Making Believe


If there is a secret to writing fiction, a difference that distinguishes a professional from an aspiring amateur, it is the art of making believe. In many ways it is akin to all the pretending and playing we did as children. You remember, everything was possible and every day was a new adventure, wasn’t it? The majority of people lose that gift for creative fantasy but writers don’t. Or, at least, writers can find a way back to the childlike mindset.

Now, having that ability to fabricate something from nothing doesn’t mean the process is childish. Certainly there will be those around you, the ones who consider themselves practical, who will tell you that you’re wasting your time or daydreaming on paper perhaps. But for those of us who write stories and novels it is a process that grows and develops over time. Eventually you reach a point that it is nearly impossible to turn it off or disconnect from the creative flow – then again, who would you want to, right?

There are times when being creative isn’t an asset. I’ve worked in business for most of my adult life. there have been times when my creative mind waged war on the part of me that paid the bills. It wasn’t pretty for others to watch and it was painful to experience. You see – if you want to write professionally there is a point of balance you much reach with your other life, the part that shows up on time for appointments, makes it to work at a day job when scheduled and ensures that the money to pay bills reaches the appropriate parties in time. You must figure out how to control the creativity to a certain extent. Otherwise the line between reality and fantasy becomes blurred.

I’ve found setting a schedule and observing a daily routine works best. There are times that my appointed times to write conflict with other responsibilities but usually I can get up early in the morning a knock out a few thousand words. It is quietest then and, other than the dog wanted some attention, there are no interruptions or intrusions from the outside world. I can enter the zone and be creative, channeling the flow directly onto a virtual page in my computer.

To write fiction effectively I’ve found it is almost necessary to disengage from the real world for whatever duration necessary to tell a story or part of a story to oneself. If your story is ever going to engage the reader enough to offer and escape from their own reality you must make the fiction believable, regardless of how farfetched the tale you are spinning. That is the art to writing fiction: making believe or more aptly making believers out of skeptical readers. The first step in that direction be selling yourself on an idea and building a world around it into which you can enter and, for whatever time you need to write the tale, jot down every important detail of what your imagination has conjured within your mind.


Writing creatively is as addictive any drug but it can be mentally exhausting. I suppose in some instances it has been painful as well. I believe there are many people who have a creative impulse but substitute substances in lieu of being creative out of avoidance. It is easier to engage the imagination while under the influence. However, it is difficult if not impossible to sustain an artificially induced creative episode long enough to write a story. However, a glass wine or a couple of beers can take the edge off, I suppose, allowing the mind to slip into a relaxed state that is more conducive to facilitating the creative flow. The problem with substances is that abuse comes easily and ingesting or imbibing more doesn’t lead to better products. It is difficult to capture in words what one experiences and almost impossible to fully recall. However, if you expend the effort to regularly engage your creative mind you will need no chemicals to make the magic inside of you happen. Making believe will come to you are regularly as you desire if you are willing to invest the effort and time necessary to train your unruly mind to work for you.

#Writing #Creativity #WritingProfessionally #MakeBelieve #FictionWriting


An Ethical Man’s Family

Note: The following is something I wrote a few years ago as a tribute to my father. It is accurate to the best of my knowledge, though I suspect when and if my sisters read it they will tell me things that need to be corrected – especially the stuff that happened before I was born or too little to know much about. I am publishing it here as a memorial to my father who passed about fifteen years ago around this time of year.



Mom and Dad

Bruce Williams, my father,  was born in April 1914 near West Liberty, Kentucky. He was an honest, decent man who was raised on a farm. All he knew was farming. So, it was natural that it would become his life’s work.

When he was starting out, he worked for the government in a federally funded recovery program called the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC). Dad worked on reservoirs in the Tennessee River valley and helped construct roads throughout Appalachia. He saved his money and, after two years in the CCC, he returned home and married Alta Ferguson, my mother, in the early spring of 1935.

Jobs were scarce in Morgan County, Kentucky, where my parents grew up. Bruce heard there were better opportunities in Ohio. So, in late summer, he left my pregnant mother behind with a promise he’d send for her when he saved enough money.

Mom, Dad and Baris (Brother) Circa 1940

He found a job as a laborer in a feed and grain store that serviced farmers in west central Ohio. The last throes of the Great Depression still stifled a good portion of the economy. He worked all week for enough money to buy denim overalls to wear at work. He saved every cent he could spare. Mr. Ballenhoffer, who owned one of the largest farms in the area, offered Bruce a small place to live. It was actually an old chicken coop that my dad cleaned out to make ready for bringing his wife from Kentucky to live with him.

My brother, Barris, was born on May 4, 1936. Shortly afterwards, Bruce brought Alta and the baby to Ohio.

Despite his responsibilities as a new father, one day he had an argument with his supervisor. He never told me exactly what the argument was about, only that it was a matter of principle and ethics. So, I’m sure it was something he considered wrong. My dad hated no one except for liars and cheats and would never compromise his beliefs for any reason. I’m sure his personal integrity was challenged. What he did tell me was that being right does not always matter in an argument. When his supervisor threatened to fire him, Bruce quit.

The same day, Mr. Ballenhoffer hired him as a farmhand. Maybe they didn’t need another hired hand, but Mr. Ballenhoffer knew Dad from the feed and grain store. He witnessed first-hand how hard Bruce worked.

It was a struggle for my parents to survive their living conditions in those first years of marriage. To keep out the cold winds of winter, Alta had to chink rags into the cracks between the clapboards of the chicken coop that was their first home. She blamed those harsh conditions for why my brother Barris was sickly as a young child.

Arial view of Wildman farm on US 42

In time, Bruce was offered a sharecropping position on a farm near South Charleston. As part of the deal, my folks could live in the property’s farmhouse. During that time, Dad suffered a severe injury. While attempting to straighten a nail to be reused in repairing a loose board, the nail snapped in two, and one piece flew up into my father’s face, putting out his right eye.

Bruce’s position as a farmer was considered critical and exempted him from being drafted into military service. Although Dad was patriotic and wanted to serve, he was not allowed to volunteer. His eye injury prevented him from going to war. Perhaps the reason my sisters and I were born was that he lost his right eye in an accident – if you want to believe in accidents.

In 1945, a few weeks before his birthday and the end of the war in Europe, my brother Barris, died. He succumbed to seizures that my mother called Epilepsy, though they could not afford proper medical treatment and so the illness was never diagnosed. He was buried in Kentucky, at the Cold Iron Cemetery, near where my parents were born.

Bruce and Alta were devastated as they grieved the loss of their firstborn child. Parents are not supposed to outlive their children. It was several months before the emptiness in their life seemed bearable. It was over a year before my mother and father attempted to replace him.

During that time, Bruce was offered a job managing the farm where he had once worked as a hired hand. It was considerably more money and so he decided to take the position. Still, my father left on good terms with the Wildman’s, whose farm he had been operating for several years. He helped them find someone to replace him.

Family Pics-6

Joyce, my oldest sister, was born on February 7, 1947. She was not the son Bruce wished to replace his loss, but he doted on her all the same. My family’s living conditions were dramatically improved from when my parents last lived on the Ballenhoffer farm. They were allowed a farmhouse as part of the compensation, and land to use for a garden and raising their own chickens.

Two and a half years later, William E. Bailey, a young attorney in Springfield, contacted my dad. His last surviving parent passed on, leaving him the family’s two farms. The Wildman’s recommended Bruce to Mr. Bailey. My father accepted the position, establishing a business relationship and friendship borne of mutual respect that would endure for their lifetimes.

Subsequently, when Mr. Wildman died of a heart attack, Anamelia Wildman offered the operation of the two farms she owned and the farmhouse where my parents lived before. Between the Wildman and Bailey farms, Dad was overseeing the operation over 2400 acres and had four hired hands working for him.

Still, Bruce wanted to have a son to carry on the family name and to inherit a farm he dreamed of buying, a goal for which both my parents were saving for since they were married. Again, they tried to replace Barris.

Gentte and me 1959

Genette, my other sister, was born on January 10, 1952. Once more, my parents brought a beautiful daughter into the world. At that point, with the doctor’s recommendation, my parents decided two children were enough.

Over the next three years, many things changed for my mother and father. The crops were good and the livestock markets were rewarding. My parents saved enough money from their share of the profits from the farms to buy two acres of land from Mrs. Wildman. They planned to build a new home.

My mother told a strange story that I am sure she believed happened. Dad was convinced it happened, too. She heard a voice telling her to have another child. When she consulted with Dr, McIntyre, the family doctor, he confirmed that she was not too old but he warned her, as he had after Genette’s birth, that it would be very risky.

It was not an easy pregnancy. There was a point when she was convinced she would miscarry. With her faith and the prayers of others, she weathered the crisis. On May 7, 1956, eleven years to the day after the end of the war in Europe, I was born. Finally, my parents had a son to replace Barris. I grew up in my dead brother’s shadow, more so than either of my sisters.

Front yard on US 42

My dad asked his cousins who were carpenters to come stay for the summer and build the new house. When it was complete, my parents moved the family into a modern home, the first they ever owned.

As I grew up, Dad referred to me as his buddy – his little helper. As I grew older, I could help with the chores and a good deal of the backbreaking labor of working on a farm. The days that I worked with my father wore me out. It was time well spent, though. I appreciated how hard my dad worked for a living. I was amazed at how smart he was. He seemed to have the solution for every problem. Nothing was beyond him.


When I was big enough to reach the pedals and steer the tractor, I spent many a summer day in the hot sun. Whether it was piloting a tractor towing a baler along windrows making hay bales for my father to stack on the wagon we pulled behind or cultivating the corn and soybeans, it was what I did and Dad paid me a man’s wage.

Joyce graduated from Southeastern High School in 1965. The event fulfilled a part of one of Bruce’s personal goals, that his children would earn diplomas. Dad always wanted a high school education. But when he was a teenager, the Great Depression began. He had to quit school to work on the farm and help support and feed his family. He had a ninth grade education. Mom finished the eighth grade. Education of their children was paramount in importance to both my parents. They wanted to offer their children the opportunities they never had.

Around that time Dad and Mom realized their lifelong dream; they bought a farm. It was adjacent to Mr. Bailey’s farms so, even though father now had an additional 160 acres of his own land to work, it was close enough to some of the other farms that it was not as much of an increased burden. The new farm also allowed expansion of beef cattle production. The problem was that operating Mrs. Wildman’s farms, which were several miles away from our new farm, was increasingly difficult. Bruce continued to do it for an additional year, but all the time he was seeking someone to take over the operation from him.

The other logistical consideration was that we still lived in Selma, on land adjacent to the Wildman’s farms. Mom wanted to build a new house on our farm so she could correct all the deficiencies she found with our present house. I was ten at the time and had mixed feelings about moving away from the only house I remembered living in. The idea of a new house excited me and living on the new farm made a lot of sense. But I had memories. The house where we lived was my home.

Joyce standing beside new '63 Chevy Impala Convertible

Once again, Bruce called on his cousins to come spend the summer while they built another dream home. Meanwhile, Dad and Mom were remodeling the interior of the farmhouse on our new farm, with the intention of Joyce, her husband Jerry and their newborn son, Jame (Jay), living there.

Family Pics-9

While driving back from working on the old farmhouse, Mom, Genette and I were in a car accident. Other than the bloody nose I received from slamming my face into the back of my sister’s hard head and the resulting knot on Genette’s noggin, my mother was the only one injured. Her wrists were badly sprained from where she braced herself against the steering wheel in anticipation of the impact. Her right kneecap was shattered. Our car, a Candy Apple Red 1963 Chevy Impala, was totaled.

Mother spent the summer in a full leg cast in a house that was built before central air conditioning was common. She spent a lot of time sitting on the front porch, with her cast propped up on a chair while she hoped for a cool breeze. When it didn’t come, she used a box fan and an oscillating fan to fend off the heat.

Despite recovering from her injuries, she had to take care of the new baby while Joyce worked. Of course, Genette helped, not only in caring for the baby, but also doing housework and cooking.

It was not an easy summer for anyone. We had two house guests. I gave up my room  to Marvin, one of my dad’s cousins. Norman, the other cousin, slept in the room we called the breezeway, a family room we had made from enclosing a walkthrough between the house and the garage. My bed was a foam rubber pallet on the living room floor.

Mom’s cast was removed in early September. She was leery of driving but she liked our new car, a 1966 Chevy Caprice.

A few weeks later, we moved into the new house. Regardless where I lived, I was still  attending school in Selma. That was where the school district’s consolidated middle school was located. The only difference was I rode a bus to school instead of my bike or Mom dropping me off.

I matured a good bit over the next couple of years. My dad and I began to work together as a team and sometimes we traded places. My muscles recovered much more readily from the aches and pains of strain and overexertion. It was a welcome relief for Bruce to have someone he could count on to do some of the things he was never able to trust to hired hands.

As I entered the eighth grade, the newly constructed elementary school in South Charleston was ready to open. My class received the honors of naming the school and selecting a mascot. There were several suggestions and a good bit of campaigning, culminating in a school assembly, after which everyone was allowed to vote. The school’s name became Miami View. It was apt as a branch of the Little Miami River flowed behind the school. The mascot for every athletic team was The Patriots.  Of course, the school colors were red, white and blue.

The chores continued, either in the morning before going to school or in the afternoon after I returned home. On weekends I helped my dad on the farms. Sunday was the only day either of us had off. Dad refused to work on Sunday, except to feed the livestock. Dad believed that God understood His animals needed to be fed. Otherwise, Dad refused to do any business whatsoever on a Sunday.

Old Bachelor's House on Jamestown RoadArial view of Old Bachelor's farm

Dad purchased an adjacent 90 acre farm that had belonged to a man we referred to as the Old Bachelor. He was descended from the family that had once owned not only the farm where he lived and our farm, but also much of the surrounding land. He died in his house. As I was on friendly terms with him and went to see about him from time to time. It was an unfortunate circumstance that I discovered his body.

The family farm was now 250 acres.

When I  worked I was constantly analyzing everything, figuring out more efficient ways to doing nearly every task. Dad said it was because I was lazy, but really it was not. When given the option of working hard or working smart, I opted for the latter. If an easier way could be determined to do the exact same thing with less effort, I would take that course. Anyone would.

The problem with my father’s dream for me to take over the family farm was related to my allergies. A day of baling hay, for example, would result in irritated, itching, swollen and watering eyes. I’d sneeze throughout the day. At night, I was beset with coughing fits. Still, by the next morning, I was ready to go at it again. I had to endure the discomfort. However, it was obvious I was not cut out to be a farmer.


Genette’s goal was attending Wittenberg University in Springfield. It was an outstanding private college with high academic standards. If she attended Southeastern High School, he believed she could not receive the sort of education she needed to qualify for admission. From her sophomore year to graduation, Dad and Mom paid tuition for her to attend Shawnee High School in Springfield, reputedly the best public school in the county. As a result, Mom drove her to school every day until Genette was old enough to get her driver’s license. Once Genette was able to drive, Dad bought her a 1968 Plymouth Barracuda.

In the early summer of 1970, Genette received her diploma from Shawnee High School. She was preparing to attend Wittenberg in the fall, to study art education. She became the first of our family to go to college.

My dad and mom wanted me to follow in Gennete’s footsteps. Obviously, Shawnee prepared her well for college. But, because of the overcrowded conditions in all the public schools due to the ‘baby boom’ of the 1950’s, Shawnee was no longer accepting tuition students.

At the time, I was seriously considering a military career as an officer. I wanted to attend the United States Air Force Academy. I felt that if I attended a military school it would be a great help in meeting the admission requirements. Mr. Bailey, my godfather, was a personal friend of Congressman Brown who represented the US Congressional District where we lived. So, obtaining a letter of recommendation for appointment was no problem.

Me in miltary school uniform

Greenbrier Military School in Lewisburg, West Virginia accepted me and I began classes in late August 1970. Although I got over homesickness and adapted to the structure of the school, there were very few students who were there for the sake of getting a quality education. Most needed correction and many of them were still resisting the effort. Drugs were a problem and my roommate was one of the people involved.

Shortly before Thanksgiving, I told my parents what was going on at school. My father called the school and had a lengthy discussion with the administration about what I told him. They promised my father I would be moved to a private room. It seemed everything was resolved.

While I was home for Thanksgiving break, my father and I discussed everything and I was fine with going back to school. But when I returned, the new room to which I was assigned was a disaster. It needed repairs and there was a big inspection coming in a few days. There was no way the room could be made presentable before the inspection. It was obvious to me that I was set up to fail. It was punishment for opening my mouth to my parents about what was going on in the school. In the minds of the school administration, I broke a code of conduct. If I had a problem, I should have gone directly to the administration. No parents needed to be involved. The reputation of the school did not need to be tarnished.

I was in fear of the retaliation I might suffer from the other students. I called my parents to come take me back home. While I waited, I did anything to avoid being in my room.

When my parents arrived at the school, they had a lengthy discussion with the administration after which I packed my things into the family car and returned home.

Although I was prepared to attend Southeastern High School, my dad and mom insisted that I not. They rented an apartment in the Springfield Local School District so that I could live there, ostensibly with my mom, and attend Shawnee High School. I was never to tell anyone at school that I lived alone. Not only was it no one’s business but also I knew my parents trusted me. If anyone found out Mom wasn’t living with me, she could get into a lot of trouble with the State. Despite my emotional and mental maturity, I was still a minor.

At first, Mom came to the apartment regularly, almost daily. I always had food. Although I could do my laundry and knew how to cook for myself, whenever she was there, she took care of those things. She let me clean my apartment, vacuum the carpet, mop and wax the kitchen floor, clean the bathroom and carry out the trash. At night, I set my alarm clock to wake up in time to get up and get ready for school. The bus stopped for me in front of the apartment complex.

Twice, my mother slept in the apartment. That way she could say she stayed there without telling a lie. The phone was in her name. Each morning, when I woke, I called home. Each afternoon, when I got off from school, I called home. Mom would call me some time in the evening to see how I was doing. She called at random times, even two times in an evening. Although she said she trusted me, I understood she didn’t want me to think I could get away with anything. She was minimizing the opportunity for me to become a bad boy. On Friday afternoon, when I got off the bus, Mom would meet me at the apartment. I slept at my parents’ house on the weekend and helped my dad on the farm every Saturday. On Sunday morning I did the chores and then went to church with Mom. In the afternoon, I did my laundry and folded it. In the evening, after dinner, Mom drove me back to the apartment.

As far as anyone at school knew, I lived with my mother. They assumed my parents were divorced. No one bothered to ask for clarification, and so, I never provided any details.

Over the summer before my sophomore year, I periodically stayed in the apartment. I told my parents that for appearance’s sake I probably should spend time there. Besides, I liked some of the freedom and privacy I acquired. All of my things were there, so when I was at my parent’s house, it felt a lot less like home to me.

One of the nosier neighbors at the apartment complex stopped me in passing and asked where I had been all week.

“Oh, I was helping my dad. He has a farm,” I said and started to walk away.

“Where’s your mom been?”

“She was seeing her sister. She’s been sick,” I replied. It was true that my mom had seen her sister and Aunt Verna was sick. Despite my inference through omission of detail, Mom did not stay with her sister, though.

“Where’s she now?”

“Working,” I said. That was also true. My mother was a housewife. So, when was she not working? Then, I smiled at my neighbor. “Okay, it’s my turn. Why is any of this your business?”

“I was wondering where you’ve been?’

“I always help my dad on the farm when he needs help. He pays me. I can always use the money.”

Apparently that satisfied her. No one else at the complex ever bothered to ask me anything about my business.

Sometimes, Genette came to see me. She was taking summer school classes at the university. She moved onto campus when she pledged to join the Sigma Kappa sorority. Although Mom maintained her room at home, like me, my sister was seldom there.

Genette and I would see movies together. Afterwards we went shopping in Springfield or at the Upper Valley Mall. She took me to her sorority and hung out with her sorority sisters and her friends who were in fraternities. I sat in on some of her classes and met her professors. We went to the library and the Student Union. I really liked the learning environment and the campus atmosphere.

My primary means of transportation throughout that summer was a ten-speed Schwinn. I rode it everywhere, into Springfield, across town to my friend Brice’s house, and sometimes to Wittenberg to see Genette. Sometimes I rode the bike to my dad’s farm, which was thirteen miles from my apartment.

I rode the bus for another school year. It was pretty much the same routine as during my freshman year, except I spent some weekends at the apartment. My dad decided to get out of the livestock part of farming and so he raised grain only. There were fewer chores to do and less need for me to help him on weekends.

The summer before my junior year, I took driver’s education in summer school. I was eager to get my license. The irony was that I had been driving for years. As a farm kid I was allowed to drive farm equipment on the roads between farms. On the farms, I drove my dad’s trucks to and from the fields.

I rode my bike to school every weekday until the conclusion of the course. The day I received my certificate of completion for the course, I took my driving test and received my license. I acquired the gold 1972 Camaro my mother had been driving. As she liked Camaros, dad bought an orange and black one as a replacement for her.

Once my junior year ended, I was grandfathered into attending Shawnee for my senior year. I did not need to live in the school district. So, I moved back home and drove to school each day from my parent’s house.

It felt strange being back home, especially since I had grown accustomed to considerable personal freedom. I also played bass guitar in a rock band and had a number of outside activities. During my senior year, I think I tried my parents’ patience to the limit more times than not.

Purdue-University Fall

Wittenberg University accepted me a few weeks after I submitted my application. I figured that since my sister was a senior there, they would not turn me down. But I wanted to attend a major university and study journalism, a course that was not offered at Wittenberg. So, I applied to some Big Ten schools. Purdue University accepted me.

In the early part of the last summer I lived at home, I received my diploma. Bruce and Alta saw the last of their children complete a goal neither of them ever reached. A few days after my graduation, Genette received a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from Wittenberg University, making her the first in the family to graduate from college. I don’t think I ever saw my dad and mom as proud as they were of Genette. She worked hard and even struggled at times to receive her degree, but she would not quit. I was proud of her, too.

At the end of the summer, when I moved to West Lafayette, Indiana to attend Purdue, for all intents and purposes, all of my parent’s kids were grown up. I think the realization that I would not be following in his footsteps disappointed my dad. The dream of carrying on the family farming traditions would perish with him. He and my mother had saved to buy a farm that they could pass on to their children, yet their only surviving son was not going to be a farmer and neither of my sisters had any interest or inclination toward owning a farm, let alone operating one.

After a year of substitute teaching in the public schools, Genette decided that she really did not like teaching as much as she thought she would. She enlisted in the United States Air Force in 1975.

My oldest sister, Joyce, her husband, Jerry and their son, Jame (Jay), moved to Clearwater, Florida in 1978. Joyce became a successful administrative assistant for an executive before leaving to handle the office work for her husband’s private business.

Family Pics-12

Having endured the blizzard in January 1978, Mom said she was tired of living in a cold place. My parents sold their farm and some of their household furniture at auction. My dad had always dreamed of living in the southwest, so they moved to Texas – just about as far south in Texas as they possibly could go. They relocated to a little town called Mission that was just north of the Rio Grande River, near the cities of McAllen and Edinburgh. Genette’s first husband and I helped them make the trip.

At some point during the next year, Genette divorced Andy, her first husband. She received a commission through Officer Training School and, after a few years ended up in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, where she eventually met her second and present husband, Michael ‘Scott’, an Air Force pilot.

Genette at wedding reception with Joyce, Jay, Mom, Dad and Me

When I finished my degree in Mass Communication, the economy was suffering from a curious mess called ‘stagflation’, a combination of double-digit inflation and double-digit interest rates. I interviewed with several prospective employers but no one offered me a job. I spent a summer with my parents in Mission before moving to Austin to attend the University of Texas, majoring in Marketing.

Shortly before I graduated from UT, my parents moved to Clearwater, Florida and eventually to Palm Harbor, just to the north of Clearwater. I lived with them for a time, and then moved out into an apartment in Dunedin while I worked for a small advertising agency. A year later I joined the Air Force and learned Chinese Mandarin.

Before I left for my first overseas tour of duty in Korea, I sat with my dad on his driveway in front of his garage. There was a cool breeze that afternoon as we enjoyed sitting in the shade of a large oak. The subject was one we discussed before but never in as much detail as that day. He was a little concerned about what I was getting into with the Air Force. Genette was an officer. He was concerned about her but figured she was safer somehow. He did not understand what I was going to be doing and, frankly, I really could not tell him much because nearly everything I worked with was highly classified.

Dad expressed how proud he was of each of his children, not because of what we accomplished but that we were decent, caring people.

“I’ve had to work hard all my life,” he said. “I didn’t have the kind of education a man needs to get ahead. Your mom and I scrimped and saved everything we could because we knew what it was like not to have anything. We didn’t want for our children to know that kind of hardship.”

“I don’t know how you worked as many years as you did as a farmer. It’s hard work.”

“It’s honest work,” he responded. “I love the land. I enjoy watching things grow and taking care of animals. It’s not an easy job feeding the world. But that’s what I did with my life.”

“I’m sorry I couldn’t take over the farm.”

“Farming isn’t what it used to be. It won’t be too many years before having a family farm is nothing but a memory. The world is changing very quickly. I’m not sure how it is going to work out. I’ve always heard that the world will end sometime after 2000. I don’t know if it will. Only God knows those things. But I think if you are ready, it doesn’t matter when it happens. Until then, you need to live as good a life as you can, be honest and always keep your word. When you make a mistake beg forgiveness. When you succeed, be humble. When you have children, teach them how to be good people. That’s the best anyone can do.”

I married in 1985. My son was born in 1986 and my daughters were born in 1988 and 1990, giving Dad and Mom three more grandchildren. My nephew married in 1986 and had a daughter in 1987, my parents’ great granddaughter.

Bruce Williams was an ethical man who raised his family to honor what he stood for and what he believed was right. He fed us, clothed us, and gave us a roof over our heads with warm beds to sleep in. We never worried for a thing as children. If there was not enough for everyone, he would do without. I never knew a soul who didn’t like him. Most respected him and considered it an honor to know him. He was generous to a fault. He helped people who had nowhere else to turn, cosigning for loans when the bank would not give them the money they needed for something urgent.

Family Photo around 2003 -1

My father died a few days before his birthday in April 2000. The family gathered together for the funeral. By then Mom was in a nursing home with Alzheimer’s and could not attend. She would pass on nearly on her birthday in April 2003. People came from everywhere my parents had lived to pay their respects. My parents both lived to be nearly eighty-six.

#Family #Memorial #BruceWilliams #AltaWilliams #Ohio #Wittenberg #Purdue #UTAustin #GrowingUp


Changes In Frequency


Hey all who follow and read my blog. I will need to be changing things up a bit. I’ll still be posting to the blog but the frequency is about to change. There will be a weekly blog post but I cannot guarantee which day of the week at this point. Sorry about that.

I have been working more hours at my day job. Also I’m about to enter into a period of editing my next book(s) for publication as well as working on marketing and publicity campaigns for sixteen other authors. Yeah, I’ve become a plate juggler keeping sixteen plates spinning all that the same time, and sometimes one or two will wobble and I have to keep them from crashing to the floor and breaking.

We’ll see how things work out but I may post some random things at times, like updates and a few Throwback items. Some of you liked those enough to keep them going, however the latter takes a little research and continuing to do them on a weekly basis has become nearly impossible. I need to write sequels more so than blog posts about my favorite rock bands in the 70’s. Having said that, I like the subject of music in general. I might post some reviews of more recently produced music. We’ll see. There are several contemporary acts I enjoy. You might be surprised what I listen to…then, again, maybe not.

The focus on this blog is and has always been about my writing mores than my life but sometimes they two are inseparable. The more I strive to have my books become popular and my author’s brand recognized the less time I have to enjoy some of the things I like to blog about. Funny how that works out, isn’t it?

I’ve made a couple of strategic choices in the past week that may aid in my ability to keep up with blog posts. I have a portable computer that will be showing up later on today (Thursday). I decided to go with a Microsoft Windows based system, actually the Surface Pro 3. I got a good deal on a slightly used one. It will take a few hours to set it up properly to become the effective tool it needs to be. But this will allow me to take my writing with me to work at my day job so I can use my break time to post things to blogs, post promotional things for others and my myself and edit/revise my work – all on the go.



I plan to use The Cloud more often  in the future as this “new” computer has a smaller SSD but it is a lot faster than the relatively larger drive I have on the computer I use at home. However I would like to have a couple of TB’s of space to store all the pictures, music and such I have. I haven’t decided whether to get a personal NAS drive that I can access via the Internet or upload everything to iCloud, One Drive, Google Drive or some comparable service. I may be doing a bit of the latter as a test of viability for what I need over the next few weeks as an alternative to purchasing a personal NAS device. However, I like the idea of being able to access things from a server drive on my home network regardless where I am in the world. As my portable computer will only have 256GB of on-device storage I cannot keep all of my files on the device. Still, I will need to access my stuff from time to time. I’m not so certain I want all my documents residing on someone else’s server 0f regardless of how secure.


final color pandamoon logo-2

My publisher has a cloud drive I use for publicity an the work I have submitted for publication. In a pinch I could use some of that space, temporarily, I suppose, but I want to keep business separate from my personal things even if they are business related. Promotional stuff like this blog that is intended to increase awareness of my brand falls into the gray area between personal and professional stuff. That could be stored on my publisher’s drive.

A lot of my blog related stuff has used pictures I keep stored somewhere or the other on my local drives. I’d like to offload that to The Cloud but I don’t want that taking up space on my publisher’s server. Also I’d like to upload my personal music files but I would rather store all of that on a personal NAS that I can access from anywhere I am.

#NAS #PortableComputer #SurfacePro3 #Microsoft #PandamoonPublishing #Publicity #Blog


A Pretty Cool Day In Florida


For almost two years now I’ve been associated with Pandamoon Publishing, first as an author and more recently as a publicist. At times the latter role requires more effort and schedule juggling than the former but it is one of the few times since receiving a degree in marketing from the University of Texas in the early ’80’s that I have actually done something related to my studies. That’s kind of cool.

Aside from working on my next book(s), there are eleven more under contract now, I have had occasion to work with a diverse group of fellow writers. Personally I think all of them are more gifted than I am. A few of them have been fooled into thinking I’m as talented as they are. I’m good a creating illusions. Until yesterday, though, I had never actually met any of the other authors, other than chatting with them online. That isn’t to say I don’t know these people and over the past couple of years we haven’t become friends.

final color pandamoon logo-2

The Pandamoon stable of authors is approaching two dozen and continues to grow. The publisher is expanding its editorial and marketing staffs to handle the bandwidth of all those new books. For a relatively small and fairly new kid on the publishing block we are making some waves and gaining attention. And a lot of that has to do with the effort and coordination between the marketing team and the authors. One of the success stories is Steph Post, author of A Tree Born Crooked.

Front Cover

Steph and I both live in Florida. When I lived in Pinellas County, we were even on the same side of Tampa Bay, just a few miles apart. Close, but we never had an occasion to ever meet in person…until yesterday. This time there was no excuse. She was appearing as a panelist at the 6th Annual University of Central Florida Book Festival in Orlando. Currently I live a little over five miles from the venue. So, yesterday morning I pedaled my bike northward on Alafaya Trail and parked it in a bike rack in the midst of the festivities. I attended the panel discussion on mystery and crime writing. Responding to questions from a standing room only crowd Steph shined. I was proud of her not only because we are colleagues at Pandamoon but also because over the past couple of years she has become a dear friend of mine.


Afterwards she signed my copy of her debut novel and we took a picture together as proof that we had actually been in the same place at the same time. I met her husband, Ryan, and a couple of her high school friends who came out to the event in support of her. Really, what was important, though, was I got to hang out with one of my favorite authors. How cool is that? I’m such a fan boy.

Seriously, though, I loved Steph’s book from the first read through of the manuscript and since  it’s publication I have found it to be one of the easiest things I have ever promoted. Even if I wasn’t closely associated with the marketing support for the book, she would still be one of my favorite authors. I’m pretty sure that very soon her fame is going to blow-up in a huge way and everyone will be talking about her books. She has genuine talent that she has honed through the discipline of scheduling her time. She is a professional writer in every sense of the word. Personally I have no idea how she juggles everything she does, because is is also a writing coach and educator as well as a wife and ‘mother’ of several rescue pooches. But once you meet her and talk to her you really get the vibe that you’re in the presence of a remarkable individual.

As I pedaled home after spending a few hours at the festival I was thinking about how great it would be to get all the Pandamoon authors together in the same place at the same time. We have talked about it and even have a name for the event all picked out: “Pandamoonium”. I’m sure that sooner or later it will happen. Likely as not we’ll assemble in some central location, probably Austin, Texas, which is close to where the publisher is based. Only then will the sensation of being in the presence of greatness that I felt yesterday be eclipsed. Despite our geographic barriers I work with some amazing people.

It is a testament to the technological advancements over the past dozen of so years that people from every time zone in the western hemisphere have meetings regularly to share information and ideas about such topics as establishing and promoting author’s brand. Pandamoon Publishing is cutting edge in a lot of ways.


As for Steph Post, what she has done – pretty much on her own, albeit with some support from the Pandamoon marketing team – is nothing short of phenomenal. In the months since she signed with Pandamoon she has worked diligently on her brand, posting attention getting pictures that supported the theme and mood of her book, which is about crime in small town Florida. She contacted other authors in her genre, got to know them personally, read and reviewed their books, interviewed them, and her attention was reciprocated with reviews for her book. She arranged interviews on radio shows, with bloggers and scheduled personal appearances. Even before its release to the public, A Tree Born Crooked was receiving critical acclaim. Since its release it is being considered for some prestigious awards.

The reward for all her hard work was evidenced not only in the number of people who purchased Steph’s book yesterday but also the number of new friends she made as a result of her participating int he panel discussion. She signed a lot of autographs. In this age of Internet distribution and sales, one thing has not changed and it is ironic that, really, it is the same as it has been for the past couple hundred years. How a book is marketed always comes down to pitching it one reader at a time.

#UCFBookFestival #Orlando #Florida #Authors #StephPost #ATreeBornCrooked #PandamoonPublishing #ElgonWilliams #Publicity #Marketing #BookSigning #MysteryWriter #CrimeWriter


My Crazy, Busy Life – Lately

FINAL Final Fried Windows Front Cover Only

The sequel for Fried Windows is progressing slowly between my increased hours at my day job and doing some promotional things for others. I’m beginning the new story in the middle and working my way out to the beginning and the conclusion. That’s how I write sometimes, starting in the middle, usually with a conversation. In this one, Brent is talking to Strawb who is chiding him for having done something incredibly stupid – in her estimation, of course.

There are actually multiple beginnings for the story just because of the nature of the tale and what happened to Brent Woods at the conclusion of Fried Windows. That’s the hard part, connecting the stories together. I’ve done the easy part, writing the rest of the story – pretty much.

Yesterday my youngest daughter asked me about Becoming Thuperman’s release date. I told her it had been pushed back a bit in the queue to allow for the first two installments of The Wolfcat Chronicles. Throwing a Fried Windows sequel into that mix right now would only further confuse things and create a bigger bottleneck in my publisher’s editing and production bandwidth. There are other projects from other authors, after all. As publicist, I’m reading those books now so I know what we will be promoting. There are some very good books coming from Pandamoon, folks.

Anyway, my daughter has a draft of the the BT manuscript now and hopefully she’ll give me some feedback on it after she reads it. I know it needs a haircut in editing. So, in an effort to fix some things I’ve started a new revision and will be working on that in the background as I’m doing the FW sequel…and everything else. I need to do a revision anyway before BT goes into substantive editing, which is the first stage of the process of transforming a raw manuscript into a novel.


I’ve been thinking about drafting the sequel to Becoming Thuperman, titled Being Thuperman. I figure I’ll be in the mood and fully up to date with the plot issues and such at the conclusion of a new revision session. I haven’t worked on the manuscript since submitting it back in October 2014. The contract for it was signed in December. And I have revised all ten books of The Wolfcat Chronicles since the last time I worked on Becoming Thuperman.

In other news about my crazy life, it’s been raining a good bit lately. I’ve been fortunate not needing to navigate the 4.5 miles to and from work on my bike in a downpour. I have a 20 to 25 minute window of riding time (including wait times at traffic lights). So far I’ve been very lucky. Sooner or later I will be soaked though. Getting drenched on my way home isn’t as bad as having it happen not he way to work, though. Walking around for a whole shift in wet underwear is a drag.

I have a rain poncho but it is mainly a thin excuse for a garbage bag. I’ll have to get something better, I guess. When the wind catches the plastic of what I have it flaps in the breeze and exposes my backside, It was sprinkling a good bit on my ride home last night. The only thing good about it was that it wasn’t raining harder.

In Florida we have periods of rain when it is coming down so hard that people can’t see to drive – regardless how fast their windshield wipers are running. Imagine that on a bike at 20 miles per hour – which means at least 20 miles per hour wind in the face constantly.

A tree born crooked by steph post10353722_807716592608298_4156278773127079581_n

Tomorrow morning (4/18/15) I’ll be heading up to the University of Central Florida Book Festival on campus (about 5 miles north of where I live). Hopefully it won’t be raining as I’ll be riding my bike there My friend and fellow Pandamoon Publishing author, Steph Post, will be appearing there as a panelist. She needs to autograph my copy of her book. After all, I am one of her publicists. I think I should have a signed copy, right?

In the wacky world of Internet based operations, I have never personally met Steph. I have conversed with her a few times over the Internet both in text and via a program that allows sharing audio. We have spoken over the phone a time or two as well. She is an interesting young lady with a remarkable writing talent. Her debut novel, A Tree Born Crooked is one of the best novels I’ve read in the past year.

The Book Festival is from 10 AM to 3:30AM and it is being held in the School of Education portion of the UCF campus that is just so North Alafaya Trail in eastern Orlando.

#StephPost #ATreeBornCrooked #FriedWindows #UCFBookFestival #BecomingThuperman #Writing #Sequels #PandamoonPublishing


Computer Quest

For the past few months I have been in quest of a new computer – well, maybe a slightly used one but newer than what I’m using. The past couple of computers I’ve used have been hand-me-downs. Nothing wrong with that. They more than served their purposes. I’m using one of them now, so obviously I don’t absolutely, positively need a computer at this moment, but I am planning ahead a little.

I’ve saved some shekels this year. It’s been a challenge between working more hours and trying to continue my other roles. I’ve had to force the issue many times to write blog posts let alone make headway on sequels to Fried Windows and Becoming Thuperman – imagine that writing a sequel for a book that hasn’t been released yet. That’s my life lately. Still, I need the money so I’ve been putting in as many hours as work will allow me. I’ve saved enough that sometime before my birthday I’ll probably buy a new computer – a laptop.

In the past I was not much of a fan of laptops. As a computer tech I can tell you they are hard to work on and each manufacturer has some proprietary stuff involved, so you need to be factory certified to work on them. For a long time the question for me was “why bother?” Traditionally laptops were inherently slower than desktop computers. Desktops were easier to upgrade and much easier to repair. But over the past half dozen years the performance gap between desktops and laptops has narrowed sufficiently that for most people a laptop can be a desktop substitute, especially if the portability of the device matters.

There is something to be said about being able to pick up everything and go somewhere else with it. That is the main reason I’m looking for a laptop. And since I have been using a Mac for the past 8 years I started my search there. But I have not excluded PC’s. Lately I’ve been leaning toward a Windows based machine. Here’s why.


A couple of years ago my son talked me into switching to a Windows Phone. Although I found the transition between an iPhone and the Nokia problematic at times I liked the phones features. I’m hardly a power user when it comes to smartphones, so I would never think of suggesting that my experiences with Windows Phone OS are universally applicable. The largest frustration has been application support for specific things. For example, my publisher has started using Slack and for that there is no Windows Phone application. I’ve been using the Windows Phone 10 preview for the past few days and, though it is buggy and certainly not quite ready for primetime, I like the direction Microsoft is taking the operating system. If they can enlist developer support for the devices the phone OS is potentially better than either Android or iOS. And the intangible lingering in the background is that since businesses predominantly use Windows having a phone that works int he same universe as the computers at work and likely as not at home – as well as tying into Xbox One – would be a significant benefit for having such a phone.

Because of what I have been seeing with Windows development combined with some of the directions I see Apple going has led me to broaden my search for laptops. The premium price charged for a Mac is hard to justify on my budget. There is one piece of software that I use that performs better on a Mac but the Windows version does everything I would need. And the integration with my Windows Phone would be much simpler. (There is a application to connect and synch my phone to my Mac but I have not been totally happy with it.)

Currently I do most of my writing at a desk. So I haven’t needed a laptop. What I am using is technically a laptop but its screen doesn’t work so it is plugged into a monitor. keyboard and mouse. It works fine in that configuration, but it is not portable. I have an older Mac that is showing its age. It is slow and I haven’t even booted it up in the past month. The fact that it still works and still runs the latest version of Mac OS is kind of a tribute to how well the mac world functions. The laptop is 8 years old. The battery is shot. So, when in use, it is plugged into a wall all the time.

Sometimes it is nice having a different device to connect to the internet while I’m in the middle of writing something. In the past I have used a iPad for that. Sometimes I used my Windows Phone. But there are times when it would be damned convenient to have another computer – especially if I wanted to export a document and take it with me to work on it somewhere else – like during my breaks at work. Also, I expect to be traveling a bit int eh near future doing book signings and I will be staying overnight away from home. The iPad I have would be a paid in the arse to deal with traveling documents, some of which are not made for MS Office. That is why I need a laptop.



So, after searching what’s out there I have narrowed things down to a Macbook Pro 13.3″ with a 256GB SSD, a Lenovo Yoga 2 Pro 14″ with a 256GB SSD and a Microsoft Surface Pro 3 with 256GB SSD. Brand new, the Lenovo is the least expensive but it also looks less rugged than either the Mac or the Surface Pro. I prefer the feel of the Mac’s keyboard, though the Lenovo’s is a close second. The Keyboard for the Surface – which is extra – is its weakest feature though I played with one and it’s usable. And if I find it annoying I could use a bluetooth keyboard. For portability the Surface winds hands down, with the Lenovo a close second. The Mac has a newer generation of the Intel I-5 processor and it is running slightly faster memory. For what I do with a computer I doubt I’d notice a difference. After all, we are talking about nanoseconds.

I haven’t made a decision yet and I may end up delaying it further – who knows. It’s not like I need to make a choice immediately. But at the moment I’m leaning toward the Surface Pro.

#Microsoft #Apple #MacOS #Windows10 #WindowsPhone #Lenovo #Yoga2 #SurfacePro3 #MacBookPro


Throwback Thursday – Disco Music


Those who knew me in the 70’s may be surprised that in my coverage of the decade’s music I mention disco music at all. But it was a phenomenon and it would not be fair to consider the period’s music without giving it some attention. Having said that, disco music still has for me about as much substance as a popcorn fart and all the appeal of a Justin Beiber song.

Maybe the reason I detested disco music was that I could never dance well. Yes, I tried dancing here and there along the way, whenever sufficiently inebriated to have lowered inhibitions. I mastered “The Bump” and could do the “Hustle”. The fact that I knew those dances should indicate to you that like everyone else alive at the time, no one emerged from the 70’s unscathed. If you were a guy and wanted to pick up chicks, surfing disco lounges and parties was part of life and so, you learned some moves. In my case it was just enough to get by.

Anyway, I’m far from expert on the genre. Most of the people who listened to the sorts of music I loved really tried to avoid disco. A few of us would say, it’s alright to dance to it, but never listen to it. Some guys in my frat at college actually played it on their stereos while they were studying. I never figured out how anyone could actually do that and generally assumed it was the result of a undiagnosed brain tumor or something.


When the disco wave hit popular music it seemed like everyone was releasing a song with a funky beat. Even old timers like the Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons joined in with “Who Loves You”. Other more recent artists like David Bowie released “Fame”. For the most part the driving force behind the inception of the music was a popularization of Funkadelic riffs set to a driving beat that even someone like me – the two left feet category of human, could actually find.




New bands emerged like Average White Band, Wild Cherry and K.C. & The Sunshine Band. As is true of all pop trends many said it was a flash in the fan and would be soon over. My friends and I hoped that would be true. But it lingered and grew for a time.


Some bands transitioned their careers to the new genre and became much more popular. Second Wave British Invasion band The Bee Gees were on the decline in popularity. Remember a song titled “How Can You Mend A Broken Heart”? Their transition, supported with the release of the movie and soundtrack of Saturday Night Fever, relaunched the band’s careers into the stratosphere.

In the midst of the Disco Wave many traditional R&B bands shifted their style slightly to pick up a heavier beat and released some disco albums. Bands like Earth, Wind and Fire, The Commodores and artists like Rick James extended the genre into more of the mainstream undercurrent of popular music. Meco did a disco version of the Star Wars Theme that topped the pop charts.


A number of pop bands who considered themselves mainstream detested disco music about as much as those who played heavy metal, classical rock and such. The Bay City Rollers and The Sweet were two of the major forces of nature int he pop genre int he mid to late 70’s. Neither group released any “disco music”. In fact the latter released a song titled “Disco-Phony” that was lyrical attack on the genre, lifestyle of clubbing and the shallow sorts of people who were attracted to the genre.

By the 1980’s Disco had become more or less incorporated in the mainstream sound of popular music. Dancing and dance music never disappears, just the type of music driving people to the dance floor changes. Many new genres have erupted since the late 70’s including Punk, Rap, Grunge, Hip-hop and Techno yet some elements of the disco sound echo current music.

#70sMusic #Disco #BeeGees #SaturdayNightFever


The Deal – An Outtake From A Novel In Progress

The following was a chapter originally included in a novel in progress but later removed during revisions. It’s point of view followed a supporting character, the main character’s sister. It was too much of a shift for potential readers. However, I liked the story enough to keep it and dress it up a bit. It is based on a true story and as it is set in the summer of 1964, I researched car prices. They are realistic too. Enjoy!


The Deal

Joy focused the red Corvair Monza GT convertible in the brochure she’d been looking at, on and off, since it had arrived a few days ago from Wade-Walsh Chevrolet in Springfield, Ohio. It was exactly what she wanted. But what were the chances Dad would get her one as an early graduation present? Still, he had promised to take her car shopping and that was a start. Going into her senior year at Southeastern High having any car was better than riding the bus.

Come next June she’d be the first in her immediate family to graduate from high school, achieving a goal that had been impossible for her mother and father thirty years before. All three kids were expected to go on to college too. Bruce and Alta saved for all their lives with that goal in mind. Joy was to be the first though she was not the favorite, at least not in her mind. Both Jean and Elliot, her siblings were better at schoolwork. Maybe they were smarter in that way. Anyway, one of them would probably live up to Dad and Mom’s dream.

Joy didn’t think she was cut out for college. Honestly, except for seeing her friends and hanging out with them, she hated school. She’d taken typing classes because she figured she would eventually become a secretary. She’d thought about learning to be a beautician but she’d already mastered typing. She could do seventy-five words per minute – sometimes a little more.

“You ‘bout ready?” her father’s voice accompanied the knock at her bedroom door.

“For over an hour,” she responded as she leapt up and opened the door.

“I had to get everyone settled on what to do today while I’m gone. Anyway, by the time we get to Springfield it will be past rush hour.”

“Can I drive?” Joy asked, not really sure Bruce would let her, but sometimes he did.

“Maybe it’d be better if I did.”

“I’ve driven in the city before.”

“Not all the way downtown. It’s tricky with the one-way streets.”

“Fine,” she said not wanting to press the issue too far. After all, Dad was taking her to look at cars. No point in ruining his mood.

“We’re just looking today,” Bruce said as they headed out the door toward the candy apple red Impala convertible that he bought about a year ago from the very same dealership where they were going.

“I know that.” She skirted the front of the car to the passenger side, opened the door and climbed in.

“Dealerships want to sell something to everybody who walked in. It’s their business. They don’t want anyone to leave without buying a car. So they can be pretty aggressive. If you tell them up front that you’re just looking, sometimes they’ll leave you alone for a while. Get it?”

Joy nodded.

“Good. Now, I’m not promising anything but I’m bringing a blank check with me, just in case.”

“So we might actually get a car then?”

“We might. You never know.” He reached over and patted her knee. “Why don’t we flip the latches and let the top down – unless you don’t ant your hair all messed up with the wind.”

“I can pull it back into a pony tail.”

“That’s my girl!” Bruce chuckled.


Fifteen miles of looking out at the scenery – the wind blowing by fast and noisily, too much so for a conversation – Joy sat in silence, not wanting to get her hops too high. Even when they slowed down to the speed limit of the city, when they might have carried on a conversation, neither of them spoke. Dad had the radio’s volume cranked up, tuned to WLW, listening to the news between music.

When they arrived at the dealerships they pulled up to the front and got out. Bruce held the door for his daughter while she entered. Instantly she spotted the Corvair convertible on display. It was perfect, even better than the one in the brochure: burgundy with a white top, matching seats with burgundy carpeting. Immediately she opened the driver’s side door and sat inside, resting her hand on the knob of the four-on-the-floor shifter. She wanted it so bad she could almost taste it as her eyes darted from feature to feature, finally resting on the radio just as the voice of a salesman interrupted her daydream.

“She’s a beauty,” Eddie, the “up” salesman, said before adding. “And she’s loaded, too. I don’t think there’s another option you could put on her. Maybe air conditioning, but who needs that when you have a convertible?”

“It’s very nice.” Joy made brief eye contact with him.

“I’m Eddie.” He offered his hand.

“Joy.” She stepped out of the car and studied him briefly before shaking hands. He was so young, maybe twenty at most and dressed sharply, wore a flattop haircut and, despite the warm weather, he wore a necktie and white long-sleeved shirt. From the short distance between them she caught the combined scents of Vitalis scent of Old Spice – the latter was the same as her Dad wore, or was the scent wafting from her Dad who approached them from behind.

“I’m Bruce, her father,” Dad stepped between them. Eddie offered his hand and they shook “Is that a Kentucky accent I hear?”

“Yes sir. Born and raised on a farm outside of Ashland – close to a little town you probably never heard of.”

“I don’t know about that. I grew up in Morgan County. Moved here in ’37. Lived here long enough to lose my accent, I guess. I have cousins in Catlettsburg.”

“No kidding. My folks’ farm is five miles from there.” Eddie laughed, becoming more comfortable. “Everybody is someone’s cousin back home. For all I know we could be related.”

Bruce smiled.

“So is this the car you going to buy today?” Eddie floated a trial close.

“It seems awfully small to me.” Bruce replied on his daughter’s behalf.

“Sometimes that’s a good thing. I assume the Impala you pulled up in is a V-8.”

“A 283 – bought it here last year.”

“Has it been a good car for you?”

“No complaints.”


“This baby here has rear-mounted, air cooled V-6 and a four-speed, manual transmission. Are you comfortable with that, Joy?”

“She drives my pick-up,” Bruce answered for her. “It’s a manual.”

“That’s great!”

“What are we looking at for a price?” Bruce ventured.

“We can make it work for you, Bruce. You’re not going to pay too much are you?”

“Of course not.”

“Well, that’s good, ‘cause we never overcharge our customers. You say you bought the Impala here? Who was your salesman? I mean if you had a good relationship…”

“I always deal directly with Pete. Actually the day that car came in for Mr. Walsh’s use, I bought it out from under him.”

Eddie laughed. “That’s happened a lot. He has good taste in cars, I guess.”

“He’s the boss.”

“Yeah and he can drive any car he wants. That Corvette over there was his for a few days but he said it’s too flashy.”

“That sounds about like him.”

“Listen, Bruce, why don’t you and Joy take the Corvair out for a drive. Get the feel of it and make sure it’s exactly what you want. Then, when you get back, we can sit down and go over the numbers so that Joy can drive it home today.”

“We’re sort of just looking today,” Joy said.

“Well, take your time. If there are any questions, just ask. Since you’re one of our preferred customers, you know you can drive it for as long as you want. Take it home, show it off. Just let me know and I can get a dealer tag for you…”

“We live over fifteen miles away.”

“That’s no problem at all, Joy.”

“We’ll drive it around town, maybe take it out on US-40 to open it up a bit,” Bruce said.

“Great! That’s exactly what you should do. Let me get the keys and a dealer tag and we can take it outside for you.”

Having seen Bruce and Joy enter the showroom, Pete, the sales manager, freed himself and walked their way. “Bruce, it’s always a pleasure. Did you get the brochures?”

“Yes, we did.” Joy answered.

“This can’t be little Joy. You said she’s going to be a senior this year – how fast they grow up, right? Why, I recall you sitting on your dad’s lap when I sold him a pick-up – a blue one as I recall. That was one of the first vehicles I ever sold.” Pete chuckled. “And you really made me work for it!”

“I’ve still got that truck.”

“It’s been a good one, then. I definitely sold you the right truck.”

“I’ve got no complaints.”

“So, has Eddie been treating you well?”

“He likes to talk.”

“That’s the nature of the business. You know that, Bruce.”

“Anyway he’s from Kentucky.”

“So he is. You grew up there, too, right?”

“He lived close to a couple of my cousins.”

Eddie returned, keys and dealer’s place in hand. “They want to test drive the Corvair.” He directed to his boss.

“That’s great! Bruce is family, Eddie. You take extra special care with him.”


When Bruce and Joy returned from their test drive, they immediately mentioned that something was rattling.

“We can have our Service Manager check that out it right away,” Eddie promised.

“It needs to be fixed before we make any deal,” Joy stated, exactly as Bruce had told her.

“What speed did you notice it?”

“Not fast. Around forty?”

“Kurt can fix that. I’ll get him right on it. Was there anything else that caught your eye? Something you’d like to test drive?”

“She likes that car. It’s just the noise…”

“I’m sure it’s a minor thing. Thousands of parts and something just wasn’t tightened well enough. You never know until you drive it.”

“So, what kind of price are we talking about?” Bruce asked.

“Are you going to finance it?”

“It’ll be cash,” Bruce said.

“Great! And no trade-in makes it simple. Let me get all the information and we can sit down and work out the numbers. We can go over here and sit down. You need anything: coffee, water, soda pop?”


“Pop os fine,” Joy said.

“I’ll be right back.”

When Eddie delivered the drinks he excused himself to Pete’s office and waited outside the door until he was called inside. Pete jotted down a figure and patted Eddie on the back.

Eddie returned smiling broadly, “I think you’re going to be very happy. The list on that car is $2556.90 but your price today is $2250.”

“That’s more than I paid for the Impala,” Bruce complained.

“Everything goes up. Plus the Corvair is very popular and that one’s fully loaded.”

“Isn’t this the end of the model year?”

“It is, Bruce. That’s $100 and Pete’s doubling it plus an additional $100 preferred customer discount.”

“It’s still more than I’m going to pay.”

“Let’s work on it. You tell me what you think is fair and I’ll present that to Pete. It can’t hurt to try, right?”

“I was thinking two grand.”

“Let me jot that down. If we can get it down to $2000, are you ready to buy today?”

“If you can do that.”

“What about $2050? Is that doable?”

“See about $2000.”

“Okay, just do me a favor, initial this to show that’s your best offer.”

Bruce obliged but once Eddie was out of earshot Bruce leaned over and whispered to his daughter. “He’s working us.”

“Yeah, I kind of got that.”

As Eddie returned his smile was even broader. “I think we’re there, Bruce and Joy. We’ll gas it up, polish it, and give you your first oil change on the house.”

“How much?”


“Well, thanks for trying.” Bruce started to stand. “Tell Pete we tried.”

“We can still make this work. I mean we’re close to a deal here.”

“I can write you a check for $2000.”

“We all want to see Joy driving that car today, Bruce–”

“Look, I appreciate you working with us. I want you to earn some money, too. But I think $2150 is too much.”

“To be honest with you, $2000 is pretty low. That’s the hard part. If you could meet us halfway maybe that could work. Say $2075 or $2100?”

“What about $2000? If that is never going to happen just tell me.”

“Let me work on Pete. Okay? Because you’re a loyal customer.”

Behind Eddie’s departure, Joy whispered. “Is $2000 reasonable?”

“That’s all I’m paying. Pete’s training this guy and letting it go as far as it will.”

Eddie wore his most confident smile when he came back. “Because it’s you, Bruce, we can do it for $2075. That’s right at dead cost. We’ll do that for you.”

Bruce started to stand, again.

“Wait, let me ask you this: is there anything you don’t like about the car? We’re taking care of that noise thing, but is there anything we could add on?”

“Isn’t it fully loaded already?” Joy asked.

“There’s always something else we could add on. And, as Bruce can tell you, there’s more room in the price of accessories. Maybe we can strike a deal with just a little bit more money and bury cost in the price of the vehicle.”

“Look, the deal is for $2000 as is or there’s no deal,” Bruce interjected.

Eddie nodded before he excused himself one last time to talk to Pete.

“We’re just about finished,” Bruce whispered to Joy.

“I really like that car, Daddy.”

“Pete will make a deal. He always does.”

This time Eddie returned along with Pete. As they both sat down across the table from Bruce and Joy. Pete focused on Joy’s eyes. “This will be your first car?”

“That remains to be seen, Mr. Cook.”

“It’s Pete, Joy. It’s always Pete, especially when you’re buying your first car from me.”

“We don’t have a deal, yet.”

“We will. I promise. Bruce and I have been haggling over prices for years. Isn’t that right?”

“We’ve done some trading.”

“Bruce and I were just talking earlier. One of my first sales was a truck he still drives.” He explained to Eddie. “That was probably the hardest sale I ever made but I also learned a lot. Eddie says we’re close, here. Seventy-five dollars is close.”

“It’s still a lot of money,” Bruce said.

“Sure it is, Bruce, but it’s like less than 4% of the price. So, we’re haggling over the sales tax!”

“What do you need to make a deal?” Bruce focused on Pete’s eyes.

“Eddie, this is what you needed to learn, getting to the point of asking Bruce what he just asked me. Bruce is a tough negotiator. He learned horse tradin’ from his father. Car deals aren’t much different.”

“Is $2000 doable?”

“That’s very low, Bruce. Mr. Walsh would have to approve that because he wouldn’t make anything on the vehicle and Eddie would get what we call a flat, just base pay for his time.”

“His draw.”

“Exactly. That happens sometimes. A salesman on commission gets some of those and so be it. What we all want to see is Joy in that car. I’m in the kind of business where I can make people’s dreams come true. Ever since I realized that I never wanted to do anything else.”

“Let’s do it this way,” Bruce began. “Eddie needs to make a little something. He’s worked pretty hard here.”

“Just he didn’t close the deal.”

“I’ll bet the next deal he’ll close without your help.”

Pete chuckled as he turned to Eddie. “I threw you a curve letting you negotiate with Bruce.” He cleared his throat. “Let’s make the deal for $2050. That way Eddie can show a small profit and make a little money.”

“Let’s do it for $2075, tax, title and all. That way Eddie makes a little more profit. And you throw in a tank of gas; shine it up really good with three coats of wax and two free oil changes.”

Pete smiled broadly, offering his hand across the table to Bruce. “You sign the check and we’ll draw up the paperwork. Eddie can deliver the car to your house when they are all done with it. I’ll have the Service Manager do the same inspection we give to a trade-in just to make sure everything is right and tight. How’s that?”


“I’ll give Eddie a ride back,” Bruce said. “I’m thinking of trading-in that old blue pick-up if you have something I like.”

“Well then, while we get everything in order why don’t you take a walk out on the lot and see if any of those trucks catches your eye.”

#ShortStory #TheDeal #CarDeals #60s #Nostalgia #HorseTradin #Negotiation


Why I’m Not Going To Buy An Apple Watch


It’s cool, slick looking but also an impressively dumb idea. I know a lot of status seekers will flock to the Apple Store on launch day and emerge sporting the new Apple Watch on their wrist, but I cannot imagine wearing one. Here’s why:

Years ago, I wore a wrist watch. In fact, when I graduated from high school a Seiko self-winding wrist watch was my gift – I already had a car. I had that watch throughout college and it was, without a doubt, one of the most enduring things I had ever received as a gift. But alas, the metal watch band eventually broke – when I was serving in the military. And as I couldn’t see shelling out $45 for a new watch band (similar tot he one that was on it) I relegated the time piece to a junk drawer. I still have it somewhere in a box of old stuff. And, if I cared to shake it around enough to wind the thing, it still keeps time fairly well – accurate to within a minute over the course of three months and no batteries required.


I recall that a few months after my parents awarded me with the watch Pulsar came out with a red LED wrist watch in a gold or silver case. Both models went for over a $1000 bucks. Those were the rage, a digital time piece. It was no more accurate than my Seiko but it had a cool factor and lots of people flocked to the stores to get one. A couple of years later, Pulsar was bought out by, get this, Seiko. And Seiko manufactured a line of relatively inexpensive timepieces using LCDs under the Pulsar brand name. I recall they went for around $50 to $75. I even bought one of those but I wore it only on special occasions because I really preferred my Seiko self-winding watch. Eventually the battery died in that Pulsar watch and it ended up in my junk drawer. However, the watch band was in tact, though it was not compatible with my Seiko.


After I left the military I entered retail management. I needed a wrist watch, right? I was married and had a kid with another on the way. I had places to be at a specific time. Wearing a watch helped except that I did a lot of manual labor and frequently broke the watch band. And whenever I went to look or a replacement band I discovered that I could get a new watch for less money than the watch band. And so I usually wound up carrying the watch around my pocket, broken band and all. Eventually a vendor would give me a cheap digital watch to wear, something advertising their brand. Dutifully I’d sport that on my wrist for a while, until its cheap band would snap – after all the whole thing was free, right? And why would I ever want to spend money on a replacement band for a free watch. I just waited for the next vendor with a free promotional watch.


Then came the cell phone – not that I jumped onto that bandwagon early or anything. It was 1996 before I actually had one. It was large and clunky and I usually left it in my car for use in emergencies. Eventually they became smaller and I wound up with a flip phone that, on the outside when when closed, displayed the time. And so I had what essentially amounted to a pocket watch. No need for a wrist watch at all. That was when I realized how little a wrist watch was necessary. The cell phone kept more accurate time, right? I mean – it pings off the cell phone tower and self corrects to whatever signal the phone company uses – which is linked to one of the atomic clocks somewhere or the other. With the advent of the smart phone…well, I think you see where this is going.


So I have to ask why would I ever want an Apple Watch except for the bragging rights? As I understand it it will have to be charged daily. So it is only for wear out in public, isn’t it? It occurs to me it’s about ostentation at least as much as functionality. You see, my smart phone does everything it can do and more – except for keeping tabs of things like how fast my heart is beating or how many miles I have walked in the course of a day. Those are things I don’t really care to know but if I did, I suppose a case could be made for the Apple Watch – There are less expensive alternatives out there.

It connects with your iPhone. Well, that’s cool. So, now I can leave my iPhone in my pocket and at a glance tell the time, see my messages and access some other stuff. That might be useful, I guess, though I can’t see ever using any of those features. What does it take, two seconds to fish my phone out of my pocket? That is really why I’m not a candidate for one of the watches. Maybe, over time, the functions of the watch will prove to be of use to me. Other features will come, I’m sure, especially if the watch is popular and others attempt to copy it – just as they have done in the smart phone market that Apple essentially created. But for now, I’m not ready for the innovation.


Heaven forbid I ever break the band on an Apple Watch. Although there is quite an assortment available they tend to be pricy. I’d probably end up carrying my watch around for a few minutes or hours until I realized the absurdity. My cell phone in my pocket would make carrying around an Apple Watch in another pocket at least redundant.

So, Apple: Although I am a confirmed supporter of Mac OS and own an iPad and pretty much like everything you have ever made, I don’t think the Apple Watch is for me. It will probably go on to revolution a market for something I don;t as yet detect but I wonder. Will it hit the mark for most other people? As far as I can tell it is the cool factor that is most compelling for the present. As I’m not necessarily cool and have not recently needed to  wear a watch, I won’t be buying one.

#AppleWatch #Apple #CellPhones #Watches #Seiko #Pulsar