Historic Launch

 Posted by at 12:55 am  Nick's Blog
Sep 162021
 

Yesterday was a busy day for me. My third proofreader, Roberta, sent back the last chapters of my new John Lee Quarrels book, Ka-Bar Karma, and after I made all of her changes and tweaked a couple of things that seemed a little flat, I printed out the entire manuscript for Terry to start proofreading one more time from start to finish. When she’s done with that and I make any corrections still needed, it will go back to Roberta for the final proofreading.

I try never to give an exact date when a book will be released because every time I do something comes up to get in the way, but I will say that it should be no more than a week or so now.

Terry made calzones for dinner, one of her specialties and one that I enjoy very much, and they were delicious, as always.

Then we went outside to watch the launch of Space X’s Inspiration4 rocket from nearby Cape Canaveral. We’ve been here so long and seen so many launches that sometimes we take them for granted, but this one was historic because it was the first time an all civilian crew went into space.

We’re about 25 miles from the Cape, and the rockets’ flight path usually takes them north over us when they launch. It starts with a glow on the horizon and then it seems like the sky is on fire as the rockets lift off.

Terry was using her Canon SX40 digital camera to take pictures and got some excellent ones, including this one of the rocket as it soared into the sky.

Then she got some pictures of the booster rocket (top right) as it separated, and about eight minutes after liftoff it landed on a drone ship out in the Atlantic Ocean. How cool is that?

Civilian astronauts are not the only people having a good time right now. I received an e-mail from the Veterans Administration yesterday saying that all active-duty military, honorably discharged veterans, and Gold Star families can now get free entrance to national parks, historic sites, and recreation sites administered by the National Park Service and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, as well as the Bureau of Land Management, Bureau of Reclamation, U.S. Forest Service, and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers sites. Click this link for more information.

It’s Thursday, so it’s time for a new Free Drawing. This week’s prize is an audiobook of The Islet of the Virgin, book 4 in my friend Ken Rossignol’s – Famous Murderous Pirates book series. To enter, click on this Free Drawing link or the tab at the top of this page and enter your name (first and last) in the comments section at the bottom of that page (not this one). Only one entry per person per drawing please, and you must enter with your real name. To prevent spam or multiple entries, the names of cartoon or movie characters are not allowed. The winner will be drawn Sunday evening. Note: Due to the high shipping cost of printed books and Amazon restrictions on e-books to foreign countries, only entries with US addresses and e-mail addresses are allowed.

Thought For The Day – There’s a fine line between cuddling and holding someone down so they can’t get away.

Sep 152021
 

In response to questions about my writing, I posted a blog titled A Day In The Life a while back describing a typical day in my life as an author. That blog led to other questions about the process that goes into it all, getting a book from concept to finished and available for my readers. So let’s talk about that today.

As I have shared with you before, when I am writing a book, I print out several chapters at a time for my wife, Terry, to edit and proofread, and when she is done, I make her corrections and then send those chapters on to a second proofreader. When I get her suggestions back, I make corrections and then send everything off to yet a third proofreader. This person is blind and listens to the chapters on her computer. It is amazing that she picks up things that we miss, especially punctuation. Once a manuscript is completed, I print it out and Terry reads through the whole thing, and I make any further corrections she suggests. Then I send it back to Roberta, the blind woman I mentioned, and she goes through it again. It always surprises me how much she finds, after myself, her, and two other competent proofreaders have already read it. But all those years in the small town newspaper business taught me that you can never have enough sets of eyes on something, and even then, typos do slip through.

At some point along the way, Elizabeth Mackey creates the book cover. Elizabeth is a very talented graphics artist who is married to a Coastguardsman and lives on Kodiak Island, Alaska. She does covers for many bestselling authors, and I have never worked with someone as gifted as her. I can simply suggest what the theme of a book might be, and more times than not, she immediately sends me back exactly what I had in mind, even if I didn’t know what it was myself.

When a manuscript is finally done, I format the e-book version and upload it to Amazon. Then I wait a few days for sharp-eyed readers to find any typos that slipped through. Unfortunately, that sometimes happens, but I’m able to correct them quickly and re-load the e-book. Once I know it is as good as anybody can make it, I have a person who formats the print book for me, and I upload it and it’s ready to go. I could format the print book myself, but I am not good at it and I find it a tedious process. My time is better spent doing other things.

The next step is promoting, and that is an ongoing effort. As I tell many new authors, writing the book is the easy part, the real work is in the promotion. I actually begin promotion on a new book with the publication of the previous book in the series because, I always include a teaser chapter for the next one at the end of a book when I release it. Then, when I’m working on the book, I occasionally tell blog readers and my followers on social media how things are going with it. This is no different than television shows that give you a preview of what’s coming next, and it works. I’ve only done one or two paid ads in the ten years I have been self-publishing my books. All other promotions are through social media, on my blog, in my free author’s newsletter, and by word of mouth from my many wonderful readers.

While many authors I know are widely distributed through many online venues, I am exclusive with Amazon because all of my books are available in their Kindle Unlimited program. Over 90% of my income is from e-books, and at least 75% of that is from Kindle Unlimited page reads. With that program, subscribers pay something like $10 a month and can read as many books as they want. Authors don’t get paid per book, but we do get paid a certain amount of money for each page read by Kindle Unlimited members. It really adds up.

Other authors ask me what the key to success is, and I believe it is writing books that readers enjoy and creating characters they can relate to. Many readers have told me that they feel like my characters are people they know, and they care about them.

To me, writing a series, as opposed to individual standalone books, is another key to success. I have several series out, including Big Lake, with 20 books so far, the John Lee Quarrels series with ten books so far, the two-book Dog’s Run series, and the Tinder Street series, with three books so far. I also have one standalone mystery, Black Friday, and several nonfiction RV and travel books out. The series books outsell the nonfiction by well over 50 to 1. The great thing about a series is that you create a backlist of books over time. That backlist is like having money in the bank. Once readers get invested in your series characters, they usually read all of the books. It is not uncommon for me to hear from someone who picked up a book in one of my series and enjoyed it and then went back and read every book from the very beginning.

Many authors think they need an agent and a publisher to succeed, and while that was true ten years ago, today nothing could be farther than the truth. There is nothing an agent or publisher can do for me that I can’t do myself or pay someone to do for me, and I have total control of what I am doing and keep all of the profits from my books. When my first novel, Big Lake, hit the New York Times bestseller list, I was contacted by several agents who wanted to represent me.

Over the years, I’ve been approached by agents and by Amazon’s publishing house wanting to handle my books. Every time, I’ve looked at the numbers and laughed at them and said thanks but no thanks. What they offer is so little that I would be a fool to even consider accepting.

For those who think they need an agent and a publishing company behind them if they ever want to go anywhere with their careers as authors, all I can say is that sometime by the end of this year, I will hit $1 million in accumulated royalties for my books on Amazon. I don’t know how you define success, but I believe it’s more than just money. I’m happy with my life, with the way I work, and with what I have accomplished so far, and as long as my readers keep buying and enjoying my books, I’ll keep at it.

Thought For The Day – Success is the sum of small efforts – repeated day in and day out.

Sep 142021
 

Note: This story is from my book Highway History And Back Road Mystery, available on Amazon.

Have you ever heard the term “worth more dead than alive”? For one Oklahoma outlaw, the words could have been changed just a bit to “more famous dead than alive.” We learned the strange story of his life and death while touring the Oklahoma Territorial Museum in Guthrie. While Elmer McCurdy didn’t amount to much when he was breathing, after he died he became quite a well-known personality.

McCurdy was a small-time petty thief and bumbler who turned to train robbery, hoping to increase both his take and his reputation. With a gang of equally inept cohorts, McCurdy robbed a passenger train but the pickings were slim. The outlaws got away with only a passenger’s revolver and a few dollars.

Determined to do better the next time, McCurdy and his pals held up another train a few days later, on October 4, 1911. The train was supposed to be carrying over $400,000 in cash. But again, the outlaws goofed, robbing the wrong train. Only after blowing out the entire side of the baggage car with a too-heavy charge of nitroglycerine and dynamite did the robbers realize their error. Their loot from this heist was only $40, a coat, a pocket watch, and two gallons of whiskey.

Drowning his sorrows in stolen booze, McCurdy was drunk when a posse caught up with him three days later and killed him. That was when the bizarre odyssey of Elmer McCurdy really began.

The outlaw’s body was taken to a funeral home for embalming, but nobody came forward to claim it. So for the next five years, McCurdy’s remains stood propped up in a corner of the mortuary, where people frequently used him as a hall tree to hang their hats and coats on.

Finally, sometime in 1916, five years after his death, a man showed up at the Oklahoma mortuary claiming to be a relative of Elmer McCurdy, coming to take his remains home for a proper burial. But the long lost relative was actually a con man, who put the outlaw on display at carnival sideshows around the country. For many years McCurdy toured the country as the “Oklahoma Outlaw,” the “Dope Fiend,” and the “1,000 Year Old Man.” Carnival crowds in small towns from border to border viewed the body, coming away thrilled and titillated with their taste of the “wild life.” McCurdy even made the big screen as a prop in the 1950s movie She Freak.

Sometime after that, the outlaw’s body seems to have dropped out of sight. Years later workers were renovating an old California arcade-style funhouse for the 1970s television program The Six Million Dollar Man, when a crew member accidentally knocked the arm off a dummy. When he attempted to repair it with electrical tape, he noticed a bone sticking out of it. The police and coroner were called, and further investigation revealed the “dummy” was our long lost outlaw friend, Elmer McCurdy

California authorities contacted Oklahoma, and only after it was promised that McCurdy would be given a respectful burial was the body released. On April 22, 1977, outlaw Elmer McCurdy was buried with full honors in Guthrie, Oklahoma’s Summit View Cemetery, his long years as a celebrity on the road finally over.

Thought For The Day – It is better to have less thunder in the mouth and more lightning in the hand.

On To Stage Two

 Posted by at 12:04 am  Nick's Blog
Sep 132021
 

I finished all of Terry’s suggested corrections for my new John Lee Quarrels book yesterday and then sent it off to Judy Rinehimer, my second proofreader, to begin stage two of the process. And then, when she’s done and I make her changes, I will send it off to Roberta for stage three.

When those changes are done I will print out the entire manuscript for Terry to read through one more time and then send it off to Roberta for a final read-through. I know that sounds like a lot of redundancy, but that’s what it takes to get it right. And even then, I know that the gremlins may slip in during the middle of the night and pull their shenanigans, and somebody will find a typo. I appreciate it when they let me know so we can correct that, too.

Our friend Jennifer’s daughter Ashley, from across the street, had a problem with her Mercury Marquis the other day and had to have it towed home. It would turn over but not start, and we couldn’t figure out why. Because the tow truck left it sitting in their front yard, we pushed it into our second driveway, and yesterday Jesse and his friend Scott were over here troubleshooting the problem and a code reader said to reset the fuel pump.

The problem was, nobody knew where the reset switch was, so I Googled it, and Google said it was in the trunk, near one of the taillights. Jesse opened the trunk, and while he and Scott were trying to figure out how to get the liner out of the trunk to access the taillights, I suggested that first, they should push the reset switch on the inside sidewall of the trunk, where the big yellow sticker said Fuel Pump Reset Switch. Jesse did and the car started right up. I may not be much of a mechanic, but I do know how to read.

During the afternoon, Jesse and Jennifer came over to visit for a while, and we spent a couple of hours chatting about this and that and everything in between, basically solving all the problems in the world.

After they left, Terry made homemade biscuits and sausage gravy for dinner. Then she baked a batch of peanut butter cookies and shared them and the leftover biscuits and gravy with Jesse and Jennifer, since he had said that sounded like it would make a wonderful breakfast. I figure people who put up with me on a regular basis deserve some perks, right?

Congratulations Norma Heck, winner of our drawing for an autographed copy of Overlooked Florida. We had 103 entries this time around. Stay tuned, a new contest starts soon.  Note: Due to the high shipping cost of printed books and Amazon restrictions on e-books to foreign countries, only entries with US addresses and e-mail addresses are allowed.

Thought For The Day – Behind every successful man is a woman. Behind the fall of a successful man is usually another woman.

What Happened To Us?

 Posted by at 12:34 am  Nick's Blog
Sep 122021
 

As a baby boomer, I grew up surrounded by World War II veterans. My dad and most of my uncles on both sides of the family enlisted and served, many of them in combat. One uncle was with Patton and helped liberate the concentration camp at Buchenwald. One of my dad’s brothers was a navigator on a B-17, the famous Flying Fortress, bombing Germany, and another was a Navy pilot flying in the South Pacific. My mom’s brother Chuck was an infantryman who was killed in North Africa, and my dad and other uncles were in island hopping campaigns in the South Pacific. None of them talked much about it, at least to us kids when we were growing up, but I heard enough to know they were all everyday men who stepped up to the plate and did their duty.

For the last couple of days, Terry and I have been watching documentaries on 9/11 and the sacrifices so many first responders and civilians alike made as they came together to help others survive. Then I started thinking about all of the division and hatred in the country today, and I have to ask myself which day is worse? What happened to us?

1941 – My country needs me. I will enlist and sacrifice my life for her if it comes to that.
2001 – My fellow Americans are in danger. I will run into those burning buildings to save them, even if it costs me my life.
2021 – I WILL NOT get a vaccination that can end a pandemic that has taken more than twice as many American lives as World War II and 9/11 combined.

These last few days, my heart has been heavy with the 20th anniversary of the terrorist attacks that we suffered, and even more heavy that while we all came together in the aftermath to act as one, as Americans have done throughout our history, now we have people storming the Capitol because they didn’t like the results of a free and fair election, and trying to overturn the legal process of certifying the election. People making the simple act of getting a vaccine into a nonsense debate about their rights. What happened to us?

And finally, here’s a chuckle to start your day from the collection of funny signs we see in our travels and that our readers share with us. Knowing what I do about my imaginary friends, they might regret this.

Today is your last chance to enter our Free Drawing for an autographed copy of my book Overlooked Florida, featuring more than 30 interesting places in the Sunshine State that most tourists miss. To enter, click on this Free Drawing link or the tab at the top of this page and enter your name (first and last) in the comments section at the bottom of that page (not this one). Only one entry per person per drawing please, and you must enter with your real name. To prevent spam or multiple entries, the names of cartoon or movie characters are not allowed. The winner will be drawn this evening. Note: Due to the high shipping cost of printed books and Amazon restrictions on e-books to foreign countries, only entries with US addresses and e-mail addresses are allowed.

Thought For The Day – People want to take your spot until they realize what it takes to play your position.

Another Book Done!

 Posted by at 12:31 am  Nick's Blog
Sep 112021
 

Before I do anything else today, I do want to remember the tragedies of September 11th, 2001. I don’t think any of us will ever forget where we were when we heard the news about the first airplane hitting one of the Twin Towers. We were in our motorhome in Traverse City, Michigan, where Terry was undergoing her cancer treatment. She was still in bed when I saw it on the news and I thought what a terrible thing to have happen. A few minutes later, when the second plane hit the other tower, I went to the bedroom to tell Terry that something very bad and very scary was happening in our country.

For the last two days, we have been watching documentaries on 9/11 and the sacrifices so many first responders and civilians alike made as they came together to help others survive, and then thinking about the division and hatred in the country today. And I have to ask myself which day is worse.

I also want to thank everybody who made blog comments and sent me emails or messages about my news in yesterday’s blog about having a stroke. I am fine and intend to keep on being fine for a long time yet, but it’s comforting to know I have so many friends out there who care.

Yesterday was another 6,500 word day for me, and Ka-Bar Karma is now done. It’s my fourth book for the year and I started it one month ago to the day I finished, and it came in at a little over 88K words. I will spend today reading through those last chapters I wrote and making corrections to them before I print them out to give to Terry to add to the stack she is already editing and proofreading. When she’s finished, I’ll make her corrections and send them off to Judy, my second proofreader. It’s always a satisfying feeling to complete another book. Though it may seem like I wrote this one pretty fast, which I did, I’ve been going over the story in my head for a long time, so it flowed out easily.

Besides editing and proofing previous chapters of the book yesterday, Terry also made a delicious dinner of spaghetti and meatballs from scratch which made me understand what people are talking about when they say that food is so good it’s to die for. It was amazing. I won’t even tell you about the fresh hot peanut butter cookies we had later as we watched TV. You’d just get jealous.

And finally, here’s a chuckle to start your day from the collection of funny signs we see in our travels and that our readers share with us. I think these days teachers need this message more than ever.

Be sure to enter our latest Free Drawing. This week’s prize is an autographed copy of my book Overlooked Florida, featuring more than 30 interesting places in the Sunshine State that most tourists miss. To enter, click on this Free Drawing link or the tab at the top of this page and enter your name (first and last) in the comments section at the bottom of that page (not this one). Only one entry per person per drawing please, and you must enter with your real name. To prevent spam or multiple entries, the names of cartoon or movie characters are not allowed. The winner will be drawn Sunday evening. Note: Due to the high shipping cost of printed books and Amazon restrictions on e-books to foreign countries, only entries with US addresses and e-mail addresses are allowed.


Thought For The Day – How long will it take before we reach herd intelligence?

Not The Best News

 Posted by at 12:13 am  Nick's Blog
Sep 102021
 

Thank you to everyone who made blog comments or sent me messages wishing me well with my visit to the doctor yesterday to get the results of the CT scan of my brain. As it turns out, I really do have a brain. But the rest of it was not necessarily the best news.

Some of you may recall that in mid-July of 2019, I experienced an episode of dizziness and tingling all through my head that the doctors thought might have been a TIA, also known as a mini-stroke. At that time, I had MRIs and CT scans done, neither of which showed any problems, so then they did biopsies of the arteries in my temples, looking for any kind of blockage or narrowing. Again, everything seemed normal.

But after my recent headache that lasted for hours and getting another CT scan done, the results show that at some point in the past, I did indeed have a small stroke. I asked why nothing showed up on the MRIs and CTs from 2019, and the doctor said that things like that don’t always show up right away. So now they think there’s a possibility that the headache I had was another small stroke.

I can write a halfway decent mystery, but I can’t read a medical report worth a damn. Fortunately, our daughter-in-law is an RN with many years of experience, so we got copies of the report and shared it with her, and according to her, it means that a very few small cells in the brain died as a result of the earlier stroke. So there you have it. We have confirmed what we all suspected all along. I’m brain dead!

This news doesn’t really surprise me, since my mother experienced a series of strokes before she passed away in 1991. But don’t worry, I have no intention of leaving you all anytime soon. There’s too much mischief I still need to get into.

My doctor referred me to a neurologist that I saw before, and we are waiting to hear back from him on scheduling an appointment. In the meantime, I’ve got a book to finish!

If you are one of the people who enter our weekly free drawings, I need to ask you to do me a favor. Sometimes when you enter the drawing, it takes a few minutes for your name to show up. And occasionally, it won’t show up until I approve the post. I’m not sure why that is, but it is.

Every week we have people who enter the drawing and don’t immediately see their name, so they enter again, and again, and again, all in a row. Quite often, as many as five or more times, and I think the record was 17. When we got home yesterday, I had three people who had submitted multiple entries.

When you do that, three things happen. First, the computer automatically kicks out all of your entries because only one entry is allowed per contest. Second, I then have to go through and manually delete all of those pending extra entries except one, which I have to manually approve. And third, many times, the computer program automatically assumes you are a spammer, and your entries go straight to a spam file, and I never see them. So please, exercise a little bit of patience. If you enter, your name will get put into the drawing. But it’s not like instant oatmeal and instant coffee; sometimes you have to wait a little bit. Thank you for your patience.

And finally, here’s a chuckle to start your day from the collection of funny signs we see in our travels and that our readers share with us.

Be sure to enter our latest Free Drawing. This week’s prize is an autographed copy of my book Overlooked Florida, featuring more than 30 interesting places in the Sunshine State that most tourists miss. To enter, click on this Free Drawing link or the tab at the top of this page and enter your name (first and last) in the comments section at the bottom of that page (not this one). Only one entry per person per drawing please, and you must enter with your real name. To prevent spam or multiple entries, the names of cartoon or movie characters are not allowed. The winner will be drawn Sunday evening. Note: Due to the high shipping cost of printed books and Amazon restrictions on e-books to foreign countries, only entries with US addresses and e-mail addresses are allowed.

Thought For The Day – Be happy with what you have while working for what you want.

Weaving Away

 Posted by at 12:39 am  Nick's Blog
Sep 092021
 

Now that Terry has finally gotten her Glimakra loom set up, she is weaving away on her latest project, a blanket for our son-in-law Kenny. Kenny is a big guy. I don’t know exactly how tall he is, but he has to duck his head when there’s a full moon outside. Terry said the finished blanket will be somewhere in the neighborhood of 6 feet x 8 feet, and I know he’s going to appreciate snuggling up under it on the couch when he is watching television on those cold winter evenings coming to their home in Show Low, Arizona within just a few months.

Terry is a self-taught artist, and she always amazes me with how she can figure out something like this through trial and error, sometimes referring to online resources until she gets it right. And as frustrating as it can be setting in a big project like this one has been for her, I also know how rewarding it is once it’s ready to go and the shuttle starts flying, bringing it all together.

Besides that, she also made an amazing dinner of pork tenderloin with wild rice for me, and a sweet potato for her. Absolutely delicious.

As for me, I spent all of yesterday reading through the last six or seven chapters that I narrated of my new John Lee Quarrels book and making changes to them. After dinner, while Terry was doing the dishes (I always offer to help and she always tells me no and shoos me out of the kitchen), I printed all of those chapters out so Terry can start the editing and proofing process on them. I think I probably have two or three more chapters to go before I wrap this one up.

I don’t know if I’ll get any writing done today because I have an appointment at the doctors to go over the CT scans of my facial bones and brain that were done last week, trying to find the reason for the severe head pain I’ve had occasionally for years, but recently have become more frequent and last longer. Wish me luck on that, because so far nobody has come up with anything.

And finally, here’s a chuckle to start your day from the collection of funny signs we see in our travels and that our readers share with us.

It’s Thursday, so it’s time for a new Free Drawing. This week’s prize is an autographed copy of my book Overlooked Florida, featuring more than 30 interesting places in the Sunshine State that most tourists miss. To enter, click on this Free Drawing link or the tab at the top of this page and enter your name (first and last) in the comments section at the bottom of that page (not this one). Only one entry per person per drawing please, and you must enter with your real name. To prevent spam or multiple entries, the names of cartoon or movie characters are not allowed. The winner will be drawn Sunday evening. Note: Due to the high shipping cost of printed books and Amazon restrictions on e-books to foreign countries, only entries with US addresses and e-mail addresses are allowed.

Thought For The Day – Don’t you hate it when you clean out your freezer and find people you don’t even recognize?

Sep 082021
 

At least it seems that way around here sometimes. As I’ve said before, since I’m a slow two-finger typist and I narrate my books into either a Sony digital recorder and then transcribe them with Dragon software, or else I dictate directly into Dragon. Neither of these are perfect, and I wind up with lots of errors. So while I can easily crank out 5,000 words in a day, and some days as much as 10,000 words, I then have to spend a day or more going through and making corrections because of the words Dragon got wrong or mangled. That’s a long and frustrating process.

I started out using a headset microphone and then some people on an online Dragon Dictate forum suggested getting a better microphone, either a Blue Yeti Nano or a Zoom H4n Pro. I took their advice and bought both, hoping they would eliminate some of the problems I was having, but they really haven’t made that much of a difference.

Then someone suggested I skip Dragon altogether and use Microsoft Word’s built-in dictation feature. I’ve done that but have not had any better luck with it. Maybe I just don’t enunciate clearly, I don’t know.

On Monday, someone suggested that the problem might be the fact that I am using an external microphone plugged into a USB port and suggested I use the computer’s built-in microphone instead. His theory was that maybe I was losing something because of the USB connection. I decided that might be a possibility, but the problem is, I use a Dell desktop computer, which does not have a built-in microphone.

So I borrowed Terry’s new Surface Book Pro and tried dictating with it, and the first paragraph or two were fine. But the more I dictated, the slower the words appeared on the screen, and I started getting more and more garbled words or the wrong words in the wrong places, which is what I’ve been experiencing all along. I also dug out my Dell laptop and tried using it with its built-in microphone, getting the same results.

All of that was very frustrating and wasted a lot of time, but I still managed to get in about 4,000 words on Monday in my new John Lee Quarrels book. I was back at it again yesterday and got just over 5,500 more words. Of course, those will still need to be gone through and corrected, but that puts me at about 82,000 words in the manuscript. I’m getting very close to the end of this book now!

Terry’s been dealing with her own frustrations, trying to get the pedals and lamms tied up correctly and everything balanced on one of her Glimakra looms so she can get going on a blanket weaving project she’s been eager to do. After days of crawling inside of the loom’s frame trying one setup after another, she said yesterday that she’s finally got it pretty close, and she was able to get about a foot of actual weaving done.

She told me she’s come to realize that the big Glimakras just might be too much for her, in terms of setup and just physically using them. She’s not a big woman, and she has to stretch to get the shuttle from one side to the other or to reach the pedals and the beater bar and everything that needs to be done.

She is mulling over her options as to what to do about that, but in the meantime, she ordered a new Louet Spring II loom, which is somewhat smaller but much easier to use, and a brand new design as opposed to the 70 plus-year-old technology of the Glimakras. The only problem is, there is a long wait between the time you order one and the time it is delivered, so it won’t arrive until sometime after the first of the year. Meanwhile. she will keep plugging away at it, one shuttle throw at a time.

Speaking of things that get ordered and take forever to receive, when I ordered my new Dodge Ram Laramie pickup, I was told they would start production of the 2022 models in early June, and it would take four to six weeks for the truck to be built to my specifications and delivered to the dealer. Then that changed to July. Yeah, right. Several people told me not to believe that nonsense, but I was optimistic.

As it turns out, we’re into September, and they haven’t even started to build the Laramie model trucks yet, and no one really knows when they will. The dealer keeps texting me telling me that I can expect it any day now, but when I go online to the Dodge customer chat line and give them the VIN of the new truck, all they can tell me is that production hasn’t started yet and they don’t know when it will. Just more frustration, right?

And finally, here’s a chuckle to start your day from the collection of funny signs we see in our travels and that our readers share with us.

Thought For The Day – Never argue with someone whose TV is bigger than their bookshelf.

A Lot Of Tractors

 Posted by at 12:18 am  Nick's Blog
Sep 072021
 

Note: Yesterday was long and frustrating dealing with computer and dictation issues, but I still managed to get another 4,000 words done in my new John Lee Quarrels book. However,  I ran out of time and energy, so here is a repeat of a blog from our days as fulltime RVers.

While Terry and I don’t miss the hectic schedule we had to keep to make them happen, or all of the work of putting on our RV rallies, we do miss seeing so many of our good friends whom we could count on showing up at every rally. It was like a big family reunion.

Two good friends and faithful rally attendees are Dave and Thelma Middleton, and as it so happens, they only live about eight miles from Gettysburg Farm RV Resort. When they read in the blog that we were so close they invited us up for a visit and yesterday was a good day for it.

After seeing the new modular home they are having erected on their property and visiting for a while, they took us to dinner at a local restaurant and then to a tractor show in Wellsville. I know Pennsylvania is an agricultural state, but who knew that there were so many tractors here? Big tractors, little tractors, old tractors, new tractors. More darned tractors than I’ve ever seen in one place!

MM display

Allia Chalmers

Things started off with a tractor parade, with garden tractors leading the way.

Custom garden tractor 

Garden tractor parade

Then came the big tractors. Most of them are antiques, some dating back to the 1930s. Apparently restoring tractors is kind of like restoring old cars, but I’d prefer a Sunday cruise in a vintage Mustang or T-Bird than this old John Deere.

John Deere 66

Old International

Red Farmall

And tractors are a family thing. There were a lot of kids riding and even driving tractors in the parade.

Dad and kids 

Dad and kid

Boy driving wiht dad

Boy on Frmall

And the girls weren’t too shy about it either!

Girls drivign tractor

Woman John Deere

There were a lot of tractors and steam engines on display.

Case 

Steam locomotive

This looks like a railroad locomotive, but it’s actually built on a truck frame.

Locomotive

Thanks for making time for us and showing us around, Dave and Thelma!

Thought For The Day – Stop looking for formulas. Start looking for ideas.

Labor Day Hurricane

 Posted by at 1:02 am  Nick's Blog
Sep 062021
 

In the summer of 1935, much of the world was suffering through the Great Depression, an economic collapse that had begun in the fall of 1929. In the United States, men who had earned good wages just a few short years before during the Roaring 20s were lucky to get jobs paying $5 to $7 a week, and those who couldn’t find work stood in breadlines or begged for handouts on city sidewalks.

So when the government announced a massive road and bridge-building project in the Florida Keys to link Key West to the south with the mainland on the north, hundreds of jobless veterans of World War I were thrilled with the offer of $30 a month wages, along with free room and board.

The work was hard, and dangerous in the hot Florida sun, but the men were happy to get anything and considered themselves fortunate. But that good fortune would not last long and would end in tragedy for many of them.

In late August, a series of thunderstorms originating off the west coast of Africa made their way across the Atlantic Ocean on a beeline for the Florida Keys. What happened next was the stuff of nightmares. On Labor Day, September 2nd, the strongest hurricane to ever be recorded in American history came ashore as a Category 5 with winds of over 200 miles per hour, obliterating the temporary labor camps in the Keys and destroying everything in its path. With no shelter except for canvas tents or flimsy wooden barracks, the hapless veterans were impaled by pieces of flying debris and crushed by collapsing walls, and hundreds died in the storm surge that raked Islamorada.

A relief train that was sent from Miami to evacuate the workers wasn’t dispatched until it was too late, and then was delayed on its trip south as debris littered the tracks. When the full force of the storm hit, the passenger cars were tossed about like toys, only the heavy locomotive staying on the tracks.

When the storm finally cleared, the survivors looked around themselves in horror. Nothing they had seen on the bloody battlefields of France could compare to the terrible landscape in front of them. So many dead, so many maimed, so many missing. The stench of bloated bodies overpowered the island. An estimated 425 people perished in the storm, some 260 of them veterans. It would take months to clean up in the aftermath of what became known as the Great Hurricane of 1935, and many bodies were never recovered.

On November 14, 1937, the Florida Keys Memorial, known locally as the Great Hurricane Memorial, was dedicated in Islamorada, with the cremated ashes of over 300 victims of the disaster interred within it. A plaque at the memorial honors the lives lost in that terrible Labor Day tragedy.

Congratulations Bridget Wiemken, winner of our drawing for an audiobook of Big Lake, the first book in my Big Lake mystery series. We had 30 entries this time around. Stay tuned, a new contest starts soon.  Note: Due to the high shipping cost of printed books and Amazon restrictions on e-books to foreign countries, only entries with US addresses and e-mail addresses are allowed.

Thought For The Day – When a butterfly flutters its wings in one part of the world, it can eventually cause a hurricane in another.

Sep 052021
 

It took a long time and a lot of digging and frustration, but I finally got the last of the root balls from our banana palms dug out, and no more shoots were coming up over the last month or so. Now it was time to plant something else where those nasty, shedding things were.

Terry had been doing some research and decided that she wanted pygmy date palms, so we went to Lindley’s Nursery this past Wednesday and looked at their selection. They usually come potted with three trees and grow as much as nine feet tall. Most of the larger ones were already spoken for, but we found one the size Terry wanted and bought it. They said it would be ten days to two weeks before Jake could come out and plant the tree, and we said that was fine. Just let us know when it worked for their schedule.

As it turned out, Jake called Friday afternoon saying he could be here yesterday morning, and right on time, he rolled up with a truck and trailer and dug a hole and planted the trees. We were surprised to find that ours actually has four trees instead of the usual three, and Jack spent a lot of time getting the hole prepped and placing the trees where they would look best.

Jake is a very nice young man. In fact, he’s the one that planted our three citrus trees on the other side of the house last November. While he was here, he checked on them and decided that they needed the grass removed from under them and the dirt berms rebuilt to hold water better, so he did that, too.

It’s really nice when someone takes it upon themselves to do something like that for you months after they were planted, but that’s why we like dealing with Lindley’s. They don’t forget about you as soon as the sale is finished.

And here are the trees, planted and looking nice. Thanks, Jake, you did a great job!

For some reason, I wasn’t feeling great Friday, and after writing about 2,000 words, Terry told me to go take a little nap in my recliner, and I did for much of the afternoon. Yesterday I felt much better, but I hit the same wall about the same time and spent a couple of hours in my recliner again. I guess all that time I spent along the Mexican border in my younger days has programmed my body for taking siestas. I just don’t know why they started this late in life.

Even with that, I got another 2,500 words done in my new book yesterday, along with doing quite a bit of research to make sure I had some things right in a couple of the chapters. Then I proofed the chapters I had written so far, making some corrections as I went. Today is another day, and I’ll be right back at it.

And finally, here’s a chuckle to start your day from the collection of funny signs we see in our travels and that our readers share with us. Thanks for this one, Jim Harper.

Today is your last chance to enter our Free Drawing for an audiobook of Big Lake, the first book in my Big Lake mystery series. To enter, click on this Free Drawing link or the tab at the top of this page and enter your name (first and last) in the comments section at the bottom of that page (not this one). Only one entry per person per drawing please, and you must enter with your real name. To prevent spam or multiple entries, the names of cartoon or movie characters are not allowed. The winner will be drawn this evening. Note: Due to the high cost of shipping printed books and Amazon restrictions on e-books to foreign countries, only entries with US addresses and e-mail addresses are allowed.

Thought For The Day – Just because you value them doesn’t mean they value you. This is one of the hardest lessons to learn.

Five Quick Q&A

 Posted by at 1:09 am  Nick's Blog
Sep 042021
 

It’s late and I have to be up early, so all you’re going to get today are some quick questions and answers that have come in recently. Hopefully, tomorrow I’ll be able to have a longer blog for you.

Q. My sister and her husband had been displaced by Hurricane Ida and we’re letting them stay in our motorhome, which is parked beside our garage. There is no power hookup there, so they have to run the generator for the AC to work. We have been following you ever since the Life on Wheels days and I know that in your Frugal RVer seminar you described how you made an up-stack to get generator fumes away from the RV or from neighboring rigs. I can’t find one on Amazon or anywhere else online that I can get delivered anytime soon. Can you explain how you did that again, Nick?

A. I made our generator extension pipe from thick-walled PVC, using a short section from the generator exhaust pipe to an elbow and then a long section to get the exhaust fumes up in the air. Here is a picture of a commercial one (top) and of the one I made and used on our MCI bus conversion for many years (bottom).

Q. We were told to find a credit union as our best option for financing an RV, but every bank and credit union that we have talked to charges interest. Is there any place that loans money on RVs that doesn’t charge interest?

A. Interest on loans is where a financial institution earns most of its money. Why in the world would they loan anybody money and not charge interest? They would be out of business very quickly.

Q. I would like to read your blog from the beginning. But I can’t figure out how to go on to the next day/post from your first one. Is there a way to do that?

A. I started posting a daily blog in 2007, but I think the ones online date back to 2008. There is an Archives box on the right sidebar where you can access older blog posts.

Q. When will the next John Lee Quarrels book, Ka-Bar Karma, be available on Kindle?

A. I never give a date for when a book will be out, because when I have in the past, something always seems to get in the way. But the story is moving right along and it should be out sometime this month.

Q. I found yesterday’s blog about guns interesting because I have seen people with signs in the windshield of their RVs saying protected by Smith and Wesson or something like that. My first thought is that they are a jerk I don’t want to associate with, but my second is that they are also setting themselves up for trouble. What’s your feeling about that?

A. Absolutely. Anytime you advertise that you have a gun, you are letting any thief in the area know that there’s something worth stealing in your house or your RV, and as I said in the blog, if a person had to use a weapon in self-defense, signs like that are opening them up to all kinds of legal nightmares. When it comes to something like this, the less said (or displayed), the better.

And finally, here’s a chuckle to start your day from the collection of funny signs we see in our travels and that our readers share with us. Actually, this isn’t a funny sign, but a photo someone shared in an RV group I help administer. I’ve been in campgrounds where they have signs at the exit telling you to make sure your antenna is down and your wife is on board, but never saw one reminding you to bring your laundry in. I guess it might be a good idea.

Be sure to enter our latest Free Drawing. This week’s prize is an audiobook of Big Lake, the first book in my Big Lake mystery series. To enter, click on this Free Drawing link or the tab at the top of this page and enter your name (first and last) in the comments section at the bottom of that page (not this one). Only one entry per person per drawing please, and you must enter with your real name. To prevent spam or multiple entries, the names of cartoon or movie characters are not allowed. The winner will be drawn Sunday evening. Note: Due to the high cost of shipping printed books and Amazon restrictions on e-books to foreign countries, only entries with US addresses and e-mail addresses are allowed.

Thought For The Day – I’d make a swear jar, but I don’t have the income to keep up with my mouth.

Sep 032021
 

In a blog post a couple of days ago, I said that in anticipation of Hurricane Ida hitting the Gulf Coast and shutting down refineries and oil rigs, as well as the Labor Day weekend coming up, I thought it might be a good idea to fill up the gas tank on Terry’s Chrysler Pacifica. I’m glad I did, because it was $2.74 a gallon then, and yesterday it was $2.99 a gallon at the same station. Timing is everything.

If you’ve been reading the blog for very long, you probably know that I’m a gun guy and have been for most of my life. I’ve also been a firearms instructor in the military and in civilian life. I’ve always said that every law-abiding American should have the right to own a firearm. However, I’ve also said there are a hell of a lot of them that have absolutely no business having one, no matter what their rights are.

A good example was a fool we saw the other day when we were on our way to Port Orange. This guy was probably somewhere in his 50s and had stickers plastered on the back end of his car, across the back window, and on both sides with drawings of handguns and sayings like Go Ahead, Make My Day, and Shoot First, Ask Questions Later and Defend Yourself. This is the kind of guy that has absolutely no business with a gun. He can’t wait to shoot somebody and is just looking for an excuse to do it.

Not only are guys like this dangerous to others, but they are also dangerous to themselves. Let’s say that he gets into a situation where he has to use a firearm for self-defense, and let’s say it’s completely justified. You can bet that when the case gets to court, a strong argument would be made for the fact that he was looking for trouble, and maybe someone with a cooler head could have avoided it. Even if he was not charged criminally, that kind of advertising makes him a huge target for a civil lawsuit.

Not only that, but you can be sure that a guy like that owns more than one gun. In fact, I would bet he’s got a whole bunch of them at home. And guess what? He’s out driving around, and his guns are sitting home all alone, just waiting for someone to come by and help themselves to them. Even if he’s got them secured in a locked safe, who really needs to get their home burglarized?

Years ago, I was moving into a house in Tucson, and the fellow across the street came over and was talking to me as I was unloading our truck. Something came up about guns, and within two minutes, he was telling me all about his large collection of guns, even though he didn’t know me from Adam. This was in the days before cell phones, and I needed to use a telephone to call a utility company or something, so he invited me to his house to use his phone. And while I was there, he started hauling out guns from every corner, showing me all of his toys. He also told the mailman, any repairman who came to the house, and anybody else he talked to about all his fancy guns. And yes, his truck was plastered with NRA stickers.

His wife worked the night shift at a hospital on the other side of town, and one evening about 20 minutes after she left for work, he got a phone call saying that she had been in an accident on Speedway Boulevard at some cross street and needed him. He jumped in his truck and sped across town, and when he got to the location, she wasn’t there, her car wasn’t there, and there was no sign of an accident. He drove around for a few minutes, thinking he got the directions wrong, then went to the hospital, where he found her at work. No, she hadn’t been in an accident, and she didn’t know what he was talking about. Thinking it was some kind of prank, he drove back across town to his house, where he found the back door kicked in and all of his guns missing. What a fool.

In other news, in a blog post last week, I mentioned that Terry has a lot of problems with bruising and tearing of her fragile skin as a result of all the radiation and chemo she had during her cancer treatment. Blog reader Patti Earhart posted a comment about a product called Skin Guards Arm sleeves, along with a link to them. Terry ordered some and they came yesterday. She says they’re very comfortable, and she will definitely be wearing them when she’s working on her looms and other projects around the house. Thanks for the tip, Patti!

As for me, I’ve been busy working on my new John Lee Quarrels book, getting several more chapters read through and printed out, and sending them through the proofing process. Yesterday I also knocked out another 5,500 words, and I’m feeling very good about where this book is going.

Be sure to enter our latest Free Drawing. This week’s prize is an audiobook of Big Lake, the first book in my Big Lake mystery series. To enter, click on this Free Drawing link or the tab at the top of this page and enter your name (first and last) in the comments section at the bottom of that page (not this one). Only one entry per person per drawing please, and you must enter with your real name. To prevent spam or multiple entries, the names of cartoon or movie characters are not allowed. The winner will be drawn Sunday evening. Note: Due to the high shipping cost of printed books and Amazon restrictions on e-books to foreign countries, only entries with US addresses and e-mail addresses are allowed.

Thought For The Day – I am who I am. Your approval is not necessary.

Sep 022021
 

We had to go to Port Orange Imaging yesterday morning to get a CT done of my brain and facial bones. They said they were looking for a source of the head pain I’ve been having, but I think they just wanted to know if there really was a brain in there. I wasn’t too sure either, so I was curious to see what they would find out.

I got signed in, and they immediately took me back and explained the procedure, saying that first they would do a CT scan without contrast, and then another one with contrast, which means they inject dye into you, as I understand it. The technician told me that the first step would be inserting an IV line into me for the contrast, which would actually be injected during the procedure.

It has always been easy to get blood out of my left arm but more difficult out of the right because of scar tissue from an old wound there. So the tech started on the left and was able to get into the vein with a needle easily, but when she tried feeding in the catheter, it would not go. She poked and prodded for a while, all the time apologizing for hurting me. We finally decided that since that wasn’t working, it might be worth trying the right arm, and surprise, that worked the first time.

They did the procedure without the contrast first, then injected the contrast, telling me that I might feel a warm flush from head to toe, as well a metallic taste in my mouth. As it turned out, neither happened and before long, they were all done and sending me out the door.

On the way home, we stopped at Lindley’s Nursery to pick up some potting soil and to order a Pygmy Date palm tree that will be delivered and planted in a couple of weeks. Then we went to Big Joe’s Subs in New Smyrna Beach for lunch. It was delicious, and the portions are amazing. The first time we were there, I made the mistake of ordering a large sandwich and could not finish it. This time around, I went with a medium, and it was still an awful lot to get down.

Back at home, we ran into some frustration. I still have one account with GoDaddy that handles our e-mail. But as of September 1st they switched us to Microsoft 365 Mail and said it would be an easy and smooth transition. Yeah, right. We knew that wasn’t going to happen, didn’t we?

I had to download Outlook first, then had to call Go Daddy twice before I could get it to allow me to sign in. That was on my desktop computer. It didn’t work at all on my phone, which required another call to Go Daddy and more time on hold. We finally got that all resolved, and I thought all was well with the world. But it turned out I was wrong.

Terry couldn’t get her e-mail to work on her phone, and even though she already has a Microsoft Office 365 account, it wouldn’t recognize her password. She tried to change her password, but she had to use her old password to do it, which it would not recognize. So I’ll spend some time on the telephone with tech support today and see what I can come up with.

I know just enough to get on the computer and do my job, but not a whole lot more, and I’ve never had the time to invest in learning all kinds of new programs that are going to change and be obsolete next week or next month anyhow. I don’t know why the techno dweebs can’t just leave things alone instead of always coming up with something that is supposedly new and improved but really isn’t. I think it’s just so they can justify their jobs

And finally, here’s a chuckle to start your day from the collection of funny signs we see in our travels and that our readers share with us.

It’s Thursday, so it’s time for a new Free Drawing. This week’s prize is an audiobook of Big Lake, the first book in my Big Lake mystery series. To enter, click on this Free Drawing link or the tab at the top of this page and enter your name (first and last) in the comments section at the bottom of that page (not this one). Only one entry per person per drawing please, and you must enter with your real name. To prevent spam or multiple entries, the names of cartoon or movie characters are not allowed. The winner will be drawn Sunday evening. Note: Due to high the shipping cost of printed books and Amazon restrictions on e-books to foreign countries, only entries with US addresses and e-mail addresses are allowed.

Thought For The Day – Sometimes, the people you wanted to be an ongoing part of your story are only meant to be a chapter.

Sep 012021
 

Note: I was busy all day yesterday making edits to my new John Lee Quarrels book and ran out of time for a blog, but here is a repost of a chilling blog from 2017.

In my blog He Created Horror a few days ago, I told you about the life of Edgar Allan Poe and our visit to the Poe Museum in Richmond, Virginia. Today I’ll tell you a story that shows that real life can be more ghastly than anything Poe and authors like him could ever conjure up in their heads.

Pike County, Kentucky, in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains, has a grim history as the site of the infamous Hatfield – McCoy feud, which began during the Civil War and continued for over 20 years, claiming numerous lives along the way. But that is just one tragic story from Pike County, and not even the worst.

When young Octavia Smith married James Hatcher in 1899, she surely must have thought she was in for a wonderful life. After all, her 30 year old husband was one of the most successful businessmen in Pike County. He owned a coal company, a timber company, had extensive real estate holdings, warehouses, owned a steamship called the Mountain Girl, and was a building contractor. Well respected by all who knew him and a major figure in local Democratic political circles, he was certainly a catch. His Hotel Hatcher on Main Street in Pikeville was the most popular lodging house in the region.

By all accounts, theirs was a happy union, though it didn’t last long. Two years after their marriage, in January, 1891, Octavia gave birth to a son, whom they named Jacob. But in those days of high infant mortality, the child only lived a few days. His death plunged Octavia into a deep depression and she took to her bed, refusing to eat or even speak to anyone for months.

James tried everything he could to lift her spirits, without success. Eventually, Octavia fell into a coma and could not be roused. Doctors were called and could not find a heartbeat and pronounced her dead on May 2nd. Her body was not embalmed and Octavia was buried soon after, just one more sad story from the foothills.

But soon after, other people in Pike County also became ill, exhibiting the same symptoms Octavia had. And like her, they fell into comas. But then, within a short span of time, they woke up. Mystified, physicians decided that they had all been bitten by some type of fly or mosquito, which caused their “sleeping sickness.”

Horrified, James and members of his family rushed to the cemetery and exhumed Octavia’s grave. The terrible truth they saw when they opened the casket would become the stuff of legends. While she had been buried lying on her back in the coffin, the body was now faced down and the interior lining had been shredded. Her fingernails were broken and there were deep scratches in her face, all evidence of the mighty struggle she had put up when she awoke and found herself buried alive.

They say that James Hatcher was a broken man after that. And who can blame him?

With a story this macabre, it should come as no surprise that there are many tales about Octavia. Ever since her death, people have claimed to hear a mournful wailing from the cemetery late at night, and there been numerous reports of her ghost being seen around Pikeville. For years local legend said that on the anniversary of her burial, her statue atop her monument would turn on its own to face away from the town that had turned its back on her. The monument originally included Octavia holding her baby in her arm, but vandals broke the arm off, and now the baby rests on the ground next to the statue. In later years, descendants of James Hatcher erected a fence around the grave to protect it from further desecration.

Many people who are interested in history go to Pike County to see the locales associated with the infamous Hatfield – McCoy feud. But while those two mountain families made peace years ago, the sad tale of Octavia Smith Hatcher lives on today, long after her death.

Thought For The Day – You know you’re getting old, when Santa starts looking younger.

Up And Out Early

 Posted by at 12:03 am  Nick's Blog
Aug 312021
 

We were up and out the door early yesterday morning, or at least early for us, because I had a doctor’s appointment in Port Orange. The appointment was at 10:15, but I was supposed to be there half an hour early. We left the house a little before nine and arrived at the doctor’s office at 9:35. I went in, and they immediately had me do the pee in a cup thing, got me into an exam room for a blood draw, and the doctor was in soon after. He was a very good guy and checked out a possible problem I was having, said everything was okay, and I was out the door at 10:38. Not bad at all.

On the way back home, we stopped at Lindley’s Nursery in New Smyrna Beach, but they are apparently closed on Mondays, so we will have to reschedule that. Then we went to the Sandbar Café for brunch. It had been one of our favorite places before it closed last year during the midst of the COVID slowdown. It’s back now with new owners, and this was our first time to try it since it reopened. The food was good and the service was excellent. We will definitely be going back again.

From there, we stopped to get gas at $2.74 a gallon, which is apparently not bad compared to what some people around the country are telling me they are paying, I figured that after Hurricane Ida, oil rigs in the Gulf of Mexico will be disrupted for a while, so I imagine prices will spike.

Then we went by the Edgewater City Hall to pay our water bill, because their online utility payment program sucks. It only works about half the time, if that. Either it doesn’t accept your payment at all, or if you’re not careful, you wind up making double payments and then have a credit on your account. The lady at City Hall said it’s a known issue, which makes me wonder why they don’t fix it.

Our final stop was at Publix to pick up a few things, and we noticed that more people are wearing masks again, which began to taper off a couple of months ago before the new variant of COVID kicked in. I’m glad to see that, because most of the hospitals here in Florida are full, as they are nationwide. I know people who are in need of surgery who can’t get it because there are no hospital beds available for them.

When we got home, I had a package from Amazon waiting with some print copies of Big Lake Shootout. I autographed a couple of them, and Terry got them packed up to mail out to people today.

I wasn’t very productive the rest of the afternoon. Judy sent back the chapters that she had proofread, and I made her corrections and then sent the chapters off to Roberta, my third proofreader. With that out of the way, I spent some time answering e-mails and doing some research for upcoming book projects. Besides that and writing the blog, I did not get anything else accomplished the rest of the day. Hopefully today I’ll be more productive.

And finally, here’s a chuckle to start your day from the collection of funny signs we see in our travels and that our readers share with us. Those of us of a certain generation we’ll understand what this is all about. Good times, huh?

Thought For The Day – If there were an award for laziness, I would probably send somebody else to accept it for me.

The Not So Fun Part

 Posted by at 12:12 am  Nick's Blog
Aug 302021
 

I love what I do for a living. I wanted to be an author and a newspaperman ever since I was a kid, and I managed to accomplish both goals. It’s cool to make a living sitting on my butt talking into a microphone, telling stories that end up as books that people want to read.

The not so fun part is the editing. While I can crank out a lot of words in a day, even over 11,000 as I did the other day, I am dictating into a Sony digital recorder and then converting it to text with Dragon software. And no matter how much their TV commercials want you to believe that it’s quick and easy and that you never miss a word, the truth is far from that. When I factor in the time it takes to go through and make all of the corrections to the transcribed text, I’m sure a good typist could probably get the same amount of work done in the same number of days. But alas, I’m a two-finger typist at best, and those are arthritic fingers. So I do what I can.

And that’s what I’ve been doing the last two days, making corrections to transcribed chapters, then printing them out for Terry to proof. And when I finish making her corrections, I send them off to Judy, my second proofreader. It’s tedious and time-consuming, but it is what it is. I’d still rather be doing this than anything else I can think of to earn a buck.

Speaking of books, Big Lake Shootout has been doing very well since it was introduced on August 5th, with 123 reviews, the majority of them four and five stars. I appreciate everybody who reads my books and leaves reviews. They are the best way an author can market his or her work, as well as to know what the readers like and don’t like.

Besides editing and proofreading chapters for me, Miss Terry was busy in the kitchen yesterday, making pesto from basil she grew in her AeroGarden, along with processing dill and sage from the AeroGarden, making a delicious dinner, and also some amazing dark chocolate pecan fudge. Yummy yummy!

And finally, here’s a chuckle to start your day from the collection of funny signs we see in our travels and that our readers share with us.

Congratulations Linda Risinger, winner of our drawing for a four-book set of audiobooks from my pal Carol Ann Newsome’s popular Dog Park mystery series. We had 39 entries this time around. Stay tuned, a new contest starts soon.  Note: Due to the high shipping cost of printed books and Amazon restrictions on e-books to foreign countries, only entries with US addresses and e-mail addresses are allowed.

Thought For The Day – Never in my life would I have guessed my hands would consume more alcohol than my mouth.

Pawn Shops And Puppets

 Posted by at 12:02 am  Nick's Blog
Aug 292021
 

Note: I was busy editing the chapters for my new book that I narrated the other day and ran out of time to write a new blog post, so here is one about a visit to Las Vegas during our days as fulltime RVers.  

Terry likes opals, and a while back the stone fell out of her favorite opal ring, a vintage piece she really loves. So we’ve been hitting some of the antique stores and pawn shops here in Las Vegas looking for a new ring, or better yet, a stone to replace the one she lost.

When we were here a couple of years ago, we stopped at the Gold & Silver Pawn Shop, made famous by the TV show Pawn Stars. I even got to meet Chumlee, whose real name is Austin Russell. I was going to invite him to my next family reunion. My kinfolk put the fun in dysfunctional, so I thought he’d fit right in.

Nick and Chumlee small

We decided to go back and see if they had something Terry liked. The hit TV show has turned what was once a family business into a major tourist attraction and sometimes there are long lines to get in, but we lucked out and only had to wait about ten minutes.

Pawn Stars sign small

Once inside, the shop is nothing like what you see on television. It’s long and narrow and very crowded. You go up the right side of the store, moving with the crowd, and then back down the left side and out the door. Unfortunately, they didn’t have any opal rings, so it was a waste of time.

Pawn Stars inside small

The other day I mentioned that I have decided I need a pontoon boat, and we saw a nice one at Bass Pro. So while we were out we went back so I could drool over it again. Terry said I look pretty happy behind the wheel. What do you think?

Nick on boat small

It was about 5:30 by then and we were ready for dinner, and since the Silverton Casino is right next door to Bass Pro and their buffet had good reviews, we decided to check it out. As with all casinos, if you get their free players card you get a discount on meals, so we stopped and got our cards first, which only took a couple of minutes.

Terry and I agreed that this was the very best buffet we’ve had in Las Vegas; head and shoulders above the one at Boulder Station. The selection is bigger and better and everything was fresh and very good. The service was also excellent. Our waiter kept our drink glasses full and came by several times to ask if we needed anything.

But the icing on the cake was still to come! Dinner for the two of us cost $30, and they gave us back $10 each in slot machine credit. I went through mine pretty fast, but Terry promptly won $72.15 and we walked out winners! You just can’t beat that!

When I told a friend about this billboard we saw the other day he didn’t believe me, so yesterday we took a picture as proof. What can I say, it’s Vegas, baby!

Puppetry of the Penis small

Back at the motorhome, we spent the rest of the evening relaxing and talking about all of the places we have seen here in Sin City. 

Today is your last to enter our Free Drawing for a four-book set of audiobooks from my pal Carol Ann Newsome’s popular Dog Park mystery series. To enter, click on this Free Drawing link or the tab at the top of this page and enter your name (first and last) in the comments section at the bottom of that page (not this one). Only one entry per person per drawing, please, and you must enter with your real name. To prevent spam or multiple entries, the names of cartoon or movie characters are not allowed. The winner will be drawn this evening. Note: Due to the high shipping cost of printed books and Amazon restrictions on e-books to foreign countries, only entries with U.S. addresses and e-mail addresses are allowed.

Thought For The Day – There’s no vaccine against stupid. But even if there was, people would not take it.

A Personal Record?

 Posted by at 12:27 am  Nick's Blog
Aug 282021
 

Thank you to everybody who posted blog comments or sent e-mails or Facebook messages hoping Terry and I were feeling better. The headache is gone for me and I’m doing much better. Terry is still sore from her procedure and will be for a while, but every day is a new day and one step closer to better health for both of us.

Besides being uncomfortable from her visit to Mayo, Terry is sore and bruised from having to climb inside and out of the big Glimakra loom she is trying to get set up for her current weaving project.

This is the loom that she made several rugs on a couple of years ago, but since then she has changed the setup to what’s called a counterbalance, and this is the first big project on it since then. Getting everything adjusted properly has been a major challenge for her.

She had to route 580 different threads through a series of string heddles and a metal reed and then adjust the tie-ups for six different foot pedals to move several components in the loom. That’s proving to be a bit of a balance nightmare the first time around.

One of the side effects of chemo and aging is that Terry’s skin is very fragile, and she bruises easily. In fact, her legs and thighs are so bruised from crawling around inside of the loom that we joked that when she went to Mayo on Thursday, the doctors might take one look at her and call Security and have me arrested as a wife beater. But she assures me it will all be worth it once she finally gets things adjusted and can start the actual weaving part of the project.

Of course, weaving is not the only talent Terry has, as we all know. The other day she made a batch of delicious blueberry muffins. I would show you more of them, but some of them disappeared during breakfast the last couple of days.

Last night she made up a batch of her delicious shrimp and grits, with crumbled bacon on top. Every time I think Terry has cooked the finest meal I’ll ever have in my life, she turns around and does something even better. I’m absolutely in awe of everything this wonderful woman can do, even after 23 years together.

As for me, I did 11,066 words in my new John Lee Quarrels book yesterday, which I believe may be my personal record for the number of words in one day. Of course, I wasn’t typing them, I was narrating them into my Sony digital recorder, then transcribing them with Dragon. I will still have to go in and make corrections, but it was a darned good writing day nevertheless.

This puts me at over 61,000 words, about 75% of the way. I never know exactly how many words a book is going to be, but most of the books in this series average about 80,000 words or a little more. Not bad, considering I started on August 10th.

And finally, here’s a chuckle to start your day from the collection of funny signs we see in our travels and that our readers share with us. Thanks to Susan and Ron Wilson for today’s chuckle.

Be sure to enter our latest Free Drawing. This week’s prize is a four-book set of audiobooks from my pal Carol Ann Newsome’s popular Dog Park mystery series. To enter, click on this Free Drawing link or the tab at the top of this page and enter your name (first and last) in the comments section at the bottom of that page (not this one). Only one entry per person per drawing, please, and you must enter with your real name. To prevent spam or multiple entries, the names of cartoon or movie characters are not allowed. The winner will be drawn Sunday evening. Note: Due to the high shipping cost of printed books and Amazon restrictions on e-books to foreign countries, only entries with U.S. addresses and e-mail addresses are allowed.

Thought For The Day – No, I will not take the road less traveled. I live in the South. Have you seen Deliverance?