Sunday, December 21, 2014

Three Books Down, More To Go.

In a few days, I'll officially begin the research for my fourth book, which is tentatively titled Classic Eateries of Southern and Western Arkansas.  For six months, Grav Weldon and I will spend a great deal of time crisscrossing the Ouachita Mountains and what's called LA -- Lower Arkansas -- by residents there.  We'll be seeking out restaurants that have been around 20 years or better, iconic institutions that have earned recognition by diners.  We'll be taking in stories, sampling dishes and picking up recipes.  And in the end, there should be a book.

Right now, Classic Eateries of the Arkansas Delta is selling pretty well, I'm guessing... though strangely enough, its predecessor Classic Eateries of the Ozarks and Arkansas River Valley is selling better.  Took a long time for the Ozark book to catch on, but hey, I'll take it.  Arkansas Pie: A Delicious Slice of the Natural State still holds its own.

A few days ago, in an online conversation, someone mentioned how I was doing this and working a full time job.  I'm guessing the word didn't get out, so I'll set the record straight.  On August 1st, I left my previous position to concentrate on researching and writing about Arkansas foodways full time. Yes, I'm also going to be writing about other things, particularly travel and history and such, but I believe there's a need to chronicle Arkansas's food past to show where we've been and where we're headed.

This wasn't an easy decision.  But it's one of which I'm certain.

See, seven years ago I made one decision that changed the course of my entire life.  I was a television producer with 12 years under my belt and enough heft (don't laugh) to keep doing that for the rest of my life.  A lot of things contributed to the decision to leave TV, and I've beat that horse to death over time, no need to resurrect it and flog it again.

What I discovered was that through my own hard work and dedication, along with a willingness to travel and a bit more than a little insanity, I could and indeed have made writing as a career work for me.  It wasn't something I came to immediately or that was immediately successful, but it's something I know in my heart is the right thing to do.  I didn't realize food was going to be one of my fortes but I've embraced that as well.

Thing is, it isn't easy.  It wasn't easy when I was working a full time job that paid my bills and my gas money to get me to those locations here and there so I could do my research for any of these three books.  Frankly, the choice to follow writing as a full-time career is a "damned if you do, damned if you don't" enterprise in which I'm exchanging the security of a salary for the time to do the things I need to do.  Not everyone would make that choice.

I need help.  Believe me, I'm writing as much as I can, and I've been blessed with some remarkable opportunities.  What I really need now happens to be resources -- places to stay when I need to be in the far reaches of the state doing this research, gas to get me there, prayers I can keep my 10 year old Honda going long enough to get it all done.  Nearly two weeks ago I astounded a couple of people who assumed that each restaurant I wrote about comped my meals and knew about my visits and the stories I'd write for my blog and my books.  That's not how I work.  Honestly, if I did allow that to happen, that sort of research wouldn't be a financial drain, but it'd drain my credibility.  I was trained to be a journalist.

I realize this is a ramble, but this time of year I usually resort to a ramble or two to get the thoughts piled up in the back of my head transported out to make extra space for the new things coming in.

So here's the TL;DR (too long; didn't read) for y'all.  I have three books out.  They're for sale, and they make good fodder for your glove compartment in your car, to pull out and skim through when you're looking for a bite to eat.  Or something to soak up when you're reading in the tub.  I'm not judgmental.  I'd appreciate it if you considered buying my books for yourself or someone else.  I don't get a lot off of them but whatever money happens to come in makes it easier for me to put gas in my tank and get somewhere.  You can order them here.

I'm also looking for sponsors who might help me cover what I do, keep me on the road and such.  That may be asking a lot, but hey, if I don't ask... well, there you go.

Yes, there's another book ahead.  Two for certain -- the one after this one will be on greater Little Rock, which I'm saving for last.  Maybe more.  Maybe I'll get up the gumption to go shop around some of my fiction and we'll see where that goes. Who can tell.

One thing's for certain -- I do plan to keep on keeping on.  I have an insatiable curiosity that needs to be fed, and a desire to keep sharing stories.  That work for you?  Awesome.

Oh, that one more thing.  I need recommendations.  Yes, my family hails from southwest Arkansas, but I haven't been in every nook and cranny.  If you have a restaurant I should check out, please leave a message here in the comments or email me at

Thank you.

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