Should I Write a Book?

Back when I graduated from high school, my senior English instructor predicted that I would someday write the “great American novel.” I’m now nearing the end of my seventh decade and I’m here to say that is not going to happen. I do not have a novel in me . . . at all.

However, I have been thinking of writing another sort of book, and Brett and I have been talking the past few weeks about whether I should write one based on what I’ve covered in the blog over the years: getting to retirement, setting goals, making plans, traveling, and making our dreams come true on a not very big income. I enjoy writing, and it’s not like I’d have to invent the wheel or anything, mostly pull things together, organize it all, and polish everything up a bit. I have a tiny bit of experience writing a book with chapters: my Master’s thesis had over 400 pages, nine chapters, and an appendix. I’m not sure that counts for anything now, but the research, organization, and writing took months and taught me quite a bit about the process. In some ways it could be a similar effort for the type of book I would write now.

I’m not anywhere near to getting started on anything though, and haven’t the slightest idea right now of how to get published if I was to decide to write something. Actually, that would probably be my first task as I have no interest in paying to be published nor self-publishing. I also have no desire to write a travelogue, nor a how-to book – there are plenty of good ones out there already.

That’s really all I have to say about it now, but I’d like to throw a few questions out to you all:

  1. The BIG question: Do you think there’s a book in all of this?
  2. If yes, what aspects of our story do you think would make for a good book? Our getting out of debt? Moving to Hawaii? Our life on Hawaii? Our Big Adventure? How we set goals? How we manage our finances to reach our goals? All of this? Or maybe something more focused?
  3. Is there a way you think a book like this should be organized (chronological, by theme, or in some other way)?
  4. Anything else?

I look forward to reading your comments, suggestions, and opinions, even if it’s thumbs down. I have the best readers ever, and have appreciated your thoughtful comments over the years and know I will get good, solid advice from you that I can trust.

I’m looking forward to hearing from you!

#Kaua’i: Talk Story Bookstore

Located somewhere near the middle of historic Hanapepe town, coming from either direction, is the westernmost bookstore in the United States: Talk Story Bookstore. Any time we’re in Hanapepe, Talk Story is a must-stop location.

The bookstore opened in November 2004.

Now in business for 13 years, Talk Story Bookstore is a book-lovers dream, an old-fashioned store with something for everyone, including the latest bestsellers and beach reads, cookbooks, travel guides, books for kids, and Hawaiiana among other offerings. The store also stocks over 3,000 used, out-of-print or rare books, and also carry vintage and Hawaiian vinyl records, vintage comics, vintage sheet music and songbooks, and ukulele and Hawaiian slack-key guitar lesson courses.

The old Yoshiura food and clothing store in Hanapepe

The Talk Story Bookstore is owned by Ed and Cynthia Justus. They came to Kaua’i on their honeymoon in 2002 and never left the island. One day they were offered the space in Hanapepe, the Yoshiura building, which had previously held a long-time food and clothing store. The offer came with one month of rent free to test a new business so they agreed to the deal and opened with their eBay inventory, which just happened to contain used books.

Half of the store’s Hawaiiana offerings – both fiction and non-fiction

The Justuses had never intended to open a bookstore, but made enough during the free month to either pay next month’s rent on the store or the house where they lived. They chose the store, and moved into their van while they built up their business. Thirteen years later Talk Story Bookstore is a Kaua’i institution, and a destination for visitors from all over the world.

Visitors are encouraged to browse – the selection is pretty amazing for such a small space

Located on the west side of the island, historic Hanapepe town is a must-stop if you are visiting Kaua’i, and Talk Story Bookstore a must-visit while you’re there. The store welcomes visitors, and invites them to come in and browse for a while. The store also accept old books with store credit given in return, and they will also ship books back to the mainland if there’s no room in your suitcase!

Book Review: Your Keys Our Home: The Senior Nomads’ Incredible Airbnb Journey

Back in 2013, Seattle residents Debbie and Michael Campbell were ready to retire, but Debbie felt they had one more ‘big adventure’ left in them before they settled down. After hearing about Airbnb from their daughter they decided they could travel around Europe while staying in Airbnb rentals to keep it affordable. They sold almost all of their possessions (including their cars and beloved sailboat), rented their house, packed their bags and in July 2013 they hit the road.

Four years later, the Campbells, AKA the Senior Nomads, are still traveling. In the past four years they’ve visited more than 60 different countries, over 200 cities, and stayed in over 130 Airbnb rentals. They’ve been featured in the New York Times, the Huffington Post and other publications and interviewed on Rick Steves’ radio program. Most importantly, they’ve made friends all over the world.

Somewhere along the way they connected with the staff at Airbnb, shared their experiences, and were eventually invited to speak at the Airbnb Open in Paris in December 2015. Following that they were encouraged to write a book about their experiences, primarily for Airbnb hosts all over the world, but for others interested in a different way of traveling as well, and Your Keys Our Home: The Senior Nomads’ Incredible Airbnb Journey was the result.

The Senior Nomads in the kitchen of their Paris Airbnb rental (photo credit: The New York Times)

The book is an easy and very enjoyable read – I couldn’t put it down, and ended up reading it all in one sitting. Debbie and Michael tell about how their adventure got started; their evolution as Airbnb guests, including how they choose their Airbnb rentals and get themselves to each destination. They include lots of good advice on how to search for and nail down an Airbnb rental that will be a great fit for one’s budget and with the desired amenities, as well as tips on how to be a great host and a great guest. They describe how much they pack (not a lot – they each carry one large rolling duffel and a backpack), their rules for staying within weight regulations, and who handles what as they travel. Woven through the book are fun and interesting stories from their travels.

Debbie and Michael get ready to hit the road again (photo credit: The Huffington Post)

After four years of traveling together, the Campbell’s are still in love and still enjoying each other’s company. For now, they have no idea when they’ll stop – in 2016 they sold their house in Seattle and became true nomads.

On one level, Debbie and Michael’s wonderful little book shows how it’s possible to affordably travel the world by staying in other people’s homes as if they were your own. But, the book is also an inspiring guide for re-imagining retirement. Whether you have dreamed of paring down possessions to the essentials and getting out to see more of the world, or just finding a more affordable and interesting way to travel, Your Keys Our Home is a terrific starting point for creating your own “big adventure.”

(Debbie and Michael have been blogging about their travels from the beginning of their adventure. You can follow along and learn more at their blog, The Senior Nomads. As of this writing they are in Amman, Jordan, following visits to Beirut, and before that, several locations in Africa.)