dear friend, Mary W., whom I haven’t seen for a few months, maybe a year or so.  She turns, takes a second to recognize me.
“Phil!” she cries when she does, and runs over for a great Mary W. hug.  What were the odds of that?!  I love that!
We spend just a few minutes quickly catching up, introducing our friends to each other.  A very nice surprise on the beach that night.  Stuff like that happens, just pleasant, unexpected moments.  Cool.
Fast forward to the following Monday, I’m at work, rat race, lunch time.  Normally I’d reach for the sports pages, but no home deliveries on Mondays, what a rip-off!  That’s okay, lots of info online.  But I grab the book I so want to finish, about 25 pages to go.  It’s Jess Walter’s Beautiful Ruins.  What a fantastic read and what a gifted writer.  My sis-in-law sent me this one, she’s so great at sending me books I wouldn’t think to read and she always sends me fantastic ones!  I recommend this book to you, funny, quirky, artistic, and a great story.  Anyway, around noon that day I head over to the mailroom to finish the book, quiet there, lots of sunlight and a great view from those 5th floor windows.
You know how sometimes you’re reading a book and you like it so much that you’re sad when it’s over?  That’s how it was for me that afternoon.  I had really enjoyed that book.  But at least I still had the Acknowledgements section to read.  I love reading these sections, especially since I have personally dipped my toes into the publishing pool and I have come to realize how much effort an author puts into every detail of the book, dedications, acknowledgements, the story, quotations, every bit of it.  It all requires painstaking concentration and dedication to detail.  So I’m reading the Author Acknowledgements at the back of the book.
And there, printed in plain black and white, is a ‘Thank You’ from the author, Jess Walter, to my friend, Mary W.  What were the odds of that?!  I love that!
Well, I immediately called Mary W.
“Mary, have you got a minute? It’s me, Phil!”  I excitedly gush.  “You know, I haven’t seen you in a while and it was really nice catching up with you on the beach last Friday.  But today I’m finishing this great book I had been reading and in the acknowledgement section the author thanks YOU!”  Mary chuckles on the other end.
“Jess Walter?” she asks.
“Yes,” I exclaim.  “Jess Walter. Beautiful Ruins.”
 “Oh, yeah,” she replies.  “That’s my brother-in-law.  Isn’t that a great book?”  What were the odds of that?!  I love that!

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Then, we proceed to talk about all of Jess Walter’s books and projects.  I can’t wait to read more!  Mary W. is obviously proud of him and asked me to send her an email that she’d forward to Mr. Walter and put us in contact.  I don’t know, I feel weird about that possibility (read “I am not worthy! I am not worthy!”).  Funny, part of the story in Beautiful Ruins concerns a sort of loser guy who pitches an idea for a movie to a big Hollywood mogul and his assistant.  The mogul tells him he loves the story and agrees to get him in to pitch his idea to a famous film production company, but, in fact, the mogul is only doing it to satisfy a commitment and free himself from some long ago contract deal.  The loser guy finds out and eventually they all end up seeing some brilliant community play in the Northwest somewhere (you’ve got to read the book!).  The guy sits in the audience, stunned at the artful magnificence and emotion of the play and, realizing his own work will never be anywhere near as good, sits with his head in his hands, lamenting, “F*$k me.  I think I’ve wasted my whole life.”  LOL:  I’m trying really hard not to let myself feel like that comparing my work to Jess Walter’s!
But, as my dear friend Mary W. so kindly pointed out to me, I am not Jess Walter.  I am who I am, and my writing style is my own, for all that is worth.  Yes, Life is cool and I do love that!

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Slow Pitch Softball – More Than Just a Game (author: Me!), will be on display in the Independent Book Publishers of America booth:

May 29 to May 31, at BookExpo America, New York, NY – The #1 Book and Author Event in the Country (in 2013, over 20,000 attendees from 48 states and 82 countries)
June 28 to July 1, at The American Association of Librarians Annual Conference, Las Vegas, NV – The oldest & largest library association in the World (in 2013, over 26,000 attendees from 48 states and 82 countries)

Check it out if you’re around one of those great cities and love books.  Unfortunately, only my book will be on display, I will be at home!!!  Please see more at my website: