Five GREAT reasons to drive across the country (even though you’re supposed to be promoting a new book release.)
1. The USA is HUGE. Face it. Despite any plans you make–despite the number of times you take off with the intention of seeing every little thing, peeking into every corner, and finding out what’s around every river bend–you will probably not be able to do it.
At least driving affords one the opportunity to at least look around while you’re on the interstate. For my trip to San Antonio with my daughter Zoe, we drove onout to Texas the I-10 and for the trip back we took the I-40. The southwest is amazing. The colors are vibrant, the land varied and breathtaking. The way the Texas countryside changes from the stark desert to the prairie to the juniper forests and lush green of the hill country is spectacular. I’d love to have traveled lighter and stayed on the road way longer. We had a metric fuckton of clothes and shoes and toiletries–all the subterfuge I need to look good for a conference–or I’d have maybe kept going on the I-10 all the way to Tampa…
2. Inspiration. Every road trip brings inspiration! A lot of my interviews include the question “What inspires you to write?” What DOESN’T inspire me to write? I can’t see a Pinon tree, or drive over a bridge, or past a saguaro, or see or a line of highly graffitied, half-buried Cadillacs without wanting to write something.
If you add people you’ve got an infinite number of stories. A weathered but handsome cowboy leans against the fender of his truck with a knowing smile on his face. A young woman dances in a roadhouse, breathless from exertion and anticipation and some sweetly seething chemistry that’s building between her body and the cocky cowboy she’s dancing with, a couple my age walks along holding hands in a kind of daze–maybe it’s the first time they’ve been alone in twenty years because the final kid has gone off to college and they have to relearn each other all over again. A gaggle of kids takes pictures of geese on the River Walk. They’re wondering if they can get away with one of those little boats. They’re wondering if there’s a treasure they can dig up, or ghosts they can chase. I can hardly contain myself. Life is fantastic!
Everywhere you look, the wide blue sky arches over somebody’s story. The real problem is deciding which story to write. It’s amazing how engaged my muse is when I’m driving and I can’t really do anything about it.
3. Food. Barbecue is food group. Each region has it’s own style, it’s preferred meat. In Texas, beef is king. Brisket is meltingly tender and there’s not enough time in the day, or room in my stomach, to try it all. In fact, I looked at a LOT of barbecue I wanted to try but I didn’t allow myself to really indulge this time because of the heat and the Unpleasant Truths lately presented by my aging body. (My doctor would be so proud).
To this food-related category, I’d like to add a little note about salsa. Salsa is a vegetable. Or a fruit. It’s mostly made of things I can feel virtuous eating, even if I need a corn chip to transport it to my mouth. Salsa is practically a HEALTH FOOD. And I was in the southwest. LUCKY ME!
In California, at least where I’m from, salsa is composed of tomatoes, onions, jalapeños or some other variety of pepper, cilantro, limes, and salt. Depending on the ratios used and the way it’s diced up, you can either make a pico de gallo type chunky salsa, or a regulation, dip your chips, kind of puree…
But oh, my god, each place where we stopped to eat from Arizona to New Mexico to Texas had a different kind of salsa. Some involved cooked tomatoes, some green chiles or chipotles instead of jalapeños. Some came to the table hot (WTF?), some seemed to be creamy, and some didn’t have tomatoes at all. Some salsas were so spicy they blew the roof off my mouth (thank you Track One in El Paso! Delicious!) and some tasted like tomato soup and made me long for a grilled cheese sandwich.
I’d add my beloved Bloody Marys here to this category, what’s better than salsa you can drink. I take mine without alcohol thank you, but with some big, pimiento-stuffed green olives speared on a little saber, please!
Keep on keeping on, Salsa Makers. Space is vast and the universe infinite. There is room for all of us in the quest for the perfect condiment.
4. Camaraderie. Doing anything with my daughter is amazing. I always enjoy spending time with my kids, but taking my recently graduated lit major daughter to a romance writers convention where she got to see what I do for a living (and meet some of the people who make it possible) was very exciting. She took a picture of Jayne Ann Krentz over my shoulder (because I was signing across from her) and posted it to social media. Of course I was a starstruck, babbling idiot. My daughter was like…where do I recognize that name from…?
5. Working it! I got a new picture taken for my author bio, and I unveil it here. What was mostly a whim because of a chance meeting with Marti Corn, a photographer taking appointments for pictures of the attendees, which turned into an absolutely fabulous morning of me trying not to feel stiff as a board while I sat for a photo shoot in the Menger Hotel (a haunted, and hauntingly beautiful place). Everyone should have a Marti to take their picture. Click here for her website.
She made me look (and feel) so pretty. She took a whole bunch of pictures, and in the end, we settled on five that I wanted to keep. This one, which I’ll be using for my official portrait, and a couple just for fun, including a fun barefoot shot I had her make for my hubby…
There is a new ZAM book out! You can find out everything you need to know about Home The Hard Way by following along the Blog Tour. Follow along for a chance to win! CLICK HERE FOR DETAILS!
Warning: This ain’t your usual ZAM book.