Rails of War Book Signing Reveals TIFMNMA

I used a 1944 Parker 51 fountain pen to sign my mother-in-law’s copy of Rails of War. She gave the pen to me two Christmases ago because I told her how my mother and father coveted these pens during the war years. From the Parker flowed a dark and lustrous script onto the page opposite the book’s title. The ink sunk deep into the porous paper of the book in a rich vein of love and appreciation. Mary, my wife’s mother, was the first person to wade into the original 350,000-word author’s draft.

My parents often discussed the best tools for writing during the war. The writing implement of choice was agreed to be the Parker 51. And, although rationed during the war, the ink of choice was also Parker 51. But often they had to settle for second best, Parker Quink, a product that used isopropyl alcohol for solvent instead of water. The ink dried quicker with Quink, but it didn’t flow as smoothly.

Writing in other people’s books is in an author’s job description. The event where this is required is called a signing. I did two this past weekend, one at Barnes and Noble and one at my book launch in Old Town Alexandria at Lloyd House. I’m terrible at it. I’m unoriginal in prose. But, thankfully, the owner of the book probably can’t read my substandard notations because my handwriting is indecipherable. I attribute this to technologically-induced-fine-motor-neuro-muscular-atrophy (TIFMNMA). There, I’ve named it so now I’m a victim–not just lazy.

I know I had passable handwriting back in the early 1970s because Roadway Express hired me to move freight six days a week on their bulk-break truck dock in Indianapolis. I’m pretty sure that the only requirements for employment in that job were heavy lifting and legible penmanship. All DOT load manifests were handwritten back then. Now, it’s robots reading barcodes.

Anyway, to the subject at hand, signing books. It’s a new experience for me, and I’m pretty sure I can master it given enough time. After all, I’m in recovery from TIFMNMA. Finally, and I probably should have led with this, author events are fun. I had a good time this weekend. I love telling the story, and people seem to enjoy hearing it.

Click here to view upcoming author events or to schedule a Rails of War book signing.


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