hit tracker Dave Shields Author Blog: April 2005

A journal detailing my efforts to launch my career as a novelist. The goals are to share info about succeeding in this field with other aspiring authors, to provide updates to the many supporters who have asked me for them, and ultimately to build the momentum necessary to assure success in this venture.

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Back to Normal?

I'm home and trying to get reorganized after a fantastic and hectic week in Georgia. It's so wonderful to see my girls after time away. It never ceases to amaze me how quickly they change.

I'm busy sorting through opportunities for "The Race," while trying to balance the work of getting the sequel in print and finding time for family and other obligations. My to-do list threatens to overwhelm me. I'm headed to the northeast for signings at bike races in that area and also to attend the Benjamin Franklin Awards Ceremony in early June. A second trip to NYC is planned for mid-July. I need to find time for a week in France somewhere amongst these things so that I can do some final fact-checking/atmosphere-gathering for the sequel.

There are several things in the works that could potentially lead to exciting announcements. I'll post here if anything significant happens. Thanks for reading.

Sunday, April 24, 2005

Mavic Carpet Ride

With no books to sell, what's a guy at a world class bicycle race to do? How about hitch a ride in the peloton? Mavic wheels were kind enough to let me sit in one of their neutral support vehicles for the final stage of the 2005 Tour de Georgia. It was funny to hear the mechanics complain that the cyclists hadn't gotten nearly enough flat tires. The perfect roads and incredible infrastructure apparently make a mechanics job, at least during the stage, about as enjoyable a the Maytag repairman's. Fortunately for these guys, there's a lot of work to do at the end of each stage. One look at all the mechanics laboring into the late hours in the hotel parking lots is proof of that.

The mechanic's were right, though. The roads were perfect. The crowds were too and so was the race organization. This is my second time at this event and I leave with an impression of Georgia even better than my first time around. I didn't have the slightest idea what this state had to offer before last year's Tour de Georgia. To say that I'm blown away is an understatement. This year they had lousy weather (in addition to the snow, hail, rain, wind, sleet and other obstacles, the cold this morning bit right through me) but still pulled off a spectacular event. Three cheers for the Tour de Georgia!

Saturday, April 23, 2005

They Say I've Sold Out...

And they’re right! Out of the almost 600 books I brought to Georgia with me, I only have five remaining. I’m holding those back just in case Lance Armstrong or someone along those lines chases me down asking for a signed copy. Hey, I can always dream, can’t I? I’ve been told that many of the cyclists have read my book, but I’ve been so busy I haven’t been able to talk to many of them about it. After Tom Danielson won today I met his parents and wife and they said Tom had read the book. I gave them my e-mail address and hopefully I’ll hear from him. Tom may be America’s next big star.

The weather today was atrocious again. It was freezing cold, windy, and snowing. What a massive difference from the weather this race enjoyed last year. That didn’t deter the fans, though. They were on the hillside in the thousands, many of them way underdressed and shivering uncontrollably. Everybody seemed to get heated by another incredible stage, though. What an event!

Friday, April 22, 2005

Holy Guacamoli

The weather report this morning said a chance of scattered showers. Tell that to the thousands of spectators who cycled to the top of Woody Gap and other locations along today's Tour de Georgia route. Lightning felled a tree only 100 yards from one group. Marble sized hail pelted everything in sight. It was a truly epic day for weather.

Regardless, the pro cyclists rolled on. By the time they finished they looked like death warmed over, but these guys are used to that feeling. It's been a great race and the crowds are massive. The sport of pro cycling is alive and well in Georgia.

I got another piece of great news last night. The Race is one of three finalists for the Ben Franklin Awards in the catagory of "Best New Voice - Fiction." The winner will be announced in early June. I'll cross my fingers, and my "T's".

Thursday, April 21, 2005

Signing in the Rain

I'm signing in the rain
Just signing in the rain
What a glorious feeling
I'm happy to explain
As I sit on the street
Saying "Hi" to all I meet
I'm happy, and signing in the rain.

Doo do do do doop doop
Doo do do do doop doop

Here's a funny story. I've been on the local news a couple of times over the last few days. At my list signing a young girl came up and asked me to sign the shirt she was wearing. As I was writing my name she said, "This is so cool. Your the first famous person I've ever met."

That was good for a chuckle. I wasn't famous yesterday. I wonder if my genetic makeup has changed.

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

A Reception fit for a King!

Flying through the back roads of Georgia in the Tour de Georgia merchandiser’s Dodge Sprinter van we came across a train, slowly crossing the road. Then it stopped, dead in its tracks. How could this be? The orange race route markers pointed straight into an empty box car.

I got out of the van and checked out the train. Immovable cars extended in both directions as far as the eye could see. The traffic began piling up. Right behind us a course marshal flew to the scene in his pickup. He immediately recognized the problem, and he was a whole lot better at doing something about it than I was. He radioed the news in and within less than a minute half a dozen Georgia troopers screamed down the road in our direction, blue lights swirling everywhere, sirens blaring. They moved citizen’s vehicles to either side of the road, clearing space. I overheard that they had gotten word from the train operator that there was an emergency shutdown.

Meanwhile, in the bike race, Andrea Tafi had a five minute and thirty second lead on the peloton. He was closing the gap to our position quickly. Would all his hard work go for naught when he came upon this behemoth in his path? Local Sheriffs began working through possible alternate routes, looking for a railroad crossing that was clear. Patrol cars rushed to various locations to determine the best alternative.

But then a huge crash sounded. The train lurched forward. Somehow, they had gotten it started. The cars slowly rolled by. Reports on race radio confirmed that Tafi was within moments of turning the corner and heading toward the train.

Then finally the end of the train was visible, and the road cleared. The patrolmen flew across the tracks, well behind schedule in their task of closing intersections and creating the necessary rolling road closures. We drove within their ranks, feeling like some sort of foreign dignitary being escorted between meetings with heads of state. It's not the sort of treatment obscure authors usually get while on a book tour and late for a signing. I love Georgia!

As we came upon oncoming traffic, one officer after another peeled off and held back the cars. Already, local sheriffs had filled in and were directing columns of traffic out of our way. Beside the roads, hundreds of people waited. Seeing our Tour de Georgia logo covered truck they waved enthusiastically. We threw press-on tattoos, postcards, candy, and other freebies from the windows.

After a hair raising ride we streamed into Rome, Georgia. I sprinted to the signing booth where, to my amazement, buyers of fifteen books were waiting for signatures. "What was the holdup?" they asked. I only had time to explain the basics. Before the day was over I signed piles of books, plus tons of baseball caps, t-shirts, and various memorabilia. They were making me feel like a star. Have I ever mentioned that I love Georgia? Well, I do. I schedule a little book signing tour and they design the best world-caliber bicycle race I’ve ever experienced around it. That’s downright neighborly of them!

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

The Endurance Race

The cyclists might be the ones getting all the publicity for racing in the Tour de Georgia, but I have to say that the support personnel deserve their own sort of medal. Up each morning before the crack of dawn, and we still haven't gotten into one of our hotels before midnight. Whew, this is exhausting... and fun!

Monday, April 18, 2005

Bumped by the Pope

No, this isn't a story of a brush with greatness. It's my excuse for not being on CNN this morning. Everything was set, then they decided that they needed to take my time slot with an update of the Papal election. Darn.

The atmosphere here in Georgia is electric, made more so by Armstrong's retirement announcement today. This year's Tour de France will be his last race. I was in the room, and was impressed by his determination to go out a winner, and by his reluctance to leave competitive cycling behind. It was clear that he recognized his time has come, though, and you have to respect a guy for knowing that.

Tomorrow the exciting part of this trip begins. I'll be in a vehicle in advance of the cyclists, signing books and helping to sell souveniers. It should be quite a ride. I can't wait!

Sunday, April 17, 2005

The Tour, Baby!

I'm stealing the great title from my pal Scott Cody, but this is a different Tour. TheTour de Georgia is about to start and I'm in Augusta waiting to roll. It was a spectacular race last year and promises to be even better this time. The organizers are to be commended for turning this race, in only it's third year, into the most prestigious cycling event ever to be held on American soil. The atmosphere here is incredible!

The logistics each day could change at a moment's notice, but right now it appears that I'll be signing books from a van that will preceed the cyclists down the course. I hope it works as planned because that will give us the opportunity to see a lot of country, meet a lot of people, and spread the word about my book. Tomorrow (or maybe I should say today since it's very late) will be a series of pre-race festivities and press conferences, and then on Tuesday, off we go.

Monday, April 04, 2005


I got word today that The Race is a ForeWord Magazine Book of the Year Finalist! The winner will be announced in early June at Book Expo America. Just reaching this level is a huge honor and lift, but winning would be fantastic. I don't know how much work I'll be able to get done with my fingers crossed for the next two months, but I know that I have a lot of work to do so I better find a way.

I'm headed to Atlanta for the Tour de Georgia later this month. CNN invited me on for an interview on 4/18 at 10:45 a.m. Eastern Time. I'm grateful for the opportunities they have given me to tell people about the incredible sport of cycling and to make their viewers aware of my novel.

After the interview I'll be doing two signigs a day for the remainder of the week. In the mornings I'll be in the city where the Tour de Georgia starts, and in the evenings I'll be in the towns where it finishes. I can't wait to return to this great race. It's a huge logistical undertaking. Last year the organizers pulled it off to perfection and turned it into America's premier stage race. I expect even better things from them this year.