Tak Sweedner is young, a successful salvage yard operator, and a respected amateur sleuth.
Welcome to the September 8th stop on the blog tour for The Junkyard Dick by Gillespie Lamb with Goddess Fish Promotions. Be sure to follow the rest of the tour for spotlights, reviews, author guest posts, and a giveaway! More on that at the end of this post.
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Author Guest Post
How physical labor improves the mind—and the writing
Nothing clears the mind like physical labor. That’s the view of Tak Sweedner, the protagonist of The Junkyard Dick (as he explains in the opening passage of Chapter 12). However, we needn’t take the word of a fictional character. Physiologists and psychologists agree with him. They talk in terms of neurotrophic factors and hormones, endorphins and epinephrine. All good stuff, undoubtedly.
Tak runs a salvage yard. It’s a workplace rife with opportunity to work up a sweat. He stays fit working with engine blocks and metal castings. Hand me that transmission, will you? No, from the Mack truck.
Here’s the question: What do we in the writing fraternity have in our workspaces that’s anywhere equivalent to wrestling with big iron?
Oh, we jog a mile and sometimes a second one, or cut the grass—with a push mower, thank you very much—and otherwise get our adrenalin spikes that ameliorate mental fuzziness. However, most of our heavy lifting is of big words and weighty themes. Tell me, Herbie. Is it just my floccinaucinihilipilification or is my new novel really worthless?
I have come to suspect that authors don’t need to work smarter. We need to work harder. Literally. Walk away from the desk and get a “real job” that makes our backs ache and brings bruising and small cuts—and perspective.
I’ve mostly worked in the white-collar world my adult life, but not exclusively. Along the way, I built houses, served Sonic burgers, and dug graves. I will spare you about the work being ennobling. It was just work. I might have been a prince of a guy hammering together 2X4s and lifting walls, but mostly I was tired when five o’clock came.
Of course, it also is tiring to craft thought into words and reorder the words time and again until they neatly fill a space. Anyone who has wrestled with nouns and verbs for hours on end before pinning them to the page can attest to the weariness of the task. While I seldom am truly exhausted by keyboard labor, a nap frequently seems appropriate. Poor me.
I recommend that writers intersperse their writing with meaningful bursts of physical activity—say, for a day or two at a time. Here are two reasons to do so:
First, chopping wood or handling bales or scrubbing floors stirs up the endorphins that mask our tiredness and muscle fatigue. Consequently, we overdo it and feel really, really sore at the end of the day. I mean, hurting. Welcome to the real world. Writing might be oh so mentally taxing and emotionally draining, but physical pain is a whole other feeling. It can produce insight.
Second, when we limp around bandaged and nursing bruised muscles, we reconnect with a world that mostly subsists on sweat and blisters. The world of hammering nails isn’t better than one dominated by tapping keyboards, but neither is it a lesser realm. Writers ought to experience it, personally and painfully, so that when we write about it we don’t sound like dilettantes. We should revisit the feeling regularly and not lose touch with how the other four-fifths lives.
Then we can return to our ivory towers and listen to our publishing agents say things like—and this is a real quote—“The writer had a razor-sharp sense of her own writerly intentionality and a fluency in her novel’s ‘aboutness’ from the start”—and recognize that such people have no clue which way is up. Not really. Poor lost soul. Getting an actual job in a junkyard could help.
About the Book
The Junkyard Dick
by Gillespie Lamb
Published 25 August 2022
Black Rose Writing
Genre: Contemporary Mystery
Page Count: 215
Add it to your Goodreads TBR!
Salvage yard operator and part-time sleuth Tak Sweedner is asked by a buddy, Roque Zamarripa, to investigate a murder. Tak says OK and for his trouble is assaulted with a tire iron. Then he’s run off the side of a cliff-the investigation really goes downhill at that point!
Tak calls up gal-pal Emma to help him and soon discovers his feelings for the woman go beyond palling around. When she asks him to give up his investigation and concentrate on her, Tak balks. She might better have asked a bulldog to give up its bone. It would be like quitting, Tak said, and he wasn’t a quitter.
Can this blue-collar crime-solver hang in there to get the bad guy… AND win his girl?
Momma sides with Tak…
We arrived in Uvalde shortly after noon and Emma’s mother insisted that I join them for lunch. We sat around a heavy-legged oak table in the dining room. Mrs. Townsend set a big plate of tuna sandwiches and cherry tomatoes in the middle, and we helped ourselves. I particularly savored the iced tea and drained most of a glassful before taking a single bite of sandwich.
Emma briefly ran down the outing for her mother, the swimming, the fishing, the deliciousness of the cooked fish and cobbler, the beauty of the river. “It really was quite idyllic. Even better than I remembered it from my earlier trip. Of course, I had better company this time.”
“He’s good company, is he?” her mother asked. “Did he attack you in your tent?”
“Twice,” Emma said with a straight face. “I was going to talk to you about that later, Mom. Thank goodness my tent is so small one swift kick is all I needed to repel the attack. That plus my Mace.”
“Poor darling,” she said.
“I know,” Emma said with a rueful expression.
“I meant Tak. He deserved better.”
I smiled at that. I liked this woman. Emma smiled, too.
“Seriously, you have a pretty nice daughter, Mrs. Townsend. And we had a good time. Your husband taught her to fish like a pro. Did you teach her how to swim?”
And the hour passed, a comfortable coda to a terrific overnighter with a woman I was beginning to feel I needed to keep around me all the time. I still resisted the notion, but my resistance was peeling away.
About the Author
Gillespie Lamb developed writing skills as a newspaper reporter, editor and columnist before leaving journalism to become a freelancer and pursue less formulaic writing. He published his first novel in 2017, a middle-grades reader about a girl who rode an “orphan train” from New York City to Kansas. It is titled The Beamy Courage of Gerta Scholler. This second novel is his initial foray into the mystery genre. The setting of The Junkyard Dick is the rural Texas region where Lamb lives.
My latest novel, The Junkyard Dick, is a mystery set in Uvalde, Tex. It contains numerous allusions to Uvalde streets, restaurants, swimming in the Nueces, and so on, and positively characterizes this multicultural, county-seat town where I happen to live.
One week before I began marketing the book through my website (gillespielamb.com), Uvalde became a national byword for school shootings. A minor consequence of that tragedy is that suddenly my book became awkwardly positioned in the marketplace. Many people naturally will see promotion of a book about Uvalde at this time as shamelessly cashing in on the tragic event. I want neither the perception nor the reality of that.
So, I have created a nonprofit that will benefit elementary fiction-writing programs in Uvalde—or create such programs out of whole cloth. Any royalties I receive from the book will go into the fund along with contributions from the publisher, Black Rose Writing. That will just be seed money. I will be soliciting donations to the fund from the literary industry and associated artistic ventures, from local and regional community organizations and businesses, and from readers anywhere who find comfort, escape or inspiration in fiction.
I am calling the nonprofit “The Story Inventors Club,” which is appropriately juvenile so that it might appeal to young people. It will be dedicated to the proposition that young imaginations are capable of producing fictional stories of merit and enduring value. The hoped-for legacy of the Club would be creation of a new generation of prose (and poetry) to delight readers, and the instilling of enhanced cognitive, language and communication skills in some young people.
So, as a consequence of all of the above, I now will be promoting two things: (1) a novel that I believe in on its literary merits, and (2) a Club that I believe can build a new and creative legacy upon the ashes of misfortune. For more information on this Club, please go here: https://www.storyinventorsclub.com/home
Gillespie Lamb will be awarding a $25 Amazon or B&N gift card to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour.a Rafflecopter giveaway
|Sept 5||Rogue’s Angels||Sept 5||It’s Raining Books|
|Sept 6||Candrel’s Crafts, Cooks, and Characters||Sept 7||Literary Gold|
|Sept 8||Westveil Publishing||Sept 9||Fabulous and Brunette|
|Sept 12||Long and Short Reviews||Sept 13||The Avid Reader|
|Sept 14||Viviana MacKade||Sept 15||Lisa Haselton’s Reviews and Interviews|
|Sept 16||Hope. Dreams. Life… Love|
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