Intangible Hearts: Take a Gamble on My New Romantic Adventure!

A sequel from one of my writer friends--the original was a lot of fun!

Intangible Hearts: Take a Gamble on My New Romantic Adventure!: It’s finally here!! My second book about Penny, and though it’s a standalone sequel, Penniless Souls is the second half of a two-part jour...

book review: Game of Thrones, by George R.R. Martin

So ... you've probably heard of this book, which has garnered some moderate success from an otherwise unknown author by the name of George R. R. Martin. Long-winded fantasy? Who does that anymore?

My wife and I were planning two long trips this summer, so we headed to the library to find an audio book that wouldn't make the dog howl like a direwolf. We were somewhat taken aback by Game of Thrones, an audiobook roughly as thick as the U.S. tax code. It was on 28 disks.


Winter is coming. Maybe they could get some heated cushions for that uncomfortable iron throne.

  Over a two week period we were on the road for roughly 26 hours of driving, and we still had to renew it from the library for another few weeks.

Game of Thrones opens with an execution, and believe me when I saw that's far from the only death to come along. The story follows nine viewpoint characters on a world where summers can last decades but winter hits hard, where dragons once flew, and where a giant, centuries old ice wall protects the continent of Westeros from the supernatural dangers of the north.

Most of the story revolves around the Stark family, led by Lord Eddard "Ned" Stark. After a long war, Ned's best friend Robert has become king of an assemblage of former nations, and now wants the reluctant Ned to be the King's Hand--basically the guy who does all of his dirty work. The honorable and dutiful Ned--you won't find a lot of characters like that here, outside of the Stark family--packs up and dives into the politics of an increasingly divided kingdom.

What could possibly go wrong? In Martin's world, pretty much everything. Tragedy, misunderstandings, treachery, and accidents ensue, as various characters give and take allegiance while others plot for power and ... well, pretty much just power. Despite Ned's desire to just go home, he finds himself entangled in events that will bring war to their world, even while winter nears and evil from north of the wall approaches. Meanwhile, the former royal family of the kingdom plots to take back what they consider theirs.

Sound complicated? It is. You can find dozens of maps online, just to show people where all the lands and cities are, and character trees to make interrelationships a little more clear. There's also plenty of nastiness, from graphic violence to child endangerment to incest. It's dark, detailed, and horribly addictive.

Emily and I were still catching our breaths when she took the audiobook back to the library. She returned with a new book, this time on good old fashioned paper, and I later determined it was five times as long as my first published novel.

Also useful in knocking out burglars.

Yep. Second book in the series, A Clash of Kings. We haven't seen the TV series, but my biggest warning about the world of A Song of Ice and Fire (which is the name of the entire book series) is that you should maybe schedule some vacation days before you start reading.

HBO covered this book in seasons three through twelve.

She does Pokemon, I do photography, cute meet in downtown Albion

Apparently they do this periodic special thing in the Pokemon Go world where you can catch these very special, extra-shiny Pokemon, shove them into tiny prisons, then force them to battle each other to the death. Or something like that.

I don't do Pokemon, because I'd rather be writing about tiny beings fighting to the death in tiny prisons, which come to think of it I just came up with a great story idea. But Sunday I walked up to the Noble County Courthouse square to join Emily, who'd already been up there for awhile catchin' 'em all. I could have spent the time with her making fun of Pokemon, but Emily kicks really hard. So instead, I took pictures. (As usual, you can click on these to make them bigger. I think.)

Yeah, okay, I took more photos of the courthouse. Someday I'll do a Noble County Courthouse calender, and you'll all want one.

This is the geographical center of Noble County, give or take some concrete and asphalt. It's also the location of the tiny police booth, which has become something of an icon, and the "liar's bench", which perhaps ironically is right by the police booth.

Volunteers keep downtown Albion flowered and flagged all summer long.

Just as the District of Columbia was originally formed from pieces of two states, Albion was built at the border of two townships, so they took half a square mile of each and made Albion Township--the smallest township in the USA. The streetlight on the left is a reproduction of the original from the 1800s. Lighting it by striking two rocks together is a pain.

I've often mentioned the Black Building, which is green, and the third building there built by the Black family. (The first two were wood, and thus highly flammable.) The art gallery there is the only place where you can buy all my books right off the shelf, which is appropriate considering it's mentioned in two of them.

Bum Knee, Writer's Paradise

I banged up my knee a little, probably last Friday when we did some hiking at the Portland Arch Nature Preserve, and then the Fall Creek Gorge Preserve, in West Central Indiana. Not a lot of bang; just a bit of pain and swelling, enough for my chiropractor to tell me I should stay off it for a little while.

My very first thought when she said that was: "Ooh! An excuse to stay on the couch and work on my writing!"

Like I should need an excuse.

I know what your first thought was: Don't worry, sure-footed Beowulf was fine.

She fell during a climb down, and I'm the one in pain. What's up with that?

Way more impressive than it looks here; I'll post more photos later.

Both the trails were listed as "rugged", and that was before we walked up the stream.

More Fire Training Photos, or: Fun With Fire Trucks

Some photos I took at an Albion Fire Department training earlier this summer. As I recall, the temperatures got into the high 80s that day ... that's good weather for spraying water. After all, this is Indiana--it's not like the humidity could go up any more.

The photography part was spur of the moment this time, so these are cell phone photos ... although cell phone cameras are getting a lot better, these days. Considering how much I love taking pictures, I should keep the regular camera closer.

At Least Government Waste Keeps Taxpayers Entertained

Sadly, I didn't get a government grant to write this ...

At Least Government Waste Keeps Taxpayers Entertained: Earlier I gave the first ten a list I found some time ago, of 20 of the craziest things the US Government spent money on. I'm sure there's been another lis...

Oh Brother, Why Aren't Thou Saying Cheese?

See, I have this brother, and he hates to have his picture taken, so whenever he sees a camera he makes one of those faces, like if you were watching one of the Three Stooges being strangled by the other two. The only way to get a decent photo of him is with a sneak attack.

Luckily that suits my style of photography, which is to keep taking pictures by the hundreds until one of them happens to be in focus.

I don't know, maybe he's afraid that if I get a nice pic of him I'll post it online, like this:

"Did I hear a click?"
That's his long suffering wife Cathy beside him. They've been married so long that she slaps him uptop the head before he says something dumb. My wife does that to me, just on principle.

But the one I really liked--and it's almost a miracle that I got two good pics on the same day--happened a little later. This was at our big annual family gathering, by the way, which happened at the end of July. That explains why I wasn't around over the weekend: I spent all day Sunday digesting.

"Okay, look, I really heard a click that time."
I see no need to explain why I cropped that photo. Was I really focusing on a kid at the end of the table? Yes. Did the camera accidentally focus on a beverage container instead, which just happened to put Jeff into focus? Yes. But why admit that?

Anyway, Jeff has been fighting cancer for awhile now and is doing one of those infusion therapy things, so we're all really happy to have him around. Whether I'll be around after he sees this, I don't know.

Speaking of happy to have them around, here's a photo from the gathering of the surviving three children of my Mammaw and Papaw (no, I don't know how to spell those), who lived in an honest to goodness holler in Kentucky:

Dorothy, Ruby, and Delbert, who also goes by Dad

And just to throw this in because she's so darned cute is my niece, Abby:

I also have some photos that might be valuable for blackmailing purposes later. Whether you'll ever see them depends largely on how nice people are to me.

Slashing a Fat Synopsis

Well, I finished my first draft of the synopsis for Fire On Mist Creek.

3,642 words.

Now, opinions differ on how long a novel synopsis should be. (In my opinion, I should be rich enough to hire someone else to write my synopsis and not worry about how long a synopsis should be.) The general consensus in the writing community is that a synopsis should be kept strictly between two thousand words and, oh, fifty words long. But the shorter the better; just like opera, or congressional term limits, or that little guy from Game of Thrones.

"Did you just call me a LITTLE GUY?"

 So I have some cutting to do, and with an ax, not a scalpel. There's a certain irony in cutting a novel down to something you then have to cut down. Meanwhile, I've identified a possible publisher for the book, but according to their publishing guidelines my novel is four hundred words ... too long. (Which is not something I'm remotely worried about for the moment.)

Later I'll probably have to boil my synopsis down into a back page blurb. There'll be significant shrinkage.

This is so much easier than writing a synopsis.