This week we’ll look at your book(s) being made into movies…
Think of your favorite character from your books. If one (or more!) of the books were made into a movie, who would you cast to play this character?
Agents Only Care If Your Current Book Sells
Also see Rule Number Fourteen.
Just like publishers, traditional agents only care about your current book. That’s all.
On the other hand, a representative cares about all of your books—past, current, and future—and about you as a professional in order to reach their goals. It just so happens that the representative’s goals usually coincide with those of the author.
The really bad part here is that while a publisher isn’t in the business of taking care of authors, the agent is. For agents, they have a vested interest in making sure the authors they work with do well. (Think about it…agents and representatives both make their living by taking a commission (typically around 15%) from the author’s earnings. The more the author makes, the more the agent or rep makes.) The problem comes in because traditional agents look at their income for the next 6-12 months. After that, they have no concept of time, income, or anything else. This nearsightedness is typical of most businesses and not special to literary agents…I have MBA types in my company that give me the deer in the headlight look when I ask about a ten year plan.
A real representative will look farther down the road…sometimes a decade or more. This means that the representative has an interest in helping the author achieve long-term goals. This is a very different perspective on the entire process.
This also ties back to Rule Number Five. Just to say it again, agents handle one book at a time while real representatives handle all of the books from a particular author.
This means that you need to look carefully at what you want your “agent” to do…
If you want to sell just one book to a publisher, you might save a few dollars by hiring a traditional agent. Maybe.
If, however, you want a long term relationship with someone who will accept and sell and place every single work you throw at them, then you need a representative.
Yeah, it really is just that simple. It’s a shame that more writers don’t understand the difference between agents and representatives.
The difference is usually measured in income by a factor of twenty or more. I know of one writer who was struggling with small-press and self-publication to make ends meet. His annual gross income was in the $50,000 range. He made the switch to a representative and in the first year he broke the $1-million barrier. In case you missed it, he was leaving $950,000 on the table.
Here is the Two Hundred Word Tuesday question for today:
How long does it take you to write a book?
Publishers Do Not Care If You Succeed
This is a sad fact of the publishing industry. What the publishers care about—and the ONLY thing they care about—is if your latest release succeeds.
There are a few publishers who worry about your backlist sales success (see Rule Number Seven) because backlist sales can make up a third of their income.
None of them care about what a book three years from now will do.
And they certainly don’t care about the author as an individual succeeding.
And they really shouldn’t. The publishers are not in the business of making the authors rich…they are in the business of making themselves rich. In short, as far as the publishers are concerned, you are only as good as your last book.
And in case you’re wondering, agents have the same position. See Rule Number Fifteen. Publishers and agents are only interested in your current work, nothing more than that.
What this means is that the author must look out for themselves.
Or have a representative who will. See Rule Number Five.
No, I am not cracking on publishers here…just pointing out the real world of the publishing business for those who have not seen it yet. Publishers are in business to make money, and they do that by selling books, not by coddling authors. That is not their job.
Authors have to keep their eyes and mind open. This is a must because, like it or not, authors are in business, too. Again, don’t give me that story how you write for the joy of writing or how you want to change the world. When asked how he felt about the fact that his stories changed people’s lives, Hemingway said, “Let the poets, the wordy bastards, change the world. Me, I write for the booze.”
So, keep an eye on the market. It’s one thing to have a sense of loyalty to a publisher, but don’t let that get in the way of your growth…if another publisher offers a better deal, jump ship. I can promise you that if you write more than one bomb in a row, the publisher will drop you like a hot potato.
And remember that something many people see as odd happens on a regular basis in this industry…a book with one publisher will make, say, $20,000 in the first year. Place that same book with a new publisher for year two, and it might make $200,000 over the next twelve months. This is not odd…it’s all about demographics.
The Two Hundred Word Tuesday question for today is:
How many books have you written? Which one is your favorite?
Your Great New Title Is Already Taken
Titles are a problem for all authors. You want a title that will say something about the story and catch the potential buyer’s attention. Sometimes, that’s hard to do and most of us struggle as much with the title as we do with the story itself.
But it seems that when you come up with a great title, someone else has already used it. Usually a fast search on Google will confirm this for you.
But on the other hand, so what?
Titles can’t be copyrighted. You can use any title you want, and no one can legally do anything about it. Obviously, you really don’t want to use something that was used before recently. Having two relatively new books on the shelf with the same title could confuse the readers. By and large, the readers are already confused, so I try to avoid that.
But what if I wanted to use the title of, let’s say, “The Old Man and the Sea” for my new book? Odds are, no matter the bookstore, me and Hemingway are not going to be in the same place in the store. Papa’s books will be in the Classics section. Mine will be in the Romance section…maybe in the Smut section. There is little chance of confusion here.
But the rule is to check out the title. Has it been used before? If so, when? In what genre?
Finding that your first choice is taken might be a blessing in disguise. That forces you to brainstorm on a new title, and you may come up with something even better.
Don’t get discouraged…make it happen!
Often your agent or representative will make title suggestions. This a good thing since they will have a marketing point of view that may help sales.
This week we’ll look at your book(s) being made into movies…
Think of your favorite character from your books. If one (or more!) of the books were made into a movie, who would you cast to play this character?
As an author, I’m asked many times about my favorite Christmas memories. The questions come from readers, publishers, reviewers, and many others. Those memories tend to wind up being edited down to a paragraph. Maybe two. You can’t really do justice to a memory in that space.
Growing up in the Missouri Ozarks, we often had a white Christmas. Yes, just like the song. The Bing Crosby version. Or The Moody Blues. A wonderfully beautiful time, but mixed now with a little of the bittersweet.
At the time, I didn’t understand that my parents scrimped and saved for a long time to make Christmas happen. Looking back, they spent a lot of money we didn’t have on Christmas, and I’m not talking about just on gifts.
My dad’s birthday was December 18th. Just a week before Christmas, his birthday present was always a Christmas tree.
We lived in a house that had high ceilings. Really high. About fourteen feet. Such a house today would have the ceiling lowered somehow, if for no other reason than to save on heating costs. And wallpaper costs. But our house had the ceilings clear to their full height. Added to this was a good deal of dark woodwork. I later learned that most of the houses of the period from when ours was built had mahogany woodwork. The carving was intricate with lots of roping and circular features.
Our home was the second floor of the building. The stairs were a straight shot from the front door, but at the top of the steps, there was a ninety-degree turn into the hallway that led to living room at the front of the house, and the kitchen toward the rear. My room was off the living room.
Between the living room and my room was a huge door. It reached nearly to the ceiling and was about eight feet wide. Made of the same dark wood, it had carved panels inset on its surface, and it slid on rollers to disappear into the wall. Oh, that’s called a pocket door. I usually kept it closed.
At least on nights other than dad’s birthday…on that night, the show was too good to miss by closing the door.
The annual floor-show we called tree shopping always started the same way. Dad would swear that we would get a small tree this year. I never figured out his definition of a small tree.
We would pile in the 1967 Dodge van and head out to the tree lots. This was one of the old vans, not like today’s minivans filled with soccer players and their moms. A big thing, based on a big truck, the van had two seats up front and the engine sat back a little, between the seats. In fact, there was room to pass from one seat to the other by walking between the dash and the engine box. The box lifted up so you could check the oil from the driver’s seat.
The back of the van had no seats. Just a huge open area, a lot like a metallic football field. Since there were no seats, we didn’t need seat belts. No one wore them back then anyway.
We went to the same lot every year. It was called simply “Ron’s”. I assume the greasy old man who drooled when he stared at mom was Ron. Anyway, dad said Ron had the best trees at the best prices. I wouldn’t know. I wasn’t very old, I had never been to any other tree lot, and the prices must have been secret since the trees all had little colored tags on them. I guess Ron had the code to break the cipher someplace.
In late December in Missouri, it gets dark about four in the afternoon. Dad didn’t get home until about four-thirty or so. By the time we ate and hit the streets, it was full dark. We usually took several hours in the dark, using flashlights and the several bonfires Ron kept burning, to pick out a tree.
This was no small task nor was it one to be taken lightly. While dad stood shivering in the cold wind, mom made him hold the tree upright. She then stared at the tree with a practiced eye, making dad turn it this way and that. Most of the time, she would shake her head and mumble something about a flat or bare spot. Dad would go back to the racks of trees for another.
Did I make it clear these are real trees I’m talking about? Many people seem to think that Christmas trees come from the garden center at the local WalMart. You know…the ornaments are where the fertilizer was stacked in August. No, these trees didn’t come in a box.
Just a short time ago, these trees were living, growing things. They were snatched from the forest by force and brought by truck to Ron, and others like him, for sale to folks like us. Sort of an evergreen slave trade.
Ron had racks built from 2×4 lumber that held the trees. To a kid like me, there seemed to be a million trees there. Maybe there were a few hundred, but the smell still lingers in my head. The pine scent was almost overpowering. Ever open a new bottle of pine cleaner and take a really deep whiff? That’s not even close. At times, when standing close to one of the racks, it could actually get unpleasant.
Ron had several types of trees. I remember spruce, Scotch pine, blue spruce, and a few others. Dad liked the Scotch pines, and that’s where the efforts focused.
Often, mom’s thumbs down for a tree came because it was too small. Now, dad wasn’t a big man, only about five and half feet tall. But unless the tree was at least a foot over his head, he knew better than to waste mom’s time. She wouldn’t even speak then. She just gave dad The Look.
You know the one. All mothers know how to use The Look. Yes, you mothers out there reading this know what I’m talking about. It’s the expression that, when aimed at the man of the house, says without words, “Are you out of your mind?” The same look, when aimed at the children, says, “That’s very sweet and cute, but if you don’t stop now, I’m going to slap your face off.”
No matter who The Look was aimed at, it worked.
Dad knew better, but he always tried to sneak a tree shorter than himself into the game. I think it’s like a pitcher in baseball trying to doctor the ball. Sometimes, you get by with it. Most times, you get caught. When you did get caught, you usually paid a little fine, maybe sat out a game or two, and then all was forgiven. I wonder how many games dad sat out over the years.
The lot was pretty slow this particular year, and Ron was helping dad pick out trees for evaluation. After looking at several dozen, all rejected because they were too small, Ron told dad he could give him a good deal on a larger tree since only a few remained and it was only a week until Christmas.
With mom’s smiling approval, we followed Ron to the high rent district.
The trees towered over my seven-year-old head like redwoods. Reaching so high in the air, the tops were lost in darkness because the light of the bonfires just couldn’t reach that far. Dad frowned and turned his flashlight to the sky, but the light faded before it found the tip of the trees.
While Ron still had several trees here in the Beverly Hills part of the lot, only one fit the bill; a Scotch pine, the only one there. The trunk near the base was too big around for Dad to grip fully with both hands. Some of the lower branches were bigger than a few trees we looked at earlier. Processed and cut into lumber, the tree could have built at least two homes.
Dad and Ron wrestled the monster from the rack and balanced it precariously on the ground. The tree swayed in the wind, causing the men to struggle to keep it upright.
Mom, taking pity on them, walked around the tree instead of making them turn it for her.
Her smile said it all. This was the one.
After a few minutes of negotiation, dad and Ron settled on the price. The tree was soon tied with bailing twine and ready for loading.
With the mighty pine tree resting on the ground, the problem became obvious. The tree was about twice the length of the old Dodge van. There was no way it would fit inside unless the windshield was broken out. Maybe not even then.
Dad decided to tie the tree to the top of the van.
Ever see the Oscar Meyer Weiner-Mobile? The van looked a lot like that when Dad and Ron finished. Well, other than the moldy green hot dog drooped down toward the street at the ends.
And away we went, driving through the dark streets with a dwarf redwood on the roof.
Those old vans were top-heavy when they left the factory. Dad nearly flipped ours over several times on turns long before this night. With who-knows how many tons of evergreen tied to the highest point of the vehicle, it became very top-heavy.
It took about thirty minutes to get to the tree lot. It took more than an hour to get home. When added to the time at the lot, we finally arrived back home at about nine at night.
And the fun had only just begun.
I’m an only child. No big brothers to help. Mom was less than five feet tall and weighed perhaps ninety pounds. Soaking wet. With her clothes on. I was not quite seven.
What I’m trying to say here is that dad was on his own.
He managed to wrestle the baby sequoia from the van and get it on the ground. He had the idea of putting the tree on a big canvas tarpaulin so he could drag it instead of carrying it. It seemed like a good idea to me.
He began pulling. The tree did well, sliding along the ground and up the five steps to the door. It fit through the door, barely, and dad backed up the main stairs, pulling and sweating and saying bad things about the tree’s parents not being married.
I remember mom and I standing at the foot of the stairs watching dad. His face looked like traffic signal stuck on stop. In the rain. He was really sweating. I recall not understanding why, because it was maybe twenty degrees outside.
He was a little past halfway up the steps when the top of the tree went through the door. Dad gave a mighty pull, and the tree lurched up the steps nearly a foot. Dad sat down hard on the steps. The jolt made him lose his grip on the tarp.
The tree came sliding down the steps, top first, like a runaway train on a mountain. The bottom of the tree bounced on the steps as it descended, and I imagined the sound to be like restless cannibal pygmies deciding whose house to meet at for dinner.
I watched all this from my position on the steps leading from the sidewalk to the door. Directly in front of the door. Right in the path of the humongous tree.
Dad always called me ‘Mel’. Mom gave him The Look every time he did. She never failed to call me ‘Melodee’. I hate it when people call me ‘Mel’. Only three people can get by with it, and I like it. Dad was one. Hey? What little girl wouldn’t like her Daddy to have a special name just for her? A close business associate is another. She holds the purse strings, so she can call me anything she likes. The third is someone very special to me. But I digress.
Mom said only one word. “Mel!”
Remember the scene in the movie Vacation when Clark falls asleep at the wheel and leaves the freeway? Remember when the man walking his dog snatches the pooch back by the leash, thus saving it from being crushed by the Griswold Family Truckster? Mom did the same thing to me, only using my arm instead of a leash.
And I reacted the same way as the dog. I yelped. Loudly.
The tree shot past mom and I at a high rate of speed. I guess being tied tightly to the trunk, the branches offered less wind resistance. The canvas slide probably helped. When the bottom of the tree exited the door to the house, it was moving much faster than I could walk. Probably faster than I could run.
The inertia, a function of the mass of the tree (large) and the velocity of the tree (also large) carried the tree all the way back to the van. It stopped when the first four or so feet of the treetop was under the van.
Dad stumbled down the steps. He stood next to mom and I, his breathing a ragged pant, with his hands on his hips. I think he used up all the good words already, because he didn’t say a thing. He just glared at the tree.
Finally, dad’s breathing returned to normal, or at least as much as a fifty-five-year-old obese smoker can breathe normally, and he smiled down at me where I still stood holding mom’s hand. “You OK, Mel?”
He got The Look from mom.
I smiled. “Yeah, Daddy.”
He messed my hair and went after the tree.
The second assault on Mount Aaron went pretty good. At least dad made it to the top of the stairs with the tree in tow. It was here that a major problem was encountered.
Remember that ninety-degree turn?
How do you get a monster conifer around not one, but two such turns?
I was wrong…Dad hadn’t used up all the good words. At least not yet. Even today, I don’t understand what they mean when people say someone is ‘turning the air blue’. Mom said dad was doing that, but I didn’t see it.
Dad was a machinist. More accurately, he was a precision machinist. All machinists work with tolerances measured in thousandths of an inch. Dad dealt with dimensional clearances on the order of a few ten-thousandths of an inch or less.
The tree had far less clearance than that to get around the corner and out of the stairs.
I’m not sure if the cussing or his skills as a machinist helped more, but dad managed to get the tree from the stairway into the hall. It was a relatively simple task to get it into the living room.
It was after ten by then.
After some careful measuring and a couple of tests, dad finally cut several feet from both ends of the coniferous monster and was ready to attach the base and stand the tree up.
The trunk was far too big to fit into the stand.
Again, the air didn’t turn blue, but I came to understand that the supply of good words is all but infinite.
I had a cat. His name was Jessie, and he was just your common feline mongrel. When you have a cat, you also have a litter box. A litter box implies cat litter. But cat litter is expensive. Instead, dad would get a fifty-pound bag of something called Speedy Dry from where he worked as we needed it. It looks, feels, and smells, at least before the cat gets to it, just like clay cat litter. We had a new bag.
Being ingenious, dad got a five-gallon bucket, put the base of the tree in there, and filled the bucket with Speedy Dry. Adding water made the mixture like cement. It also weighed more than mom and I put together. That’s a good thing, because the huge dwarf redwood needed the weight to hold it upright.
When dad finally stood the tree up, it was about quarter past eleven. The treetop ornament, a hideous yellow and purple thing my grandma gave us, was less than an inch from the fourteen-foot ceiling.
Dad cut the rope holding the branches and the tree unfolded majestically, nearly filling the entire room with long green needles reaching in every direction. The already strong scent of pine intensified in the air, and sent us all the same message…
Christmas was actually coming.
Mom brought in the boxes of ornaments and lights. As mom picked out the ornaments she wanted on the tree, dad played with the strings of lights, making sure they all worked and the cords and plugs were in good shape.
I sat down on the couch and watched my parents.
The last thing I remember is the old mantle clock above the gas fireplace chiming midnight, signally the end of my dad’s fifty-fifth birthday. But his night had only just started. By the time I woke up in the morning, still on the couch, the tree was trimmed.
Dad died in 1987, but even now, I get my Christmas tree on December the 18th.
Happy birthday, Daddy.
Here is today’s Two Hundred Word Tuesday question:
Do you hear from your readers much? What kinds of things do they say?
I’d like to say that something came up that delayed today’s Two Hundred Word Tuesday question.
But the simple fact is that I forgot what freaking day it was!
Without further delay, here is today’s Question:
How do you define your specific writing style?
The Two Hundred Word Tuesday question for today is:
It’s been said, “If at first you don’t succeed, redefine success.” How do you define success as a writer?
When I was a kid, Thanksgiving was always the big “family holiday”. We usually went to the farm that my aunt and uncle owned and had a big family dinner with them, but it was always the next couple of days that stuck in my mind.
Don’t get me wrong, though…the turkey and ham that Lucile fixed were wonderful. Her sage dressing, made from homemade breads, was the best you could find. And her pies staggered the imagination. She was an amazing cook, and she never used a recipe or measured anything.
But this was a working farm, and taking the day off on Thursday meant that we had to work hard on Friday and Saturday to make up for lost time.
We did a lot of butchering when we were at my uncle Mike and aunt Lucile’s farm back in Missouri—cattle, hogs, chickens, and even a few goats and sheep, but mostly hogs, followed by cattle.
One year, on the Friday after Thanksgiving, we decided to butcher a big hog Mike had fattened over the spring, summer, and fall. I have no idea how much the hog weighed, but he was huge. Mike was a big man, well over 6 feet, and the hog made him look like a child, not much bigger than my 9-year-old self.
Killing the hog was normally not a big deal. Mike used his old WWII M-1 rifle. One shot to the head, and it was all over. Normally…
This hog was tough. Sort of like a B-Grade sci-fi horror flick…”The Hog That Wouldn’t Die! See the US Army held at bay by the giant killer hog! See rural Missouri in a state of panic! Coming soon to a drive-in theater near you!”
The first shot, from about 6 feet away, bounced off the hog’s forehead! Being from a rural part of the country and growing up poor, I’ve done my share of hunting. I personally have hunted deer. With my own hands, I have used a 30-caliber rifle to kill a deer. Yes, I shot Bambi. At 150 yards, one shot dropped a 6-point buck instantly.
The hog just glared at Mike when shot with the same rifle from only 6 feet away.
Oh, and the hog got mad. Really mad. I can’t say as I blame him.
The hog proceeded to chase Mike around the pen. Quickly. If you have never been around hogs, they can move very fast. Just to look at them, laying there in the mud and the slop, you might think they are slow, sedentary animals. They’re not.
To go with his height, Mike had long legs. And he needed them. He made about three trips around the pen, with Herr Hog in hot pursuit. Mike was moving like, as the song said, his head was on fire and his ass was catching.
To get the full impact of this memory, you need to see the pigpen clearly in your mind…it’s about 30 feet square. Surrounding it is a fence made of 1×6 boards nailed to hand-split posts. As I recall, there were four boards from top to bottom. There may have been only three. There was one walk-through gate latched with a length of chain. The chain was nailed to a post and another nail in the gate was used to drop one of the links over to hold the gate shut.
Oh…did I mention that the mud and slop in the pen is about a foot deep? And it’s not “just mud”. The mud in a pigpen is made up of water and dirt. Mostly. Maybe. You feed hogs corn, other grains, and table scraps—any kind of scraps. It doesn’t matter. They’ll eat it. And hogs aren’t too picky about where the toilet is. So, the “mud” is a mixture of water, dirt, animal and vegetable matter in various stages of decay, and what comes from the business end of the hog. It’s slick, slimy, and it stinks to high heaven.
So, here’s Mike running for his life from the Killer Hog through foot-deep nasty stuff in the pen. He’s wearing knee boots to keep the muck off his feet, mostly. He’s carrying a LOADED 30-caliber rifle. And the hog is, by now, SERIOUSLY pissed off.
If the visual wasn’t enough, the sounds must have been an absolute uproar! I couldn’t hear them, of course, but I could see the hog’s mouth moving as he squealed like…well, like he’d been shot. I saw Mike’s mouth moving as well as he screamed for help. The rest of us were laughing hysterically. At the time, it seemed like a laughing matter.
I can’t really say how long this all went on, but it seemed like a long time. Finally, Mike managed to get over the fence and out of the pen. The hog rammed a post with his head and broke off the 8-inch oak pole flush with the ground. And then it started to snow.
Aunt Lucile, hearing the combined screams of terror and delight, came outside to see what the problem was and why we were “foolin’ around” instead of working.
Mike, covered from head to toe in specks, globs, and larger bits of “mud” told her the story of the bulletproof hog.
She sighed, yanked the gun from his hands, jacked a new cartridge into the chamber, and fired once. The hog hit the ground, twitched one time, and stopped moving. Lucile shoved the rifle back to Mike and stormed off to the house.
Now, the fun began…
Hogs are covered with a coarse hair. Ever heard of “boar bristle” in hairbrushes? That’s what it is. To get the hair off, you scald the hog in hot water and then scrape the flesh with a knife. Sounds simple enough, and in the past, it had been.
We used a 55-gallon drum over a wood fire. We would fill the drum with water and get it boiling, and then dunk the hog in using a chain hoist. Pull him out the same way. Then scrape for all you’re worth. If any hair remains, repeat as needed.
We got the water to a good, fast roll, and we hoisted the now deceased Killer Hog into the air and lowered him into the boiling water. He barely fit in the drum.
All right, class…what happens when you heat something? Anything! Water, steel, plastics, pretty much everything you can think of. What happens to water when you heat it? That’s right, class! It turns to steam, but what else does it do? Does it get smaller, so it will fit in a smaller container? No! That’s correct little Debbie! It gets bigger! We say that it expands.
Yeah…water expands when you heat it. So does steel. And copper. And wood. And hogs.
We couldn’t get the Killer Hog out of the drum of boiling water because he expanded. Mike said the “SOB done swolled up”.
The hog was cooking in there, so we had to get him out.
But that was the least of our problems…
Remember that whole thing about water expanding when it turns to steam? Do you know how a steam engine works? As the water is heated and turns to steam, the expanding steam is used to move a piston in a cylinder. Get a big enough piston and enough pressure from the steam, and you can move a train. Some trains weigh hundreds of tons. A few, thousands. The point here is, for the careful reader, that there is a LOT of energy in steam.
As we stood around wondering how to get the Killer Hog out of the 55-gallon drum, we noticed the drum bulging. My dad and Mike exchanged a quick glance, sort of like that look you get just about the time you realize you did something really stupid. Mike yelled for everyone to get away. He grabbed me. My dad grabbed my cousin Darla. We all landed behind the old 1952 Chevy pickup truck sitting nearby.
I had just a moment to reflect on much I liked that old truck. It was the kind with steps on the sides of the bed. Mike had a homemade wooden cattle rack in the back. We used to ride back there and stand on the rungs of the rack when we went to the river for a swim. It was black. Mostly. There was a lot of rust, too. Just as I was admiring the lettering on the door of the truck with Mike’s name and address, the steam reached a critical point in the drum.
The pressure had to go someplace, and there were two options. The first was that the drum could rupture. That could be either a nice, slow splitting, or it could be explosive. That’s what worried my dad and uncle.
Instead, the other possibility happened.
The Killer Hog blew out of the drum at a high rate of speed. I can’t tell you how fast, exactly. Something the size of a hog shouldn’t be moving that fast, though. It was really fast. Fast enough that the hog went maybe 50 feet in the air. Not quite straight up, mind you, because the swelling of the drum caused it to lean a little…toward the truck.
The hog went way up in the air. One of the first things that the Wright brothers learned is that what goes up must come down. I guess the hog already knew that.
We managed to get away from the truck before the hog hit it.
The tearing of metal made a screaming sound that I actually felt against my skin as the hog gave in to the relentless pull of gravity. The shattering glass flew for many yards in all directions. The snapping of the wood slats making up the stock rack made concussions that slapped my face as hard as the crack of the M-1 used earlier. The hog itself made a sort of dull thud of a shock-wave. I imagine a bag of wet cement dropped from the Sears Tower would do about the same when it hit the streets below.
Today, I know how to figure it out. Without getting mathematical on you, let’s just say that the hog, if he went 50 feet in the air, hit the roof of the truck at about 33 miles per hour.
He also weighed about half as much as the truck.
As I remember, Mike got $75 from the wrecking yard for the remains of the truck. He bought a 1963 Chevy truck for $100. Overall, that wasn’t too bad.
After picking the now badly damaged Killer Hog from the wreckage of the truck, we finished butchering with no more drama or near disasters.
But even today, every time I have bacon or sausage, I watch the skies overhead.
Today, Thanksgiving Day, we are all occupied with thoughts of things we are thankful for in our lives. This perfectly normal and, honestly, what we should all be thinking of.
But I want to take a few minutes to remind you, perhaps, of a few things you should be thankful for that you may have missed in your thoughts…
First, remember to offer thanks to a large group of people I’ll just call “First Responders” since most of you will instinctively understand. This group includes, but by no means is limited to: Police, Firefighters, EMTs, Paramedics, and others. A few more members of this group that you may not think of are: Power Company Employees, Telephone Company Employees, and Highway Workers. The thing all of these people have in common is that they are always there when we need them. They don’t think about the holidays with their friends and family that they miss. In many cases, they don’t even think about the personal dangers they face nearly every day. They think only of the help and services that we, the people they have dedicated their lives to helping and serving, need at any given time. If you encounter any of the members of this group, walk up to them, shake their hand, and tell them how thankful you are that they are there, on the job taking care of us.
Next is another group that most of you will be able to identify with little prompting: Medical Professionals. Doctors and Nurses come to mind first, but don’t forget all of the various technicians and therapists who also care for you when you need them. A few of these members (and again, this is not an all-inclusive list) are: Imaging Techs, Lab Techs, Physical and Occupational Therapists, and more…even the hospital food service, housekeeping, and maintenance staff. Like the First Responders, the Medical Professionals know nothing of holidays with the family. They are there when you need them. They need your thanks.
Now, only to keep this post short, I’ll end with one final group: Retail Workers. You know the ones…the people who work at WalMart, Target, etc. who are at work today (yes…WalMart is open today) in order for you to go shopping. Maybe you forgot to get Cool Whip for the pumpkin pie you baked. No problem! Just drive down to WalMart and pick some up. Just about all retailers are closed only one day a year (Christmas) and many are considering opening for that one extra day. The workers (from the floor sales people up to the store managers) also know nothing of holidays. They are there at work to help us get the things we want instead of being home with their families. You need to tell them how much you appreciate them taking care of you when you go shopping.
As you read through the above, you no doubt thought of many more we should all be thankful for. It is these people who make our lives possible.
Lastly, as you sit around the Thanksgiving feast and offer thanks for your friends and family, take a moment to remember and thank those who make the day a safe, healthy, and complete holiday.