When I was a boy, I was very fond of the comic strip PEANUTS. I had several books of the compiled daily strips, and one of my favorites was entitled SUMMERS FLY, WINTERS WALK, CHARLIE BROWN! At the time I didn't really appreciate just how true that could be. After all, when you are a kid, three months of summer vacation are FOREVER. The days stretch out, packed with adventure and activity, and the milestones - family vacation time, fishing, riding your bicycle everywhere under the sun, Vacation Bible School if you are a church kid like I was, afternoons at the movies - by the time summer ends, you're almost ready for school to start so you can get some rest!
Now, before anyone interjects, I fully recognize that most adults work all summer long, with only a brief week or two where they can pack in a vacation. I am blessed beyond measure that, as a teacher, I can actually be off work from the last week of May through mid-August. (Technically, though, I'm not really OFF work - just working harder at my other occupations!) So I'm not at all ungrateful for having this time off every year, but at the same time - MAN! that time flies! So as I sit down here to update my blog for the first time in a couple of weeks, I thought I would take stock of what I did with the time I had.
Of course, as an author, book signings are the most effective way to get your name and your titles out there, so I tried to book as many of those events as I could into the summer months. There simply is no substitute for personal appearances, where you can put a face with your name and personally invite people to buy your books. And I did a LOT of that! Looking back over my calendar ap, I did nine bookstore events, plus three artifact shows where I sold books from my table, and spoke at three different churches and sold books there as well. That translated to 115 books that I personally sold this summer, not counting my online sales from Amazon and my website (I won't know about those until I get my summer royalty check this fall). I'm still not where I wish I was - let's be honest, I'd LOVE to have sales like Stephen King or John Grisham - but hey, I'll take it! (And, of course, if you are reading this, feel free to help me bump up those numbers by ordering my books at the link I'll provide at the end of this column!) Also, I have four more signing events coming up in August, so check the "Meet Lewis" page on my website to see if I'll be coming to your neck of the woods!
Summer is also "me" time. And for me, that always means arrowhead hunting! My hunting pace has slowed to a crawl compared to previous years - partly because my local hunting conditions are so very sparse, and partly because I am spending so much time promoting my books. I went on my first hunt of the summer on Memorial Day, up to the river, and found one of the most memorable artifacts I have ever picked up (I chronicled that hunt here back in May, if you are interested in reading about it). I made a return trip to the river, a couple of weeks later, but we got rained out before we could find much of anything. I also made two trips down to Limestone County, TX, my favorite hunting ground, and found nine points the first time and four the second, but then my trust old tub, the Water Turkey, began having engine trouble and has languished in the shop ever since. As soon as they get the parts in, though, we'll be hitting the water again in quest of Indian relics. I still have a couple of weeks left!
Artifact shows are another enjoyable part of my summer routine. For years my friend Ray and I have hosted a show of our own, however, this summer we just weren't able to put it together - I was too busy and he was too sick. We will try to do it next year, I guess. However, I did pack up four tables' worth of relics and head down to Temple, TX for the biggest arrowhead show in Texas, during the first weekend of June. I took my wife along and we had a lovely time - I did some buying and selling of relics and also sold a big old pile of my books, and just thoroughly enjoyed walking around and staring at some of the finest Indian artifacts ever collected in North America. After the show we drove down to Austin the next morning and I did a book signing there, and then enjoyed a nice leisurely drive back. There were also two shows this summer and spring in Midlothian, TX - an excellent little show hosted by my friend Harold Hughes. In a way, I enjoy it more than Temple because I can actually get around and see ALL the tables, since there are only 35 of them, instead of spinning my wheels trying to take in 250 tables of relics at the huge Temple show.
You can't talk about summer in Texas without mentioning the weather. The past few summers around here have been relatively mild - most days in the 90's, with nights in the 70's - in other words, certainly warm and downright hot in the afternoons, but not miserable. Well, this year we jumped back into the patterns of the previous decade. So far we have had 21 hundred degree days, and one particularly brutal Sunday a week or two back it jumped up to 109. Folks, that I is just plain HOT, no matter what part of the country you are from! Needless to say, that thoroughly curtails any outdoor activity that does not involve getting in the water.
Since we are full time caretakers for my mother-in-law, who is now 90, it's very hard for us to get away for more than a few days at a time. But this past weekend we did combine a book signing in Houston with a chance to sneak down to Galveston for a couple of days, and had a wonderful time! We got to visit with my sister, I sold a few books Saturday, and then Sunday was a glorious day of rest and leisure - walking on the beach, enjoying fresh Gulf seafood, touring a museum, and just relaxing without worrying about whose night it was to stay up with Dorothy, or having to listen to the incessant yapping of her beast Allie, the world's most annoying dog! Few things are more therapeutic than the sound of the waves rolling in and the cry of seagulls over the water.
What else did I do with summer? I finished the musical I was working on, about Theodore Roosevelt - I have no idea if I will ever do anything with it, but I had fun writing it and felt a real sense of accomplishment when it was finished. I began writing, with my friend Holly Rice, a screenplay based on my novel THE TESTIMONIUM - we're hoping to turn it into a feature film at some point! I also resumed work on my long-delayed novel THE EMPEROR AND THE APOSTLE, and I will have it finished very soon - I plan to start working on the final chapter this afternoon. Then there was the YouTube channel that we just launched, with Holly doing the filming. What else? We celebrated the Fourth of July with fireworks and a grass fire (which, I will note, was NOT started by our fireworks!), we had my wife's brother over for a visit and spent time with his family, we did a few minor projects around the house, and all the usual chores that go with adulthood.
All in all, it's been a remarkably busy summer as well as a fun one. In fact, looking back over this column, I am reminded of another comic strip I love, CALVIN AND HOBBES. One of their jumbo anthologies was also about summer vacation, and its title pretty well could stand as a memorial to this marvelous, crazy hot, busy but relaxing season: THE DAYS ARE JUST PACKED!
Now the crazy month of August lies ahead, with a couple of weeks to try and pack in as much activity as I can before resuming my classroom duties on the 22nd. More book signings, hopefully a day or two on the lake with the Water Turkey, helping my wife unpack and set up her new classroom - summer's not over yet, but the end is in sight! Now, if you want to spice up what's left of your summer with a good book and help support your favorite blogger in the process, you can order my books directly off my website, or on Amazon if you prefer to get them there:
And please don't forget, if you have read my books, to swing by online and leave me a review on Amazon! Good reviews mean a lot. Thanks, as always, for reading this, and enjoy whatever it is you do with your upcoming month of August!