Congrats to the Winner, and . . .

Congratulations to Jill Miller, winner of the Goodreads giveaway of a signed copy of Diamond-T.

The book is in the mail, Jill!

Also, I’ve decided to do the same thing again for March. Go to Goodreads at the link below to enter to win an autographed copy of my debut novel. Winners drawn on April 1st.

Good luck!

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Eye of the Diamond-T by Bill LaBrie

Eye of the Diamond-T

by Bill LaBrie

Giveaway ends February 28, 2015.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter to win

The Magic of the Number Five

There’s a reason why the main character of the book is named “Nick Pente.” A few reasons, really.

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In Nick’s world, “Pente” is the Ellis-Island shortened form of Pentageloi. His family’s original name means “five angels” in Greek. Nick was the only child to survive after his mother’s four miscarriages. He’s the fifth angel, as it were.

I had used the name “Nick Pente” in my various attempts at long fiction going back to when I was fourteen and still clacking stuff out on a manual typewriter. There was something that attracted me to that number five. I had no idea why that was.

As I got older I learned more about the number and how mythically “loaded” it is. It’s just about the most mystically-significant number there is.

And since we’re in the realm of myth and mysticism, I hope you’ll excuse my link to this site, which is a bit of an authority on all things five.

 

Properties of the number 5

Symbolism

It is the number of the harmony and the balance. It is also the number of the divine grace.

The number 5 is a characteristic of the man. First, according to the Cabal, it is the number of the perfect Man (got rid from his animal side). According to the Bible, it is the symbol of the Man-God by the five wounds of the Christ on cross (for this reason, it is also considered as the number of the grace). But it is also associated to the man in general (2 + 3) having an unstable character of duality, 2, in spite of his divinity, 3. The 5 is also found on the human body: the five fingers of the hand and feet, the five senses (touch, taste, sense of smell, hearing and the sight), the five members (two arms, two legs and the head, the bust being the center), the five bones forming the metacarpus, the metatarse and the brain-pan, etc.

Considerated (sic) as the mediator between God and the universe, the five is regarded as a symbol of the universe.

Symbol of the will’s divine.

Symbol of the perfection in the Mayas.
Symbol of the incarnated conscience – 4, Matter, + 1, Spirit.
Symbolize the force and the limits of the man in his control on the Universe.

Thus, Diamond-T stands as a mashup of mythologies — just as I had intended. But some of those symbols and myths go far beyond my intentions, and they keep surprising me with each email or message I get from a reader who knows better than I the power of certain symbols. The story is created new with every reading, and with every reader.

Nevertheless, I made sure that anyone can read it and get a kick out of it, even as an adventure story. Or a romance. No numerology required. 🙂

Nostalgia: What Should We Miss?

Nostalgia: It ain’t what it used to be.

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In writing Diamond-T it occurred to me that many of the most nostalgic people never had to live with the things they are nostalgic about, nor in the world that hosted those things.

This wasn’t a new revelation to me. I remember how much my dad loved McDonald’s. He had a thing for chain restaurants in general, but McDonald’s in particular. He had been a bandleader, and likely covered a million miles of America’s two-lanes going gig-to-gig back in the days before McDonalds. He and his bandmates ate plenty from the mom-and-pop diners that littered the roads at the time, and they still had the memories of ptomaine and salmonella and norovirus to show for it. The food in those roadside diners was usually just bad, as opposed to just sadly uniform. For my dad, McDonald’s was one of the high-points of modern America. It was an unquestionable advance for humanity. He laughed at the nostalgia for the roadside local diners.

So I started to think about the things it’s right for us to miss. What have we really left behind that should be recovered, and can be recovered without recreating a world we deliberately left behind? See, some of the “nice things” we occasionally miss were enabled only by things that weren’t so nice–like disregarding other people’s humanity, for instance.

Thus, I’ve narrowed the list down to only a few things. You are right to miss these things if you do, and if you’d like to experience them again, it can be achieved without changing the course of history.

1. Wristwatches. When i got my first pager back in the 1990s, I very quickly stopped wearing my wristwatch. That was a mistake. Sure, the pager kept time very accurately, and I was never without it. But somehow needing to pull it out of my pocket was an extra step sufficient to keep me from an awareness of the time. Also, the loss of the analog dial made time itself seem like even more of an abstraction than it already was. The same problems continued when I starting carrying a cell phone. I finally broke down about ten years ago and started wearing a wristwatch again. Now, I feel naked without one. Hopefully, the new smartwatch revolution will make wearing wristwatches cool again. But of course, they’re going to include some distracting non-time info, because that’s the point of a smartwatch.

2. Handwriting. It’s been suggested that handwriting is good for your brain. If that’s so, we’re in big, big trouble. I am starting to realize that handwriting imposes a mental discipline, but also liberates the writer in some way. I have a feeling it’s true what they say about how if all we had were computerized devices, someone would need to invent paper.

3. Paper books. I am half-afraid I’ll slit my own throat here considering how many of my sales come from e-readers. Nothing wrong with that at all. But in researching my next book, I’m hitting the old-style paper books — and hard. Sure, there are certain practical advantages (paper books don’t crash, the batteries never run out, waterspills can hurt them but not usually destroy them, etc.) but I also find there’s more of a chance to absorb meaning from paper. It might be because we see the stacks of paper on each side of the spine increasing or decreasing with progress. It might be the feeling of our fingers tracing across the page. It might just seem more real to us.

Anyway, these are the things familiar to our grandparents and great-grandparents that I think we can all safely continue to enjoy, or rediscover if necessary. Sometimes it’s right to be nostalgic.

Check out more of the wonderful, terrible world of the Fabulous 50’s in Eye of the Diamond-T available HERE.

What is a “Diamond-T” Anyway?

Some readers have asked just what the “Diamond-T” in the title references.

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I can’t say I blame them. No vehicle named “Diamond-T” has been produced in nearly fifty years.

But before the Chicago-based truck manufacturer merged with Reo to form Diamond-Reo in 1967, Diamond-T’s were quite the thing. The Chicago-based manufacturer made their name building some of the best trucks on the road:

Mack’s direct competitor in the light-duty big-truck field was Diamond T, builder of what many called the “Cadillac of trucks.” Diamond Ts, no matter the size, were never short on style or class. Flowing fender lines, aggressive grilles, rakish cabs-there was simply no way to mistake heavy hauler from the Chicago company founded by C.A. Tilt. “A truck doesn’t have to be homely,” he reportedly said more than once.

I’ve always been fascinated with things that go: Cars, trucks, bikes, planes, ships. I’ve seen and admired Diamond-T trucks in books and occasionally in museums for most of my life. One thing that always caught my attention — besides their obvious style and their usually-red color — was the logo.

According to the same reports, the company name was created when Tilt’s shoe-making father fashioned a logo featuring a big “T” (for Tilt, of course) framed by a diamond, which signified high quality.

So when the idea for the book occurred to me in 1992 or so, it came in the image of one of those stylish art-deco Diamond-T trucks hanging perilously off a bridge in winter just before sunrise — its hapless driver staring through the windshield at the obscure, stylized “T” pointing downward at the railroad tracks below him.

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Over the years, it gradually occurred to me that in the opening scene of the story, we see can something about the America of the 1950’s as well as a clue about where things were headed. Times were great, people were confident, but secrets had been shoved just beneath the surface. Some of those secrets are revealed at a critical moment to Nick Pente: the driver who is just as much a product of America — and Chicago — as the truck he drives.

Thus, it had to be a Diamond-T. A White, or Mack, or Peterbilt, or any of the others wouldn’t have had the same overtones–nor the mystical logo. Nick’s truck is an honest product of a confident and abundant America, and it’s headed for a fall.

Learn more about Eye of the Diamond-T by clicking HERE. I hope you’ll enjoy the journey.

red diamond t

Are you Writing or Facebooking?

I have realized this in the past:

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ainfully. I have painfully confronted this in the past. I’ve had to confront it again. I never seem to learn.

Social media and especially Facebook is like a dream come true for people like me who are basically hyperverbal. I have a power-bulge over whatever lobe of my brain is involved with putting out words. I don’t call it the “language center” because that would imply some measure of quality that sometimes I feel just isn’t there. But generally, I’m rarely at a loss for words.

A Facebook friend of mine who seems in many ways a genuine pain-in-the-ass occasionally posts writing prompts. He’ll put up a challenge like “Write a story where someone learns a dark secret. You must include an umbrella, a banana, and a harmonica.”

Bitch, please.

Ten minutes later I hit “post” on a short story about a travelling salesman who leaves his umbrella at the cafe, returns to get it, finds the place deserted, notices a banana on the counter, decides to pilfer it and is attacked by savage Amway thugs who beat him to death while one of them plays a harmonica in the background ala Ennio Morricone.

Ain’t no stoppin’ me. I think up stuff and write it down. That’s what I do.

The trouble with Facebook is that it sucks you dry. I’ve caught myself getting pulled into too many dramas concerning people I know I’ll never meet. Facebook groups are always one step from being interactive soap operas anyway, and I’m as weak against the drama as is anyone else. I recently trimmed my group memberships by about 90%. I had to finally admit that I didn’t care which 20-something member of the psychology-test cult was going to take the plunge and fly to Australia only to discover the love of her life has severe adult acne and some spare children and wives lying about. I tried to warn her. It’s a long plane ride in each direction–even longer with a broken heart.

So, no — if you’re Facebooking you’re not really writing. That’s not to say it’s not helpful in ways. You might be observing human nature and storing up concepts and images for later use. It’s also a handy way to stay abreast of the way people talk these days.  If you do it right, you might also be building a following. But those followers need something to read and buy.

See? There’s a conflict.

I’ll keep my Facebook active because I need to — just as I need to keep Twitter, Instagram, Google+, Tsu, and God knows what other services I’ve given my personal information. Life happens on the net these days, though often enough work still happens offline.

But yes, duty calls, and I need to spend more time writing, and less time Facebooking.

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Check out www.diamondtbook.com for my novel’s purchase links and reviews.

Your Invitation: Sunday Facebook Event with Giveaways!

Hello, everyone out there in BlogLand!

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This Sunday I’ll be doing an event takeover on Facebook, helping fellow authors Alicia Taylor & Natalie Townson launch their new book Avowed.

I’ve done a few of these events and they’re always fun. I’ll be posting fun stuff, asking probing questions like “Whatcha wearin’?” and giving some stuff away.

I’ll also be running a contest for ebook versions of either Diamond-T or something from one of my fellow authors. Maybe both, if I’m in a generous mood. I just might be.

Anyway, the festivities start at 12:00 EST this Sunday, the 22nd. Just follow the link below to join the event. It’s just like being part of a Facebook group: fresh posts appear in your newsfeed. Jump in with your questions, comments, concerns, or dirty jokes at any time. Show your support for indie authors in a way that simple, fun, and free of charge.

Here’s the link, or just click the image above:

https://www.facebook.com/events/776489765739994/

See you there!

The Diamond-T Thrill Ride Rolls On!

Just the latest great review for Eye of the Diamond-T:

“The story of Nick Pente takes you on a thrill ride like you’ve never been on before. You don’t know what’s going to happen next. You find yourself rooting for this character as he navigates life on the road, and then again as life takes a huge turn in another direction. Mysterious and intriguing, this book will leave you thinking it over long after you’ve finished.”

Check out more reviews at Amazon HERE.

Want a chance to win a free signed copy this month? Enter my contest on Goodreads HERE!

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Why I Need Gasoline Therapy

I can’t take it anymore. This sitting still is doing me in. I need gasoline therapy.

I suppose if I owned a vehicle powered by diesel fuel, that would do as well. Diesels can be good because you can get more range from them. Range is essential for what I need. It’s an essential part of gasoline therapy.

I bought my first motorcycle shortly after I turned 33. It was also my first extra-marital affair. Wife-at-the-time hated bikes — just hatedthem. So I promised her I’d only ride my dinky little 500cc Honda around the neighborhood or to the store to get bagels. Sometimes I’d have to ride 100 miles away to get just the right kind of bagel. Because I cared.

But yes — whenever her back was turned, I was sneaking in some time with my prematurely-haggard little Japanese consort, redlining her up a hill on the way to Payson along the Beeline Highway, riding through the moonlight on the way to Globe along US60, doing laps up and down Yarnell Hill and scaring myself shitless.

When I came home one afternoon, wife-at-the-time was in the kitchen and waiting for me. She took one look in my eyes and knew she had lost. Her rival had my affections. That harlot had plied me by burning gasoline–which had never really ceased being my drug of choice. I promised my wife I’d spend more time with her when she wasn’t . . . ohhhh . . . galavanting through the Caribbean with “friends” on “business trips.”

But you know what they say about such things: Slippery-slope and all that. Within a year I had two more bikes, each with longer range than the previous one. I finally bought a Honda ST1100, which carried enough gas to allow me to take in hours of therapy at a time. I was gone — and soon, so was wife.

No big. More time to ride this way.

I used to figure on how many tanks it would take to get me up on a high. I thought in terms of tanks. Usually, after two and a half tanks in that ST1100, I was cookin’. From Phoenix, that would put me somewhere near Reno or Grand Junction, or in some godforsaken part of Utah. Once up on that high, I would sometimes find I just couldn’t stop. I rode to Canada once, just to smoke a cigarette. The Mounties didn’t understand why someone would ride 1500 miles to smoke a cigarette and take a picture near a sign that said “Bienvenue au Canada.” The US Border Patrol on the way back didn’t understand, either. Philistines.

But then life happened. Another marriage happened. A kid happened. Another divorce happened. I came down off my high and started writing instead. Writing is good, but it’s not the same. There are many wanderers who also write, and many works of literature based on wandering. Some of these writer-wanderers eventually settle down, but the wanderlust stays. John Steinbeck took one last journey around the country and used the experience to write what is probably his best book. Then, he died. It was sad, but also a good closure to the career of a man who had helped mythologize the Main Street of America.

So now, I can go a few weeks standing at the bistro table in my condo, socializing at my bar, taking long walks around my ‘hood and bicycle rides a little further away. Then, I need range. I need gasoline therapy.

I need that feeling of being an arrow launched by a longbow at the peak of its flight on the way towards an indeterminate target. I need to feel the world wrapping itself around me like a carrousel, with me at its axis. I need to take my place in the intoxicating, whirling dance of being, denying death by means of pure, frenetic motion.

I need gasoline therapy.

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And yes, you can bet that my novel Eye of the Diamond-T has a lot of gasoline therapy in it. Join the session here: LINK