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Behind the Book -- Lifelines
Velva Jean Learns to Drive takes us far into soaring, emotional country, the place where our best music comes from. -- Robert Morgan

On days like today I try to remind myself of something my granddaddy Olin used to say. Granddaddy was a postal inspector, back in the days when they carried guns and traveled the country, investigating dangerous crimes. He also wrote for the paper in his North Carolina town. He was brilliant and kind and quiet, and one of the wisest people I’ve ever known (he was the inspiration for Velva Jean’s granddaddy, Daddy Hoyt). Whenever Mom or I would complain to him about our writing deadlines he would say, “Remember: you get to do this, no matter how hard it can be. It’s not a deadline, it’s a lifeline.”

Some days that’s easier to remember than others. Today for instance. This morning I found out that the production department at Penguin/Plume needs me to return my edited manuscript (the one I got back only days ago) by next Wednesday. Next Wednesday! Thank God I’m done with my Christmas shopping (as a writer under contract, you learn to plan ahead and take advantage of the moments when your book is in the hands of someone else). Because from now until next Wednesday morning, I will be at my computer. Except for Friday, when I tour Edwards Air Force Base as research for Velva Jean’s adventures in Hollywood (book four).

All through the day I repeated Granddaddy’s words to myself, just like a song: You get to do this. it’s a lifeline, lifeline, lifeline…

And I’ll keep repeating it to myself as I go back to work on the book right now.