Next Writing Project: Begun

Well, I’ve already written 3,500 words on our new book project. And that might be the majority of the writing part, because this book is going to have lots and lots and lots of photos. It’ll be akin to our Images of America: Albion and Noble County book in its picture-ness, I hope.

Oh, boy …

I’d better start working on captions. And maybe I should have warned Emily about doing the layout?

I'm sure she'll be fine with it, just like she's okay with me posting this picture. Um, maybe I should have asked her about the picture.

It'll be like this, only different.

50 Authors from 50 States: Sounds Cliché but All in Texas Means Big—So Go Big...

50 Authors from 50 States: Sounds Cliché but All in Texas Means Big—So Go Big...: Nancy G. West Novels with Texas Settings: Aggie Mundeen Mysteries As is true in many parts of our beautiful country, various landscape...

Clamping Down on Glamping

Have you heard of glamping? Apparently it means glam camping, which in turns means glamorous camping, which in turn means camping in luxury and style.

This continued shortening of words and terms is the topic of a whole other blog. I'll just say here that by the beginning of the next decade someone will have shortened "glamping" to "gl":

"Hy, cm gl w/us, s cl!"

(Translation: "I'm too lazy to type vowels".)

As I understand it, glamping is bringing modern luxury to the back-to-nature movement, and yes, it's just as ridiculous as it sounds. Unless you're doing it--then it's cool. Haul a tent in a backpack? I don't think so. No, you drive your SUV up to a yurt equipped with not only electricity, but a hot tub that will be filled on request by your butler.

Oh, a yurt is kind of a round, semi-permanent tent. And boy, am I shortening that explanation.

Or, rather than heading for a cabin or cottage, you could bring your glampiness with you. For this you'll need an RV of some kind, something about the size of, say, your actual home. Unless your home is a bit too small. You can camp in a trailer that would be too big for the typical mobile home park, or one with an engine that you drive around the same way a helmsman pilots an aircraft carrier. That way you have room for the hot tub, not to mention the big screen TV and the generator necessary to power both. And don't forget your satellite dish! You'll need your recliner, duh.

My first camping experience? A blanket draped over the clothesline out back. The grass was kind of itchy, but soft enough for a ten year old.

A fire, a pan ... keep it simple.

I'm thinking that a balance between the two might be more reasonable.

I mean, if you're taking your whole house with you on vacation, why not stay home? No matter what you see on the commercials, you're not going to open your front door and stand there looking out over the Grand Canyon with a coffee cup in your hand. You're going to be in a campground with a bunch of other camping vehicles. You'll have to unhook that little SUV you're towing to get to the canyon anyway, so why not save gas and just drive the SUV?

Hey, you can watch the big game on the big screen from your hot tub at home. Well, I can't, but I could watch Doctor Who on my medium screen from my couch.

When my wife and I first went camping it was with a two man tent and a couple of sleeping bags, which is still pretty close to the other end of the spectrum from glamping. I've discovered two things since:

First, my back had become too old to sleep on bare ground.

Second, a two man tent is fine for two, but doesn't work for two plus an eighty-five pound dog.

"You want me to sleep in THAT?"

But camping shouldn't include everything, including the kitchen sink. My wife was a long-time Girl Scout, and would be embarrassed to go camping with anything resembling a kitchen sink. On the other hand, I had no desire to go all survivalist, wandering into the wilderness with nothing but a survival knife and an extra pair of socks. (Although the socks are nice.)

Our compromise:

An eight man tent, assuming the eight men are average sized and kind of jammed in side by side, like a line of sardines. In our case that leaves room for a double sized inflatable mattress, a small folding table, and a folding chair (I need the chair to get around in the morning--see above about my old back.) ... with floor space left over for the dog. A little extra floor space, because every hour or so he likes to get up, do a quick patrol, then lay back down in a different spot. That's fine at home, but in a tent it's about a three foot patrol.

"Who's watching the back door? Where IS the back door?"

For two people who grew up poor, and whose idea of luxurious camping was having a floor on the tent, that's pretty luxurious. Especially since we added two extras:

One, a car-top carrier. It turns out a lot of our camping gear used to go in the back seat, which is now fully occupied by dog.

"No, I'm not sharing this with two folding chairs and a cooler."

Two, a fifty foot electric cord and a power strip. Yes, at my insistence we gave in on the luxury of electricity, at least when we can get a campsite with power. No, no hot tubs, but we power two phones, a camera, a Kindle (bedtime reading), and my laptop.

Yes, my laptop, leave me alone. I get some of my best writing done on a picnic table by the fire. That's the life.

And that's the closest I get to glamping.

Price reduction on my book, and hardcover ... or so I hear

It's been kind of a rough year, and especially a rough last month or so. But as an author I have to get back on the horse, because gift giving season is coming (I don't use an actual holiday name until November), and it turns out promotion is part of an author's job.

It's helpful for that effort that Arcadia Publishing has our Images Of America book priced at $21.22 for print, a drop from the original price. It's one of three history-related books Emily and I put together ... together. Or will that be four by this time next year? Stay tuned ... news to come.

 You can get it on all those various electronic formats too, of course--even the Nook. Anybody still have a Nook? 


Personally, for a photo-heavy book like this, I think it's better in paperback. But then there's the surprise I got when I checked our Amazon page. Take a look, and see if you can figure out what shocked me:

See that there, in the middle? They have it listed at $28.99, with a price drop to $20.78. Why $20.78? Why not $20.80, or $20.99? I don't know, but it still seems like a pretty good buy for a hardcover version. The only copies of the book I have are paperback.

That's because I didn't know there was a hardcover version.

If any of you happen to have ordered the hardcover, please let me know if this is a real thing or not; I've never had one of my books turned into the version that can be used in home defense. I realize that if you don't have a connection to Noble County you probably don't have any version, and in that case check out the Arcadia Publishing website: If you live in America, they're likely to have a book out covering something in your general area.

(And, as usual, check out all our books at ...)

Linemen Are Always Wired Up

I heard a noise last summer and looked around the corner to find a truck parked in my back yard.

A lot of the utility workers from around here are down in the southeast right now, trying to repair all the infrastructure damage done by Hurricane Michael. They're putting in some long, long hours, a long way from home.

On more normal days these are the guys who keep my computer and TV running, not to mention, oh, lights and heat. Speaking as a person who once, as a lad, tried to dig a piece of bread out of the toaster with a fork, I wouldn't take their job for love or money. (The toaster won.)

Reviewing The Walking Doctor: A Tale Of Two Season Openers

Sunday was the season 9 opener for The Walking Dead, and the--what--season 48?--opener for Doctor Who, the British SF series originally designed for children that went into development the year I was born. It was also my only night off that week, so even though my wife doesn't like watching more than an hour and a half or so of TV a night, we managed to catch both of them close to the hour of their premiers.

They'd make for a great crossover, since the Doctor often seems to spend most of his time running from things that want to eat him, anyway.

Many think The Walking Dead has stumbled the last few seasons, and despite the fun presence of Jeffrey Dean Morgan as Negan, the show's best villain yet, they're not wrong. (Your opinion may vary--The Governor was pretty cool, in a bad way.) It's hard to keep a show fresh for going on ten years, even killing off several major characters every year.

But this time around The Walking Dead does seem to have invigorated itself with season 9, which flashes forward several months from the climactic battle with Negan's Saviors at the end of S8. Negan is imprisoned, the Saviors part of a wider attempt at a community, Maggie's years-long pregnancy is past, and one of the show's most annoying bad guys is no longer hanging around by the end of the episode. There's a new show runner, and we go in with the announcement that Andrew Lincoln's Rick is exiting the show, apparently at the mid-season break.

The perfect time for A New Beginning, which happens to be the title of the episode. It mostly concerns a mission into Washington, D.C., and its aftermath, and we get both hope for the future and hints of conflicts to come.

Lots of people watch The Walking Dead for the zombies, and there are plenty stumbling around. I watch the show for the characters, and in that it remains strong. Whether it can continue to be strong without the strong center of Rick I don't know, but ... so far, so good.

Meanwhile, back in England, a mysterious woman who can't remember her own name falls out of the sky--literally. For the uninitiated, The Doctor (His/her name is not "Doctor Who") is a time and space traveling alien who can cheat death by regenerating into a new body. The thirteenth Doctor is also the first female one, played by Jodie Whittaker as caring, a little frenetic, and slightly daft, about the average for the more recent Doctors.

Instead of getting the time she needs to adjust to her new self, the Doctor is thrown into a mystery involving a mysterious alien device--a lot of alien tech ends up in England--followed by a nasty alien warrior. The Doctor follows his--um, her--usual pattern by collecting together some new companions and throwing them in the deep end.

There's been a lot of discussion about this version of the Doctor, some of it pretty nasty. I'm not a fan of gender swapping established characters, but in this case we already know the Doctor can swap bodies, and being an alien there's no reason why he can't regenerate into a she. My normal new Doctor fears evaporated by the end of the episode: Whittaker does a good job, and as she adjusts to the role might become great at it.

Unfortunately, my concerns about the rest of the show remain. The writers seem determined to avoid any connection to the former Doctor Who universe, having ditched last season's companions and announced there would be no appearance this season by the more popular villains. We didn't even get the iconic opening credits, and the theme music only faded in for a moment when the Doctor first appears. The Doctor's ship, the TARDIS, didn't even show up in the episode.

That seems like a terrible idea, to introduce a brand new doctor and not keep anything to anchor long time fans. What, Bill and/or Nardole couldn't have stuck around for another season? To make matters worse, the new companions seem a bit uninteresting in comparison, and the episode as a whole had little of the comedic flash that often gave relief to darker storylines."It's darker" isn't necessarily a compliment.

In short, the new Doctor is fine; but the new season needs some work.

50 Authors from 50 States: Rhode Island Duo: Gail Eastwood and Julien Ayotte...

50 Authors from 50 States: Rhode Island Duo: Gail Eastwood and Julien Ayotte...: Author Gail Eastwood: RHODE ISLAND –A Place of Many Names: Rhode Island is the smallest state in the U.S. but it is huge in terms of...

Linda Taylor--mom's obituary. R.I.P. September 27, 2018

We just this afternoon (and after I sent my newsletter out) confirmed mom's memorial service, which will be at 11 a.m. Friday (with an hour's visitation before) at the Albion Wesleyan Church. Here's her obituary:

Sometimes it seems like nothing ever went quite right for my mother. It took her three marriages to find one that fit. She loved to work, but seldom stayed long where she was. Then, when she passed on, the timing went all wonky and as of when I'm writing this--four days later--we still don't know exactly when the service will be.

It's all bad timing and red tape. You see, instead of a viewing and funeral, followed by cremation (which I didn't know she wanted until after she died), the family decided on the cremation first followed by a service. The reasons boil down to bills and money, and that's something that never quite went right for my family, either. Maybe it's crass and not something people want to think about, but that's the way reality often is.

All I can tell you is that sometime toward the end of the week (Friday at 11 a.m.) we're going to gather to say goodby at the Albion Wesleyan Church, at 800 E. Main Street in, as you might imagine, Albion. Mom wanted to have her ashes scattered at Piney Point, Tennessee, a place she and the family loved to go to on vacation every summer.

That's not as surprising as you might think, considering she was born about two hours away, in Fonde, right over the border in Kentucky. It's going home, and home is where she wanted to be. She especially hated hospitals and nursing homes, and that's where she was stuck, one or the other, for the last weeks of her life. She wanted to get out--go home--but as time went by she got weaker, and I realized she was never going to go home again. She would have been miserable, staying in a facility for any more time to speak of, fighting the effects of stroke, congestive heart failure, diabetes, and failing kidneys.

I think she let go. If that time comes for me, I hope I find the courage.

Linda Welch married Harry Taylor on the first day of spring, 1998.

Mom lived for family gatherings. Here she's second from right in a five generation photo, including her mother, a son, two granddaughters, and three grandchildren.

Oh, I almost forgot: They're going to earmark memorials to the Parkview Cancer Institute or Parkview Heart Center. We've spent so much time in recent years at Parkview facilities that I feel that should name a wing after us.