Journal Inquirer article (Friday, October 16, 2009)

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Seeing America – RV style

By Julie Sprengelmeyer  – Journal Inquirer 

Glenn Maynard was 28, working at Travelers, and his then-girlfriend was toiling as an administrative assistant when the two decided to just chuck it all and hit the road, celebrating their honeymoon along the way.

The decision wasn’t exactly met with cheers.

The family “was more worried about what you are going to have when you get back,” Maynard recalls, “but we’re like, memories

Not that Maynard hadn’t suffered qualms of his own about quitting their respective jobs, selling their cars, and putting off saving. But, latching onto the idea that life’s too short, he got on board and the two were able to bring family members around.

What followed was a yearlong trip in a rebuilt 22-foot 1978 Dodge Rockwood with little to no money, a “really high-strung” miniature schnauzer named Molly in tow, and, finally, a book deal for Maynard’s “Strapped into an American Dream,” chronicling their adventures.

“It was just the perfect timing for us. We just always wanted to travel and see different states,” Maynard says. “So we got married, took the wedding money, and once we got the RV it was set in stone. … Seeing the RV sitting in the driveway was reality.”

Ah, the RV.

A foray inside was an 8-track lover’s dream, Maynard says

The two tied the knot April 25, 1992, and left the next month. The wedding was nothing compared to what would follow.

“We had a lot of nights where we didn’t know where we were. We broke down in a forest. We had problems with the tires. We didn’t know where we were going to sleep at night. We had a book of free campgrounds that sometimes didn’t work out,” Maynard says. “We were always lost and we never had a home, but it was just great. I mean, not always, but it was wild.”

Some of the “wild” was supplied by forest inhabitants.

Bad idea: Letting loose a 10-pound beloved dog to do her business in the dead of night in a high-bear-frequency area in Montana.

Option: Accompanying her outside.

Hmmmm …

“So I use a flashlight, shine it around from a crack in the door, let her out, see glowing eyes 30 feet away, and just yank back her leash,” Maynard says. “All I had was a big bear in my mind. It turned out to be a raccoon. That’s the way it was.”

While handling the road and the roadside, Maynard also penned their story as he, Tracy, and Molly traversed 35,000 miles through 48 states.

“I had been writing the whole time, and I said, ‘We’re going to make a book of this by the time it’s all done.’ I was doing a daily journal of what transpired during the day and was writing columns for Glastonbury Citizen and the Bristol Press. People were following us as we went along.”

The story of Maynard, who grew up in Glastonbury and graduated from the University of Connecticut, is a tale not only of adventure on the road, but also of travails in the world of publishing.

The trip ended in 1993 and the couple returned to the glare of television cameras as they were interviewed for the evening news. Then the real work began. Maynard spent a few years writing, rewriting, and hawking his book proposal. In 1997, he and Tracy divorced. “We had a great time, and then, after five years, we didn’t have a great time,” he explains.

Maynard kept on, seeing agent after agent, rewriting to “tone down” the honeymoon aspect following his divorce, then sending query letter after query letter.

He received rejection after rejection.

“I wasn’t going to let go of this one. I said, ‘I’m going to be working on this until I’m old and gray.’ I’m getting there,” he says.

In 2008 an agent told him he couldn’t help him, but knew of a small publishing company that might. At first the company, Strategic Book Publishing, offered Maynard a subsidy contract in which he would pay half of the publishing cost.

“I finally convinced them that the book was worthy of a traditional contract and sent them my book proposal. They agreed,” he says.

So how did Maynard score a book deal without having to take the self-publish route?

“Persistence,” he responds. “I was pulling my hair out, but I never gave up and I never was going to. There was so much to share about this trip.”

Area bookstores have hosted book-signings, and Maynard is hoping word will spread. He also hopes to catch that big break.

He, like many other authors, dedicates the book to the Oprah Winfrey Book of the Month Club as well as to “armchair travelers.” That’s Maynard’s next goal: Oprah.

“Maybe it will get to her. … What do I have to lose?” he asks.

Meanwhile, back home in Wethersfield, Maynard, now a business analyst at United Healthcare in Hartford, is just glad to have the book completed. His moonlighting as an author has gone down well at his regular job.

“They love it

And in case you were wondering, Maynard can’t resist saying it: “I quit Travelers to be a traveler,” he muses.

 

“Strapped into an American Dream” is available on Amazon, Borders.com, Barnes & Noble.com, and at area book signings.

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