What Matters

I think it was in Tucson, more years ago than a guy can be expected to remember, when I attended a meeting of a local writers’ group and listened to a speaker who had recently published his first book and got funded by his publisher for a book tour. His memorable advice was: when on tour, treat yourself well. Don’t stay in budget motels. Upgrade from the Holiday Inn to the Marriot or Hilton.

Even back then, in reality, very few authors from any major publisher got their tours supported. The rest were on their own, and for those of us on our own, the Holiday Inn would’ve been quite an upgrade.

Alan Russell and I found lots of ways to cut corners, mooching off friends and relatives, mooching off innkeepers who owed Alan favors from when he managed the Sea Lodge at La Jolla Shores and they mooched off him, scoring free meals for spying at restaurants as mystery diners. And writing about our misadventures in Road Kill and No Cats, No Chocolate, which may, with your patronage, eventually pay us back for the tours. And, of course, the book tour tax dodge helps. Not as lucrative as moving headquarters overseas, but probably more legit.

Once we used up all the favors owed to Alan and ventured far from the habitats of friends and relatives, we bunked in so many Motel 6 locations, we became authorities. I often recommend the luxurious Scottsdale Motel 6, which backs into the parking lot of Scottsdale Fashion Square, a fun place to observe the privileged and wannabes preen and strut, and a short walk to the art gallery district and to Frank and Lupe’s for my favorite Mexican food anywhere.

I wonder why would anyone feel the need to upgrade, when he already has a comfortable bed in a swell neighborhood, savory tamales, Dos Equis cerveza, and sopapillas for desert.

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