Elephants At The Kitchen Window

My wife Paulette was reading awhile back about where you grow while you’re asleep.  “If that’s so,” she said, “I should be nine and a half feet tall.”

Paulette is one of the world’s great sleepers.  Now, I don’t mean that she sleeps all the time.  She gets eight good hours, and then she’s up and rearing to go.  When she’s awake, she’s a real dynamo – great wife, tireless worker.  But when she sleeps, brother, she sleeps.  Rip Van Winkle could take lessons.

I heard one fellow say that there are two kinds of sleepers in the world: light sleepers and heavy sleepers.  In any marriage, there’s likely to be one of each.  If two of the same kind marry, one of them will change, especially if both are heavy sleepers.  No marriage can succeed without one light sleeper.  After all, somebody in the marriage has to hear those things that go bump in the night – like elephants trying to get in the kitchen window.

I don’t know how heavy sleepers get to be that way, but my friend Delbert Earle says it’s all because of something he calls the Immutable Theory of Energy.  I think it’s a notion he got out of Popular Mechanics years ago.  Delbert Earle believes that we are all born with a certain amount of energy, and that we spend our lives using it up.  He says we can’t get any more than we originally had, but we can control how fast we use what we do have.

Delbert Earle says he is a heavy sleeper because he is conserving his energy.  He has finally convinced his wife not to wake him up when she hears elephants coming in the kitchen window.  She takes care of it herself.  So far, none have gotten in -- or at least that’s what Delbert Earle thinks; after all, he’s been asleep.  He has found no elephant tracks in the sink.

We light sleepers – Delbert Earle’s wife and I among them -- are guardians of home and hearth.  But I suspect the heavy sleepers will outlive us and be happier in the process.

Just thinking about it makes me want to take a nap.

Giving Birth to an Elephant


Writing a novel is similar to giving birth to an elephant: the gestation period is very long, and when the dear thing finally pops out, you hope nobody notices that it has long, floppy ears.

Well, I’m in the final stages of labor.  My new novel, The Governor’s Lady, debuts August 29 at Park Road Books in Charlotte, NC.  My first four novels were birthed at the same great store, where owners John Barringer, and later Sally Brewster, have nurtured and supported my scribbling from the beginning.  You might call them the delivering physicians.

This book has been more than ten years in the making, and there were times I wondered if I’d ever finish it, and if so, if it would ever see the light of day.

The book publishing industry has changed dramatically in the time since my fourth novel, Captain Saturday, came out.  It’s mostly a bottom-line business these days, and midlist writers like me, even with decent publishing records, have a tough time placing a new work.  So many books of merit that used to get published with little problem now have a much slimmer chance of finding an audience.

I’m incredibly fortunate.  The Governor’s Lady will be birthed by a wonderful house, John F. Blair Publishers in Winston-Salem, NC.  Yesterday, I held the first copy off the press and marveled at the beautiful presentation Blair has made of my story.  Carolyn Sakowski and her staff have done everything right and given the work its best possible chance to succeed in the marketplace.  They’ve arranged an extensive promotional tour (www.robert-inman.com/appearances) where I’ll get the opportunity to present my book to booksellers, librarians, and readers.  It will also have an e-book edition for those who are making the move to devices like Kindle, Nook and Kobo.  I’m proud to be a Blair author.

Now, it’s up to me and my little elephant.  Readers will decide the merits of the story, and I’ll do everything I can to help the cause.  It’s where art meets commerce.  I’m proud of the work – the characters and the story -- and immensely grateful to everyone who has provided wise counsel and guidance along the way.

If you see me on the street pushing a very large baby carriage with a long-eared little darling inside, at least honk and wave.  We’re on a mission, and we need your good wishes.  A few bucks for the book would help, too.