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Category: Billthebookguy’s Personal Stuff Page 1 of 2

Humbled and honored

Hi everybody, Bill here.

As I write this it’s noon on Friday, July 22nd. Standing The Final Watch has been up for pre-order for almost a month now, but I am humbled and honored to say that it remains in the top 900 in three different categories!

For so many people to believe in my work is thrilling and a little scary. Because I really, really, really care about giving you the best possible read for your money. My hope is that you will finish the book and email me (better yet, my publisher!) asking when Book 2 will be published.

So this brief blog entry is simply to say thank you. If you know anyone who might like the book, or would like a flyer to pass around or post in a work-place break room, please let me know.

You are all awesome!

My best to you all.



So much to do, so little time. With 87 days until the book launch, we tinkered with the website some more, wrote a blog post and played with the dogs. All 8 of them. Yes, I rescue.

This is Daffney, the first therapy dog in the family. She loves visiting physical therapy and hospice patients. 012

I should be doing more to prepare for August 17th, but it’s warm and sunny outside. I hate days like this, but boy, do I love them!


A new blog!

Hiya bookies, just a quick entry to introduce a new blog the Misses and I are writing about our latest business adventure. The link is: http://webbventures.blogspot.com/

And yes, I know the entries here have been pretty thin lately. I’m getting ready for the Countrywood Garage Sale next weekend and it’s a massive task. If you’re in Memphis and are going, email me for my address. Once that’s done, I have huge plans for this blog, so don’t change the channel.

An unexpected treasure

Morning bookies, this short entry is a little different. Today is a one-year anniversary, and it all started with a book sale. But first, a preface. On Dec. 28th, 2009, we lost our 12 year old German Shepherd, Missy. Then, in late July, 2010, our 12 year old mix, Keisha, was diagnosed with terminal cancer. This meant our only dog was going to be our five year old, Daffney. That’s kind of an empty house, for us.

I was on my way to an annual book sale last Sept. 9th, 2010, the same sale where the year before I had found a pristine signed first edition of Walter Mosley’s ‘Devil in a Blue Dress’, when my phone rang. My wife and daughter had been watching this puppy on Facebook at the Memphis Animal Shelter, and the poor little thing was within three hours of being euthanized. So I was directed to head to the shelter forthwith and retrieve said dog. No ifs, ands or buts about it. Being the independent sort, I did what I was told.

This little stray was about six months old. At some point her right foreleg had been broken and healed wrong, so her leg was twisted and she limped. She was emaciated, covered with fleas and mange, and had kennel cough. She was scared to death. But soon, she was ours. We named her Sadie.

I took her to my wife’s office, and the next day to the vet. She weighed all of 26 lbs. We had never had a dog with kennel cough before, so within a few days we were at the emergency room, but soon enough she was well. Daffney hated her in the beginning. Within three weeks, as poor Keisha faded, the puppy was Daffney’s protege and they were fast friends.

We were intrigued by what type of dog she was and to this day I think she had some Pharaoh Hound in her, but it doesn’t really matter. She’s a sweetie and I didn’t even object when she was invited to sleep in the bed. Naturally, with this being her anniversary of joining our family, she doesn’t feel well, but hopefully it’s just an upset stomach and she will be better later.

Yesterday was the annual book sale, and I told the people running it this story, which they liked. As I said then, they didn’t have a better surprise than the one I got.

Let’s get going again

Hiya bookies, long time and all that. So, school is over, I’m just waiting for my grades. Life is getting back to normal, which is to say chaotic and sleep deprived. It’s been one hell of a weird winter, that’s for sure.

*** Book news- Nevada Barr was hammered for lying in court during her divorce proceedings. Link below, but let me say this about her: I’ve been to one Barr book signing, at Davis Kidd in Memphis many years ago. The book signing area is right in the middle of the store, and I remember it was crowded that night. And the passage she selected had the F word in about every other sentence. Little kids were walking by and looking and their parents were hurrying them along, probably out of the store.

The F word doesn’t bother me, but bleating it in a crowded store catering to parents and kids was really uncouth. I still remember thinking how arrogant she must be to use that kind of language in that king of setting. The story below, therefore, does not surprise me.

Nevada Barr hammered for lying in court

*** Did I tell you we have 4 dogs now? 3 of whom are puppies? See, it’s like this: in late 2009 into 2010 we lost 2 of our 3 beloved dogs, first Missy, our German Shepherd, and then Keisha, a mixed breed rescue. Both were 12+. We were left with Daffney, our 5 year old mixed breed therapy dog. So in Sept., as Keisha was in her last weeks, I was on my way to a book sale when I got a call from Mrs. Billthebookguy, telling me this little girl she and my daughter had been following at the Memphis Animal Shelter was within hours of checking out for good. She had been picked up as a stray who had, at some point, broken her left front leg. It did not heal right and was at a weird angle and they thought nobody would adopt her. So I veered to the shelter and swept her up. She was covered in fleas, had sarcoptic mange and kennel cough, and was very under-weight.

Well, now she is over a year old, has gained about 20 pounds and is named Sadie, perhaps the sweetest dog we’ve ever had. And we’re pretty sure she is part Pharaoh Hound, as she looks almost exactly like one. And while her leg is at a funny angle, it doesn’t bother her at all. This photo was taken a few months after we got her.

So then we had two dogs, Daffney and Sadie, and they got along great. On December 11, however, the wife and daughter headed to the Olive Branch shelter to rescue a little girl who was scheduled to be put down. She was about 6 months old and had been at the shelter for two-three months, just a puppy who had never known anything but a cage. So she came home and we named her Gracie. She is our fireball. Good grief does this dog have energy. Sweet as she can be, but can’t sit still.

This picture was taken early this year, soon after we got her. She’s at about 45 lbs now and we figure she’s right at 11 months old. After exploring doggie downers I found a formula using valerian root that seems to help when she is really wound up. She and Sadie fight constantly, but in a good way. The wife calls them the twins.

And so we were back to 3 dogs, and done.

Err…well, no. Not exactly. We did not take into account Christmas presents. In the next blog we will follow this saga with the story of Kona the German Shepherd.

Automotive reincarnation

Hiya bookies! Tomorrow became Day-After-Tomorrow, I know. Lots of running round yesterday, meeting with teachers, renewing library books (I didn’t tell you that story, either. Jeez, so much excitement I can’t keep track of it all), trying to set up this nifty new computer (see, yet another great story untold!), and on and on. But let’s focus on the Focus.

As we last left our intrepid hero, me, my car was totaled and dead, smelling moldy after a week in the hot summer sun as dirty rainwater dried out inside. My mechanic kept telling me it was hopeless, that you would never know when some rusted out circuit would fail and I finally, reluctantly, had to believe him. It was like saying goodbye to an old friend. Not only that, I was down to our family’s emergency car. The insurance company paid, and then I discovered that the payment wouldn’t come close to buying me a comparable car. Figures, right?

In 1990 we bought a new (well, a low-mileage demo car) Volvo 740, which every member of the household has driven at one time or another as their primary car. Both my kids learned to drive in that car. It’s pretty beat up now, the seats are split out, the dashboard and door panels cracked, the trunk jammed shut…we have often been encouraged to get rid of it. The question is: why? It’s the perfect emergency car, and after 20 years it qualifies as an antique. So that was my choice, drive the Volvo. Except the A/C didn’t work. Fortunately, two shots of freon and the air was so cold I used it to hang meat.

No, not really, but I probably could have. Nice and frosty, the way I like it when the heat index in Memphis tops 120, which it did for like three weeks straight this year. That old Volvo remains one of the most stable cars ever built and if they really wanted to sell a lot of new ones, they would take that old car, duplicate it as much as possible and call it something brand new. Which, given its quality, it probably would be.

Anyway, I had wheels, but the Volvo doesn’t have a CD player, just cassette. I don’t listen to radio when driving, I listen to audiobooks, but mine are all on CD now and I was really depressed. Indeed, on that fateful day when my Focus was drowned I had begun listening to the Teaching Company production of History of Ancient Rome, a series of 48 college lectures by Professor Garrett Fagan. (By the way, if you aren’t familiar with The Teaching Company, you may want to check them out. They have lecture courses on every conceivable subject. And if Ann in Nashville is still reading this blog, I am reliably informed that your library system carries many, if not most, of them).

Not having a CD player, however, I listened to ESPN sports radio and realized just how utterly dreadful those hosts really are. I’m a sports guy, too, but come on! I’m glad most of the people on ESPN radio work there, because I can’t imagine what else they could do for a living. And for one brief afternoon I listened to local sports-talk radio. Amazingly bad. Intelligence-insultingly bad. Stunningly wretched, even. It wasn’t fun.

Then, about two weeks ago on the Memphis Tigers message board, an ad popped up from one of the long-time posters. He was selling a car. What kind of car? I kid you not, a 2001 ZX3 Ford Focus. Blue, no less. I PMed him immediately and he agreed to meet me at my mechanic’s place one afternoon. The car was virtually identical to my dead one. The hood was wrinkled from an accident, it didn’t have power-door locks and had 88,000 miles vs. my old one’s 27,000, but it was cheap and my mechanic gave it a thumbs up. I wrote the check. I did have to put some money into it, but I expected to. I may even have to put a little more, who knows? But the happy ending is that I am once again driving a nifty little 2001 Ford Focus hatchback, and at a fraction of the cost that I might have had to pay to get something I liked.

One small footnote that shows how foolish manufacturers can be. Ford no longer makes a Focus hatchback. If they did, I would have gone out and bought a brand-new one, even though car notes are anathema to me. I loved the car. But in their infinite wisdom, the big-wigs at Ford discontinued the Focus 2 door hatchback and replace it with the Fiesta hatchback.

Sorry, Ford, no sale on that one.

And so, your friendly neighborhood bookseller is once again wheeled up and ready to ferret out the best books for his bookies to buy. Thanks to you all for sticking with me!

What I did this summer

Yes, bookies, I’m seriously going to try and keep this thing going at a regular pace, regardless of how many other distractions come down the pike. But I’ve gotta issue a whining warning, because, sadly, I’m gonna whine for a minute.

Finishing with the tale of summer school, neither teacher added the optional ‘+’ to my grades. Not that it really matters from a GPA standpoint, it doesn’t, but it looks better on a transcript and believe me, my transcript needs to look as much better as is possible. Not only that, a ‘-‘ after your letter grade does adversely affect your GPA. Which really stinks. And the whining involves just such a designation, that little minus sign after what should have been a plain old A.

In most courses an ‘A’ grade is 90-100 percentage. A 91, for instance, is an A. In my communications class I received a 93. By itself that really angered me, it should have been at least a 95 but he didn’t like my last speech. Or, rather, he didn’t like that I took a subject that he assigned me, and assumed I would take a negative stance on, turned it around with a positive stance and was applauded by the class. And I did not get the grade for that speech that I deserved. Having given more than 1000 presentations and speeches in my life, it was my job for five years!, I know when I’m on and when I’m not. And that day, I was on.

Oh well, it’s really a minor thing but you hate getting cheated on something you think you’ve earned. Whining warning is now cancelled.

Did I tell you about my car? I don’t think so, but if I did pretend that I didn’t. So, back in May, the 24th to be exact, I’m at that very COMM class and on my way home. I had just cracked open a new Audiobook CD. A college lecture course, actually, The History of Ancient Rome on 24 CDs from The Teaching Company. As you know, I’m a real Roman history buff and was pretty pumped to listen to this on the way home.

Early afternoon, hot, the air wet with coming rain. Three miles from home the clouds started dumping water, harder and faster than I had ever seen in my life. Ever. Hail the size of golf balls. Waves building on the street. Surrounded by traffic with water a foot deep on the road I was trapped. Then, before I knew it, my car was floating and water was pouring in the doors. A warm sunny day had become like a Bible lesson with me as Noah and my car the ark. Except my car wasn’t waterproof.

Long story short, my nifty little 2001 Ford Focus ZX-3 with 27,000 actual miles was dead. Totaled. I begged my trusted mechanic to lie to me, to tell me he could bring it back to life, but to no avail. The insurance paid a reasonable amount but I didn’t care. My car was dead.

Tomorrow, the exciting conclusion!

It’s been a while…

Hi bookies! Yes, I know, it’s been quite a while since I posted here. And to those thousands who have written wondering if I’m okay…well, okay, to the one misguided woman who thought I was channeling her long-lost cat, the answer is that I’m fine, but this has been one hectic summer.

Aside from all sorts of non-bookie stuff, you know, like lawn maintenance and family and the like, I have been in school. Yes, back to college. One course required me to actually show up every morning, sit in a classroom and takes notes and stuff. With people half my age (or less). Fun times. It was during pre-summer, which meant 4 hours per day in a classroom for three weeks, then homework at night. Gross. I received an A- which royally peeved me. No way it should have been less than an A+, except the teacher was a dolt.

But that was must warmup for taking two, count ’em, two, online courses during summer session. The total number of pages read for both courses combined topped 3,700! In just over 2 months. That’s 9 books, 7 of them textbooks, not counting videos we had to watch, three written essays or more per week, two mid-terms each with two essays questions, a book review and a comparative book review. Holy cow! I did it, I’m not sure how, but for people who have to physically get up and go to work each day and then try to work such classes into their schedule, I have no idea who they do it. I really don’t.

Grades? Out of 2,000 possible points, 1,000 for each class, I received 2,002, and maybe a few more. Enough to pass, I guess. Hopefully the teachers will add the optional ‘+’ to the letter grade.

And school starts again in two weeks. Two more courses, God knows how many more pages to read…but I’ll try to do a better job updating this one. Thanks to you all, and go enjoy the rest of summer.

I’ve been lax

Hi bookies!

Ya know, I haven’t been doing a good job of blogging since the turn of the year. Yeah, I’m working on a book, but I’ve been doing that for 3 years now and the research will be years more, so that’s no excuse. And, yes, I have another massive personal project going, and the usual family type stuff that everybody has. That’s all true.

But still.

What I can do is start working through my rather massive backlog of Crime Fiction and SFF reviews. No need for links that may eventually go dead, just ramblings from yours truly. Oh boy, you’re thinking, lucky me. Well, I’m really not so bad at the reviewing thing. My editor at ILAM seems to like some of my stuff. So we’ll see.

A shout-out to my newest follower, Kim Smith, whom I’ll bet I’ve met in my doings about town in Memphis. Hey Kim, you’re a member of Sisters In Crime, aren’t you?

Making headway

Good morning bookies! Stand by for news and comment.

First, the ongoing drain on my time and energy may be coming to an end. Let’s hope so. At the least I’m making headway. If anyone ever asks you to be executor for an estate, think twice before you say yes. I had no idea how much time, effort and willpower it took.

*** The new issue of iloveamysterynewsletter is posted. I have a couple of reviews in it, and now a link back to this blog. also, I’m changing the descriptive header at the top to something a bit less accurate and a bit spiffier. Given the choice between content and spiffiness, I’ll pick spiffiness every time.

*** The Nebula Awards were given out last weekend. For those who don’t know, the Nebulas are awarded to Science Fiction writers based on the votes of fans, kind of like the People’s Choice Awards, as opposed to the Hugos, which are more like the Oscars. M.Scott Edelman is a longtime SF writer/editor and here’s a link to his blog from that weekend: Edelman does the Nebulas. Some great photos there, as well.

*** Sadly, it should be noted that Thomas Deitz has died. Dietz was young, 57, a well known SFF writer and by all accounts a good guy. I’m sorry I never had the chance to meet him.

Thomas Deitz

*** I find this next item fascinating. Why do people are publications spend so much time, effort and space on negative book reviews? If the book is wretched, why waste your breathe going on about it? It’s a really good question.

For example, the second worst book I’ve ever read is The Da Vinci Code. Complete and utter rubbish, not only because of its idiotic ‘research’, I can stretch willing suspension of disbelief pretty far, after all, but moreso because of the hideously poor writing involved. Dan Brown has never met a cliche he can’t use at least a dozen times, and the book buying public seems to crave more of this. So why do people like me feel the need to go on and on about it? I think the article makes some good points about that very thing.

Why bother bashing books?

*** Here’s a book I want to read about an event I didn’t know happened. Harry Truman’s Excellent Adventure: The True Story of a Great American Road Trip by Matthew Algeo. It seems that after he left office, Truman and wife Bess, and nobody else, went on a 2500 mile road trip across America. Imagine such a thing! You’re hanging out eating breakfast at a diner, dead tired after getting off work in the bicycle factory, and in walks the former POTUS and his wife to grab supper. Incredible. And yet, apparently, quite true. This may be one of those ‘I’ve got to look this book up’ books.

Harry and Bess go for a drive

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