The View from Here

A new review for Flashes of War has been posted by Military Experience & the Arts. Short and sweet–and most of all, a call to educators to order this book for their classrooms. If you know someone who teaches, please consider recommending this book to them. Meantime, I’m going to be on NPR’s Morning Edition some time in early September, so if we’re not connected on Facebook, be sure to send me a friend request so you see the streaming links when the time comes! It will be through WNCW 88.7.

I’ve been home from the first round of the book tour for one week. During that time, I’ve critiqued two manuscripts, caught up on email, worked with my all-volunteer trail crew, read a little, revised a few poems, and reconnected with some of my friends. All that’s well and good…but I’m exhausted. I’ve been waking between 3 and 4am almost every day since returning home. Typically, I toss and turn for several more hours as my mind races, then I finally give up around 7 and get out of bed. Coffee is first on the list.

This morning’s view from the keyboard.

Outside, morning light struggles to filter through the dark green canopy of late summer. But already, mornings are 50 degrees and a few, brown leaves speckle my struggling lawn. Fall is so close I can smell it. The bear hunters are out and about in the hollers up and behind the Airstream, readying their pathways and training their dogs for the coming season. Gus barks his opinion at them from his ridgeline perch each morning. Canine conversations echo between Celo and Woody Ridges. Right here, in the place where sound eddies in the hollers and leaves change–this is where I want to be. Can someone please tie my feet to this patch of Earth? Give my book its wings, and let it handle itself.

There’s a racing quality to my time here, which is not what I want home to be about. I know I
only have one month here before I take off again. That trip–the one in mid-September through mid-October–will be the last long trip for this book tour. My funds will be dried up and my energy spent. I’m excited for what’s to come and the people I get to see, but I’m also very excited to put a stop to all my own coming and going. After October, the only book trips I’ll do are short ones to teach or read or present at places that compensate me for my time and allow me to network with other professionals. I’ve certainly gotten plenty of that on the road, but the extended journeys will no longer be necessary. I won’t be searching as much. I’ll be here, working away, letting things come to me. Even typing that sentence brings a sigh of relief.

I have learned so much since May 27th, the launch of the book. It doesn’t even feel as though I have the same brain that I had back then. The networking, the realities of marketing and distribution, the kind and supportive faces of audience members, the way a little pea of a book is finally getting some legs of its own, the way assumptions work (“You must be selling thousands!”) against reality, the way the hard work still feels good…all of it, filling me up and pushing me onto this sturdier foundation.

When I started this journey, all I wanted was to be able to work hard and look back knowing that I did everything in my power to help Flashes of War make its mark. Give my time and resources, and the incredible folks I hired to pull this off, I feel that is being achieved. A few days from now, I’ll be hearing back from the editor I hired to provide me with my first, formal, full critique of my novel (set in Afghanistan). Will this be the ground floor of this “house” I’m building? Something to set on this new foundation? One wall at a time, I sure as heck hope so.

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