We’re Home again

It was a long drive across the desert today. Our old dog got sick while we were gone, and he’s peeing blood now. Of course it’s Labor Day today. He has to wait until tomorrow to see the vet. He’s been heading downhill over the last six months, and I’m worried about him. I’d take him to the vet right now, but they’re closed.

Oregon is full of tree hungers. It’s a big change for someone like me, but I tried to be polite to everyone. I stood in line for the restroom at Crater Lake. There was a sign that said, “We’re concerned about the environment. We’ve provided the hand dryer instead of paper towels.” I told this in story form to my wife and said, “So I blew my nose on the hand dryer.” (I didn’t really.)

A blonde tourist lady overheard me, and just cracked up. I started noticing all the Subarus in Oregon. It must be like the BMWs were to the yuppies twenty years ago. A Subaru is the tree hugger badge of honor. When we stopped at McDonald’s in Burns, the restroom had the same paper towel issue. In each case, the stalls were full, so I couldn’t get any toilet paper to blow my nose. This time, there wasn’t even a garbage can in the restroom. I sat my empty Skoal can on the floor where the garbage can usually stands. (Maybe they’ll get the hint.)

We both got a bit silly over the long drive. My wife said she could help me with driving, and that it was the fellowship of our quest. I told her the burden fell to me, and only I can see it through. I told her to order me a “Royal With Cheese” for lunch. She didn’t get it and must have missed that one while I was doing Quentin Tarantino research for a writing project. (We may be watching too many movies.)

Gasoline in Oregon was both sides of $4.00 per gallon. I’m fairly sure it’s because of a state law requiring gas pump attendants, and not allowing for self service stations. This is a law I’m in favor of. The kids around here don’t get to start working until they turn eighteen. I think a shift pumping gas at sixteen or so would do most of them a world of good. Everyone has to start somewhere, and having something they are qualified for seems like a good thing.

I’m behind on all my writing now, but that’s okay. I owe someone something for a blog appearance I committed to, and I have a micro fiction project I need to get to. I’ll make those priorities. Then I have to work through my critiques on Will ‘O the Wisp. I also need to get on with the editing of The Cock of the South. I might wind up with cover art before the story is ready. That isn’t a problem, it’s just different.

All told, it was a pretty fun trip. There are things that got neglected and, except for the dog, they were all considered. We had a nice time and did some fun things along the way. It’s time to get back in the swing and catch up where we fell behind. I’m off to finally blow my nose, then I have to pay some bills.

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Headed for home tomorrow

Our hotel, in Bend, is old and tired. If you decide to go, they have everything, but we asked the staff to let us in our room three times. They still use physical keys and the mechanisms are worn completely out. Imagine having to walk a block to the office when all you want to do is pee. You’ll have to decide what you want. It’s the Shiloh Inn, in Bend.

They are right on the river, and we even have a tiny patio right out back. I found these wild blackberries five feet from our back door,

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Wild Blackberries

 The little beer event last night was pretty fun. It was a celebration of aging in oak. The outside was an acre or so of beer booths and food. The inside was dedicated to whiskey. The whiskey wasn’t anything special, and I didn’t want to waste my time sampling common everyday things. It’s ten bucks to walk in, (ten for my tea totaler wife too) they give you a cup full of wooden tokens which you exchange for beer samples. I thought, six tokens = six samples. I was wrong. The average sample was three tokens. Some were only two, but some were four. I bought another fifteen dollars worth. It was an event to raise money for the museum. How could I refuse? I sampled some wonderful beers. The best one was a barrel aged vanilla stout. I’ve never heard of the brewer, but the beer was named Muse. I couldn’t pass it up.

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Over an acre of beer and food

Today we went tourist all the way. We drove about ninety minutes to have lunch at Crater Lake Lodge. I’ve been there multiple times, but the only time I took my wife the caldera was full of fog. Today was not like that.

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Wizard Island

My wife took a pretty good selfie of us using the lake as a background. She doesn’t want to be on the blog, so I can’t show it to you. Tomorrow we have to pack up and go home, then it’s back to work for both of us.

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A small vacation update

We checked into our hotel in Bend, Oregon. Then it was straight to the Old Mill District and Old Downtown. My wife bought a shirt, but lots of it was like a trip to the mall. We found three or four breweries and I got to try some new things.

Today was all about Sisters, Oregon. (So far) We’ve been both places before, and Sisters is really cool. It’s a tourist town, but it’s fun anyway. It’s all wooded and sets amid several picturesque volcanos. (Named after the Three Sisters volcanos.)

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One of the side streets

The main drag is really pretty, but it’s wall to wall motor homes and trailers. My pictures didn’t turn out too well so you get to see one of the side streets.

We stopped in every rubber tomahawk shop and stinky candle store in Sisters. My wife had me carrying her stinky candles around for her. We stopped by Bronco Billy’s for lunch. This place looks like an episode of Maverik inside. I wasn’t real hungry so I ordered a hot dog. This sucker was two feet long. Who ever heard of a two foot hot dog. Mom raised me to eat everything on my plate, so I did.

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Craig Boyack, member of the clean plate club.

My wife helped me with the fries, but it was wonderful. She said her French Dip sandwich was awesome too. It was all much better than the undercooked seafood we got in Bend last night.

I bought myself a bottle of rum. I’m a sucker for a cool beer label, or a cool bottle. I’m the same way with book covers. The picture isn’t great, but it’s a shrunken head. It will look cool in my tiny tiki bar. (I should share that with you one day.)

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The rum is no longer gone

Sisters is full of incredible artists. This is the kind of town where a guy could write a novel. If he didn’t have to report for work next week. I took a lot of pictures, but this one is the most interesting.

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This guy is an awesome metal artist

We found out there is a brewing a distilling event downtown today. It’s all about aging in oak barrels, and there’s food, music, and drink. I expect some nice bourbon barrel aged stout or porter. That’s why I decided to blog right now. If I wait until later, it might be entertaining, but unprofessional. I’m so glad I married a tea totaller with a sense of humor. I always have a designated driver who isn’t snooty about my hobbies.

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Book Review | PANAMA by Craig Boyack

coldhandboyack:

Check this out you guys. Panama gets a little blog love. I can’t tell you how happy this makes me. I saw this while having dinner in a Bend, Oregon brewery.

Originally posted on aliisaacstoryteller:

panama

Click image to buy this book. You can find Craig on his website http://coldhandboyack.wordpress.com/

I took Craig Boyack’s Panama with me on holiday, and it proved to be a great choice for a holiday read. It bowls along at a fair old pace with plenty of action and a good helping of dialogue, all of which combine to keep the plot flowing nicely.

The two main characters, Ethan and Coop, are instantly likeable. Ethan is an ex-army cowboy working in the freight business, who is selected by President Roosevelt specifically for his unique ability to see and communicate with the dead. Ethan recruits Coop, a wannabe voodoo witch doctor, as his trusty sidekick and together they are tasked with an under-cover mission to prevent civil war from breaking out over the Panama Canal whilst also investigating some rather sinister supernatural goings on.

The story takes several surreal twists and turns…

View original 313 more words

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We now return to your regularly scheduled program, for a day

I finally got a writing day today. I earned it by staying up late last night doing my critiques for tomorrow’s meeting.

I wasn’t overly productive and started my day washing the copper fountain pen I use at the paycheck job. I’ll fill it after it drys. Then I reviewed some cover sketches and put down a deposit. Fingers crossed to have The Cock of the South out by the end of September.

There are some pending reviews for my other works floating around out there. Private communications are that they’re going to be good. (Yay) If some of them show up, I’ve formulated a plan. I could give away a book per day leading up to The Cock of the South. I could do it anyway, but a stack of happy reviews makes it all look more enticing. I won’t do another long giveaway, but maybe one story per day (with a bit of promotion) would catch someone’s eye. That way they can choose the genre that most suits them and grab a freebie. (It’s all speculative fiction, folks. Some of it just speculates a little more than others.)

The only flaw in this plan is shoppers won’t have time to read them before The Cock of the South is available to purchase. It might lead to sales down the trail, but not necessarily on release day.

What do you readers and writers think? I haven’t done much promotion this summer and getting something new out there feels about like the right time. Would you do it if you were me?

My wife and I are leaving town Friday and taking some time for ourselves. If we see cool things I’m sure they’ll wind up getting blogged about. I may not catch every day this weekend, but U. S. readers should be out doing something else anyway. For my international audience you could…, I don’t know,… maybe read one of my books if you really miss me.

I downloaded another Harry Dresden novel to take with me. There won’t be much reading time, but some is inevitable. I’ve been reading a lot of indie authors this year. (I’m no hypocrite) I always liked Harry, and this doesn’t mean I can’t have the best of both worlds.

My writing today involved introducing my heroine. I spent more time on description and setting than I usually do. (According to my sources, this is a good thing for me.) I feel like I can take time here, because there are already stress points from the villain, the antihero thug, and the victim. Part of this section involves a spooky old house and it needs some description to really sell it. The next chance I have, someone’s going to die and that always keeps pages turning. (Someone died today too, but it was pretty peaceful.)

I’m sure it’s full of telling and typos. It’s impossible to fix something that doesn’t exist. My attitude is to get it on the page and go back through it after a day or two. As of right now, I’m at 10,098 words. That makes 2644 on the day; not horrible.

Let me know what you think about the promotion idea.

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You call this a Blog?

I’m completely slacking off today. I tried to catch up with everyone’s blogs, but I’m sure I missed someone. I’ll try to catch up completely in the next day or two.

I set the recorder for the Dr. Who premier and watched it. I had a hard time hearing it all. It was like the dramatic music drowned out the dialog at some points. There’s probably a writing lesson in there somewhere about not letting the setting overwhelm the story, but I’m too lazy to be brilliant right now. Watching a dinosaur cough up the Tardis was pretty cool.

I printed out all the critique stuff I need to read, but haven’t worked on them yet. We meet Thursday, so I need to get on with it.

Tonight I really should edit another chapter of The Cock of the South. I have an artist working up some cover sketches and I’m watching for the Paypal invoice. Things are looking promising so far.

It looks like being gone wounded my stats. Nobody unfollowed, and I actually gained one. Instead of forty views per day I was at around ten. It makes sense, I didn’t post most of the weekend. Next weekend will be more of the same, but I might squeeze one post in.

Now I’m drinking an Anderson Valley Wild Turkey Bourbon Barrel Stout. I also downloaded Dead Man’s Party and am rocking out to Oingo Boingo. (I promise not to dance for you.) Maybe I’m feeling the approach of Halloween.

Perhaps my Muse is telling me to take a night off. I’m off to a Dead Man’s Party with my big beer.

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My High Desert Trip

I just got back from the high deserts of Northern Nevada. I was going to brush this off without a post, because it’s a controversial topic to some people. My mother drew a buck antelope permit in the lottery system, and I wanted to help her get one. This is a uniquely American animal, and is not one of the true antelopes found in other parts of the world.

I won’t post images of dead animals, like so many other people would. I want to talk about this a bit, and it’s my blog after all. There is a subtle writing lesson in here if you pay attention.

My parents told me where they were going to camp and since I grew up in this area, I decided to meet them in the field. When I got there, they were already out hunting. I had about four hours to myself with no wifi or phone service, and two locked campers. I found hundreds of mushrooms including one of the deadly amanitas. There were tons of nice looking boletes, but I only eat mushrooms I can positively identify. I took these photos to give you an idea of what it looks like.

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This was the view from our camp. August is traditionally the hottest month there, but it never got hot. We had to scrape ice off the windshields every morning. We even got pasted by a hailstorm, complete with lightning and thunder. The water in places was up to the top of our tires. It passed just as quickly as it arrived and we headed back to camp empty handed.

They’d hunted up in the mountains with no luck. I suggested an out of the way spot with rolling sagebrush hills. I still have faith in the area, but everything runs for cover when the hailstorm strikes. They wanted to try the most obvious spot next, and I warned them about competitors. There were plenty of antelope and plenty of competitors. It was a pretty drive though and we even saw a buck mule deer still in velvet. Mom stalked a herd of does and fawns with my brother, but a suitable buck wasn’t with them.

We grilled steaks over the fire and had a few cold beers. My brother wanted to go to the next obvious spot, and I suggested some more out of the way places. My plan prevailed.

Saturday morning we drove past several herds of antelope on the way to our next place. They were on private property and we respect the landowner’s wishes. We saw a pair of bald eagles along the lakeshore along the way. My brother spotted a lone antelope in an available place. We drove to a low spot, out of the antelope’s sight, to discuss strategy. I had no idea whether it was a buck or a doe, but there was only one way to find out.

Mom and I snuck toward a patch of big sagebrush for a closer look. (There are several kinds of sagebrush, but this is the only one I know by name. It’s actually called big sagebrush.) The antelope turned out to be a respectable buck, and he was looking right at us. This usually means the end of the hunt. Antelope have eyes like eagles.

I motioned for my brother and dad to drive the trucks on down the road. This really shouldn’t have worked, but the antelope fell for it. While he watched the trucks drive away, we snuck to the next patch of big sagebrush. The other brush was about eight inches tall, so imagine islands of six foot tall brush among a sea of the shorter variety. There was too much brush in the way for a fair shot.

The next move was to get even closer and avoid being seen. I hung my white cowboy hat on the last big sagebrush and we crawled the last fifty yards. The antelope bedded down for the day.

We crawled through sagebrush, flint, mud, and several cowpies. Keep in mind that mom is in her mid seventies now. She was really out of breath when we got as far as we were going to get. I told her to take her time, because the antelope was bedded down. When she was ready she placed one perfect shot with her .30-06, and harvested her antelope.

We spent the rest of the morning breaking down the meat and getting it iced in coolers. Then we had a midday breakfast that included Mom’s home made chokecherry syrup. I grew up doing all of this stuff, and chokecherry syrup was a staple in our house. My brother stayed at camp today to pick fresh chokecherries which are everywhere this year.

Our supper consisted of antelope liver and onions along with the heart. We don’t waste much when we collect an animal. We also cooked up a rack of antelope ribs for one person who doesn’t eat liver. The evening was rounded off with Sam Adams Octoberfest beer, a roaring bonfire and watching the bats flitter overhead.

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Me in my natural habitat

The camera adds about fifty pounds. This was the first time in about thirteen years I got to do this with my family. It almost had a taste of attending a reunion, but the stuff I hadn’t seen in years consisted of bats, antelope, chokecherries, and mule deer.

When I write about such things, I have a real basis of knowledge. There are guns in my stories, and I know what I’m talking about when it comes to the right way to use them. I know how to make a pot of beans or a Dutch oven full of sage grouse. I can make preserves, including chokecherry syrup. This is important when someone recommends writing about what you know.

This doesn’t mean writing about camping or hunting. It means to make the story elements genuine when you write. If one of my characters is a dressmaker someday, I may have to take a class. If she catches her own fish, I already have that knowledge.

The world around us is changing rapidly. Pursuits, like hunting, may go away entirely someday. I’m glad I got to experience it all, and I can feel my ancestors watching when opportunities like this come along. Some readers may take offense to this post. I can assure you that isn’t my intent, and everything we did is perfectly legal. My family might be the ones to know when the zombie appocolypse comes along.

I’m sure I missed some of your posts, and I’ll do my best to catch up. I also need to check the comments over at Ali Isaac’s place. She did a wonderful post about my writing and I want to participate in the comments. I have another work week ahead of me, plus my critique group, then my wife and I are off on another weekend trip.

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