Live from the Road by P.C. Zick – Caleb and Linda Pirtle

It’s summertime and go on the road with my novel Live from the Road. Caleb and Linda Pirtle surprised me with this lovely feature for my travel novel about four women who find more than fiberglass statutes along the Mother Road.

Live from the Road by P.C. Zick: What a quirky, nonsensical, gorgeous, joyful, sad bit of inspiration you’ll find in this novel of magical realism.

Source: Live from the Road by P.C. Zick – Caleb and Linda Pirtle

TRAVELS ON ROUTE 66

Put down the pen someone else gave you.
No one ever drafted a life worth living on borrowed ink.
Jack Kerouac
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The Road Where Fiction and Reality Collide

By P.C. Zick (Originally appeared on Stacy Eaton’s blog Authors from Everywhere )

Jack Kerouac’s On the Road inspired me to take my own journey down the Mother Road in 2007. I knew I’d write something about the trip, but I wasn’t sure what it would be. I wrote some articles for the magazine where I worked at the time, but they were nonfiction travelogue pieces. They didn’t convey some of the hilarity and magic that happened when my friend and our two daughters hit Route 66, starting in Chicago and ending in L.A. nine years ago.

A year after the journey, I decided that fiction would be my vehicle for capturing the essence of the trip. I changed all the specifics, of course, but the spirit of that journey remained as I wrote Live from the Road, my tribute to Jack Kerouac and all road warriors who know the essence of any trip lies in the journey and not necessarily the destination.

The real story behind the novel Live from the Road began one night over a couple of beers at a local bar. It took more than a year to plan and pull off.

“You know what I’ve always wanted to do?” I asked my friend Joy one rainy night as we sat commiserating about our complacent lives. “I’ve always wanted to travel Route 66 from Chicago to L.A. But I’ve never found anyone who wanted to accompany me.”

“You’ve found her now,” Joy said, and thus began more than a year of plotting and planning our escape from our lives for more than two weeks on the road.

Romantic visions of Jack Kerouac and the open road, John Steinbeck and a dog named Charley, neon lights and roadside motels clouded our minds as the mundane details of the trip threatened to intrude on our starry-eyed dreams.

Our daughters, both in their twenties, asked if they could join us. We were astounded.

“Why would you want to spend your summer vacation with two middle-aged women?” I asked my daughter Anna.

“It’ll be a blast,” she said.

Joy’s daughter Hillary said something similar, and so we became a foursome of road warriors ready to set forth on one of the most historic roads in the world.

Simply saying “Route 66” conjures up visions of greasy hamburgers, neon signs flashing “No Vacancy,” characters out of a Sam Shepard play, and, of course, freedom to disappear into the gut of this country. Even though the trip occurred years ago, those visions still reverberate within my soul.

My journal became my companion on the trip, as well as emails sent to friends and family whenever we had the Internet. Serendipity and downright foolishness collided into one of the most memorable trips of my life.

Soon after the trip, I began writing the fictional version using the seeds of events from the journey. All I had to do was take a small event from the real trip and amplify it into a golden nugget of a story. Amazingly, there were many stories that never came close to appearing in the book because they were just too outlandish. Those stories remain sacred, only to be pulled out when the four of us reunite to reminisce.

Live from the Road—my fourth novel—became the first book I published as an Indie Author in 2012. My other books had been published traditionally. I even had an agent for a bit before becoming disillusioned with the world of publishing. This road trip novel also marked my return to writing in a very different world from the one I’d known. Since its publication, I’ve written nine more novels, with four more simmering on the back burner in my mind.

The characters from Live from the Road always repeat one ridiculous axiom throughout the story:  “Always head in the direction we’re going.”

That’s exactly what I continue to do every day as a writer. The world of writing and publishing is undergoing a revolution right now, and I’m happy to be a part of it. As I head in the direction I’m going, I’m writing and loving every minute of the trip.

May all your journeys be fruitful. And if you need to be reminded of the importance of enjoying the ride on the way to your journey, give Live from the Road a read. If nothing else, you laugh at the antics.

Excerpt from Live from the Road

 Chapter 1 – Lake Michigan to the Pacific

Route 66 – just the name conjures up visions of flashing neon motel signs, convertibles filled with carefree travelers, Jack Kerouac-like adventures, and John Steinbeck writing odes to a dog. Route 66 connotes movement toward unparalleled scenery, unexpected miracles, and dreams come true.

My best friend Sally and I heaped all those expectations on our own personal journey down Route 66 – the road Steinbeck dubbed the “Mother Road.” I’m sure the author never envisioned “mothers” such as us hitting the road to discover our own meanings of life. When our grown daughters decided they wanted to join us on our journey, we welcomed them aboard. From the beginning, I heaped plenty of expectations on that glory road. I’d been numb for five years, and I suspected my daughter lived in the same limbo. With Sally and her daughter, Ramona, as our companions, I hoped CC and I would be able to peer into the abyss of our sadness created when my son Sean died five years earlier. Whatever happened, I knew with a certainty my life would change during and after this trip. I never predicted it would turn all four lives upside down. It’s probably not surprising – the path Route 66 followed carried many lost and broken souls from the displaced Native Americans on the Trail of Tears to the Dust Bowl victims of the 1930s. Even Jack Kerouac faced his share of demons while traveling the Mother Road.

The road’s original goal – to link Lake Michigan to the Pacific Ocean 2,400 miles away – still remains, even though most of the original road does not. The four of us raced toward the charm of Route 66. We yearned to discover its magic as the glory road leading to salvation and the Shangri-La of America – California. We found the road paved, not in gold, but in broken pieces of asphalt and towns killed by the interstate. But amid the actual reality of the road, we found moments of inspiration and serendipity.

After months of planning, we flew from our homes in Florida to Chicago in early June 2007. When we landed at O’Hare Airport, I looked at my daughter CC with her backpack and sleeping bag on her back, torn black T-shirt advertising Eraserhead, dyed-red and spiked hair, and I knew the years had sped by faster than I ever knew possible. Recently divorced from her father, I was beginning a new era in my life as a 50-year-old single woman. I stared at CC, attempting to put it all together in my mind. Even though I didn’t look it, I felt as if I was the same age as my 25-year-old daughter waiting for her luggage to appear on the carousel. Was this really the baby I nestled at my breast all those years ago?

“Mom, watch out,” CC said as I almost backed into a stroller being pushed by a toddler. I looked down into the face of a tiny baby sleeping peacefully as the older sibling attempted to maneuver around the people waiting for the bags.

“I’m sorry,” I said to the mother walking behind the stroller and watching both her children carefully. “I wasn’t paying attention.”

“That’s all right,” she said. “I really shouldn’t let her do it, but she insists on doing everything herself.”

“Really? I wonder what it would be like to have a child like that,” I said as I pointed my thumb at CC. “This one has always done exactly what I have said.” I rolled my eyes.

The mother smiled at me, and then took in CC’s hair and torn shirt. She quickly looked down at her own daughter and then at the baby sleeping in the stroller.

“Enjoy them now,” I said. “They grow up so fast you won’t believe it, and then they’re gone.”
I turned away quickly so she wouldn’t notice the sudden tears forming. The words slipped out of my mouth without thinking much about them. Only when I heard them out loud did I realize what I’d said. CC was right next to me, but her brother Sean was not and never would be there again. I wanted to chase after that mother and tell her not only to enjoy, but also to hold onto them for as long as she could. It could be over in the time it took to tie their shoes.

“You okay, Mom?” CC asked. She was looking at me intently.

“Fine, fine. I was just remembering you and Sean at that age. It’s over so quickly.” I was fighting to keep control there in the middle of the airport.

“This trip is going to be good for all of us,” she said.

She gave me a quick hug, unusual for my daughter who usually abhorred physical displays of emotion. Luckily one of our bags appeared right then, and the moment passed.

Sally and her daughter Ramona stood on the other side of the carousal. I saw Sally’s bag with the pink ribbons on the handle go by. It was a gorilla of a suitcase – very hard to miss. Sally said she’d rather have one large suitcase rather than the smaller two or three bags the rest of us carried. Problem was she couldn’t get it off the carousal, so Ramona was left to recover it while her two bags passed by unnoticed. Thank goodness the gorilla had wheels.

Once we picked up our rental, a red mini-van, we loaded all of our belongings in the back. CC was the packer in the crew, and she told Sally that her bag would always have to go in first because it was too big to go on top of any of the other bags.

Sally took the driver’s seat – she always drove, and I never argued. It was her way of maintaining control. I took shotgun with the maps and directions and Route 66 books. It actually worked out better this way. I liked giving directions as much as Sally liked driving the engine. Ramona would be our tour guide as she read from the Route 66 books we’d been collecting over the past year of planning for this adventure.

“First stop is Wal-Mart for a cooler and two tents,” Sally announced. “Everyone keep your eyes peeled for a good exit.”

After settling in our hotel, we decided we would walk toward Lake Michigan and find a place for dinner and whatever else might grab our attention.

The full moon directed us downtown. We crossed over the Chicago River, reveling in Chicago’s architecture. Some dubbed it the capital of architecture and the birthplace of the skyscraper. Studs Terkel called it a “city of men.” And as I looked up at the dizzying heights of the buildings surrounding us, I could see why. We stopped often for pictures, asking people we passed on the sidewalk to snap a shot or two.

We didn’t know where we were headed until Ramona spotted a banner waving in the breeze over a balcony railing, advertising “Rooftop Dining.”

“That looks like the perfect place,” Ramona said as she pointed to the sign. “It’s even got a view of the Sears Tower.”

A small elevator meant for two people opened up in the lobby.

“Come on, Mom,” Ramona said when Sally hesitated to crowd into the small cubicle. “It’s just a short ride to the rooftop.”

“All right, but I’m finding stairs for the trip down,” Sally said.

Sally hated small confined places, but we crowded around her and exchanged one-liners until we spewed out to the rooftop, where a waiter stood ready for the energy of four females set loose on the road for several weeks of freedom. Freedom is just another word for doing whatever we pleased.

“I’d like to hear some blues or jazz tonight,” I told Sally as we waited to be seated. The full moon began its ascent over Chicago’s skyscrapers, providing a soft glow over our already glowing faces. “Johnny and I came here twice, but he never liked going to clubs.”

“Then we’ll do it tonight,” Sally said. “Anything is possible.”

“Do you really believe that?” I asked. Sally’s perpetual optimism never failed to amaze me.
“I have no choice but to believe it,” Sally said. “It’s the only way I can get up every morning and remain positive.”

The waiter, young, handsome and very Jamaican, was actually the bartender, but he had to fill in for the usual Friday night waitress.

“She had quite a hangover from last night,” he said. “So I’m going to sit you beautiful ladies right here where you’ll notice there’s an extra chair just for me.”

“I don’t believe it!” Sally said. “They have hot dogs on the menu.”

“Mom, you’re not going to order a hot dog on our one night in Chicago,” Ramona said.

“I most certainly am,” Sally said. “And I’d like us all to make a pact. No criticizing each other for just being ourselves.”

Ramona shrugged and CC rolled her eyes, but eventually both of them agreed. Then they all looked at me.

“It’s a part of my personality to make fun,” I said. “Does that count as criticizing?”

“You know what I mean,” Sally said. “If I want to eat five hot dogs for dinner no one is allowed to say anything.”

“What if it gives you gas and makes the rest of us sick? Can we say something to you then?” I asked.
Now it was Sally’s turn to roll her eyes. She ordered the hot dog with everything except sauerkraut.
“Does that mean I can’t tease you about all the hand lotion you put on your hands?” CC asked me.
“I have no idea what you mean,” I said as I reached around to my purse hanging from my chair to see if I had a bottle of Aveeno ready to apply when I was alone.

Our substitute waiter messed up the drink orders, but he was so cute and funny we forgave him. We ended up with an extra drink or two, mixing our red wines with the whites. Two margaritas, one with salt and the other without, magically appeared when no one had even ordered a margarita. It was that kind of night. The margarita glasses soon stood empty on a table overflowing with dirty dishes and empty glasses.

“So where can we hear some live music tonight?” Sally asked our bartender-turned-waiter. “We have a need of the blues.”

“You ladies couldn’t be blue if you held your breath for two days,” our fantasy man said. Even I laughed at that corny line.

He told us to head down to Buddy Guy’s Legends. Buddy Guy – the bluesman who inspired Jimi Hendrix and Eric Clapton – had a club on Wabash a few blocks away.

“Buddy sometimes sits in on a set or two, but no one knows when,” our waiter/bartender said. “He even comes here for dinner once in awhile.”

We didn’t care if Buddy was in the house or not; we just wanted to hear music live in Chicago. Sally and I headed to the bathrooms on the top floor while CC and Ramona raced down the four flights of stairs to the lobby.

All the toilets in the bathroom were close to overflowing. I chose the least full one which meant there was an inch from the water level to the top of the toilet. After I finished, I attempted to flush, and so did four other women who had come in behind us. The water in the bowl gurgled but didn’t go down. I shrugged my shoulders and left the stall. As Sally and I stood at the sink washing our hands, water began seeping out of all five stalls.

“Quick, let’s get out of here,” I said, not bothering to dry my hands so we could beat the other women to the small elevator.

I pulled Sally’s arm, and we ran. We jumped in the small box before Sally could change her mind.
As the door began closing, a hand reached out and shoved the door open. A small black man wearing a beret and a Hawaiian shirt entered the elevator behind us.

Sally grabbed her mouth and began gagging.

“Something the matter?” the man asked as the doors shut on the three of us now crammed together in the small space.

“We just had a trauma in the bathroom, and she’s claustrophobic,” I said.

“This place is notorious for overflowing toilets, and this elevator is more like a moving shoe box. Where are you two lovely ladies headed tonight?” he asked.

“We’re going to a club,” I said. Sally stood mute with her hand still firmly clasped over her mouth. “Some place down on Wabash.”

The elevator made a rumbling sound, and then jerked to a stop. Nothing happened for a few seconds. Sally moaned next to me.

“Now isn’t that something? I happen to own a place down on Wabash. Place called Legends. Ever heard of it?”

“That’s where we’re going!” I said. “Then you must be Buddy Guy.” I held out my hand, but Sally did not because she now had both hands over her mouth.

“The one and the same.” He clasped my hand then pulled me close for a hug as the doors opened onto the lobby where Ramona and CC stood waiting.

Buddy Guy continued holding me as Sally hurled chunks of undigested hot dog across the small lobby. CC and Ramona jumped out of the line of fire just in time.

“Been a long time since I had that effect on a woman,” Buddy said as Sally gasped for air and fell out of the elevator.

“Been a long time since I’ve done that,” Sally said as she reached for Kleenex in her purse. “I’m so sorry. Did I get it on anyone?”

“No, Mom, you hurled a pretty clean shot out the door,” Ramona said. “Not badly done either.”

“Route 66 here we come. This trip is off to a rip-roaring start,” I said as we headed out into the night with Buddy Guy as our very own personal escort. “I hope the old road can withstand the onslaught.”

“I’m sure you ladies will do it justice in the best tradition of road warriors everywhere,” Buddy said.

“On the road again, just can’t wait to get on the road again,” CC sang. “The life I love is making music with my friends. And I can’t wait to get on the road again.”

“You can really sing,” Buddy said. “You in a band?”

“Not really,” CC said. “Just fool around sometimes.”

“Let’s get you fooling around some tonight then,” he said.

The moon, large and orange, illuminated us in soft natural light as the lights of downtown led the way. The city of men merged with nature as we marched toward Lake Michigan.

“Ever notice how when the moon is larger, it’s actually smaller,” Sally announced.

Somehow, it made perfect sense on a night when sense had nothing to do with anything at all.

 

Also available in paperback!

 

AUTHOR WEDNESDAY – FLORENCE OSMUND

???????????????????????????????Today on Author Wednesday, best-selling author Florence Osmund stops by to talk about her life as a writer since leaving the corporate world several years ago. She’s been a phenomenal success in her new career, and her advice is well worth following. She writes literary and women’s fiction. Red Clover, one of her best-selling titles, is a coming-of-age piece with a strong male lead character. Regarding Annaanother of her hits with readers, follows a young woman as she explores her mysterious past. Please join us as I probe her mind for some thoughts on her success.Red Clover cover Google

Good morning, Florence. I’m so pleased to have you on my blog today. I always love to ask writers when they were first able to describe themselves as a “writer” or “author.” When did it happen for you? 

I spent a long career working for large corporations, and during that period I wrote numerous articles, white papers, proposals, and other business-related documents. It wasn’t until I retired in 2009 that I began writing fiction. I started referring to myself as an author in 2012 when I published my first novel—at the tender age of sixty-two. I don’t regret having waited that long to do what I love to do—I have so much more material now!

It doesn’t matter how long it took, and sixty-two is very young! Now that this is your full-time gig, how much time do you spend a day writing?

I would like to be able to say that I spend as much of the day writing as I so desire. I’d like to be able to say that, but I can’t. I discovered early on that books don’t sell themselves—most of us authors have to spend a considerable amount of time promoting our work. Otherwise, no one would know of its existence.

I’m an early riser and usually spend mornings doing things that help to build my author platform—maintaining two websites, participating in on-line discussion groups, writing articles, answering e-mails, keeping up with social media, crafting promotions, and maintaining my e-mail subscriber list. That leaves the afternoon open for writing, usually in three two-hour blocks, since I can’t seem to sit in one place for more than two hours without a break. With this routine, I’ve been able to publish one book a year, and that works for me.

It’s an incredible juggling act to be both marketer and writer, but it sounds as if you’ve found a formula that works for you. Rachel Carson (Silent Spring) said she never chose a subject because as a writer, the subject chose her. Describe a time when a subject chose you.

For years while I was working in corporate America, I thought about writing books after I retired. And for years, every time an idea for a story line would come to mind, I wrote it down on a scrap of paper. It didn’t matter when or where. I could be walking down the street when I observed something that I thought would make an interesting scene in a novel. Or I could be at work and someone would say something that sparked an idea. Over the years, I amassed hundreds of these ideas in a shoe box. When I was ready to start writing, I pulled them out, scrutinized them, and put them into piles. When I was done, I had three stacks of notes that showed promise for three distinct stories.

That’s amazing! That’s a great bit of advice for any writer at any stage. I do the same thing, but I need to get a shoe box to save all those ideas that grab me. Life is the best food for feeding fiction. Do you find that similar themes or messages emerge in your fiction? 

The protagonists in my stories are average people who find themselves faced with difficult decisions. Like most of us, both supporters and defeaters surround them. It’s particularly rewarding when readers of my books think about their own set of values and what they would do in a similar situation. Many have shared their own stories with me. In one case, a book club had chosen one of my books for their monthly read and invited me to join in by phone. At the very end of the discussion, one of the members said that I had told her story, almost down to the smallest detail, and she thanked me for shedding light on part of it that she hadn’t realized before. Rewards like that are priceless.

I agree. I’m amazed when readers/strangers tell me that. I’m pleased to hear that you’ve had that experience. You are right–absolutely priceless. What are you working on these days? 

In August of this year, when novel number five went into the very capable hands of my editor, I started writing novel number six. It’s about a cozy mystery writer who thinks her husband may be imitating some of the behaviors of the characters in her books. He claims she’s being paranoid since he admits to never having read any of her books. She feels betrayed by his lack of interest in her work but is still suspicious of his actions and is particularly concerned about her current project where the protagonist goes missing. Maybe she should change the ending?

I love that premise. It sounds intriguing and scary. You’ve been very successful in a short period of time, so can you give other writers some tips or advice?

Regarding Anna front cover - Amazon-Google (3)Up until recently, I never paid very much for advertising and promotions for my books, and I did okay. Then I connected with eNovel Authors at Work , a group of authors who know a lot more about the subject than I do, and the results of their paid promotions convinced me to try it. I promoted Regarding Anna on BookBub, a paid promotion site, and the results were phenomenal—during the month following the promotion, more than 4,600 copies of this book were either purchased or borrowed through Kindle’s lending library. Being an author is like any other business in that the return on investment can often make decisions easy.

I have heard great things about BookBub, so I’m happy to hear about some real tangible results. Now let’s talk about reviews, which are an inevitable part of publishing. What’s the best thing said about one of your books by a reviewer?

“Florence Osmund paints such a rounded picture of each character that the reader feels he is in the book with them.” —Excerpt from a review of Red Clover by Charlie Bray, Founder of INDIETRIBE.com

If we put our books in the public domain, bad reviews are also inevitable for even the best authors and their work. What advice can you give to other writers about receiving a bad review?

It’s important for authors to understand that book reviews are extremely subjective, and no one has ever written a book that appealed to all readers. What one reader loves, another one will hate. No one likes to receive a bad review, but when I do get one, I don’t fret over it. When I do start to take notice is when I see repeat criticisms. For example, I know now that I wrote my first book with what I’ll call a “cheesy” ending, and readers commented on it. I couldn’t change the ending without changing the beginning of the sequel, but I could include the first chapter of the sequel at the end of the book, and I could bundle the two books for a discounted price. The bundled version of these two books is currently averaging 4.7 stars on Amazon, but individually they each average only 4.0 stars. Sometimes it pays to listen to your readers.

That’s good advice. You’re smart to ignore or to listen when there seems to be a pattern. I love picturing my favorite authors as they create, so tell me, where do you write?

I live in downtown Chicago on the beautiful shore of Lake Michigan. When I’m at my desk writing, I look out over Navy Pier and the north end of Monroe Harbor. I find the water calming and inspiring, and the activity going on just enough of a distraction to clear my head when I get stuck on something. I can’t think of a better place to write.

That’s very special and I can envision it perfectly. I love Chicago and that view is spectacular. Thank you so much for stopping by today, Florence. I hope you’ll come back when you publish your next book.

Osmund_PhotoAbout Florence from Florence: I currently live in the great city of Chicago where, after a long career in corporate America, I write literary fiction novels. I like to craft stories that challenge readers to survey their own values. Topics I have tackled include ethnicity, questionable heritage, desperation, dependency, precarious familial ties, and complicated matters of the heart. I have a website called Novel Elements that I dedicate to helping new authors—offering them advice I wish I had received before I started writing my first book.

Click on the links below to connect with Florence Osmund:

Florence Osmund Books website

Novel Elements, author advice website 

Facebook Author Page

Twitter

LinkedIn

Goodreads

Author Wednesday – Michele Shriver

typewriter.jpg

Welcome to Author Wednesday. Today I welcome back Michele Shriver who has just released her fourth novel, Finding Forever, a contemporary romance. Finding forever coverHer other novels, After Ten, Sixth South, and Aggravated Circumstances fall into the category of women’s fiction. Michele last visited Author Wednesday in May, and I reviewed After Ten soon afterwards.

It’s a pleasure to welcome you back to Author Wednesday, Michele. You’ve been very busy since you last visited. Let’s talk about who has most influenced your writing.

I have a two-part answer to this. One of my earliest writing influences was my sixth grade teacher. She gave us an assignment to write the first chapter of a book. I did, but I didn’t want to stop there. I wanted to write the whole thing. Her response:  “Go ahead!” It was great to have that kind of encouragement from a teacher, and I think that assignment was what first sparked my desire to be a writer. I am still in contact with my former teacher on Facebook, and she’s a regular reader of my books, which is very gratifying.

As far as writer influences, I would say Debbie Macomber. She is a gifted storyteller who creates memorable characters that readers can easily connect with. Anytime I am traveling by plane somewhere, I want to have one of her books to read because I know I will immediately be drawn into her story and feel connected to her characters.  It would be the ultimate compliment for readers to say the same about my work.

That’s a wonderful story about your teacher. I’m sure she’s very proud of you. Tell us something about your current projects.

I have several projects going on. The first is a romantic story titled Leap of Faith, which features a character from my first book, Tracey, who is finally going to get her happily ever after. It won’t be an easy journey, though.  I also have a family saga about couple experiencing marital strife. It’s been harder for me to write, but I still plan to finish it. After that, I am developing a romance trilogy about three sisters who start a vineyard to honor their deceased father’s wishes.

You certainly don’t lack ideas.  They all sound very interesting. You mention that one of your stories is set in a vineyard. How does setting play a role in your books?

I think setting can be an important factor in drawing a reader into a story. For example, if the setting is a real city that is known for unique culture, attractions, etc. New Orleans is my favorite city, and while I have never set one my own books there, I love reading stories set there. My current release, Finding Forever, is set on the West Texas border with Mexico, and the border violence and immigration controversy is a backdrop to some of the action. I think it helped to enrich the story.  Leap of Faith takes place in and around  Chicago, a city with all sorts of culture, history, and attractions that can enhance a story.

Chicago is a great city to use in a novel. Since you’ve already published three novels, I’m wondering how you handle any bad reviews you might receive. What advice can you give to other writers about receiving a bad review?

I think writers are generally a pretty insecure lot, and of course, we want everyone to love our work. It’s impossible to please everyone, though, and bad reviews are part of the process. I try to just walk away, go for a walk, and not dwell on the negative. It can also be good to go read the bad reviews of some famous, hugely successful books, just to put things in perspective. The worst thing you can do is respond to them.

I agree on both counts. I always seek out my favorite writer’s reviews to help me take it less seriously. Also it’s very important to remain uninvolved with any of the reviews. What’s your one sentence pitch for Finding Forever?

Sometimes life offers a second chance at first love, but only if you have the courage to take it.

Explain how Finding Forever was conceived in your imagination.

This one came about during a conversation with a writing friend. She said to me “I’ve always wanted you to write more with Jordan.” Jordan is the character from my first book, After Ten, whose life is most in chaos at the end. I always intended to do more with her, but the plot didn’t come to me until that urging from my friend. She got me thinking about Jordan again, and I decided to bring back a man from her past, and this book was born.

I look forward to reading about Jordan. She was one of my favorite characters from After Ten. Without giving us a spoiler, tell us a little bit about your favorite scene in Finding Forever.

My favorite scene takes place after the biggest challenge to Jordan and Jake’s romance, and Jordan’s stability in general. She’s unsure of her future and whether she can trust Jake and has had a falling out of sorts with her best friend, Beth. She calls Beth to meet her at Jake’s hotel for a little sting operation on an unwanted guest to try to get some answers. It’s a funny scene, and I think it really highlights the friendship between Jordan and Beth and what they would do for each other.

What else do you want readers to know about your new release?

Just that I had a great time bringing Jordan and Jake’s story to life, and I’m excited to share it with the world. I hope people enjoy getting to know them and reading their love story.

I’m sure they will. Thank you for stopping by today, Michele. I hope you’ll come back when you release your next book.

About Michele Shriver: Michele lives in the Midwest U.S. where she maintains her law practice, in addition to pursuing a writing career. In her free time, she enjoys Zumba fitness, bicycling, and the NFL and NHL.

Buy links to Finding Forever:

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00FV2KT12

http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/finding-forever-michele-shriver/1116995398?ean=2940045290050
https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/finding-forever/id716455968
http://store.kobobooks.com/en-US/ebook/finding-forever-4

https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/361011

Michele on Social Media:

Website: www.micheleshriver.com

Email: micheleshriver@gmail.com

Twitter: @micheleshriver

Facebook Page: Author Michele Shriver

 

Route 66 – Chicago to St. Louis

By P.C. Zick@PCZick

Note: My novel, Live from the Road¸ is available free May 23 and May 24 on amazon.com in both the U.S. and the U.K.

My blog is the nonfiction account of the real trip I took with my daughter, my friend Joy and her daughter in 2007.  I wrote the novel after the road inspired me and caused me to think about what travel really does for the soul.

After a two-yolk breakfast at Lou Mitchell’s,  you’d think the rest of the day might be disappointing. How could we be disappointed with a road lined with fiberglass giants?

When we departed Chicago, we tried to stay as close to the route as possible because Route 66 has much to offer in Illinois. It runs parallel to Highway 55 and many of the directions are just downright confusing. One of my favorites comes from Lonely Planet Road Trip Route 66 guidebook: “Stay on US 53 south to Joliet. Drive south on Clinton St., turn left on Ottawa St., then veer left onto MLK, Jr. Drive; turn right at the T-intersection, left onto Scott St., another left onto Van Buren St., then right onto Chicago St.”

One such bit of directional advice to find the fiberglass palm tree led us down a narrow two-lane with no shoulder, surrounded by corn fields. When we finally made our way back to civilization, we discovered we were sixty miles from the Mother Road. So we missed the palm tree, but we saw other sites that made it all right.

We came into the town of Wilmington, Ill., with much anticipation. We easily spotted the Gemini Giant in the parking lot of the Launching Pad Drive In. Towering over Route 66, this fiberglass astronaut holds a rocket and greets visitors and poses patiently with the tourists.

We moved on to Atlanta, Ill., for some refreshment at a local pub serving homemade pies. We asked the bartender if she saw many Route 66 travelers.

“Are you kidding?” she asked. “At least you can speak English.” We learned Route 66 is famous worldwide.

We then asked where we might find the Paul Bunyan Giant. We read it resided in Atlanta on the Route.

“You’re kidding again, right?” she asked.

Turns out this giant fiberglass man was less than a block away next to the old building across the street. And sure enough, when we walked down the block we spotted him. It’s kind of hard to miss a giant Paul Bunyan holding a hot dog. His left hand was turned down because he was originally designed to hold an ax – he is Paul Bunyan, after all. But  he was being constructed to tower over a hot dog stand in Cicero, Ill., and the folks commissioning the giant decided at the last minute  he should be holding a hot dog instead of an ax. And so he remains today, even though the hot dog shop closed and the giant was moved to Atlanta, Ill.

There are many historical spots on Route 66 in Illinois as well. Odell is one such place where a Standard Oil filling station from 1932 has been restored and sits right on the Route.

By early evening we were crossing the Mississippi River and headed for a night of fun in St. Louis. Our first day on the road did not disappoint.

Route 66 Begins in Chicago

It all begins in Chicago. . .

By P.C. Zick@PCZick

When I began planning the Route 66 trip, the tour books gave different opinions on what to visit during the 2,200 mile trip from Chicago to L.A. But they all agreed on one thing: Route 66 starts in Chicago.

My three traveling companions and I booked a suite at the Best Western River North on Ohio Street in downtown Chicago. We weren’t far from State Street so we decided to get out and walk until we found a place to eat. The first thing I always notice and appreciate about Chicago is the melding of the architecture  with nature as the Chicago River meets Lake Michigan in the area known as The Loop. As we walked in the heart of this area, we often stopped and gawked and took pictures.

Another thing agreed upon in the book is where to have breakfast before heading west. Lou Mitchell’s sits right at the start of the original route, which began on Jackson Blvd. at Michigan Ave. before the World’s Fair in 1933 displaced it further east toward the entrance to Grant Park. However, Lou Mitchell’s,  a Chicago landmark since 1923, remains true to the spirit of the Mother Road. The diner is known for its hearty breakfasts and the free things they give to patrons. We found this to be true immediately while we waited in line for our table. The hostess gave us all doughnut holes, and once we were seated, the waitress handed us all small boxes of milk duds. We discovered later only women and children received the milk duds.

After we placed our breakfast orders, large, juicy prunes sprinkled with cinnamon were placed in front of us. Now I don’t normally eat prunes, but when I saw one of my companions cut into hers and spied the juicy insides, I couldn’t resist. I’ll never eat a regular prune again after tasting that sweet morsel.

My breakfast came in an 8-inch skillet. I ordered two eggs over easy, but received four yolks as did everyone else at the table. When I asked the waitress, she said all the eggs they served were double-yolked.

I was already sold on the place, but the final act sealed my sticker of approval forever. The waitress brought us all soft-serve ice cream for our breakfast dessert.

What’s not to love about a place that serves prunes and ice cream after an appetizer of milk duds? We were fueled for the adventure that lay before us, which that day included visiting the several fiberglass giants along the route in Illinois. And it all began in Chicago.

Route 66 – Traveling the Mother Road

Put down the pen someone else gave you.

No one ever drafted a life worth living on borrowed ink.

Jack Kerouac

By P.C. Zick@PCZick

It began one night over a couple of beers at a local bar. It took more than a year to plan and pull off.

“You know what I’ve always wanted to do?” I asked my friend Joy one rainy night as we sat commiserating about our complacent lives. “I’ve always wanted to travel Route 66  from Chicago to L.A.  But I’ve never found anyone who wanted to accompany me.”

“You’ve found her now,” Joy said, and thus began more than a year of plotting and planning our escape from our lives for more than two weeks on the road.

Romantic visions of Jack Kerouac and the open road, John Steinbeck and a dog named Charley, neon lights and roadside motels clouded our minds as the mundane details of the trip threatened to intrude on our starry-eyed dreams.

Our daughters, both in their twenties, asked if they could join us. We were astounded.

“Why would you want to spend your summer vacation with two middle-aged women?” I asked my daughter Anna.

“It’ll be a blast,” she said.

Joy’s daughter Hillary said something similar, and so we became a foursome of road warriors ready to set forth on one of the most historic roads in the world.

Just the words “Route 66” conjures up visions of greasy hamburgers, neon signs flashing “No Vacancy,” characters out of a Sam Shepard play, and, of course, freedom to disappear into the gut of this country. Even though the trip occurred five years ago, I still see those visions.

Of course, my journal became my companion on the trip. Serendipity and downright foolishness collided into one of the most memorable trips of my life.

Soon after my return, I began writing a novel loosely based on the journey. All I had to do was take a small event from the real trip and amplify it into a golden nugget of a story. Amazingly, there were many stories that never came close to appearing in the book because they were just too outlandish to be believed. Those stories remain sacred, only to be pulled out when the four of us reunite to reminisce.

Live From the Road is now complete and awaiting the final touches before I venture into another area I’ve never been before. While I’m a published author of four hard-copy books, I’m publishing this one as an e-book with Kindle on May 23.

Leading up to the publication date, I plan to write several blogs about the real journey of a lifetime that began in Chicago  in a night I’ll never forget. We met blues legend Buddy Guy and walked down State Street under a full moon so large it seemed smaller. That’s just the way it was on this trip and will always remain so.

Joy, me and Buddy - a night to remember

Have you ever traveled Route 66 or some other historic road? Did it live up to your expectations?