When your best buddy puts on Facebook that he has Stage 4 lung cancer and won’t be on Facebook while “fighting the good fight,” a get well card just doesn’t cut it.
Lyle and I were an “unlikely” couple to become best buddies but we did because we both have this piece of common ground. “At the end of the day, we love people who love to write.” Those who want to be published, want to share their ideas and stories, and those who are willing to WORK to make it happen. Whatever the hold-up; money, editing, lack of confidence, a need to be “traditionally published only”, and those, like me, who just want to be read so voices and stories of the un-sung heroes and sheroes of the victims and survivors do not die.
(“See how long that sentence was? Where’s my editor when I need him??? Lyle?)
Let me take you back to our first meeting and bring it forward. You might understand us better after you can see our friendship as it came together.
It was so cold and I was nervous as I grabbed my leather portfolio and hurried to my appointment, struggling in heels across the icy parking lot of the Village Inn in Davenport. So many meetings in my career had been held there, day and night. It was like a “safe place” to meet and not be shooed out the door by staff, many of whom I’d known on a first name basis for almost 20 years. Confession is good for the soul and makes me admit that my meetings often went on for hours. I am a talker. I am a stickler for research, and I have to know the people I am involved with. With this new man, Lyle Ernst, I was headed into uncharted waters as I entered and scanned the room. Then I spotted him and the wait staff smiled and nodded toward him. “He’s been waiting for you.”
I had seen pictures on the internet when I googled him and had a preconceived notion as to what he was going to be like. However, nothing could have prepared me for “Editor, Author, Lyle Ernst”. The first words out of his mouth were not words; the sound was laughter. “I saw you getting out of your vehicle and didn’t know whether to come help or watch you blow away from the wind.” Full laughter now.
I tried to project my business-like persona but he kept coming up with these side-ways zingers and laughing as though it didn’t matter if I did or not. He had short grey hair that still boasted some reddish-brown top hair. Glasses and a beard made me think they were the only “sedate” thing about him, and his glasses were a necessity but the beard was just that touch that rounded out his “cocky” look. At his side on the seat of the booth was a hat he undoubtedly wore fondly. It was what I called a “cocky hat” and the fact it came from Oklahoma made it all the more notable to an Okie like me. I had already identified him as a “grizzled, rascal of a newsman” and I was not disappointed. He could have been a character in one of my books.
I had already written 4 novels and was here to get his input on how to get them “out there.” I didn’t write a best-seller, I knew that. But I did write to champion victims and survivors of rape/sexual assault and domestic violence. I wrote to champion the men and women who struggle with those issues, and those who help them and guide the highest risk victims underground. I wanted to “inform” and help people who know nothing about the hurt and pain of victims, to learn to empathize and perhaps be drawn in to help. Mostly, I just needed to be read to accomplish all of that.
I needed Lyle to guide me through the process of publication, perhaps help me write a more appealing cover letter, and most of all, I needed a trustworthy, experienced, and aggressive ally to help me counter the way my work was perceived. Now to find out if he was the one.
Already 60 I knew my viable years as an author were limited. I also was aware my health would be strained to the limits making book signings which are crucial to the success of any author and especially one who didn’t have “time” in the 21st century timeline to traverse the maze of publicists and the hoops one had to jump through just to be screened. I had already had some responses from some of my submissions, but despite a cover letter revealing the clear disclosure that the events in the books were all from real cases though “disguised” through creative fiction, I would receive back good responses but inevitably somewhere it would point out some part in the book and say “this would never happen.” In the beginning I would be indignant and write back “if it was in the book, as the cover letter said, it has already happened in a real case . These are the voices of the victims/survivors.”
That was the beginning of a now, 12 year friendship and a most amazing find in my long years of people watching and working with the “good, the bad, and the ugly.” I did not know it then, but I had just scored a lifelong friend that at no time in my years of knowing him, ever exhibited any self-promoting or selfish desires for himself. I had been thrown into the “world according to Lyle.”
When I had a stroke while writing Footsteps Out of Darkness, a memoir with Annabelle Kindig, I had trouble completing some interviews. Lyle to the rescue and he became an important team member and instrumental in helping us wrap up the story in the promised time-line to meet distribution needs for the 40th anniversary of MESA (Moving to End Sexual Assault) in Boulder, Co. He kept Annabelle and I laughing to the very end of a very tense, highly-risky. timeline. 10 months, beginning to end.
LYLE, HERE ARE SOME REMINDERS OF ALL THOSE YOU HELPED AND MANY THAT YOU WORKED WITH, AND ESPECIALLY MANY YOU LOVE; SO FIGHT, LYLE,FIGHT.
YOUR CUBS, YOU’VE BROUGHT THEM THIS FAR, LET’S GO FOR THE WIN !
THAT BEAUTIFUL WOMAN WHO LIGHTS UP THE ROOM FOR YOU. YOU TWO WERE CERTAINLY “STYLING” THAT DAY.
YOUR FELLOW AUTHORS LIKE TONY STILL NEED YOUR “TWO CENTS WORTH”
And while many would recognize you more readily in casual clothes, they would love to see you with your books and collections.
AND I FULLY INTEND TO SEE YOU ENJOY ANOTHER OF MY WONDERFUL BIRTHDAY COLLAGES OCTOBER 31 WHILE SIPPING MILLER LITE.
And above all Lyle, when we talk about fighting the evil “C” word, keep in mind the words of Robert Frost.
The woods are lovely, dark and deep,
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.