Tuesday, October 17, 2017


Declining literacy rates continue to challenge educators, and frankly, anyone who cares about an educated society. Growing up in a single parent household that never had a book in the house I find that fact sad and troubling.

Perhaps that’s why I wasn’t too surprised or bothered by the fact that close to ten thousand books made their way through our house this summer on their way to better bookshelves. My wife, Sharon, had initiated this book drive three years ago. The first year it was three thousand books collected and distributed. Last year, it was over six thousand books distributed.

The book drive followed a three-R’s model: read, recycle, and reach. Sharon explained “We want families to read and enjoy the books that they have, and then when they are done with them or have moved on to a new reading level we want them to recycle the books by donating them to this project. By giving away their used books, these readers are reaching out to students who might not have any books at home.”

Reflecting back, I realized my love of reading grew exponentially while sitting on some newspaper customer’s doorstep. Whether I was perusing the Saint Paul Pioneer Press in the morning or the Saint Paul Dispatch at night I found myself immersed in newspaper articles about a world I never knew existed.

Reading had never been a part of my life before I started my paper route in seventh grade. Newspapers, magazines and books were luxuries my mother couldn’t afford. There was never any reading material in our house save for one book on Padre Pio. My mother probably bought that book out of guilt some Sunday morning after Mass.

About the same time, I began a newspaper route my friend introduced me to our local library. The first book I read was ‘The Enemy Below’ since I was fascinated with World War II; go figure. Then Tarzan, the Hardy Boys and western novels carried me into a world my imagination readily devoured.

Since that initial brush with the printed page, reading has always been an important part of my life. There will never be enough time to read all the books I’ve got piled up around the house. We have libraries for the grandchildren here and there. Each has their own library in their rooms. Books matter to all of us.

It’s also been the impetuous for my second career as a writer.

Ever the educator, Sharon said the ability to read, and to read critically, is one of the most crucial factors to a student’s success. Access to information is becoming easier (screen time) BUT the skills needed to critically evaluate it comes from reading.

In Dakota County alone, there are over 1600 ELL students who will use the books. At the October 4th meeting of Apple Valley Rotary, District 196 Superintendent Jane Berenz spoke about the Reading Recovery Program in ISD 196 and how the intervention program has helped the literacy level of first graders.

She explained that “the ELL Program in district 196 supports learners in acquiring the English they need in order to succeed in the classroom and beyond, in accordance with the State of Minnesota Guidelines and English Language Proficiency Standards. Teachers who are fully certified in teaching English as a Second Language work with these ELL students at all ele-mentary, middle and high schools in the district.”

Ms. Berenz went on to explain that the ELL program develops English skills in reading, writing, and speaking, as well as the language of academic content. The ELL staff is trained in the same best literacy practices as classroom teachers. She said the need for simple children’s books is critical for these students to practice their reading skills.

This year, the district hopes to initiate a new program that will provide certain school buses with boxes of books. The idea is that a student can borrow a book on their way to or from school and return it as they exit the bus. The district will also hold on to thousands of books to distribute next summer at various district-sponsored camps and events. This past summer they gave away over two thousand books at ‘Adventures in Learning,’ a week-long summer program for elementary-aged English Language Learners.

The program is working…and well. Out of the twenty-three seniors who were in the English Learner program for last year, nineteen students were enrolled in a two-year or four-year college. Fourteen students were heading to a two-year college and five were going to a four-year institution of higher education.

But to bring the world of reading to these children and open a whole new world for them is a small price to pay for cramp quarters and books piled up in every corner of our house. I’ve been there. I know what it’s like to be transformed into another world of rolling seas, desert plateaus and the young boys down the block.

I return to those worlds every chance I get. And feel blessed to be able to create them myself for others to enjoy.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Invisible Playwright

Life isn’t fair when it comes to the arts.

I recently attended a special showing of the winners for this year’s Minnesota State Fair Fine Arts Awards. There were paintings, photographs and artistic pieces in the Fine Arts building on the fair grounds. The building was crowded with on-lookers perusing, examining and comment-ing on the winners there. A common consensus seemed to be that the judges this year had certain preferences in mind when they selected the winners. Some would say dark, dreary, and somber. Much of the work resembled an overcast day in Minnesota. So what has changed? Actually nothing.

Name any artistic venture be it writing, film, music, drama, painting and so forth; the results are always the same. Someone else judges the work and pronounces it good, bad or in need of more revision.

A publisher does that to the aspiring writer. So does an editor whose judgement is supposedly more clearly focused than that of the writer himself. It’s understood that if you want to be published, you have to play by their rules.

The studio does that to the film maker as do the financiers behind the film project when they put pressure on the studios themselves. A producer or director does that to screen writer. A theatrical producer does that to the playwright. Once they have the story in their hands, it becomes their baby.

A record label or musical producer does that to a singer or a band under the assumption that the ‘man’ knows better what is going to sell and climb up the charts.  Galleries do that to artists.

Managers and agents guide, cajole, push, threaten and otherwise pass judgement on the careers of their clients.

Employers do that to their employees. Unions to their members. Guilds to their member artists.

Seldom does the artist have total control over his or her work. There always seems to be some kind of compromise, conditions to be met or adjustments to be made. Welcome to their ‘real world.’ The solution, if any, might be compromise, capitulation or withdrawal. In the end, there is only one person to decide that, the artist himself.

The artist, in the generic sense, must be true to himself. The art has to be their vision and therefore they get to decide if they want to go to the next stage of distribution. For many it becomes a question of compromising their own vision with that of someone else if they want broader exposure.

Each and every avenue of art is a tough nut to crack. It has to be driven by a self-imposed desire for fulfillment in one form or another. Just finishing an artistic venture is enough for many. Going beyond that initial stage is a challenge for most. Compromise is the Claritin call for all…if they’re willing to accept it.

Playwrights can take on the role of producer to ensure that their vision of the entire ‘theatrical experience’ meets expectations. Authors can take charge of their own marketing and connecting with their audience. Musicians can choose their own venues and movie-makers must find their own financing and go the independent route.

It’s all a question of how passionate one feels about their art. How far they willing to go to push their vision? Deciding what is their own personal bottom line to get their ’baby’ out into the world?

Ultimately like a mother with child, the creator has the greatest satisfaction. For in the wondrous world of creating lies the greatest pleasure and satisfaction. Anything beyond that is a faint smile hinting at the joy found within. Those on the inside of that world ‘get it’; outsiders can only look at those smiles and wonder what it all means.

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Edge of Nowhere, North of Nothin

The Coachella Valley and its surrounding locales have always attracted an eclectic assortment of artists, musicians, painters and other veterans of the school of hard knocks. It’s a mecca for the rich, the famous and the enfranchised. A writer’s virtual chalkboard for any number of story lines.

Whether it’s the weather, the proximity to Los Angeles and San Francisco or the distance between it and the rest of the world, the valley and its surrounding high desert has always been a sanctuary for lost soul-searchers seeking the ultimate creative elixir.

Some chose to express themselves and show their wares in galleries in the valley or in the high desert. Others are off radar and like it that way. It’s as if there is another world just beneath the surface of shimmering pools, lush green golf courses and cloud-less aqua skies. Whispers come from the wastelands surrounding the Salton Sea as do siren calls from the high desert. Like a resistant drug, fatal attraction or sinful thought, it keeps drawing me back for more exploration. It is a world that offers the opposite of the known, contentment and comfortable.  I’m not sure why I’m drawn back to this world of outsiders, outcasts and screwed up ones. For the writer in me, it’s fertile ground for story-telling. For the oldster in me, it’s a grim reminder of a road not taken versus the one that brought me here today.

The high desert of the Morongo Valley, Yucca Valley and Joshua tree continue to attract musicians now as it has since the turn of the century. Far from the crystal clear pools of Palm Springs and its emerald green golf courses lies another world of vast nothingness peppered with the sad remnants of past lives. It’s a place where stillness thunders louder than the wind and God did some of his finest paintings. A vast virtual sound studio for the creative musician.

Joshua tree and its surrounding communities embrace another form of existence; all of which is surrounded by endless horizons. The area is a mecca for aging rock stars, artists and modern-day bohemians along with ordinary people all in search of a new beginning. It’s the place where people go to get lost and be creative.

The high desert of the Morongo Basin is like a modern day outback of more than 9.5 million acres of public land in the California desert. Its home to old walking trails first used by Native Americans between seasonal encampments then followed by Spanish explorers and finally 19th century gold seekers and pioneers. Reminders of past human lives are everywhere.

Abandoned mines litter the area with their relics of past hopes and dreams scattered about the ground. A restored railroad depot stands alone with its tracks still leading nowhere. Ramshackle old cabins planted amid miles of sage and scrub brush, sit isolated and lonely in the desert. The evidence is all here if you can look past the dust and dirt and castles made of boulders to imagine all the past lives that once pasted through this place on the way to a better life. At one time that might have been the vast inland ocean below.

The footprint of the Salton Sea edges alongside nowhere which is north of nothing of interest…for the casual outsider. It is an area replete with mummies at East Jesus, flying dune buggies and land-grabbing in Slab City.

It is a briny morass of faded real estate dreams and dead fish scales underfoot. The Salton Sea is California’s largest lake measuring more than 35 miles long and 15 miles wide in spots. It has a surface area of over 380 square miles and sits at 332 feet below sea level.

Through the mid-fifties, the Salton Sea had become a major recreational water resort area for Southern California. But two hurricanes; Kathleen in 1976 and Doreen in 1977, caused such wide-spread damage to neighboring farm lands that the runoff caused a major increase in the salinity of the sea. That, in turn, caused major fish-kills and bird-kills and created such a major issue with noxious odors that residential development came to a stop.

Today the salinity level of the sea stands at 45 ppt. Only the tilapia fish is able to survive in such waters. While fishing is still good for the tilapia, fish kills continue to plague the area with their harsh smells.

I’ve always been intrigued by a dark cluster of trailer homes strewn alongside the Salton Sea half way to Slab City. Its name ‘Bombay Beach, North Shore’ always seemed like the perfect title for a play.

It could take years, perhaps decades before the sea might possibly return to its past glory. More feasibility studies will be made, more funding sought and grand schemes hatched. The possibilities for commerce, recreation and development are enormous. Until then the Salton Sea is a magical place for walk the shoreline, observe the birds and time your visit to avoid the smell. A small price for a wonderful watery treasure in the middle of the desert.

Salvation Mountain is one of the premiere examples of folk art in the middle of nowhere America. At least that was what all the travel guides say. The site has become a mecca for those influenced by and intrigued with this kaleidoscope of painted hills, crude cave dwellings and religious scriptures.

Slab City otherwise known as ‘The Slabs’ is a snowbird campsite used by recreational vehicle owners alongside squatters from across North America. It takes its name from the concrete slabs that remain from an abandoned World War II Marine barracks of Camp Dunlap.

It’s estimated that there are about one and fifty permanent residents (squatters) who live in the slabs year around. Some live on government checks, others just want to live ‘off the grid’ and a few come to stretch out their retirement income. The camp has no electricity, no running water, no sewers or toilets and no trash pickup service. Sounds like a dry run for the apocalypse.

Despite the free shoe tree on the way into town and the free library, most of the residents have sectioned off their trailers, tents and sleeping bags with tires, pallets or barbwire. Free is free unless it comes to their piece of the desert then even squatters want their personal space recognized.

The artists at East Jesus describe it as an experimental, sustainable art installation. East Jesus is a colloquialism for the middle of nowhere beyond the edge of services. Made from discarded material that has been reused, recycled or repurposed, East Jesus encourages visitors to imagine a world without waste in which every action is an opportunity for self-expression.

West Satan is a simply a suburb of East Jesus. The art gallery there is just as fascinating and mind-expanding. It was tripping out without the acid and a glimpse into the lives of those who don’t want to be a part of ‘any scene’ here in fantasy land or the rest of the world.

Intertwined with the remote outposts of creativity are other artist colonies such as the one up in Idyllwild or the other mountain enclaves in Big Bear and Arrowhead. Laguna Beach is two hours and a world away from the desert but offers the same kind of mind-expanding atmosphere in which to play.

They’re all clusters of inspiration amid the languid and serene beauty of my own nest of creativity.

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Vinyl Holiday

I had to laugh. It really is true that often times what goes around comes back again. Musical taste is a good example of that. I guess if you wait long enough, the old becomes new again or at least enjoys a resurgence of interest. My old collection of musical memories from the fifties and sixties, long sequestered to basement shelves, are garnering new attention.

Vinyl is back and I’m loving it. In fact, vinyl records are so popular that Sony, the biggest of the Big Three record labels, recently announced that it will start pressing them again, as soon as March 2018, in a new factory near Tokyo. The last time Sony made a vinyl record was 1989. One could certainly argue that this announcement is just one of many signals that the music industry is once again changing with the times and customer tastes.

Aside from the obligatory roll of her eyes, my wife has been remarkably quiet about my prized collection of LPs as well as the old Sony turntable I bought but seldom use among more. Traveling the back roads of one’s mind can be a geriatric benefit for people my age. Sometimes there is a tendency to revisit old people, places and times with reflections and refractions that tend to meld into a soul-satisfying stroll down memory lane.

Vinyl can do just that. Having been down that road before, I can attest to the magic of vinyl and the old songs that take me back to yesteryear. Music has always been a huge part of my life and this renewal of interest in LPs (long playing records) just brings a smile to my face.

A while back the local web site, Minnpost, ran an article on the resurgence of vinyl records and did an interview with Bob Fuchs, general manager of the popular Minnesota record store, The Electric Fetus. It was a fascinating step back in time and remuneration of that popular phrase ‘what goes around comes around again.’

Gray's Drugs

The Triangle Bar

Back in the day when I was hanging out in Dinky Town and fantasizing about life while at the Triangle Bar, the Electric Fetus was my refuge from the storm of life. It was a magic place where overhead music played at a deafening roar and all kinds of wanna-be hippies and many of the real ones crowded the narrow aisles flipping through the stacks of vinyl.

Bob’s interview offered a fascinating glimpse into the present-day world of music and how just as things change some things remain the same. A longtime Minnesota music mainstay, Fuchs  has seen it all firsthand in his 30 years in the business (he started in the record department in December 1987).

I’ve lifted several segments from that interview and want to give full credit to MinnPost for the article. *

First, Bob was asked about vinyl at the Electric Fetus.

Bob Fuchs: In about 2000, we had 120 bins, maybe 118 of CDs and two bins of records left, and they weren’t even full. Today we’re up to nearly 50 bins of vinyl again. It’s almost 50/50 LPs/CDs now. By next year at this point, more than 50 percent of our space in the record department will be LPs.

The surprising thing to some people is we still sell CDs. They walk in and don’t even know that. They’re like, “I haven’t bought a CD in five or seven years!” We still sell twice as many CDs as LPs. Many people want physical media, whether it’s an LP or a CD. I play both every day.

Then Bob was asked about the ratio of new vinyl to used.

Bob Fuchs: Probably about twice as many used as new. In dollar amounts, new vinyl is much more expensive than most used vinyl. Most new LPs are between $17 and $25.

I think many people want to write vinyl off as a fad that’s coming back. But it was a staple for 50 to 60 years, and then there was a period of about 10 years when it wasn’t in vogue, and now it’s coming back again because of the experience.

People say they like the sound, but regardless of the quality of your musical reproduction system at home, it’s the experience. You tend to be more engaged. You sit down. You stay close. Your experience is heightened by all your senses. You’re listening, you’re reading, you’re looking, you’re appreciating art. So it’s more encompassing than just streaming a song.

An LP is the ultimate cultural artifact for music. You’ve got liner notes. You’ve got lyrics. Oftentimes, you’ve got photography, artwork, information. It’s a stamp in time, and a physical presence. A gatefold LP is 2 feet by 1 foot. It’s like a book. Some people still prefer books.

One aspect about LPs that I just took for granted were the liner notes and artwork. Apparently, a lot of people weren’t so oblivious about such things.

Bob Fuchs: When you compare most packaging now to 15 to 20 years ago, there were a lot of budget productions back then. Simple jackets, thin paper. They were minimalist and sometimes cheap. Today, people are thinking – this is the ultimate packaging. Let’s make it a gatefold. Let’s use heavier-weight cardboard or paper. Let’s press on heavier vinyl. Many people have commented at the counter that LPs are really heavy. They don’t remember them being so heavy.

Then as an unintended salute to old people’s taste everywhere, Bob explained who is leading the charge back into vinyl.

Bob Fuchs: The single biggest thing I’ve noticed is the change in demographics. This whole revival has been pushed primarily, or at least initially and still very heavily, by people under 30. There’s a much higher percentage of women buying records than there were buying CDs or records previously. What stands out most for me is the number of young women who are buying records now. In my 30 years, I don’t ever remember that many young women in the store.

Vinyl to me was the sixties personified. It was Dinkytown, the Triangle Bar, West Bank, working all day at the Public Health Department and volunteering each night at KTCA public television. It was that stunning blond working as the evening receptionist, writing poetry, attending St. John Neumann with Susan and a very brief movie-making career.

It was slow growth growing up and pondering a whole bushel basket full of ‘what if’s’ and ‘why not?’ Vinyl brings it all back home. When the needle touches skin and the music begins, I am transported back in time to a much simpler time that was good and only got a lot better.

*Portions of this interview with Bob Fuchs was taken from an article written by Ms. Pamela Espeland that appeared on the website MinnPost on July 20th, 2017. Click here to read the fullarticle.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Deep Data Mining

Some people are adamant that you shouldn’t go back in time and revisit your past. ‘What’s done is done’ they argue ‘and can’t be changed or altered anymore.’ Often times these people don’t want to go back to their early childhood, high school or college years, past relationships, old jobs or collateral experiences of a life long since lived. They’ve closed the book on their past and only want to dwell on the present.

I find myself shouldering up to the other end of that spectrum. I would argue that you can go back and examine with the cold, calculating eye of a time-warped traveler relevant questions such as ‘why did things turn out the way they did?’, ‘what really happened between me and someone else?’ what was reality instead of ‘what if?’ In short, I think you can search your past for the building blocks that brought you to your present state of mind. I call it data mining or fact-based research reflecting on your life.

I have a friend who has defined three stages in our lives. With an apology upfront for possibly misrepresenting some of his findings, I believe he has defined the three stages as: Self-discovery, self-exploration and finally self-examination.

He believes we spend the first part of our lives discovering our own identity. Who were we as children growing up, experiences in education, finding a spouse and becoming a parents? The second stage is work-orientated where we hone our job skills, find a career that moves us forward and cements our place in the world of adults. The third and final stage is that of reflection and self-examination. Where are we relative to everyone else and how did we get here?

I have always argued that if you are comfortable with your present state of affairs, you can go back and examine your past with your feet still firmly planted in the present. You can look, without a jaundice eye, at what went wrong and why, what worked and why, where you are today relative to those around you.

Many would argue ‘who cares?’ and maybe they have a point. If you don’t care why you turned out the way you did then it probably doesn’t really matter to yourself or those around you. If you care but realize you can’t change the past then what’s the point? Because, I believe, in the end you had a life and it’s into the fourth quarter now. So how did things turn out? And if you don’t like what you see, what can you do about it.

I’m giving a workshop this fall in ‘How to Begin Writing.’ Just like the workshop I conducted last spring, I expect most of my audience will consist of seniors sprinkled with a few of the younger sect. To a person they want to write but don’t know how to get started. Few if any want to become published authors. They just want to fulfill a lifetime ambition of putting thoughts to paper in some readable form and fashion. I’m going to tell them how to begin that process.

Part of that process will be an examination of their past and what they’d like to share with others about it. It might be painful. It might be exhilarating. It will be revealing; peeling back the layers of their lives that haven’t felt the touch of a pen or keyboard in a lifetime. For all it will be enormously satisfying…if only for themselves.

I guess in the end it doesn’t really matter if a person reflects on their existence or leaves it closed shut in the darkness of the past. Each of us is on a journey called life. Some live it day-to-day and others like to cast a glance over their shoulder once in a while. We’re all going to get to the end of the trail one way or another.

I like where I’ve been and don’t mind ruminating about those old adventures every once in a while…and look forward to many more in my future.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Uncovering the Cobbler, Finding Ophelia

My feet dangling over the edge of Machu Picchu

I tried to capture my experiences at Machu Picchu in another blog entitled: And Then the Vultures will Eat You. It wasn’t eloquent or poetic but it did paint a picture of what it was like tramping around on top of the Andes, gazing down at clouds swirling and birds flying below. In those younger stupid years I perched on a ledge, 11,000 feet above the Urubamba River, and thought it would make a great photograph.

If there is poetic justice in stupid antics I suppose it came years later when I decided to write my first suspense thriller. At once I knew that I had to include some of the places and things that expanded my imagination and stirred up a cauldron of dark sinister images in my mind. Going back to Machu Picchu was at the top of that list. Of course, story-telling in the conventional sense seldom follows a straight and righteous path for most writers.

There must be something in my genetic makeup, perhaps some character defect, that I can write a novel or two or three then wait several decades before doing anything with them. Case in point:

‘Apache Death Wind’ and ‘Apache Blue Eyes.’ They were written respectively in 1974 and 1975 but didn’t see publication until forty years later.

Cobbler was the last of four novels that I wrote in a four year period of time. That book along with four screenplays and four plays kept my fingers pounding well into most nights. But at the end of that marathon writing spree, I realized I had to focus on just one manuscript at a time and bring it to publishing life. I chose ‘Love in the A Shau’ as that first novel. Others followed and ‘Cobbler’ fell by the proverbial ‘to complete’ shelf as writing plays grabbed almost all of my limited attention. It was a suggestion from Vida my editor that brought this ten-pound door juggernaut back to life again.

Now that suspense thriller inspired by Machu Picchu and written half a dozen years ago has resurfaced and gone under my editor’s surgical pen. Out of my nine novels written thus far, it probably comes in second, right behind ‘Love in the A Shau’ as one of my favorites. Just like parents aren’t supposed to have favorites, I must confess I have a special place in my heart for ‘Follow the Cobbler.’

In that rarified air of a lifetime ago, I knew this novel would be different. It would be written in first person which I hadn’t done before nor since. It would have two parallel storylines running concurrently; a suspense thriller alongside a love story. It would weave ancient folk lore, historical fact and fiction alongside modern computer technology and futuristic assumptions.

Most unsettling were the characters that slipped into my consciousness, grabbed a place in the story but never fully revealed themselves until well into the book. The mysterious ‘Cobbler’ was the hardest of all to pin down. Right from the start, I couldn’t identify his origin, motivation, goals and objectives or what he was ultimately seeking. I didn’t know if the ‘Cobbler’ was a person, an historical figure or an icon. The only real person who spoke clearly to me was LeFay, the Druid chieftain and arch enemy of the Cobbler. Along with his hunter-assassins, LeFay was hot on the trail of my two protagonists, Brian, and Katherine.

I found Brian’s voice quickly. He reminded me of myself at some point long ago. Katherine was another story. She was incredibly smart, quick with the quips and laser-focused on (I didn’t really know what?).  She wasn’t willing to reveal her motivation to me or Brian until well into the story. She was beautiful, coy and yet modest. Still she emitted a sexuality that curled my toes even as my fingertips lightly touched her every word.

The novel began with a suspension of belief. I asked myself what if pictures could come alive. What if an image you’re holding in your hands (a book, a photo, a drawing) comes alive. If you look closely at old pictures there are so many tiny enounces in them that they could have been taken yesterday instead of a hundred years ago. With that fractured thought in mind, I began to dream about a mysterious woman who somehow has been a part of my hero’s past. This would be a hero I was very comfortable with and felt I had known all my life.

Right from the start I knew it was going to be a long and arduous journey for both the couple and myself. It started at old Fort Snelling or at least with the image of the old fort and took my protagonists into Old St. Paul and beyond. I knew our search was going to take us long distances but even I didn’t know how far we would travel until we were all far afield. Fatigue set in at some point but we persisted and finally ended up where logic and reality ultimately took us.

Then my imagination created this icon I called the cobbler but I wasn’t sure why. Is it/he Jesus? Is it/he the second-coming? Or was it just an icon representing some historical figure in time?

As my two main protagonists began to talk and banter back and forth, I felt an immediate chemistry between them. Very quickly I realized this was going to be a two-level story. It was both a suspense thriller that followed a couple around the world and an evolving love story

There had to be conflict so I invented the Druids as my villains. But I had to explain their historical significance and make it plausible that they would be current and threatening.

I made up the hunter-assassins then found out later they really did exist.

I had to do a lot of research if I was going to travel around the world and this was before Siri and Alexa. There had to be authenticity so I studied Vespa scooters, the layout of Angor Watts, the details of Hong Kong Harbor, the layout of Rome, the architecture of ancient coliseum and the modern-day ruins of the coliseum.

At one point I was worried about the length when the transfer from computer to page format came in at 865 pages. An intense edit brought that number down to 664 pages which was still too long for an unknown author. I didn’t want to make it another trilogy or two books. There was no good place to stop the storyline so more editing was needed. This time entire sections were eliminated in an effort to keep the pacing in the storyline moving along.

There is an epilogue to this story.

Vida decided after editing ‘Cobbler’ that it might make a great YA (young adult) novel. So we continued editing it for that demographic.  Vida and her daughter created a new book cover and title for the storyline.  Maya, my eldest granddaughter, will be the first to give it a read (after Vida’s daughters, of course.)

Two for one. I love it.

I hope they do too.