Thursday, January 24, 2013

A Month in Paradise...or close

I just returned from a month long trip to Newport Beach, where I established a new office on Lifeguard Stand 71. I have had this idea for several years now, but as Christmas approached, I realized this would be the last year I would be able to take off for a whole month as my son will be in 7th grade next winter and it will be more difficult to get him out of school for such a long time. After doing some checking, we found we could rent a beach house for a whole month for less than it costs to rent the same property for a week in the summer. It was a no brainer. We had to go
We left the day after school got out and made it down in time to see the annual Christmas boat parade in the Newport Harbor. We rode bikes almost every day, spent lots of time beach combing for shells and beach glass, had lots of Nerf wars with the guns we got for Christmas, spent more time together as a family than we ever have before, and I spent lots of time writing on my office. The beaches were nearly abandoned. We saw twice as many dolphins as we did people. And though the wind was sometimes chilly, I found that if I sat on this side of the lifeguard tower, in the wind shadow, I could be warmed by the sun and sheltered from the wind. I ended up with a great tan on one side of my face and a hundred pages on a new book!
My next book is set in Watts, LA County and part of the reason for this trip was to be closer to Watts. Its a rugged place, a slum really, filled with interesting and gritty characters. Every home is surrounded by chainlink fences and every window is barred. There are regular drive by shootings and garbage everywhere, but in the middle of Watts is an incredible surprise. In 1921, an Italian immigrant named Sabato (Sam) Rodilla began construction on his masterpiece, now known as Watts Towers. The towers, seventeen of them in all, are incredible. The tallest of which are just shy of 100 feet tall, built of steel reinforced concrete that he built by hand, covering every surface of these skeletal towers with glass and tile mosaic, sea shells, pottery shards, and beautiful junk. He built a seven foot all wall around his property, covering the walls with the same incredible coverings. I will be including pictures over the next few months as I continue to work on this, but if you have not seen Watts Towers, you have really missed out. It is an inspiring place. After working on this project for 33 years, Sam walked away from it, leaving it all to a neighbor. Over the years, the house he lived in on the property burned down, but the towers and the walls remain as sentinels over this oasis of humanity and loveliness in an otherwise chaotic desert. An art center has been built next door and guide tours are given four days a week.
The book is set in the shadows of these tower and revolves around a man, Sammy, who hears voices and shares those messages with people who are too busy with their lives to hear the gentle whisperings of the wind. The working title is Embrace the Wind, but it may change as I get further into it. I am really enjoying this one. It has been working in my mind for more than five years and I am excited that it is finally working its way out.
I will be doing a book signing tomorrow at the Bountiful Costco ( January 25) from 2-5 and on Saturday 26th from 2-5 in Ogden at Costco
Next week I will be at the Sandy Costco on Wednesday (30) from 2-5 and in Orem (Jan 31) on Thursday from 2-5. I will only be signing the Niederbipp Trilogy while I am there, but I will bring some of the new books, Borrowing Fire and have them with me in my trunk if you want to come towards the end of my signing, or about 5, I can sell you one of those in the parking lot. I will be working on getting the new book into Costco soon.
I am also realizing that if I want to have some semblance of a normal life, whatever that means, I need some help. I have talked about finding and agent over the years, but I have never followed through, and now that I am working on my 5th book, I can see I am limited without one. My new years resolution is to stop hiding the light of Niederbipp under a bushel and get it into the hands of someone who can help me take it to a larger audience. Any suggestion?  I don't know any agents so I am starting from zero, which means I've got nothing to lose. Wish me luck.  Happy New Year.

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