Dear 12-Year-Old Sue

I think this would be a photo at the end of sixth grade at Old Bonhomme Grade School. I was about to enter West Ladue Junior High. Note the sophistication.

Dear Sue,

First, let me say that everything will be fine. You will be happy … a wonderful family and a successful career, albeit in a small pond.

But I don’t mean to sound a tad disappointed with you, but you could have written. I say that because I just watched a wonderful YouTube video (to which you will say “Huh? What’s a video? What’s YouTube?”) that applies to this conversation between young and old me. Stick around, kid, you’ll like videos and YouTube.

“A Conversation With My 12 Year Old Self: 20th Anniversary Edition” is a film created by Jeremiah McDonald, who updated a VHS tape in which he talks to his 12-year-old self, who at that earlier age was talking to his future self.

Got that?

I didn’t think you did. But this video is absolutely brilliant and hilarious. It was like taking a time machine back and forth in this guy’s life.

I will stop here patiently while you watch this 3 minute, 47-second video. You will see what I mean. Go here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XFGAQrEUaeU

Young Jeremah, age 12.

32 year old Jeremiah McDonald, now a filmmaker.

Done? There have been answers and parodies to this video, which went viral within hours.

So I admit it, I’m jealous. I didn’t expect you to make a video. That technology had not been invented by then. But the guy who made this video became a filmmaker, a brilliant one it appears. You became a writer/personal historian. You could have left some letter to your future you, aka me.

As used to be said by adults when you were a little kid, “What am I, chopped liver?”

So here’s what I say to you 12-year-old me, “Don’t you have any questions for me?” Let’s pretend like you did and this is my nearly 48th anniversary response to 12-year-old me.

In the summer when I turned 12 in 1964, you/me/I was about to enter West Ladue Junior High School in suburban St. Louis. For my friend Jean Passanante I must interrupt to say, “East is least and West is best,” although now she will bring up that pesky issue that West closed down but East did not. Picky. Picky.

At West Ladue, a guidance counselor actually told me/you, “You will never be a brain surgeon.”

No wonder, Sue, you/we were lacking in self-esteem. My esteem then was based on your – my – sense of humor. It was self-deprecating.

Funny thing about life: humor still gives you/me self-esteem, but I am much more confident as an adult.  Back at West Ladue, I was criticized for the number of Villager outfits I had or did not have. No wonder I had that self-esteem problem.

In your adult life, Sue, there will be ups and downs. Ups include family, despite the loss of oldest son Matt to leukemia.  We speak to each other and love each other. In fact, I was once accused of coming from a “functional family,” something that others at the table said they did not have.

It’s true. I/you/we had no doubt in my/our life that (all those pronouns) was loved unconditionally.

As far as career, this personal history thing is really great stuff. I feel such a connection to those I interview and preserve stories of individuals, families, businesses, organizations and even the community.

Please stop rolling your eyes, Sue. That is uncalled for. Still around, you’ll like it when you in your 50s, or even your 40s. You don’t have to wait THAT long.

And of course there were downs – but the point is not whether you have them but how you deal with them.

My reports from the future also include these bits of advice:

  • Be nice to other people.
  • Family and friends are most important.
  • Change is good. Nothing stays the same  – we don’t stay in junior high forever. Heck, junior high even became middle school in most places.
  • Embrace technology,
  • Stick to your principles and values.
  • Be healthy.
  • Try not to care so much about what other people think. They are as self-conscious as you and are too busy worrying about what you think of them.
  • Be happy (you are in charge of your own happiness; no one can make you happy).
Stop rolling your eyes. I’m not even sure rolling eyes had been invented in 1964.
Anyway, hang in there. Life is too much fun not to be a part of it, my friend (which you also have to be to yourself).
What would you learn from your 12-year-old self? What would you say to your 12-year-old self? And what would you say to the 12-year-old me, or nearly 60-year-old me?

And here is a link to an interview with the filmmaker on YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m0B3RZs_sRM

This was me modeling my mother of the bride dress in 2008, which would have been the 36th anniversary of talking to my 12-year-old me had the 12-year-old me bothered to leave interest in the future me.

The Great Winter-Summer Debate

I rest my case. Mike Smith cartoons, Las Vegas Sun.

Be it resolved: Winter is better than summer. And so begins the great winter-summer debate.

I stand before you to present the case for winter on these grounds.

1. You get to shovel snow.

2. You can always wrap yourself in a blanket or put on an extra layer.

3. In summer, it is hot and there are bugs.

And now the anti side to that resolution that you might present:

1. Summer is better because you don’t have to shovel snow.

2. You don’t need a blanket.

3. You get to do stuff outside.

Imagine the high school students going at this great winter-summer debate. My stand, of course, is that winter is better than summer. And for the record, I also say that in winter.

Here’s how the debate goes. After arguments are prevented in favor of  the resolution that winter is better than summer.  Then each side gets to rebuttal the other’s argument.

For example, I would suggest these arguments in response to the points about why summer is better than winter:

1. You have to shovel snow? Hire a kid to do it. You provide employment and stimulate the economy.

2. You don’t need a blanket? Except when the air conditioning is set so it is so cold inside (and I love wrapping up in a blanket).

3. You get to do stuff outside. Really? It’s hot and then there are bugs.

This is my blog; you don’t get to rebuttal my arguments. Deal with it.

However, there is a serious debate of winter v summer at http://www.debate.org/debates/Summer-is-better-than-Winter/1/

For me, it purely is based on the miserable scale. I am much more miserable in July than January.

So let’s not argue. I’m right. You are wrong if you like summer better. Admit it.

Family Vacation Memories Are Not Always What You Expect

(The following was written originally for the blog of the Association of Personal Historians, www.personalhistorians.org/blog)
 

I’m sure every parent who ever packed the kids into the back of astation wagon envisioned a trip that would create memories that the family would look back upon in years to come: memories that would one day be part of a treasured family history.

Vacations are the stuff of memories, of course. As a personal historian, I get to enjoy my clients’ vacation stories along with my own. One client, a man in his upper 80s, said the family car always stayed in the garage because his dad hated to drive. Once a year, he piled all the kids into the car to go visit relatives—but only after their mother had given them enemas first so they wouldn’t have to stop.

To say the least, he didn’t like it.

Memories are not always what mom and dad might have had in mind. And of course each family member recalls a single event differently. What you remember and value as a kid on a car trip—you and your siblings poking each other for entertainment—your parents remember as the kids driving them crazy. Didn’t we all have a parent give us a menacing look and threaten, “Don’t make me turn this car around!”

Another truth about vacations is that they don’t always turn out the way we expect. You can either laugh about them or get bummed out. I prefer laughing.

My parents always hoped I would become an adventuresome eater. On one trip to Europe, all I ate were ham omelets. On another, it was smoked salmon. I’m shown here with my Mom, Lee; Dad, Milton; and brother Andy. This may have been the trip that Andy brought home some goodies for friends that Dad said had to be recalled and tossed in the Mississippi River. I’m sure the statute of limitations has run out.

Despite my dad’s frequent warning of, “I won’t take you to Europe,” issued in response to whatever bad behavior my brother Andy or I were up to at the time, we managed to make three family trips. I’m sure my parents hoped culture would rub off on us. But my fondest memories are not of seeing the Mona Lisa in the Lourvre in Paris or the Coliseum in Rome. My memories are of the goofy things on these trips:

  • We tired of restaurants so Dad picked up sandwich fixings from a market in Amsterdam. Without a knife to spread anything, we used our toothbrushes.
  • Dad drove into a park in Vienna, not knowing cars were not allowed. Elderly ladies tried to stop us. “Verboten! Verboten!” (Forbidden! Forbidden!) Andy and I cracked up in the backseat as Dad desperately sought an exit. It became less funny when he started driving down a short flight of steps.
  • We once had two hours in Morocco to “do Africa,” which included riding a camel. That adventure followed my being seasick on the boat from Gibraltar. For many years, I wouldn’t go near a chocolate mint, which I ate as we took that soon-to-be sickly adventure.
  • My teenaged brother brought switchblades home from Italy as souvenirs for his buddies. His goodie-goodie little sister knew about them as we went through customs and was terrified. (When Dad learned about them later, he made Andy gather up his souvenirs and toss them all into the river.)

For me, the joy of our trips was not the destination, but taking the journey together—and laughing about our experiences later.

It took me a while to laugh about this experience. If there was scenery I sure didn’t notice it when we went up a mountain in a gondola. My dad did his best to try and keep me calm. I never did like heights.

So on this or any holiday, if you are setting off on a family vacation, relax. You can count on memories being made—the good, the bad and the ugly. Whatever the outcome, record those stories in your own family history, and one day, you’ll even be able to laugh about the not-so-pretty stories along with the good.

What memories do you have from family trips? What stories (that you can laugh about now)made it into your family history?

Wear plenty of sunscreen.


About today’s contributor: Susan T. Hessel, whose business is Lessons From Life, is the At-Large Director for the Association of Personal Historians. Even though she wasn’t too fond of it at the time, today she fondly recalls her “poofy Paris hairdo.” 

Personal history on the fly: An infestation of flies without a calendar

Swarming mayflies.

Consider this a personal history of mayflies. It will be short because they have a rather short history.

I know I should be a good citizen and appreciate all those mayflies dying for us despite our sins. Their presence is supposed to indicate a thriving environment.

But they are bugs and creepy. Think very tiny birds a la Alfred Hitchcock. They swarm around light, making it preferable to keep outside lights off.

In past years, the snowplows have been used to get the little devils off the Mississippi River Bridge.

My first year in La Crosse, my husband and I headed to the old A & P store to pick up something or other one night. We had no air conditioning in the car so windows were down.

When we pulled into the A & P parking lot, the front window had a swarm all over it. I panicked, started rolling up the windows in the car and crying, “We have to get out of here!”

It was that creepy.

So this morning, a friend sent me this photo that her husband took Tuesday night as he was working downtown.

Not everyone is bummed by the insects, however. My friend Carol told the story this morning of going camping with her then 8-year-old niece when there was an infestation.

She wanted to know what those insects were so Carol and her husband explained that they were important for the health of our environment.

Not being an environmentalist, I had to Google “importance of mayflies” – which never come out in May – to describe it here. “Mayfly nymphs are an important component of many freshwater ecosystems. Grazing by mayflies is important in preventing the build-up of a large biomass of aquatic algae and detritus, and in nutrient cycling. Because mayflies can be quite abundant in many habitats, they are an important food for many species of predators.”

Read more: Mayflies – Ecological And Economic Importance Of Mayflies – Mayfly, Lake, Species, and Press – JRank Articles http://science.jrank.org/pages/4188/Mayflies-Ecological-economic-importance-mayflies.html#ixzz1zfBOXl38

Thanks, guys (both the mayflies for the work you do and the website that answered my question).

After learning about mayflies, this little biologist-in-the-making picked up piles of mayflies and put them down by a tree.

“Better stay over here,” my friend’s niece told the flies as she gently moved them. “You only have one day to live. This is better so you can do your job.”

One friend talked about the crunching sound when walking over their dead bodies on the sidewalk.

I’m more sensitive than that. I could live forever without seeing the little buggers, but I won’t dance on the millions of mayflies graves.

One last word: Shoo flies. Don’t bother me.

A heat story

First, let me say, that the La Crosse Tribune said we were at 99 for our high Monday. Perhaps the 102 on my phone app was an exaggeration or was the heat index.

I still claim to have been very hot on Monday and want full credit for my suffering – nearly all within the house except for walking from my car to the Y. It was suffering, I tell you. Suffering.

But in the course of discussing the heat today, I did hear a great story. My friend was playing a game with her grandson a week or so ago. She mentioned to him that when she was a little girl that they used to play cards in front of the fan on hot days.

“I’ll be right back,” he told her.

He returned with a fan, which he plugged in. “Do you feel like you are a little girl, Grandma?” he asked.

 

Thank you, “man”

The answer to your question is “yes.”

Hell no, I’m not going out there to try this.

Yes, it is hot enough for me.  And yes, you could cook an egg on the sidewalk, but I’m not going to try. I never was one for cooking. And I’d have to go out there to do that.

At one point The Weather Channel app on my phone said we were at 102 degrees in La Crosse – higher than  in Atlanta and Kansas City, where my kids live. I am a competitive person, but not in the heat category, although I must say now that we have this misery, I want full credit for my suffering.

My mom used to say on days like this, “I’d like to thank the man who invented air conditioning.” Frequently, she added, “Who did invent air conditioning anyway?”

It was Willis Carrier, although the Trane Company in La Crosse had a big role in bringing it to us masses. Thank you.

I grew up in St. Louis, where humidity-packed heat is a way of life, if not an art form. Heck, my dad created a carpeted, air-conditioned (and heated) doghouse for our Springer Spaniel, Bonnie. Of course, she still slept in the house.

Mom told me that on hot days before air conditioning people tried to sleep on the fire escapes of apartment buildings or in Forest Park. Or they went to see many movies that advertised, “It’s cool inside.”

But up North we have our heat, too. The hottest day I remember was when I was pregnant with Maggie in 1980 – it was 108 and the power went out. For some reason, I had to go pick up someone near Gundersen Clinic.

Our car then had no air conditioning – we must have been rugged survivalists then. Of course there was this myth that you don’t need air conditioning but just a few days a year in Wisconsin. Hah! That may have been true long before I lived here and if you lived on the river or on a lake

Two year old Matt and I got in the Toyota station wagon with our windows rolled down to get some natural air going. When we drove down South Avenue we discovered a huge, reeking spill of manure cooking on the road. It most likely was waste from the G. Heileman Brewery on its way to fertilize a farmer’s fields.

It wasn’t just stinkin’ hot. It was just plain stinkin’.

I’m always amazed at those who tell me they love the heat. Surely the heat must have gotten to them if they enjoy this stuff.

So what’s your heat story? When were you at your hottest and how did you cool off? I need your advice as these dog days of summer are supposed to last at least eight more in La Crosse. You might as well talk about the weather that we can’t do much about while we drink plenty of liquids.

Or, we can sing the old Joe Hayden Metz ragtime song he wrote in 1896 for his band, the McIntyre and Heath Minstrels: “Hot Time In the Old Town Tonight.”

Late last night when we were all in bed,
Mrs. O’Leary left her lantern in the shed.
Well, the cow kicked it over, and this is what they said:
“There’ll be a hot time in the old town tonight!”

When you hear those bells go ding-a-ling,
All join ’round and sweetly you must sing.
And when the verse is through, in the chorus all join in:
“There’ll be a hot time in the old town tonight!”

My sympathies to anyone without

A.C. And for my mom, for myself and others, I’d like to thank the man who invented air conditioning.

We are all immigrants

When my blue-eyed, blonde son, Michael, was in first grade he somehow became listed as Native American on school records.

We began getting phone calls offering assistance from the liaison in the district for Native American kids. We declined the offer with respect and appreciation, but it took a couple of years to get him re-designated.

I don’t exactly know how it happened except the school form had a box to be checked for ethnicity. It is very possible that I messed up, but I remember the box being on the opposite side of what I would expect.

Afterwards, I thought his share of earnings from casinos might have been helpful as a college fund.

Of course, we would never do that. Michael comes from a line of immigrants, as most of us do. Very, very few of us are Native Americans, who really were here first.

I’m thinking about immigrants now that the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that three out of four provisions in Arizona’s draconian immigration law were unconstitutional. The court also ruled that a state law like in Arizona  cannot trump federal immigration law.

What surprised me is the court allowed one provision to remain that allows police officers to check the immigration status of someone they suspect is in the country illegally. The problem with that is ethnic profiling. I suspect they won’t be checking the immigration status of people with Norwegian accents.

It is interesting to see how the court decision was portrayed in the media, as both sides claimed victory. Fox, the television network in support of the law, gave Arizona the top billing for its success in keeping that portion of the law. MSNBC heralded the sections that were found unconstitutional as a success for President Obama.

My dad’s family. His mother came from Austria, sometimes listed as Austria-Hungary, although I always thought she was Polish. My grandfather came from Russia, now Lithuania.

It feels like we are playing games with human lives.

Regardless of how you feel about that law, nearly all of us trace our families back to ancestors who immigrated here from the “old country,” wherever that was. Many of them would not be allowed in this country today under current laws — not because they were bad people – but because our laws have gotten that much tougher.

Our ancestors, who came here for a better life for their families, experienced untold hardships to get here — stories that should be told and preserved so we can understand who we are today and appreciate the sacrifices earlier generations made for us.

My mother and her family. Her parents came from Hungary, now Slovakia.

I’m shocked to learn there is gambling going on here

It is amazing where memories come from and how they are triggered. Listening to “This American Life” on National Public Radio this morning brought back stories of little me.

As a little girl on the island of Haiti, I plugged a slot machine with centimes – the country’s coins – and pulled a few times, hoping for wealth. Hope always springs eternal when you pull a slot machine arm.

When I hit the jackpot, the excitement of those coins dropping was overwhelming. They came so fast that I had no idea how to keep them from flowing everywhere. But being centimes in one of the poorest countries of the world, they didn’t add up to much in U.S. currency.

On a ship to England when I was in high school, I also hit the jackpot – this time shillings dropped so fast I didn’t know what to do with them. They added up to probably $20 or so.

You would think I would have developed a gambling addiction by such early success. And you also might think what a lucky, if not spoiled kid,  to have those adventures so young. You would be right on the latter but not the former.

Does that little girl in the middle look like a problem gambler to you? I think this photo is from a trip to Haiti or Jamaica, perhaps even Mexico in about 1962-1963. I never grow tired of sharing dorky photos of myself, although my mom and brother look dorky.

But I am always intrigued by gambling, including why folks would do waste such money.

The theme for this episode of “This American Life” was blackjack. Stories revolved around the good,  the bad and the ugly of it.

On the show,  Ira Glass and producer Robyn Semien talked about counting cards  in blackjack, which gives you an edge against the house if you are good at it. However, you will be thrown out of the casino if you are really successful. The house always wants to win – but give us the illusion we might win the big one to keep us playing.

Glass and Semien decided to see if they could win by counting cards. They took a lesson from a member of the infamous MIT card counting team, that won millions and millions until they were caught and thrown out of all casinos in this country.

Ira and Robyn went to an unnamed casino in Atlantic City. I won’t spoil the story by telling how well they did or did not do.

Another segment on the show was about “Holy Rollers,” a highly successful group of church goers who thought for a while that taking money away from the evil casinos was a good thing. Another story was about gambling addiction.

Have I gambled since my early success? I’ve thrown up to $20 in slot machines and usually come away with less than the $20 but not busted. In Deadwood, North Dakota, I once won enough to buy the family lunch. I am a big roller.

I have survived with what I call my “two pockets method.” All the coins I will bet go in one pocket and any winnings that come out along the way go in the other pocket. Under no circumstances do I bet what came out along the way, which is given not because the skill of the player or the generosity of the casinos. Money comes out only to make us think we could win the big one.

I’m too damn cheap to lose more than $20, a reason that I never became addicted. And, when we were in Vegas in October for the annual meeting of the Association of Personal Historians, I discovered that slot machines did not give out coins – only receipts that can be cashed in for cash. Some don’t even have the arms to pull down.

I couldn’t use my two-pocket method. I did throw about $10 bucks into machines, but it is not the same. I want the sound and thrill of coins pouring out. Or not.

It’s similar to only buying  lottery tickets when the pot is more than a couple hundred million. I feel less foolish losing $200 million plus than $2 million. It’s nonsense of course.

And I’ve since learned that blackjack is your best bet in the casino, not that I’ve ever done it. Since I like talking so much, I would become distracted by chatting. I would also have to take off my shoes and socks to count and that might make me look like:

1. A person about to lose in blackjack.

2. A terrible card counter.

3. A fool.

4. All the above.

My kids are heading to Vegas later this summer. Perhaps they’d like to take a listen to this:

http://www.thisamericanlife.org/radio-archives/episode/466/blackjack

If nothing else, This American Life is great storytelling once again.

Here’s to my dad

Mom and Dad holding a Diet Dr Pepper can in our living room. Dr Pepper was a major part of my identity for probably 45 years, but now not at all.  I’m pleased Dad was holding it with reverence.

My brother wrote a blog post about fatherhood; columnists are dedicating their words to their dads; and of course, we are encouraged to give gifts and send cards to our dads on Father’s Day. This is America after all.

I’ve written less about my dad than my mom in large part because I had much less time with my dad, who died in 1979. Since my mom lived in La Crosse the last few years of her life, I got to know her as an adult and be with her when she died.

But here’s to my dad. Milton Hessel, who had a bit of the Jewish mother in him. Thus,  you could say I had two Jewish moms – and I say this in the absolute best sense of the term. Dad was a man who would do anything for his wife and kids. He wanted the absolute best for us. Always.

I know Dad, who had a great sense of humor, would be amused by the two Jewish moms thing – and even better, I happen to be reading the book, My Two Moms, which was written by Zach Wahls, the young man who became a YouTube sensation when he spoke up at a hearing in Iowa about equal marriage. His brief speech honoring his two mothers, who happened to be lesbians. He spoke so eloquently and the book is quite good, too, because of its respect for all.

I marked one passage in the book that I thought was so powerful, “Supporters of same-sex marriage and other LGBT [lesbian, gay, bi-sexual, transsexual] rights cannot blindly ascribe the label of ‘bigot,’ ‘hateful,’ or ‘ignorant redneck’ to all those who oppose their agenda. Although there certainly are some people opposed to same-sex marriage who are all those things and more (I’m looking at you Fred Phelps), one does not necessarily qualify the other. To assert otherwise is shortsighted and arrogant and presumes that you have nothing to learn from the experiences of anyone else.”

I have never handled heights well. Dad was trying to keep my calm during this ride up a mountain in a gondola. It was not an easy job, but Dad kept talking me through it.

But back to my dad. He used to reassure me as a kid when I was feeling unloved. He told me about his five or seven or twenty-four sisters so he understood about girls. He didn’t really, but the intent was certainly there.

And then he said things that just really made us laugh. One weekend when I came home from college, my parents had either moved into their new apartment after selling the house or were about to move.

Dad and I waited in the car while my mom ran into a store in a little shopping center near their new place. Gesturing to a dance studio in that center, he said, “You know your mom and I have figured out where we’ll get our groceries and prescriptions, but we haven’t decided where we’ll take our ballet lessons.”

I never heard where they took those lessons or if they also took up tap dancing. That is an image, I would love to see.

When I was little, I couldn’t remember the word, manufacturer’s, so I said he was an M representative, which meant he sold products to stores and chains of stores. He suppose he could have doubled his career and sold M & Ms, but his line was not candy.

What Dad really did was invent stuff and write. He created a three-dimensional checkers game in which you put a little plastic crown on the head of the player. He also developed a three-dimensional checkers set that had carved figures for each piece – something that was less common at the time.

Dad invented a plastic coated cardboard umbrella that stores could bring it out to sell when it rained. And he made plastic coated cardboard guides to European cities that folded into pocket size.

And Dad was a writer. Nothing pleased him more than to get a letter to the editor published in the St. Louis Post Dispatch. And he had a book published called, Man’s Journey Through Time. What that 1974 book did was take eras of history and then show what was occurring in five different geographic area during that period.

My dad often came home with things from those stores he visited to sell his products. He thought I would love playing house in a kid-sized little structure that I could walk into. He brought home a Chatty Cathy doll for me – pull her string and she speaks.

One day he added a backstop to the pitcher’s mound and bases in our backyard for playing baseball.

When holidays or his birthday were coming around, Dad’s answer for what he wanted was always the same: “razor blades and underwear.”

“Daddy!”

He really didn’t care about stuff for himself. For his kids? Yes. Him? No.

Oh, my dad was not perfect. As a little kid, I repeatedly asked (nagged?) my folks for a horse, apparently so frequently that one day he had enough.

“Andy,” he said to my brother, “Let’s go get your sister a horse.”

Could it really happen? I was so excited.

They returned with a little plastic horse. That was the day I learned my dad was fallible.

Dang.

What would you Do Over?

In our family, we own many books about the Titanic, thanks to my husband’s interest in that event.

We’ve also seen every Titanic movie ever made. At the end of each, it is tradition for me to say, “It would have been a great movie if the boat hadn’t sunk.”

Imagine the Titanic story if Kiki Kinsler, the character in my brother’s latest novel, The Do-Over, were on board.

Kiki is a 21-year-old college student who discovers her family had been murdered as she returns home for the summer. Not only did she find her parent and sister dead, she is attacked by the same man, whom Andrew describes as “a tragically accidental monster.” While in a coma, she learns she has the potential for a “Do-Over.”

Now, before you think this is going to be a depressing book, consider the book’s tagline: “A novel of hope, love and second chances.”

Kiki is given a second chance to do something to prevent the deaths in Andy’s novel. I don’t want to go into too much detail here because it is a page-turner that you really should read. It also is a book that is empowering for women – especially young women. And, it has universal themes about resilience, redemption and courage.

I read the book digitally as we drove home from our trip to Atlanta, Savannah and Charleston with our son Michael. As I was reading the book, I kept texting Andy about my comments and predictions. I was really caught up in the “what if ” of this book. It sure made our trip go quickly.

Andy is the author of three previous novels, all crime thrillers involving a FBI agent named Cups Drayton. They are all well written page turners.

It was Andy’s wife Lynne who suggested he might take a different approach in his next novel. Here’s how Andy wrote about the birth of The Do-Over:

Ever thought about writing a novel of … hope?”

Not exactly, but I am now, I said, and knew I wanted to live with that amazing idea a while, and let it simmer and stew.

For me to take a detour from the Cups series, it had to be some story.

Stepping away from Cups wasn’t easy.  I miss him, and the other characters of the series, too, and intend on reconnecting with them again soon.

But, the idea that came to me thrilled me, and even better it moved me, and the writing of The Do-Over was nothing less than the most fun I’ve ever had.

****

You can order The Do-Over, Rush to Dawn, The Old Dog’s New Trick, or Imperfect Resolution at my brother’s website: http://pleasereadmybookbeforeidie.com/content/get-the-books/

Andy self-published the books with my help because as he said, “traditional publishing moves at glacial speed when it moves at all.”  And he had a New York agent who really believed in his novels.

Andy came up with the notion of “Please Read My Book Before I Die.” He is in good health; not to worry about him passing on before more books are written.

But do a Do-Over and read his book(s).

Meanwhile, I’m counting on a future Kiki Kinsler sailing on the Titanic’s maiden voyage.