americana

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!

isaheader

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.

diamondt-teaser-shelby1

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?

112-1216_IMG

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.

What is a “Diamond-T” Anyway?

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

diamont-hood-ornament

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.

diamondtlogo6x8 (1)

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

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.

* * * * *

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

“Selig” means “Blessed”: Happy Coincidence

A dear friend brought up something interesting about my choice of locales for Diamond-T the other day. Something I hadn’t thought of at all. It was serendipity. Just a happy coincidence.

feninger66

The pivotal scenes in the book happen in Seligman, Arizona. You might remember that name from various human-interest stories about the hardy eccentrics who still live in this little town–one of the last along Route 66 to be bypassed by I-40. It also served as an inspiration for the Disney movie Cars, which thanks to my 8-year-old son, I have seen upwards of 100 times.

Anyway, this friend called to express delight about the book, but also to ask me if I knew what “Selig” (as in the first part of “Seligman”) means in German. I really didn’t. I knew the town to have taken the name of a railroad official in the area at the time the Atchison, Topeka, and the Santa Fe laid rails through the area near what had long been a wagon path, and before that a footpath, and before that an animal migration route.

It turns out that “Selig” means both “blessed” and “departed.”

In the context of the book’s location and what happens there, that’s pretty astounding. What makes it even more so are the Germanic natures of those who oppose my protagonist, Nick Pente.

So the main character finds his solace and redemption near a tiny Arizona town with a name that means — in German — “blessed, departed man.”

That, my friends, is only one of the many such happy coincidences that shaped Eye of the Diamond-T.

I hope reading it will also give you an inspiration to find the happy coincidences in your life.

Check it out at diamondtbook.com