LIGHTING THE FUSE

It’s tune in, turn on, and take action in this tale of campus intrigue. Little does a small band in a remote college town realize its opposition to small-ante bureaucracy goes straight to the state capital. And then Washington and the Mekong Delta are another matter as the hippie movement hits tranquil Daffodil. Nothing will remain quite the same.

As the headline said:

BOTCHED DRUG BUST BACKFIRES.

When narcotics agents made an early morning knock-down-the-doors raid on the twelfth-floor of one of the high-rise dormitory towers, they turned up nothing – and were surrounded by irate residents before they could frame anyone, either.

“If you think the slaying of innocent students at Jackson State University was merely a racial atrocity,” Lakasha proclaimed, “you’re not seeing the big picture. It’s about an attack on civil rights – freedoms that belong to all of us. You don’t have to live in a big city to live in ghetto housing. Every student in Daffodil lives in a ghetto. Where I come from, we have a word for high-rise housing like these big dorms – the Projects. And the pigs who come charging into the Projects act just like those who busted in on the twelfth floor the other night. Never mind whether they find anything or not. Look, the university’s demanding that the students pay for the busted doors and busted furniture and busted walls. That’s why they call it a bust in the first place. Wake up, America! Demand the names of the ‘unnamed informants,’ the ones who were so wrong about the presence of illicit substances in those rooms. Wake up, I say! Mississippi’s closer to Daffodil than you think!”

~*~

To learn more about my novel, go to my page at Smashwords.com.

Daffodil-jnana

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ONE LIBRARIAN’S TAKE

Perhaps you’ve heard someone tell another, “You should write a book about that,” relating to some personal experience they think would become a bestseller.

Neither of them, however, actually reads books, even if they expect others to do so.

Sometimes one of these individuals actually does crank out the manuscript and even self-publishes it (not that self-publishing is intrinsically wrong, mind you – just that one needs to be aware of the perils that route takes, whether it’s in the traditional bound paper editions or in the newer digital ebooks).

A neighbor came across one of these paper versions a few months back and decided to ask a librarian acquaintance for her reaction. After reading a page or two (often that’s all it takes), she sniffed: “This reads like somebody who doesn’t read books.”

How telling. How telling, indeed, even before we get to the swollen ego.

 

NOTHING NOSTALGIC ABOUT IT

One thing I strive to avoid in my Hippie Trails series of novels in a sense of nostalgia. Admittedly, the music, especially, can bring back groovy feelings. (The close reader will notice how little of it I touch on directly, but rather I try to look at other facets of the experience.) And, yes, it is easy to get wistful with some of the memories – Woodstock, for example, while conveniently overlooking all of the physical discomfort, or for some of the lost social life and friendships – but there are good reasons we can’t and don’t go back. Our youth, obviously, has turned to aging, and our freedom turned to responsibilities, many of them ones we’ve chosen.

We need to emphasize that much was not happy. There was desperation, in fact.

The period and the movement were far from perfect, but we also had glimpses – epiphanies, for some – and their influence is far from completed.

If we wholesale deny the dreams and prophetic directions we experienced in that youthful outburst, we cut ourselves off from our higher nature – and both we and our largely society are impoverished as a consequence.

As I look at the array of problems facing America and the world today, I sense that the more serious currents under the surface of the hippie outbreak may finally provide some much needed direction, if we can be honest with ourselves and our history.

That’s definitely not nostalgia, no matter the anthems and hymns in the music of the era.

~*~

To learn more about my novels, go to my page at Smashwords.com.

BREAKING THE STEREOTYPES

She never did drugs, and she married a soldier. She was a faithful mother and wife. She doesn’t even know the smell of marijuana, and she talks to her legislators rather than standing in a demonstration.

But in my book, she’s still a hippie. There’s no question where she falls on the granola-heads to fundamentalist spectrum.

I’d give you my reasons she’s a hippie, as far as I’m concerned. But I bet you know others who are something like her. So I’d like to hear some of the qualities you perceived that help us break the stereotypes, at least when thinking of hippie.

CONTINUING SHADOWS OF THE HIPPIE EXPERIENCE

Look at a lot of the bikers or some of today’s teens and you can see they’re carrying some of the hippie legacy. The long hair, especially, and the desire to be as free as Gypsies. But something there doesn’t quite fit, either.

Too much military, for the bikers – the peace vibe ain’t there.

As for the teens, I don’t see the playful side that accompanied the late ’60s and early ’70s, along with all the desperation. Even the drug use seems different, maybe purely numbing rather than mind-expanding.

I’ve already mentioned some of the hippie streams I see continuing. But I haven’t said much about the darker side. I’m open for some suggestions and comments here. Feel free to weigh in. Anybody still picking up hitchhikers, for starters?

VISUALS FROM THE HIPPIE ERA

Nobody, I bet, can think of the hippie era without thinking of wild color. Just try listening to the music without it. Or reading my Hippie Trails novels.

There’s the clothing, of course, as well as those incredible hand-lettered Fillmore concert posters, the Peter Max illustrations, and the record album covers. The old Rolling Stone weekly newspaper, from the years it was based in San Francisco. Maybe some hand-thrown pottery, macrame, or a paisley pattern or big brass belt buckle.

So what comes to your mind’s eye when someone says hippie?

What would you put on the list?

AN EXTENDED VIEW OF MY OWN VOLUMES

It’s now been 12 months since my first ebook appeared at Smashwords – a list that now presents six of my novels and a full-length poetry collection. That’s in addition to my poetry chapbooks appearing at other presses.

First, I want to thank all of you for your support and encouragement. What you’re seeing is the fruition of a lifetime of writing that’s now, finally, coming to light. I cannot imagine trying to write seriously without a desire to share it with others – especially when I hear you tell of ways it speaks of your own experiences or sparks related memories.

I also want to acknowledge the fact that these are not works I could write today, not for a decline in ability but rather because each of us evolves and changes over time. My energies, inspirations, perspectives, and focus are different now than they were 10, 20, 30, or 40 years ago. I look at these works and find much that is wonderfully baroque or surreal or passionately intense and realize I’m in a much different sensibility today – yes, I’m happy to have these souvenirs from the journey, these touchstones and treasures, but they come from my younger years and their visions and even the different companions who shared my life back then, in contrast to the household I cherish now. More than ever, I’m ever-so-grateful I set aside the time over the years to draft and revise then, rather than waiting for my retirement years as so many wannabe writers do.

Let me just say there’s much more coming in the next 12 months.

And thank you.