Notes from Texas

Yesterday, I spent the whole day in the Brookhollow Elementary School library, presenting my Civil War Program to fifth grade students. These students were so excited about the music and asked more questions related to writing than any other group of students I’ve been with. They were witty, funny, and so full of life. The school librarian, Jana Harrison, runs a top notch library. She has some students in her morning library crew so well-trained that I think they could run the library themselves! You should have seen them–diligently filing, checking out books to students, and shelving books. One has the same facial features and expressions as Sandra Bullock. I started talking of how she looked like a natural librarian, so the other students gave her a nickname—“Librarian.” Another, who brought me ice, became “Ice Girl.” Every class

After Brookhollow Elementary, I went in my Confederate uniform to my Waldenbooks signing in the mall at Lufkin. Traffic was slow, but I still had a very respectable signing. From there I drove to Ft. Worth where I spent the night.
This morning, I arrived at the Hastings bookstore in Sherman around 10:00 a.m. Sales have been brisk. In addition to my two Pelican books, I’m also signing my novel published by Booklocker, Red River Fever. Local folks are SO excited to see the photograph of the Carpenter’s Bluff Bridge on the cover. (The bridge is only a few miles from the store). When I give them my condensed summary of the book, they all laugh and say, “You’re probably writing about my relatives.” Here’s my summary that prompts this response: “This is my novel about the good-ole-boys around here and how every few years one of them goes really crazy. I call that condition, Red River Fever.”

It’s been a hard few days with almost every minute packed with activity and I’ve gotten very little sleep. However, the great experiences and the people I’ve met have been worth missing a little shut-eye. From Hastings, I’ll drive to my parents house in Kemp, Oklahoma and spend the night. I’ll return to Monroe with some great memories.

Last night, the roads I traveled from Lufkin were two-lane and winding. I saw at least a dozen deer. I always have a fear on such nights that the deer who gets the “headlight madness” will commit suicide by running into my car.  Above me the stars were piercingly bright. The thick East Texas Piney Woods from Lufkin to I-45 were dark, darker than I remembered. Each house I passed, some of them on hills in the distance, some with security lights or lighted gates that gave access to their property, reminded me of how isolated I was at that moment, and how my choice to make writing my career would likely give me many more such solitary moments.

I’ll return to Monroe with a list of new friends, some new books to read, and a longer to-d0 list. I’ll make another post on the blog tomorrow night sometime.