I'm giving consideration to several promotional programs. Ideas came from Smashwords president Mark Coker and from Ingram Sparks. I want to do something to get my books in more hands. Suggestions?

I got the opportunity to attend the authors and sponsors dinner for the Tucson Festival of Books. Caid Industries was kind enough to host a table, and we had the pleasure of Michael McGarrity's company at our table. He is the author of a number of crime drama books taking place in New Mexico. He told good stories and was quite entertaining. The dinner was exceptional, and the company better. Thanks to those who planned and did the dinner.

I also went to the Tucson Festival of Books and walked around, talked to authors, publishers, and all kinds of people. What a great venue it is. The TFOB is the 3rd largest book festival in the country and had 135000 visitors. Not working at a table gave me the chance to see so much. I didn't go to the lectures, though. It was too nice outside with a plethora of interesting people to watch.

Okay, here's the last installation of the Brown Thumb, adventures in plumbing. I wish I could say things are going swimmingly, but at least the toilets flush.
Be over there tomorrow.”
I get a call from Johnny. The truck he has won’t pull the excavator. We need to use mine. Okay, no problem.
I go out to start the truck. Completely dead. The batteries show zero voltage. They must have shorted out. I pull the batteries, wearing my old clothes. Despite what most people think, not all of my clothes are old thanks in large part to my wife. Battery acid and jeans don’t play well together. I’m off to Costco, where I got the batteries. Reach for my Costco card and realize my wallet is in my good jeans. Back to the house, back to Costco, stand in line. They no longer carry that style of battery. Off to Walmart. Not only did they have them, but at a lower price and better warranty. Yahoo! Progress. Without more incident, we bring the excavator back (Nerve wracking in itself, as it is REALLY heavy and without trailer brakes, the truck takes forever to stop. Means I have to plan my stops way ahead. Johnny is right behind me because the lights don’t work either.
We arrive at the site of destruction at four pm. Johnny digs the hole around the bad valve. The piping looks corroded. We decide to trench and install the new line at a new location. It really wouldn’t do to break the valve off the line by digging too near it. That would shut down the neighborhood. I call the neighborhood association. They come down to inspect. They’re visibly nervous, too. They call their plumbing contractor. They look, shake their heads but decide they can replace the valve. (Better them than me who gets blamed. Remember in the plumbing world, surprises are NEVER good) So the bottom line is that their plumbing company will be here Tuesday to replace the bad valve and I can make the final tie in. Of course, the hole will be filled with water from draining the mainline, and the neighbors will be without water. Hurray! Until then, I’m still on hose power, but I only had to repair the hose four times today.
But it’s not over! My brown thumb still has the ability to make caca out of cool aid. This morning I went out start my wife’s car, inserted the key and turned it. The key fell apart with the stub in the ignition. Luckily there was enough sticking out that I was able to start and drive the car. One might think having the stub would be sufficient, but NO. The alarm system on her car isn’t functioning properly. It requires that the alarm off button on the key (that piece is now somewhere on the floor hidden from view) be depressed TWICE or the alarm goes off. The only way to turn it off is start the car. With no button and only a stub of a key, the neighbors could get annoyed before I get it started. Talk about the brown thumb. I’m afraid to touch anything. Hmmm What about going to the bathroom? A danger? Hope not!

Here's page 2 of the Brown Thumb Saga from my friend Clayton's adventure tales. It's all true, unfortunately


I finally admit I don’t have one, BUT I do have a replacement valve. Simple, just unscrew the old one and install the new one. No big deal.

With pipe wrench in hand, I twist on the valve. Pretty tight, better get a bigger wrench. One good torque, and the valve is free, but NO! The pipe breaks off. Now I have to replace the pipe coming out of the wall! Off to the hardware store again for a replacement pipe, and a valve, because the one I have is the wrong size.  Didn’t notice that when I decided to replace the valve. Back. Now, get a tool called an easyout. It fits inside the broken pipe with teeth so I can use a wrench and unscrew it from the connection within the wall. I carefully twist. Feels like it’s moving! POP! I break off the soldered joint within the wall. UGH! This is getting serious.

After knocking a hole in the wall, I can see the broken joint using my one working flashlight. Back to the hardware store for a new solder fitting. Getting dark, so I gotta set up a light so I can solder the new joint on. This requires reaching back into the wall with the torch and heating the joint until the solder melts. But first, I have to get all the water out of the pipe within the wall (remember, the shutoff valve wasn’t completely closed) or it won’t get hot enough to melt the solder. The only way is to siphon the water out and solder it quickly before it fills. Reaching inside the wall, I put some plastic tubing into the pipe, and suck. The siphon starts. The question is how much time after the siphon tube is removed do I have before the water fills the pipe again? I heat the new joint and set it down while heating the one in the wall. OUCH the God Damn thing is hot! Now I have a real nice burn blister. Better get welding gloves. Reach in and… I think I’ve got it. Give the pipe a wiggle and NO! GDMF Repeat above without burning myself again. This time it holds. Now for the test. Turn on the water.

Back inside the hole near the street with my flashlight clasped in my teeth, I try to open the shutoff valve. The new handle spins. Is it open? I climb out and go to the house to see. Nope, just a dribble. Now we are past serious. I can’t turn the water to the house on! I’m worried. If I keep fiddling with the valve and break it from the rusty pipe coming from the main, it will flood the hole and I’ll have shut the water down for the neighborhood. Nothing more I can destroy do tonight. No water in the house. No shower, NO TOILETS!

Dry morning, Ugh. I do have enough bottled water for drinking, and Oh Thank God, coffee. I arrange with my neighbor to run a hose from her house to mine so I can backfill the house and we’ll have water. This requires running a hose across the road. Back to the hardware store for 200 feet of hose.  I run it across the road and voila! Water in the house. FLUSH THE TOILETS! Water smells like vinyl from the hose. No drinking.  But it’s water! Showers, dishes, laundry. Is there no end to the luxury? I look out at the road. Cars are running across the hose and it’s looking like one of those balloon toys that clowns make. Another car, and Thar she blows! Back to the hardware store for another hose and some boards to keep the cars from squashing the hose.

Now I call my friend (remember the antique car guy) and explain my woes. I tell him that the valve on the pipeline from the main has to be replaced. We have to dig the line up, and while we’re at it, I should replace the 50 year-old pipeline to the house. “No problems, Bro. I’ll get an excavator. Be over there tomorrow.”


I've been a little remiss in my writing. Below is part 1 of the reason why. Enjoy


The Brown Thumb

This is the truth, no ****.

Last week I finally got the brakes on  my antique car repaired (did it myself) but after a week of trying, couldn’t get the brake lights to work, It was so frustrating trying to do things in tight spaces with sharp corners. My hands looked like I had a boxing match with the cat. A friend of mine came over and had them going within one-half hour. This guy is good! I reassembled the car. (Had to take a lot of it apart to access the brake master cylinder and wiring.) The brake lights worked, BUT they were always on until I stepped on the brake pedal. WHOOPS Now I gotta take it all apart to reverse the wires. Still, I was happy enough that I decided to wash the car.

After washing Truly Scrumptious, I noticed that the faucet I had used was leaking around the stem. Good day to fix it. I turned off the water to the house so I could disassemble the valve, remove the handle and the bonnet and put a new seal in, right? The shutoff valve is near the street and four feet underground. Access requires me to reach into a pipe as far as I can to twist the valve wrench to close the valve.  Whoops again, the valve is buried under sand, washed in during the last heavy rain (maybe several heavy rains). How to get it out? I use a shop vac to suck out the sand to uncover the valve handle. Sucked two geckos up, too. They ran off when I dumped the sand out of the vacuum.

Okay, now close the valve. Why doesn’t the handle stop turning? Gotta get a flashlight, one that works. I look down the pipe. The shut-off valve handle is broken. I go to the house to check, and the water is almost off. I have to dig up the piping to get to the valve to replace the shut-off valve handle. Without that, I can’t turn the valve completely off, nor turn it back on when I’m done with this simple task. Four hours later, I have a four foot deep hole and I’m looking at the shut-off valve. The handle has to be replaced. But the damn thing won’t come off. I tap, rap, wiggle and even use a mechanical puller. Finally, it breaks. I use a grinder to remove the broken part from the valve. Gotta go to the hardware store for another. I install one and proceed to try to shut the valve. The handle just turns and turns.  Bad news, but maybe when it’s time to open it, it will re-engage and work.

The water is shut off enough that I can make the repair to the faucet valve at the house. Next step, remove the valve handle. No luck, won’t come off. I whack it, tap on it try to wiggle it. Still stuck. (notice a luck trend here?) Okay, I’ll take the valve stem out and work on it in the shop. More tapping and in frustration, I finally break it. I cut off the remaining pieces and hunt to see if I have a replacement handle. After searching for an hour, I finally admit I don’t have one, BUT I do have a replacement valve. Simple, just unscrew the old one and install the new one. No big deal.

Went to Tucson Roller Derby last night. What a hoot! Will be going to that again. There were some TOUGH gals there. Big gals, too. I've watched Roller Derby for years, but never live. Things happen fast, including scoring. Crowds get into it.

BAD NEWS! Habitat for Humanity has been my patron saint and supporter for the last few years at the Tucson Festival of Books. They won't have a booth this year, which means I won't either. This is terrible, because it is where I sold most of my books. If anyone out there has ideas, LET ME KNOW!

I took a dose of my own medicine today. I went to Cloud 9 flotation and climbed into an isolation chamber. Yup, the very type used to elicit information from the baddies in my "Dead" series. So, what was it like? Actually very relaxing. Yes, I'll probably go back and do it again but for 1-1/2 hours the next time instead of 1 hour. Of course, in the "Dead" series, Nick gives the victims a cocKtail of drugs and heavy duty psychological talk. No drugs or talk in my case. Just darkness and no sensation. Peaceful.

New year, new stuff. Okay, a lot is old stuff. I am writing on Left 4 Dead and starting to get into that zone where it takes over my dreams t night. (well, okay in the early am.) That is the state where I get most productive in creating plots and twists. It happened a few days ago. I thought I had the plot running smoothly when up jumps a twist I hadn't seen coming. Now major changes are happening to the story and characters. What fun!

Holidays are over! Whew I can get back to normal. I did get more written on Left 4 Dead, so it's moving ahead. I have about 100 pages written, which is probably about 1/3. The characters haven't tole me whether this is the last of the series or there is more. I suspect more.I visited my daughter and her family and they go to the homeless shelter at the Salvation Army and read to the kids there on a weekly. I went with them and read what I have of Bernice the Barking Spider. The kids liked it and then started reading to us. It was an emotional moment for me to see such eagerness to learn from kids who saw life as just life. No recriminations, no bitterness, just kids. I am encouraged to finish Bernice and read again.

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Dead and Dead For Real

The Dead Series