Unexpected Joys

As authors, we know many expected joys: having our work accepted for publication; seeing the book in print; receiving a positive review; having a well-attended book signing; receiving a royalty check; having a reader tell us how much they enjoyed our stuff; on and on. What I didn’t expect was the joy I shared with those who were so unexpectedly touched and, in some cases, blown away by being included in my work.

For many years, my wife and I have spent the major portion of each winter in Mexico. In recent years, Puerto Vallarta has been our home away from home. When I drafted my latest book, Justified Malice, I decided to feature Puerto Vallarta and some of the places we frequent there as the backdrop for a substantial portion of the story. As rule one of authorship dictates, write what you know.

The book came out in October, and we headed to Puerto Vallarta in mid-January. I decided to take along some copies of the book to give to the establishments and people who are included therein. I hoped they might get a kick about being in a novel. Their reaction was far greater than I could ever have anticipated. Here are three examples.

Twisted Palms is a cocktail lounge we frequent there. We’ve gotten to know Al, the reserved proprietor, and his staff quite well. Okay, so we spend way too much time in a cocktail bar. Anyway, when I gave him a signed copy of the book and told him he was in it, he was uncharacteristically overwhelmed. When we returned to his place days later, he explained he’d been too busy to read it yet, so he passed it along to his mom. He said she had a special day coming up, so he told her it was an early 80th birthday gift. According to Al, she read the entire book in one night. “She loved it so much; she immediately ordered your other two books.’ He then added, “Thanks for making me look good to my mom!” I gave him another copy for himself so his mom could keep the first one.

We have been on numerous whale-watching excursions over the past few years. The last few have been with a company called Vallarta Natours. Our guide has always been an engaging young man, Victor. The year before, Victor and I chatted about my books. He asked if I should ever write one about Puerto Vallarta, he’d really like to be in it. Well, he got his wish. The hug I got after giving him a signed copy was the most enthusiastic I’ve ever received from another man who wasn’t my dad.

The third example is from Michael, the owner of several wonderful restaurants. His flagship, Bravos, is the one mentioned in the book. We walked into the restaurant one night and when he stopped at the table to say “Hi”, I gave him the book and explained the reason why. His eyes lit up. He proceeded to spend the rest of the evening parading around the restaurant holding it. At first, I thought he was showing it to his other guests. He may have done some of that but as we left, he said, “I’ve been paging through the book all night looking for the part about my restaurant and couldn’t find it.” I told him it was in there and he should actually read the book to find it. When we went back a couple of weeks later, he confessed that work had been so hectic he hadn’t had any time to read and begged me to tell him where the reference was. I broke down and told him. Before returning home, we saw Michael several more times. Each time when he’d spot us, he’d yell, “Chapter 25, opening paragraph!” The restaurant’s patrons must have wondered what the hell he meant.

All in all, unexpected joys I’ll never forget.

The Kingmaker’s Redemption, Human Collateral And

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