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Eye of the Diamond-T Print

Congrats to the Winner, and Another Chance to Win!

The winner of the March Goodreads giveaway has been selected!

Eye of the Diamond-T Print

Jamie Lamb of Anchorage: enjoy your signed softcover copy of Eye of the Diamond-T, headed your way soon! Thanks for playing.

For the rest of you out there, you have a shot this month at another copy. Enter by clicking below!

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Eye of the Diamond-T by Bill LaBrie

Eye of the Diamond-T

by Bill LaBrie

Giveaway ends April 30, 2015.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter to win

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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

I Want my Kid to Catch on Fire

Looking back on it, I owe a lot to the February, 1981 issue of Motor Trend.

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I
 had just turned twelve. As a homeschooled sixth-grader I had perfected the art of doing as little as possible while still more-or-less keeping up with assignments. Literature and social sciences did nothing for me. Math? Let’s not get started on math.

I was wallowing.

Scratch that: I was sinking.

Then, I found that my mom had subscribed me (probably through Publisher’s Clearing House) to Motor Trend. One day the mail brought the issue in the picture above.

And my life would never be the same.

I read every article, every ad, and every letter to the editor. I memorized every specification of every car reviewed. I jotted down notes. I made a trip the the local library to dig into past issues. I started reading other car rags, giving them the same studious attention.

I was on fire.

Suddenly, it all made sense–all of the scholarly subjects. My vocabulary started growing because I wanted to understand the shadings of grown-up words. Articles on the United Auto Workers made me curious about unions and why they mattered. I wanted to know what a government-backed bailout was. Math suddenly seemed valuable. If I wanted to figure what gear ratio would be necessary to make a ’68 Camaro with a blown 427 top 200 MPH, I needed to know math. That. . . that. . . was what math was for!

But my inquiry didn’t stay isolated the world of cars. No! Soon, I started reading everything I could. Everything related back to the automotive world in some way.  Dante’s rings of hell obviously had inspired the design of the engine mounts on a Euro-market 1983 Ford Sierra. What other remote associations could I find? I needed to know more. I could sense my mind engaging like a set of straight-cut gears in a NASCAR Monte Carlo. It was all go go GO!

And in the background: Always the voice telling me that I really wanted a car so I could get away from my parents and never, ever look back.

But see, these were all good things. After years of blaise noodling over one topic or another, I had finally found something that lit me up like firecracker. It happened to come in the form of a magazine dedicated to reviews of the exciting new Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme. I’ve learned not to judge, and neither should you. The point is that it happened. Here we are. Motor Trend got me through high school and at least into college. I can’t fathom what a diagram showing the associations made from that one magazine might look like.

So now I have a kid who’s eight. He’s a lot like I was at his age: curious but unfocused; clever but not determined.

And I keep waiting for something to catch him on fire.

* * * * *

I suppose some could have foreseen that a 12-year-old gearhead would end up writing a book with a truck in the title. Pick up my debut novel Eye of the Diamond-T  HERE. It’s about a lot more than trucks, obviously.

The 66 Kid: Meeting Bob Boze Bell

Arizona has its living institutions, and one of these is author, historian, artist, raconteur, publisher, and radio personality Bob Boze Bell.

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While stumbling through the fields of the enormous Tucson Festival of Books, I turned a corner and happened upon a personal hero of mine. Bob’s articles and cartoons in National Lampoon and the Phoenix New Times in the 1980s reassured me there was someone out there who could relate. He was also proof that something great could bloom in the desert. From his beginnings as the son of a service-station owner in Kingman along the Mother Road in northern Arizona, he parlayed those experiences into an artistic career. He knew the road and life in the towns along that road, and it shows.

“My parents played Kingman. They were travelling lounge musicians!” I told him, realizing that of all people, he’d understand. He paused. His eyes glimmered.

“Where they happy?” he asked.

That’s the question a philosopher would ask, really.

Without getting too far into it while standing there, I explained that they likely would have been happy had they just left it at that. However, those evil deceivers Captain and Tennille had convinced them in about 1975 that they, too, could hit the big time. I might be the only person in the world who convincingly blames his lost childhood on Captain and Tennille. It’s not much of a distinction, but I’ll take it.

Bob appeared intrigued by the story behind my novel Diamond-T, and I proudly presented him with a copy, signed with my shaking hand (I think I got the date wrong. Oh well.) Yes, Bob: there really is a bridge. It’s on Hisoric 66 a few miles East of Seligman.

I picked up a copy of The 66 Kid, Bob’s compendium of images and stories collected through his youth spent along the Mainstreet of America. It’s a fantastic collection of snapshots, clippings, original art, and fond remembrances of Bob’s childhood in Kingman and at various places around Northern Arizona.

If I had an ounce or two more chutzpah, I’d call it a companion piece to Diamond-T.

If you want to see how things looked in the roadside oasis towns of that era, and learn the real-life stories of the people who lived there, I recommend it highly.

I also recommend all the other works of Mr. Bell — long may he reign as the troubadour of the modern West, and all that passed along that mythic old highway through Kingman.

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.

Inspiration: Paul Fussell on War

One major inspiration for Diamond-T came from the works of Paul Fussell. Among other things, my book was to be — at least in spots — a war novel.

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But not an ordinary war novel:

 I’ve been an enemy for years of the concept of the “Good War” and of all the sentimentalizing that’s done by people who didn’t fight it or who profited from it in one way or another. We all profited, but at what a cost.

I’ve been a fan of the writings of Paul Fussell since reading The Great War and Modern Memory in college. It laid out for me — for the first time — the origins of what I had come to know as the “modern world.” At some point in the past a cynical edge had come over society. The stark futility of World War One had set the course for the Europe’s descent into skepticism and irony, though that particular wave didn’t hit America until Vietnam.

“Chickenshit refers to behavior that makes military life worse than it need be: petty harassment of the weak by the strong; open scrimmage for power and authority and prestige; sadism thinly disguised as necessary discipline; a constant ‘paying off of old scores’; and insistence on the letter rather than the spirit of ordinances.”

The hero of my story is in a rush to join up with the infantry in 1944, feeling that it held the ability to wash him of his shame and personal doubts from his horrible childhood. It ends up only intensifying both. Fussell’s view of war inspired Nick Pente’s experience, but it was his attribution of the great social changes brought by mechanized large-scale combat that really formed my vision of what the book was to be about. Nick is both a hero and a victim. The way he’s seen most depends on the cultural attitudes of the reader.

“I would read accounts of so-called battles I had been in, and they had no relation whatever to what had happened. So I began to perceive that anything written was fiction to various degrees. The whole subject– the difference between actuality and representation–was an interesting one. And that’s what brought me to literature in the first place.”

Paul Fussell died in 2012 after a long and prolific career as an English professor and an infantry lieutenant. His contributions to our understandings of war and civilization live on.