Wanted: Naked People (?)

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As a phenomenally unsuccessful author of several novels, I began to look into the matter and try to figure out why my books aren’t selling. Now, I began with the reasonable assumption that my novels are the best-written and most-entertaining works of fiction on the market.

That being the case, why aren’t they selling?

The first thing that came to my mind were the covers. I compared the covers of my novels with those of other independent authors and discovered that my covers don’t look like other author’s covers. For instance, despite my covers having been designed by a former graphics artist, I couldn’t help but notice that my novels were missing one key ingredient that seems common to all other independent authors’ works:


Now, let me make it clear that I have no desire to ever have naked people on the cover of any of my books. While there are some passages in my books that are both sexy and Christian (i.e. marriage-honoring), it just seems that naked people on the cover would probably send the wrong message.

Tell the truth: if you see a book cover—or a movie poster—that shows two people who, from the waist up, are wearing no clothes, the first thing that comes to mind these days is probably not, “Boy, that looks like a happily married couple!” No, we just assume they are unmarried because modern popular culture finds no pleasing sexuality among the married—unless both people are of the same gender.

But then, another question comes to my mind: where and how were these cover pictures taken? There is apparently no shortage of people in this world—men and women—who have no qualms about having their picture taken while they are naked. Where are these people? I’m not saying I want to meet them or hire them, but if I did, I have no idea where I would find them. I check the want ads occasionally and I have never seen one that reads, “Young, chiseled torso seeking people who will photograph me” or “pert derrière seeks opportunity to be photographed in latest swimwear.” Everyone I know seems to prefer to live life clothed and, from what I can tell based on how we fill out those clothes, I say, “Praise the Lord!”

OK, so I don’t have naked people on my covers. What else am I missing? If there aren’t naked people, there are explosions. Once again: where does one go to photograph an explosion? I suppose some of this is being done with PaintShop, but they look real to me. As someone who generally tries to avoid explosions, I don’t know where I would go to take a picture of one—and I have a sneaking suspicion that if I tried to stage one the authorities might frown on me for doing so!

So I have no idea why my novels aren’t selling as well as the explosive-nudity cartel, but I’m going to keep working on it. If you have any ideas, please email me (unless you are currently running for mayor of New York City; I think I have made it clear I don’t want those kinds of pictures).

Find me at garisonfitch@gmail.com or my novels at www.garisonfitch.com.

Baby Boom!

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Like many of you, I became aware—whether I wanted to be or not—that royal wife Kate Middleton-Mountbatten (that’s what her last name would be in the normal world, right?) was quite possibly going to give birth this past weekend.

I think the Middleton-Mountbatten-Windsors are just about as cute a couple as there is in the known world, and for all their inherited pomp and circumstances they come across as very likeable and down-to-earth and I wish them the best as parents.  And let me go on record that I am all for babies, pregnancy, and “all that rot” as a British person would say (at least, they do in PG Wodehouse novels of the early 20th century).

So put me down as a proud supporter of parenthood and babyhood and all the rest before I say … “What?”

As in, “I don’t get it.”

Not that I don’t get a happily married couple wanting to have children—we have two ourselves—I just don’t get why we, Americans who fought a war with England for the express purpose of being able to wear funny three-pointed hats if we wanted to and not pay a confiscatory tax rate (which was, actually, less than we pay now, showing that we may have actually lost the Revolution—or given it back) and … where was I going with this?

Oh yeah.  Here it is: there are a lot of babies born all over the world every day and I’m happy for every one of them I hear about, but why am I hearing so much about this particular baby?  So he might or might not get to be king ofEnglandsome day, so what?  As near as I can tell, the purpose of the monarchy in England is to dress well and take fewer and less costly vacations than our President, so what’s the big deal about them having a “royal” baby?

Maybe it’s because I have grown up in America and the only king we’ve ever had during my lifetime was Elvis and I was too young to have noticed when his daughter was born but I just don’t understand all the hoopla for this one baby.

Morally, I think every baby should be cheered as loudly and happily as this little British boy.  The baby born today in Moore County probably won’t grow up to be queen of England(especially if he’s a boy), but so what?  He’s just as much a gift from God to his parents and the human race in general as little George Herbert Bartholomew Middleton-Mountbatten-Windsor the First and should be treated as such.

And lastly, I wonder if the prince and duchess are registered at Wal-Mart ‘cause I might get them something when I go there later for my tube socks.

Food Fight!

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It has come to our attention that the mayor of New York City has taken it upon himself to tell people how much sugary soda water they can purchase on a given visit to the convenience store. Claiming he is only doing this for the benefit of his subjects—who are, he seems to think, too stupid to regulate their own food intake—he has capped their, um, cup at 24 ozzes.

Out here in the rest of the country, we think this is nuts. Especially those of us with a libertarian bent, who think that if a person wants to eat nothing but fatty pork and keel over with a heart attack at a young age that should be their constitutionally guaranteed right to do so. Want to talk bloated, gorged and gluttonous? Let’s talk about the government’s “budget”. Who is the government to tell us what we should or shouldn’t eat?

I like food. I also like to eat out.

On occasion. For the sake of the household budget, my family eats out twice a week. Once a week we’ll go to a fast food place (read: cheap) and once a week we’ll go somewhere a little nicer. The rest of our meals are eaten at home—fixed expertly by my wife and just chock-full of health and happiness.

It’s not like this for everyone, though. A study a few years back said that the people of Oklahoma City eat out more on average than any other state in the Union at 17 times a week! I checked out my calendar and—unless the Okies have added a meal to the standard regimen of breakfast, lunch and dinner—there are only 21 meals in a week. This may explain why the Southwest Airlines flight from Oklahoma City to Dallas has to taxi on I-35 the whole way because they can’t get the planes in the air.

My family and I took a trip to the Dallas area over the weekend and one of the things I like about such trips is eating out. We hit some fast food places, a couple “finer” dining experiences, and—I’ll tell you the truth—after two days I was ready for some good ol’ home-cooked meals.

It’s not just that my wife is a better cook than those employed by most restaurants. I like to be able to put on some music I want to listen to, and feel free to eat fast or slow as the mood takes me without a waiter hovering over my table. I enjoy being able to get up and go get my own glass of water (or other beverage) when the mood takes me.

I also like being able to walk around the block after a meal without feeling like a coronary episode is impending. See, after I eat out, I generally go get back in the car and drive to some place. Maybe it’s my imagination, but it seems like the food starts to settle in almost instantly and, by the time I get an opportunity to walk later, I’m feeling heavy and bloated like—and I mean this in the best possible way—an Okie.

But this is just me. I don’t want the government telling me or anyone else how much to eat, drink or consume. I don’t want them telling restaurants they have to waste menu space on printing the calorie count for an order of grease-soaked cheese fries. I don’t think it’s any of the government’s business whether I eat out 21 times a week or none.

I also don’t think it’s any of the government’s business who I talk to on the phone but I guess that ship’s already sailed.

Let’s Not Do It Again

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I’m listening to “Jack & Diane” by John “Used to Be Cougar” Mellencamp and thinking how glad I am that being 16 years old wasn’t actually the high point of my life!

I remember a friend of mine in 10th grade who was lamenting no longer being in junior high.  Even at the time, it seemed kind of pathetic to already be living in the past.  He would be my age now—assuming he’s still with us—and I really hope 9th grade wasn’t thehigh point of his life.

What is it about popular singers—and entertainment in general—that so lionizes the teenage years?  I get that the entertainment complex wants to appeal to that demographic because they often have disposable income and are—let’s face it—morons (when it comes to fiduciary responsibility).  Still, you can’t make a sustained living off of only teenagers.

They must know that we adults are tuning in, too.  So why this push to take us back?

One of the all-time great “looking back at my high school years” songs is “Glory Days” by Bruce “The Boss” Springsteen.  I hear that song and I’m taken back to my own high school days … even though I was a lousy baseball player, never had a girlfriend—let alone one who married someone else, divorced, and now lives down the street—and I don’t drink (and didn’t then).  But I can listen to that song—or play it for my sons—and say, “Man!  That’s how it WAS!!”

[Full disclosure: my sons haven’t figured out the attraction of Springsteen’s music—to them he is, at best, The Shop Foreman—other than that my younger son likes the song “DarlingtonCounty” because it ends with the protagonist’s best friend getting hand-cuffed to a state trooper’s Ford.]

Now, on one level, it makes sense that hearing songs that were popular while we were in high school would evoke thoughts of high school.  But why is there this pull to romanticize what wasn’t—for me, anyway—romantic?

It’s more than just high school and/or the teenage years in general, though.  I like listening to the Beach Boys even though I’ve never surfed.  I was playing some Jimmy Buffett music earlier today even though I’ve never tasted a margarita, robbed a filling station or gone very far on a boat without getting seasick.  I adore Joe Walsh even though I have never (knowingly) trashed a hotel room.

This is what music does for us: it takes us some place we wouldn’t have otherwise gone.  To a mountain peak, a sandy beach, or even to the very throne of God.  I don’t want to go back to high school—even as a visitor—but I can enjoy a song that takes me there vicariously.

Much as you’re probably enjoying the thought of going somewhere that has a coherent ending to this column.

Summer Vacation 2013 (part 2)

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Twice a year, I get a very nice magazine put out by the wonderful people at Vail Resorts.  In all honesty, I have only been to Vail (Colorado) once and the only part of the trip that sticks in my mind is that (I’m not kidding) while standing in the parking lot of the elementary school so our kids could play at the playground (the only free thing to do in Vail) a hawk dropped a snake on me.

Thankfully, it didn’t hit me.  It did, however, cause my wife to scream and it made a sickening sound upon hitting the pavement.  The snake, I mean, not my wife.  Why the hawk chose to drop the snake right then—or, for that matter, why he picked it up to start with—has never been clear to me.  But when I think Vail,Colorado, the first thing that comes to mind is not skiing or hiking but “snakes falling from the sky.”

So now you’re wondering if Vail just automatically sends out a magazine to everyone who almost gets hit by a snake.  Not so far as I know.  The reason I get the magazine is that three years ago, my family and I stayed and skied at Breckenridge, a ski area owned by whoever owns Vail.

It’s a nice magazine, with lots of pictures of beautiful mountains and fun stories about fun things to do for people who enjoy fun.  Mainly, though, it’s an advertisement.  An advertisement for Vail, Breckenridge, Keystone and some place inUtahorNevada.

You see, their market research has revealed to them that I am an “avid skier” with a “taste for the finer things” and would, therefore, appreciate an “insider’s guide” to the “best places.”  Well, sure I would!

For instance, the next time I “ski Breck” I need to stay at a place called “[Name Redacted to Avoid Copyright Infringement]” which was “created just for people like” me.  Ministers!  Well, not exactly  “Great accommodations, right next to the slopes, with several restaurants close at hand as well as a single bowling lane, a couple swimming pools, and a convenient gondola to the shopping district.”  Yep, they’ve pegged me to a “T”!!

There’s just one little hitch.

I almost hate to bring it up, but there’s a small matter of, well, money.  You see, when my wife and I “go all out” and “blow the wad” on a “top of the line vacation”, for us that means a motel with a “6” somewhere in the title.  Fine dining means we buy the food there in town and cook it in the microwave at the motel (as opposed to bringing it from home and hoping the pressure-packed potato chips don’t explode [again] at high altitude).

Still, while the boys were at Scout Camp, my wife and I went to Breckenridge (and stayed in the cheapest place we could find) and decided to take a look at this wonderful place that had been “tailored” for our “needs”.  And let me tell you: it was a nice place!  It had everything that was advertised, and more.  And the salesman couldn’t have been nicer.  Why, he told me confidentially, if I was willing to sign that day, he could put me in a nice little one-bedroom unit forJUST(this is how nice he was) a million dollars.

I asked if they had a service for insuring that I wouldn’t have any hawks throwing snakes at me and then my wife and I beat a hasty retreat while he talked to his manager.

Prologue of the new novel (coming in June)!

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I think my life turned a corner when I was sitting in bed one evening, looking at my leg.  I wasn’t looking at the leg in the cast, but at the other one, the one that was—for that moment in time—my “good” leg.

I know some women who are really proud of their legs and other women who are constantly embarrassed by their legs.  I don’t believe I have ever been one or the other.  I never thought I had the prettiest legs around (or the most athletic, or most shapely), but I never thought they were the worst, either.  Physically, I have good qualities and things I’m not thrilled with, but my legs?  If asked—and I don’t think anyone ever has—I would probably have just said, “They’re OK.”

I was never quick enough with a glib comment, but if I were, maybe I would have paraphrased Honest Abe and said something like, “They’re long enough to touch the ground.”  Or maybe I would have declared, “They get me where I’m going.”

Sitting there in my bed, pillows propping me up from behind and more pillows under what up until so recently had been my “good leg” in that it hadn’t been broken in a long time, my mind began to change.  Not just about whether my legs were nice, hot, fat, skinny or ugly, but whether much of what I had held and believed was true.

It started with myself, though.  And while I would like to think that I wasn’t so shallow as to be driven entirely by self image, I know my self image was a part of what was wrong with how I thought.

At that moment in time, I had one leg that was in great shape, but broken.  The other leg was unbroken, but still a little atrophied from when it had been broken.  As I sat there looking at my legs, I realized that the one that appeared to be worse off at the moment might be better off and the one that looked OK actually needed the most work.

As the days went by and I was able to rehabilitate—to force myself to rehabilitate—my focus went entirely to my legs.  I was determined that both legs look good—not in a vain, supermodel way I told myself, but in a  healthy, in-shape way—and in the process I lost focus on pretty much all else in my life.  Still, the idea had crept into my psyche that evening that what appeared right wasn’t necessarily so and, as much effort as I put in to telling myself that truth only applied to my legs, the seed was planted that maybe it described the sum total of me.

To avoid that thought, I threw myself into my work and every workout, every exercise, even what I ate.  I read articles on line and in print about the best nutrition for healing a bone break and for building back the muscles after a period of inactivity.  I learned exercises I could do at my desk while at work, and more I could do in the evenings while watching TV or whatever.  I devoured all the information I could find about the human body and how it heals after trauma …

And ignored pretty much everything I ran across about how the human mind heals after tragedy.  I wasn’t interested in the mind.  The mind, I told myself, was taking care of itself.  It was taking care of itself by looking after the body, by exercising itself with reading and study (about the body, granted), and by putting the trauma of the past behind me.

I told myself I was dealing with the mental and emotional aspect of the tragedy by moving on.  “Moving on” meant to me that I never thought of it and quickly changed the subject if anyone else brought it up.  It was behind me and wasn’t worth worrying about.  The now was what counted, and the future!

The amazing thing about seeds is also the problem with them.  As a little girl I used to be fascinated with the way a tree could tear up a sidewalk.  Here was this wooden thing that you could damage with an axe (or a bike, if you ran into it, while showing off in front of your sister … or boys), that you could cut up with a saw or burn with fire.  And over here you had concrete which didn’t show the least little mark when you crashed your bike into it, that you couldn’t cut with a saw or set fire to.  Yet, over time, that tree which had sprung from a tiny little seed—like an acorn—could destroy the sidewalk.

Once the seed got planted in my mind that everything was not as it seemed, it never stopped growing, expanding, working on me.  And like the tree whose battle with the sidewalk may take a long time before it can be seen, it was a while until the seed in me grew big enough to no longer be ignored.


In the midst of looking at my legs as if I could will them into better shape or perform some sort of psychic surgery on them, the phone rang.  I had a unit right beside my bed, but I didn’t answer it, preferring to let my family be my buffer zone.

A couple moments later, my father stuck his head in the door and said, “It’s him.”  His hand was over the mouthpiece, of course.

When I didn’t respond immediately, just gave him a firm countenance that probably looked like I was constipated, he asked, “Shall I tell him you’re busy or to stop calling here or what?  How ‘bout I tell him to go jump in the lake?”

I didn’t think of any smart remarks at that moment, saying at the time, “Just tell him I don’t want to talk to him.”

“Think you’ll ever want to talk to him?”

I avoided the subject by looking away and saying, “I’m kind of tired.”  I hated lying to my father—or anyone, for that matter—but the seed hadn’t taken root, yet.

As he walked away, I heard my father saying, “She doesn’t feel like talking on the phone just now.”  I marveled that my father was more truthful with someone he didn’t like than I was with someone I loved.

Sneak Peek #3 or “What Does it All Mean?”

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If you take a look at the cover art for my upcoming novel below (or in larger format here), you’ll see the dresser of the main character.  What’s on it  … and why?

That flute, for instance.  Why is that there?  Back in high school, she learned to play the flute because she needed something to take her mind off the one thing her mind was on …

Gymnastics.  She was good at gymnastics, as is witnessed by the medals that are still strewn on top of her bureau.  She had Olympic dreams at one time, but an injury got in the way.  Which led her to pursue …

Cheerleading.  As a gymnast, she had looked down on the cheerleaders, but when she found that it was the closest she could come to gymnastics (and it would help her pay for college), she pursued the life of a Hawg cheerleader at the University of Arkansas.

That gun?  It’s a Makarov rip-off and the ammo’s a little hard to come by, but it’s easily concealed in a purse and is quite handy in her post-college career as an operative with the Home Agency.

She likes skiing and snow and mountains, hence the photo of a pass near Keystone.  What else is on her dresser-top?  Watch this blog to find out.

Summer Vacation, 2013 Edition (part 1)

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OK, now that you have buffed and toned your body into perfect bikini shape (if you’re a woman) or beach Adonis shape (men) (of course you have), it’s time to plan on where to go for that all-important summer vacation.

In the old days, if one wanted to go on vacation, you had to pile everyone into the pick-up and head west like Henry Fonda in “Grapes of Wrath” and just hope you came across someplace nice to stay.  There weren’t any nice places to stay back then because the world was in black and white and color hadn’t been invented, so the best you could do on this vacation was stay at Uncle Merle’s house.  Uncle Merle’s house was out in the country, far from anything interesting, and it had a set of stairs off the back porch that went down to the world’s darkest and smelliest root cellar but it was better than staying at home, so you went.

Now, though, we have all sorts of vacation options.  From trips overseas to countries where—if movies are any indication—you will be kidnapped, to vacations to other countries where—again, trusting the movies—it’s legal to shoot the locals, to staying closer to home and going to one of the many fine amusement parks, zoos or “points of interest”, the modern vacationer is practically unlimited in his choices.

Therefore, entire industries have sprung up with the sole purpose in their kindly little hearts being to make sure you and I have a great time while on vacation.  To this end, they publish magazines, web sites, and even hire people with “accents” to call you during supper time and tell you about the great vacationing opportunities available to you—and you only—for a very (emphasis on “very”) short time.

Growing up, one of the vacation opportunities that my family frequently availed ourselves of was the “free one”.  This is the one where you “win” a “free” trip to somewhere by signing up at the county fair.  “All you have to do” when you get “there” is “tour our facility.”  “Tour our facility” being a euphemism for “Listen to our sales pitch for three hours in which we will convince you that even if you make $3 an hour squeegee-ing windows on a street corner you can afford one of our luxury condos!”  We saw a lot of Texas and New Mexico that way.

Someone must have changed that business model in recent years, though, because the last time my wife and I tried to sign up for one of those things we didn’t make enough money to qualify for the free tour.  Not to worry!  Just as there are other fish in the sea, there are other vacation options.  Maybe not free, but—with some judicious searching—you can find a quality vacation that’ll cost you just a little less than open heart surgery.

I just don’t know what they are because Moore County doesn’t have a fair.

Getting Ready for Summer

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I’m sure we all love how helpful the magazines are at this time of year as they run articles telling us “How to Have the Perfect Beach Body” for this summer.  It’s such a comfort to know that they care that much about us, that they will go out of their way to tell us what we can do to make our summer better.  They didn’t have to, of course, it’s all done from the warmth of their heart(s).

For instance, they are convinced that we want to know how to have a “Smokin’ Hot Bikini Bod In Just 6 Weeks”.  Of course we do.  So we pick up the magazine and read the article and, wow!, it’s all so simple.  Why, I can eat whatever I want, just so long as I “don’t overeat” and do the right exercises.  In case the written instructions on how to do the exercises are a little confusing, they have kindly provided pictures of a model performing the exercises.

And you can tell the exercises work just by looking at the pictures!  Why, just look at that model.  She fits perfectly into her bikini (or, possibly, undersized necktie—it’s hard to tell), so it must mean the exercises and the diet plan work!  They wouldn’t, for instance, be allowed to print an article like this and accompany it with pictures of models who were born looking like that.

Just as we know the models on the clear skin commercials must really use the product because look how clear their skin is!  No way a nice, respectable ad agency went out and found people who had never had a blemish within eight feet of them before.  That just wouldn’t be right!

Now that we’re on the way to fitting as perfectly into our swimwear as those models—some of whom are men who were probably 400 pound couch dwellers before starting on the exercises in the article—it’s time to think about the right swimsuit for you, personally.  You’re probably thinking that a nice, conservative swimsuit that covers your innumerable flaws would be a good idea, but that’s because you haven’t read the article elsewhere in the magazine about self esteem.

No, what you need to do if you’re going to pick out the right swimsuit is look over the swimwear that was recently paraded aroundSao Paulo,Brazil, and the International Swimsuit Show which took place there recently.  Just Google it and—whoops!  The parental filter on your computer won’t let you see those swimsuits, will it?

But that’s OK! because our handy little magazine we started this article with will fill in all the details without resorting to any pictures you couldn’t show off in church (providing you attend one of those wild, California style churches where they occasionally have a giant wedding for an odd number of participants).  The magazine says this year’s swimsuits are “playful”, “flirty” and the wearers “aren’t afraid to show a little skin”.

See, doesn’t that clear it all up for you?  And here you were thinking that the qualities to look for in a swimsuit were “resentful, reserved” and that the wearers should be “ashamed of their own bodies.”  Thank goodness we have the publishing industry to help us out here!

Next week (if I remember): where to go for summer fun!