Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Times they are a Changin' with Guest Blogger: Greg Messel

Meet author Greg Messel today
at the Book Boost!

Here's what he had to say...

I remember the days not long ago when one of my favorite pastimes was browsing the racks of music stores. I not only enjoyed the music but I loved the process of the hunt for new CDs.

Then the technology came along where I could load my CDs and burn my own CD mixes for playing in my car or on my portable CD player when I was running outside or on a treadmill. Wow, burning my own CDs–how could it get better than that?

It did.

I bought my first iPod which I could fit into the pocket of my running shorts which contained hundreds of songs. I then discovered iTunes and began downloading music. Then I reached one conclusion–I needed a bigger iPod. Now I had one small one to play music while I was working out and a bigger one to play in my car or home. All of my favorite music could fit in my shirt pocket.

I found that in the process of downloading music I discovered new bands and new types of music. The shelves were never empty at iTunes and the CD or song I was looking for was never out of stock

Then I found there was really no point to browsing the music stores. My visits to places like Tower Records or the wonderful Music Millennium store in Portland, Oregon became less and less frequent.

Soon these record stores began disappearing. So did the CDs which lined the several shelves in my home. Why do I need CDs? I NEVER just play a CD. If I wanted to hear an album by an artist I could just switch to the album mode on my iPod. I finally let go of the security blanket or having the CDs on the bookshelf at home. I had horded them like they were an endangered species that I must preserve for future generations.

Then I realized the folly of having stacks of CDs from the past that will never be played again.
About a year ago when my second novel Expiation was published I got a call from my daughter who told me “I’ve been listening to Expiation as I drive to work and back each day."

“Really?” I didn’t remember anyone making an audio version of my novel. “How are you doing that I asked?”

She informed me that she has Expiation loaded on her Kindle and uses the voice reading feature on her Kindle and listens to my book being read to her through the car stereo system.

Oh yeah. Is it a female voice or male voice? She said she switched it to a male voice since Expiation is written in first person and narrated by the main male character.

No way!

I noticed Kindle sales of my books starting to show up on royalty statements from my publisher.
I attended the LA Festival of Books for a book signing and there was lots of talk about e-books. Suddenly, everyone was talking about e-books.

Things seemed to be changing.

On Christmas morning, 2010, there were two Kindles under my Christmas tree–one for me and one for my techno-phobe wife. I was dragging her into the new world whether she wanted to go or not.

Since Christmas I’ve read six novels. I got into a frenzy of downloading on Christmas day. My Visa card company called me on December 26th checking “an unusual amount” of activity with purchases from Amazon. Well, yeah, guilty as charged.

I have the New York Times Book Review, the Seattle Times and the San Francisco Chronicle delivered each morning to my Kindle for my reading pleasure. I’m also revisiting classics like Crime and Punishment, which I’m reading now. Suddenly I’m starting to wonder why I have all of these bookshelves in my house. I’ve haven’t browsed a bookstore since the first of the year.

I even noticed my wife reading her Kindle in bed with an adjustment made for a larger font so she doesn’t have to wear her glasses. On our nightstands where there used to be stacks of books are now Kindles.

Hmmm. This is a familiar pattern.

A Note from the Book Boost: I was a long time employee of one of those great music store chains back in college. They are all but obsolete these days. Kind of sad, if you ask me. But I still own both an I-pod and a Kindle and my kids stare at me in confused amazement when I refer to these mysterious things called "records" or "LPs"! Thanks for joining us, please tell us more about your book.


In 1968, Dan and Katie are one of the hottest couples at Ballard High School in Seattle. He is the hero football player, and she is the beautiful cheerleader. These high school sweethearts believe theirs is a love that will never die.

Life changes when Dan leaves Washington to start college at the University of California Berkeley and pursue his dream of working for a big time newspaper in the glamorous city of San Francisco. The quest for his dream occurs against the turbulent background of Berkeley and San Francisco in the 1970s as Dan and Katie go their separate ways.

Now, thirty years later, Dan is back in his hometown of Seattle attending his mother's funeral. He's never stopped thinking about Katie, his long-lost love. But the two former high school sweethearts reconnect in a most unexpected way as the rest of the world grows more fearful of Y2K and the dawn of the twenty-first century. They are hoping that their love, once lost, can now be reclaimed.


As we pulled in front of the familiar house in the old neighborhood I smiled and said to Katie, “Your house looks great. Wow, the trees are so big.”

We walked onto the porch. I grabbed Katie’s hand as she fumbled for her house keys.

She turned to look at me.

“How many times do you think I have kissed you on this porch?”

“I don’t know,” Katie said, “but I’d like it if you added one more to that total.”

Katie lowered her briefcase to the ground and put her arms around my neck. I kissed Katie for the first time in 30 years. I couldn’t stop. A surge in emotion was overtaking me. I was actually getting tears in my eyes. I held her tightly and kissed her again.

As we broke our embrace I could see, in the faint glow of the porch light, that Katie had tears in her eyes.

“You‘re still the world’s best kisser,” I said to Katie.

“It’s funny,” Katie said, “it seems so familiar to me to kiss you, even after all of these years. It felt so good. You aren’t so bad yourself Dan. You still have it.”

“Just like riding a bicycle. I just realized how long it has been since I kissed a woman.”

“It’s been a damn long time since I kissed someone. I really like to kiss you Dan.” Before I could respond Katie added, “Let’s go inside. We’re past the point of needing to stand on the porch in November and kiss.”

I laughed and said, “I just realized that the last time I was on this porch was when I left you my final letter.”

Katie opened the door, turned and asked “What letter?”

“The one I left when I came back from Berkeley. I left it in this very same storm door when I came back to Seattle at the end of our first year of college,” I said incredulously.

“I never got a letter like that,” Katie said in a puzzled tone.

That thought hung in the air as we entered her home.

“It looks so great Katie. I love what you have done with this house.” Katie had redecorated everything with new warm colors and new furniture. “It looks like Katie’s house.”

Katie smiled and said, “Let me give you the tour.”

It was all updated and changed but it was a real walk down memory lane as I went from room-to-room. The memories of my time in this house with Katie…from so long ago…came flooding back into my mind.

Katie proudly walked me through her house. “I love it Katie,” I said, “this is an amazing experience to be back here.”

“Can you stay for a while? We have a lot more to talk about.”

“I feel like I don’t want to let you out of my sight now. But feel free to kick me out when you need to go to bed or have had enough or whatever…”

“I wasn’t sure about going to work tomorrow anyway with everything going on downtown. I feel a personal day off coming on. Please stay and talk with me,” she pleaded.

“I’m yours for as long as you want me tonight,” I responded.

Katie took my hand and led me into her kitchen. We sat at the bar in her kitchen. “Let me make you some coffee?”

She busied herself pouring water into the coffee maker. I could now get a better look at her in the brighter light. I couldn’t take my eyes off of her. My eyes took a walk all over Katie--her beautiful, thin body, her blonde hair, her warm smile and twinkling, green eyes. She looked incredibly good to me.

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