1950s

Meet the Author on Saturday, and Get Free Stuff (Maybe)!

I’ll be joining Isa Jones, my favorite British/Mexican book publicist LIVE tomorrow at 1:30PM EST for a celebration of her blog‘s one year anniversary!

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Click this image to join the Facebook event Saturday 3/28

Join the Facebook online extravaganza featuring a lot of authors with a lot of books featuring heaving bosoms and defined, sweating pecs.

Then, there’s me!

I’ll be posing questions, answering questions, sharing intimate details, and stirring up trouble. I’ll also be giving stuff away. Join the event and watch the posts roll by. Jump in when you like!

Also, speaking of “giving stuff away,” you still have a few days to enter my book giveaway on Goodreads. Enter to win a free, signed copy of Diamond-T delivered to anywhere in any of these 50 United States. Enter the contest below.

And no matter what you do this weekend, please try to remember to have a great one!

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Eye of the Diamond-T by Bill LaBrie

Eye of the Diamond-T

by Bill LaBrie

Giveaway ends March 31, 2015.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter to win

The 1950s: America on the Brink of Change

Diamond-T is about a lot of things.

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One of those things is how the status quo of the time couldn’t remain standing. 1957 was a great year in a great decade for Americans. Many Americans,  but not all.

Already, cracks in the facade were beginning to show. And in the decade that followed, they’d explode full-force.

Kinda like a truck going off a bridge and crashing into a train — if you know what I mean.

Anyway, of the many challenges my protagonist Nick Pente faces, one of the most remarkable is racism. Not against him, really. Although he’s ethnically Greek, it never stopped him from getting a table in a restaurant. No — the challenge to Nick shows through in what he allows himself to dream about. He knows deep-down that the idyllic life in suburban Chicago he desires just isn’t going to work with him married to a Hopi maiden.

And then there’s the case of Shelby Howell. He inspires Nick to consider what might be in the trailer he’s been towing up and down Route 66. He’d never paused to think about the load he was carrying: His baggage.

Throughout the story there are hints of things that were taken for granted in a time when race and ethnicity were very real things. For many people alive at the time, it was all they needed to form a judgment. Readers from younger generations might be shocked. But then, maybe not.

Anyway, pick up your copy of Eye of the Diamond-T today and see what I mean. There’s a lot of meaning folded into Nick’s last journey down Route 66.

Guest Posts Wanted

Do you have great a story from Route 66, or anywhere along the American road?

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Do you have thoughts on the American experience of the “greatest generation” and the vast transformations in America between the 1950’s and the ’60s?

Can you write well and concisely, keeping it to under 600 words or so?

Have an image you own (not borrowed) that you can put with it?

Post in the comments and let me know. I’d like to get more people aware of my book while helping my fellow bloggers get more exposure. Not a paid position (of course) but if I like your contribution and use it, I’ll send you a free ebook copy of Eye of the Diamond-T.

Mid-Century Modernism and Diamond-T

In 1957, they didn’t call it “Mid-Century Modernism.” It definitely was “modern,” however.

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The architecture of that age partially inspired Diamond-T. The confidence and sheer audacity is undeniable. One of Nick Pente’s first stops on what would be his final trip happens at a place I called the “Jet Travel Plaza.” It’s a fictional truckstop-of-the-future somewhere along Route 66 near Amarillo. It embodies a lot of what was then current in commercial architecture.

The tall, automatic sliding doors opened onto a palace of glass, stainless steel and burnished aluminum. The floor glowed with the aura of neon and recessed lighting. The lights over the kitchen-order window looked like the exhaust ports on F-105s, glowing orange on takeoff. The stools at the counter resembled metal-and-vinyl thrones that would have been at home on the bridge of an intergalactic cruiser.
Busboys and waitresses moved about about in linens white as pure bolts of lightning. The waitresses wore orange aprons and little pillbox hats. The workers seemed slow at this early hour, but still carried themselves with a cheerful efficiency. The floor was polished like a gem. It seemed to have diamonds in it. Music filled the air, faintly echoing off of every hard surface. Each booth and most of the spaces at the counter had their own chrome mini-jukeboxes, where for a nickel, one could hear the latest from Ferlin Husky or Jimmy Rodgers or Roger Williams. Where it sat, the Jet seemed like an outpost of an advanced civilization from another planet. — from Eye of the Diamond-T Ch. 3

Spacey!

There was something magical about that time that still captivates us. Thus, the continued popularity of the architecture, furniture, and art of the time.

Flavorwire has put together a nice little slideshow of images from that fanciful time when whatever didn’t look like a spaceship needed to look like a Tiki lodge of some description. You can see more HERE.

And don’t forget to get your copy of Eye of the Diamond-T HERE.

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.