Survival_FacebookWhew, that was a long intermission. I’m up early this morning thanks to a daughter with a penchant for hitting the snooze button, but with no particular interest in actually getting out of bed. That being the case, I thought this would be a good opportunity to catch up readers of this blog on what’s been happening and what’s coming up.

I know you can hardly wait to get the lowdown on my own personal hoedown of activity.

First and foremost I should come clean on the issue that seems to bug people most. I don’t write every day. There, I said it. To be more accurate I think it might be better to say, I don’t write for publication every day. Weekly, yes. Daily, not a chance. Just like you, I’ve got other fish to fry, other chores to attend to, and maybe even a nap to take in the afternoon.

That nap sounds particularly good right now. Yikes, it’s not even 7AM yet. What’s that say about my lifestyle? Nothing good, I think.

Since I last posted in this space, I’ve been hard at work converting The Lifeboat Augusta series to audiobooks. That work is almost complete. The fifth and final installment, Survival of the Fittest, will be on the market in just a matter of days. That will feel good. A completed project leaves me with a sense of accomplishment. Getting things done is my purpose in life. At least I think it is. So far, anyway.

Of course when I say, “I’ve been hard at work,” what I actually mean is, Elizabeth Phillips has been hard at work. It’s Elizabeth who reads, records, edits, fusses, and fixes every syllable of the five novellas that make up the full series. I simply click a button and listen to her elegant, alluring, oh so feminine voice put life to my words.

Is there anything more flattering or self-indulgent than listening to a genuinely engaging woman read your work with all the enthusiasm, pathos, and humor you intended it to have? No, I don’t think so. Hearing a truly talented narrator like Elizabeth put voice to my story may be the most hedonistic thing I’ve ever done. And I don’t feel the least bit guilty about it. Quite the contrary, in fact.

To say she inspires me is an understatement. Elizabeth Phillips. Remember that name. She’s got something. Really, she does.

As for myself, I’ve got something, too. Like most writers, I’ve got a job. A straight job. A regular gig I spend the bulk of my time at. However, in my case I’ve managed to avoid toiling away in a cubicle farm all day, or doing pretty much anything that’s pedestrian, uninspiring, or…normal. What I have is more of a hobby that’s gone completely out of control.

Everyone should be so lucky.

Most of my waking life is taken up being an Ambassador for AOPA, the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association. My role is to help people get more out of life, basically. That’s not what it says in my job description, but that is what I do when you get right down to it. It’s tremendously gratifying work.

My territory is Florida, a massive sandbar that juts out into the water, establishing a barrier between the Atlantic Ocean and the Gulf of Mexico. Who knows what sort of mayhem might erupt if those two ever got together. Oh wait, they once were joined together back in the days when Florida was entirely underwater. As it will be again one day. Not in my lifetime, mind you. But someday.

Here’s a tip for future generations. Don’t buy beachfront property. Rent it. The beach is a short-term destination. It moves as the water level changes. And yes, the water level changes over time. Rent, don’t own beachfront property. You can thank me later.

As if being surrounded by sale water wasn’t enough, in the middle of my adopted home state is a twenty by thirty mile lake known as Okeechobee. I guess God put it there so nobody on this semi-tropical outcropping of limestone and sand would feel too isolated from the water. And we don’t. It’s everywhere. You can hardly dig a toe into the dirt without hitting water.

That being said, this is home. In fact, this is the only home I’ve ever known. Certainly, I’ve lived in other places and I’ve travelled a fair bit. But until I set down roots here in the loosest soil you’ll find in the continental U.S. I never really felt as if I was settled down. Now I am. I’m stuck down good and solid here. I like it.

A typical work week for me doesn’t exist. Every week is different. Every day is different. However, there are certain consistent themes to how I spend my time, and I’ll happily share that information with anyone who is interested.

I fly a lot. Not as much as some, but far more than most. And when I say, “I fly,” I mean that I sit in the front seat where all the dials and switches and gauges are. I am a pilot after all, and an airplane owner, as well. Actually, I’m a two airplane owner. If I had my way I’d be a three airplane owner, and perhaps I will be one day in the not too distant future. Given that, it seems reasonable to fly a lot if you own a small fleet of airplanes. And call me a control freak, but if I’m not in the pilot’s seat, I don’t see any reason to be on board the airplane.

It’s my thing.

Interestingly enough, I feel the same way about motorcycles. After nearly half a century of riding, I can’t remember the last time I sat on the back half of a motorcycle seat. It won’t happen again, I can tell you that. My personality tends to lend itself to being the guy who sets the course for my next adventure. I’m a lousy passenger. It’s a rare and tedious experience for me when I sit idly by in a vehicle of any kind…or in life for that matter. I run my own game. As I said, it’s my thing.

So I fly a lot, and I habitually dress like I’m on vacation, and I don’t write as many books as some readers would like. But hey, I’m busy having a life here. A good one, too. In fact, things are going so well I’m told I’m going to be a grandfather this year. That’s a first for me. I’m pretty excited about it, too.

As you’ve heard, age has its privileges, and among those is the freedom stop caring very much if you’re measuring up to the expectations of others. I anticipate a fair amount of the time I have left will be spent thinking about and doing my best to entertain a small, drooling person with tiny little hands and feet. I’ve changed my fair share of diapers over the course of my fatherhood, and I suspect I’ll be back in that business this year. Things could be worse. I’ll travel to the big city where his parents live and watch the little guy grow and learn and become a real person with his own personality and dreams.

One day, you fair reader, may meet this new Beckett person. If you do, I hope you will be kind, as I hope he will be kind to you. Perhaps he’ll ask you what your impressions were of his weird old granddad, being something of a fan as you are. And maybe you’ll share your thoughts with him. Between you, perhaps you’ll come up with a fuller, clearer picture of who I actually am, or was, as the case may be. The reader and the grandson just might crack that mystery and get to the bottom of things in a way no reviewer or critic ever did before.

Of course I’d be happy to provide a short-cut and just tell you the unvarnished truth right here and now, but I don’t know it. I’m too close to the subject, you see. I mystify myself as much as I do anyone else.

Somehow, I think that’s the way it ought to be. It makes a better story, anyway.

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