Slightly Off the Mark
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Below are the 20 most recent journal entries recorded in ozma914's InsaneJournal:

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    Friday, December 7th, 2018
    9:39 pm
    2018 Christmas parade pics
    A few 2018 Albion Christmas Parade pics:

    And by a few I mean the only ones that came out even close to clear, because my camera handles temps in the 20s about as well as I do.
    Sunday, December 2nd, 2018
    7:55 pm
    Coming Attractions is e-booking all over the place
    As you know, one of the weirdest things about being a writer is seeing your book up for sale.

    Or maybe you didn't know that. I didn't know that.

    Coming Attractions is my tenth published book, so you'd think I'd get used to it, but it's always ... weird. Promotion is even weirder: As I've said before, my parents taught me better than to run around shouting "look at me, look at me!" So instead I'll say ... hm ...

    Look at this, look at this! There, redirection.

    Here are the places Coming Attractions is up for sale as of now, that we know of. All e-book, so far; it is up in print on Amazon, but we made a few tweaks and haven't gotten our proof copy back, so we're not publicizing that yet. Still, I did make that offer to show something incredibly embarrassing if we sell our first hundred copies by January 1st, so the least I can do is give you all a chance to embarrass me.

    Of course, it's up along with fourteen other entries on our Amazon author page:

    It's available almost everywhere in the world on Amazon except, oddly enough, most of the Middle East. (Those fifteen entries include the three anthologies I have stories in, plus separate print and e-book entries for Radio Red and Coming Attractions. No, I don't know why.)

    Then there's Barnes and Noble, which specializes in books. And coffee, and toys, and games, and novelties, and such. Come to think of it, I bought the Doctor Who soundtrack there.

    That's the link to all our books on B&N, and isn't Christmas shopping season reaching right for us like a pocket picking politician? If you can't click on that link, just type it all in from memory.

    Also, here's a Smashwords link to Coming Attractions:

    Smashing. By which you can get it on epub and mobi and pdf, and stuff.

    And you can get it on iTunes!

    Even though it's not a tune. In fact, if you click on my name you can see a bunch of other stuff, also not tunes.

    We also have Kobo:

    Which I used to think was the name of that ape who knew sign language.

    Some of our books are all over the place, including places I hadn't heard of because I was busy watching cute puppy videos. Although Coming Attractions isn't quite there yet, many of our other books are on Blio:

    The new book should be there any moment. It's already on Scribd:

    Which seems like it's missing a letter, but who am I to sy?

    So there you go: your Christmas shopping list. I'm sure Coming Attractions is or will be on other sites, so if you happen to see it there, let us know. And congrats to Emily for all her setup and distribution work!

    You can get a sample of the book on many of those sites.
    Wednesday, November 28th, 2018
    5:03 pm
    A book rollout rolls over, ice bucket challenges, and other tales of woe
    Coming Attractions has had delays getting up in print and e-platforms other than Kindle, although it's coming soon. There was also a problem with an illness, the details of which I most definitely don't want to share (and I'm getting better).

    But it is up on Kindle, and you can read a sample here:

    These things happen. It's my fault for making premature announcements when I knew I was going on vacation--a virtual guarantee of illness or injury, or both. I went so far as to promise to post an embarrassing photo of me if we sold 100 copies in the first couple of weeks.

    Well, it's been a couple of weeks.

    I know many of you want to see me be embarrassed. So, in the hopes that we'll have everything set up in the next few days, I've extended that promise.

    Never mind the question of whether an author should lure in readers by promising to make fun of himself. I spent years making fun of myself in my humor column--why stop now?

    So if we sell a hundred copies of Coming Attractions by January 1st, I'll read one of my own poems online (and trust me, I'm bad at it). In addition, I'll share one or more truly embarrassing pictures of myself. We've been going through photos for a book project, and I've found one of me in my prom tux, and another that was even worse.

    And if we make a thousand total sales of all our books between now and the end of the year, I'll do something even better. Or worse. I've been told the ice bucket challenge is so last winter, so if any of you have better ideas, I'm open for suggestion. Or I could just do a book giveaway? What do you think?
    Saturday, November 24th, 2018
    7:34 pm
    Coming Attractions Cover, or I'd like to thank...
    Coming Attractions Cover, or: I'd like to thank my editor/wife/cover designer/layout coordinator:

    NOTE: I already sent this out on the newsletter, but I'd like everyone to know about Emily's hard work on the Coming Attractions cover. You can already find the book on Kindle, even in the UK, France, and Germany. Just look for Mark R Hunter. Spoiler alert: That’s me!
    Thursday, November 22nd, 2018
    4:14 am
    Coming Attractions on Kindle, and ice on me ... maybe
    If you haven't already heard, the Kindle version of Coming Attractions is available for pre-order! You can get all the details here:

    Or you could just wait a few days, because it should be live on Black Friday--and available to order without fighting a crowd. Or you could wait a little while longer, when we'll have the print version up and hopefully other e-book versions, too.

    If I get, oh, a hundred sales across all platforms by the end of the month, I'll ... I dunno, something. I'm making this up as I go along. Maybe read one of my poems live? Or post my high school graduation photo?

    Or would those be less of a reward, and more of a punishment?

    Oh, and here's an idea: If I make a thousand total sales of all our books between now and January 1st, I'll do that ice bucket challenge thing everyone used to talk about. Why? Well, because I've never made a thousand sales in a month, and it would be neat.
    Wednesday, November 21st, 2018
    4:24 am
    We're in hardcover, and I'm on Instagram
    I have something in common with J.K. Rowling! We used to have a lot in common, in that she was once dirt poor and unknown as an author. Now the only thing we have in common is that there are hardcover versions of our books.

    Well, one book, in my case.

    I mentioned previously seeing it on Amazon and thinking, “WTH?” (It stands for what the heck, let it go.) The book is Images of America: Albion and Noble County, which I’ve talked about a lot lately, mostly because I want people to read it. A lot of people have, which is very cool, and some might be upset that I didn’t tell them there was a hardcover version available.

    But in my defense, I didn’t know there was a hardcover version.

    It just showed up on Amazon one day, along with the e-book and paperback versions. Oddly enough, the hardcover isn’t advertised on the website of my publisher, Arcadia Publishing. Being the suspicious sort, I took the easy route and just ordered a copy from Amazon myself. Hey, I support this author.

    And sure enough, there it was.

    One of our books. In hardcover.

    I’m very proud. Unfortunately, the book came out a couple of years ago, and most of the people who might have bought it in hardcover probably have it in paperback. But still. It’s cool. And it makes me wonder, if we did a hardcover edition of our next photo book, how many people might choose that one.

    Here's the Instagram post I made about this, because ... I don't know ... somebody might want to see me talk?
    Saturday, November 17th, 2018
    2:21 pm
    Still selling the No-Campfire soap
    On Sunday the 18th The No-Campfire Girls is going up for the day on The Fussy Librarian, an e-book website that can be found here:

    Like many small businesses (I'm a writer, but let's face it--I'm also a small business), I do more advertising this time of year because people are shopping for the holidays. Also, if you're anything like me, you're looking for something to do that involves not being outside. So, hey--books.

    The No-Campfire Girls is listed as YA adventure, although I think it can be a lot of fun for adult readers too. Also, it's got firefighters, so there's that. It's just 99 cents on Kindle and $5 in paperback:

    And of course it's on our website at, just like all of our other books. Unless they're sold out, print copies are at the Noble Art Gallery in downtown Albion. I hope you'll consider supporting local businesses--and local authors--in your shopping this year. Unless you don't live near here, in which case I hope you support another locale's authors.

    Fifteen year old Beth Hamlin is horrified to discover her beloved summer camp must go without campfires this year, due to the fire hazard from a drought. But Beth isn't one to just sit (or swim, or boat, or horseback) around. When her new cabinmate, Cassidy, claims a local Cherokee can do a rain dance, she jumps into action.

    All they have to do is trick the Camp Director into letting Running Creek do the dance, avoid the local bully and a flying arrow or two, and keep from getting caught plotting with Cassidy’s firefighter father on a forbidden cell phone. With luck southern Indiana will get a nice, soaking rain, and Camp Inipi can have proper campfires again.

    But when things go horribly wrong, the whole area is endangered by a double disaster. Now Beth and her unit may be the only people who can save not only their camp, but everyone in it.

    *A portion of the proceeds of this book benefits Friends of Latonka, an organization made to save the Girl Scout summer camp at Wappapello, Missouri.

    Monday, November 12th, 2018
    4:02 am
    Pulling The Horse Muscle, or Break In the Saddle Again
    "Would you like to go on a trail ride?" my wife asked in August.

    (Yeah, I know. It's taken me this long to recover from the emotional trauma enough to write about it.)

    Do you remember those people on the tourist boat in Hawaii, who got hit by lava when the volcano exploded? It was like that. "Would you like to go on a boat ride? The view is great!" Oh, I'm sure they got an impressive view, indeed, especially during the medivac helicopter ride to the hospital.

    My wife, Emily, works at the Pokagon State Park saddle barn which, as you might imagine, is at Pokagon State Park, in northeast Indiana. It's one of those "they don't have to pay you as much because you love your job" kind of things, like being a radio DJ, or writing. One of her fringe benefits is that, if the hourly ride isn't sold out and there's a horse available, she can bring her husband along on a ride.

    At no point while writing that policy did anyone consider whether the husband wanted to go.

    I've been on about half a dozen trail rides now, so I'm better at it than when I began. The first time, my horse saw some nice grass off in the woods and wandered off, and they found me three days later, still unconscious from the tree limb. Okay, I exaggerate--slightly. The truth is, those horses wouldn't stray far from their routine trail even if you let them go.

    But I hadn't been on a ride since early last year and ... how can I say this and still maintain my self-respect? Okay, there's no way: I'm out of shape. I haven't been trail hiking as much as usual due to writing chores, and the muscle stretches the chiropractor gave me to do only work, it turns out, if you actually do them.

    But that's no problem, because all you have to do is ride, right? You horse people, you're laughing right now. Well, first you have to get on the horse, which involves putting your foot into a stirrup, which is fine except the stirrup is at the level of your chest. I haven't been able to lift my foot to chest level since I was eighteen. Hah! Kidding--I couldn't then, either.

    Then you have to swing your other foot over the horse which, I think, is when something happened. I didn't notice it at the time, because I was busy noticing how very high up above the ground I was. The words "head" and "melon" were intertwining in my mind right then.

    On the first leg of our 45 minute trip, a coyote casually walked out onto the trail, right in front of us. He looked over our way, and I expected him to say, "Have you seen a road runner go by lately?" But what he actually said was, "If Mark Hunter falls off the horse, can I have him? I spent all my food money on an Acme brand anvil."

    Well, that's the predator vibe I was getting from him, anyway.

    The thing is, riding a horse involves an entirely different set of muscles compared to my favorite exercise, which is hiking, which is way closer to the ground. (Usually.) And no, you don't just sit: You have to kind of ... hug the horse with your legs, and keep a good posture, which I haven't done since ... well, ever. It makes you appreciate how fit porn actors must be.

    It really was a nice ride, and beautiful scenery, except for when the horse ahead of me had to relieve himself.

    I expected to be sore the next day. But as I climbed down after a scenic and uneventful ride, something felt ... off.

    I'd pulled a horse riding muscle.

    I didn't even know there was a thing. It's very low on your back, on each side, or maybe very high on your hip, or--let's face it, it's a butt muscle. I suspect it happened when I climbed on board, but at the time I was too terrified to notice. Yeah, I've done this six times now, but I've also seen all those YouTube videos entitled "Riding Gone Wrong".

    Also, I once personally saw someone fall of a horse. They didn't get up fast.

    But there was an upside. I'd been reading the second novel in George R.R. Martin's Game of Throne series, and those books are thicker than the Federal budget. Once the pain killers kicked in and I was settled on the couch, I got in some great reading time.

    Maybe I'll even ride a horse again. Next year.
    Friday, November 9th, 2018
    3:51 am
    A picture request for a new fire book
    You know what I like? Fire trucks.

    I also like history.

    I'm also a fan of my home town, Albion.

    Now, as a person who's been a volunteer firefighter for some 35 years or so, I can safely say I've been a part of all three of those things. And we've combined them all before, in a book Emily and I did called Smoky Days and Sleepless Nights: A Century Or So With the Albion Fire Department:

    The days were smoky ... the nights were sleepless.

    I'm very proud of that book, which was decades in the making. But, although it did have some photos, it didn't have as many as I'd have liked. Now, some time later we did another book about Albion and Noble County, entitled, naturally, Albion and Noble County.

    It's part of Arcadia Press' Images of America series, which features images of ... well, you know. Now, that book was a load of hard work, but it was also very cool, because we searched long and hard and world wide for pictures, and got a lot of really cool ones loaned and donated to us. That got me thinking.

    And here's where you come in. Yes, I'm pointing at you.

    I've been having some family and medical stuff that's kept me from getting very involved with the fire department recently, so I wanted to do something, and here it is: Another book about the Albion Fire Department, but this time all about the pictures. Fires; fire trucks; firefighters; firehouses; fire history; fire dogs; whatever. Not a lot of text, just all the good photos we can get our hands on.

    If you have any fire related photos involving Albion in any way, could you please loan them to us long enough for us to make a copy for the book? You'll get credit, naturally, and half the proceeds from sales of the book will go to the Albion Fire Department. I'm not asking the AFD to fund the making of the book as they did with Smoky Days and Sleepless Nights, so the other half of the proceeds will go toward actually designing, producing, advertising, and printing the book.

    If it's in any way related to Albion's fire history, even slightly, we're interested; and we're especially interested in former members, since it's awfully hard to fight fires without firefighters. Seeing as how this is going on my blog, I should stress that I mean Albion, Indiana. Although, come to think of it, it would be kind of cool to have a section on Albion firehouses from across the country.

    We'll collect all the best and put out a great visual record of Albion's firefighting brothers and sisters. I don't know for sure how long this will take, but I'm shooting for getting it published maybe early next summer. And as always, thanks for your support!

    You can contact Emily or me on our website contact form at, our through any of our social media, or--believe it or not--our number's actually in the phone book.
    Friday, November 2nd, 2018
    11:28 am
    Old Age: Just What I Kneed
    Those of you who were concerned about my knee pain can stop worrying: It’s just bursitis.

    In other words: old age.

    Bursitis is kind of like a beer belly, in that it’s caused by a buildup of fluids in a part of the body. Specifically, it’s an inflammation of the fluid-filled pads in the joints, in this case my right knee. I’m right smack in the most common age bracket for this problem, which was probably caused by the large amount of trail hiking and other walking we did over the summer. Often it resolves itself after several months, if you don’t go out and do stupid. The treatment? Rest and ice.

    Winter is coming, so there’ll be plenty of ice.

    I hate going out in winter, so there’s my excuse to rest. And to think, I tried to talk my wife into buying a treadmill for cold weather—thank goodness she’s cheap.

    I’m taking this as a sign that I should do more writing over the winter months. But if I do have to get around, hey—a knee brace hidden under my long johns and a dose of naproxen do a world of good.
    Thursday, November 1st, 2018
    11:02 pm
    Prediction: Politics Still Stinks
    I haven’t written about politics for some time, mostly because of certain keywords that permeate modern discourse: “Hateful”; “vindictive”; “mean”; “hypocritical” … okay, some of them aren't so new. Also, certain trigger words that cause those reactions, such as "politics", and "Have a nice day".

    (By the way, "Have a nice day" is going to be my reply to any particularly wrathful comments to this post. It's time to steer away from useless shouting.)

    Still, I do have a history of making predictions, so here’s what I think is going to happen over the next few years. Just to be clear, my Presidential prediction success rate is running at about 50%.

    The Democrats will win control of the House of Representatives. This one’s crazy easy: The party opposing the sitting President almost always makes gains during off-year elections. The Dems also have their usual advantage of a fawning mainstream media, so I’m pretty confident of this one. We also had more than one “October Surprise”, and all of them screamed “go blue”.

    The Republicans will maintain control of the Senate, although just barely. This will result in a scenario in which half of Congress actively does everything in their power to keep President Trump from doing anything, including picking out ties, having brunch, or watching the Superbowl. As far as actual work getting done, things won’t look much different.

    Keep in mind that over the last several decades Democrats controlled Congress much more often than Republicans did, which helps explain why they’ve been so irate the last couple of years. I understand: I’d prefer to be in charge, too.

    I could be wrong on all of this; conservatives are just as fired up right now as liberals are, but they feel saying so often leads to them being personally attacked, so many are keeping a low profile. On a related note, remember when we could disagree and still be nice to each other? No? Well, I was younger, then.

    What I can guarantee is that political ads will continue to be more and more vicious, which is also a pretty easy call. In my area they’ve given up on words like “misleading” and gone straight to calling each other liars. We’re getting closer and closer to political campaigns looking like the Red Wedding in “Game of Thrones”. I predict that by early 2020, ads will start with wishes that opponents campaign in Iowa without their overcoats. They'll end with suggestions that the other guy get tarred (with toxic sludge) and feathered (with arrows).

    It’s no great leap to say all this animosity and lack of general niceness is connected. We probably won’t get back to any form of civility until someone from outside the country attacks America again, or a comet takes out New Jersey, and possibly not then.

    By the way, I predict the 2020 Presidential campaign will begin December 2nd, 2018. The fact that more and more Americans are becoming infuriated by the extended campaign seasons hasn’t gotten through to politicians any more than anything else has.

    In 2020 the Presidential election will be won by Democrat Kamala Harris, after the other Democrats maim each other into bloody pulps in the primaries. She’ll have a majority of a few million and barely squeak by in the electoral college, which supporters will declare a landslide. I don’t know much about Harris, but she’s from California, so she’ll have her home state locked up. Her mother is Indian and her father Jamaican, which means any criticism of her can be stomped down with cries of “racist!” I’ve read up on Harris a little and I’m not overly impressed, but I suspect she really doesn’t give a darn what I think.

    President Trump, taking his cue from the Democrats after the 2016 election, will pout.

    Other predictions for the next few years:

    A terrible storm will cause damage somewhere.

    A politician will fall out of grace because of something that ends with “gate”.

    Entertainment award shows will continue to ditch celebrating entertainment in favor of being political.

    Some cool new technology will sweep the world.

    A major business will go bankrupt.

    Oh: And the American economy will turn down, headed toward a recession by the end of 2019, and be in full recession sometime in 2020. Our economy goes in cycles, and we’ve been riding a wave for too long—the wave is overdue to crash. I’m just the messenger.

    Of course, by the time most of that happens you’ll have forgotten I wrote this, so right or wrong, I’m safe.
    Monday, October 29th, 2018
    4:00 pm
    Next Writing Project: Begun
    Well, I’ve already written 3,500 words on our new book project. And that might be the majority of the writing part, because this book is going to have lots and lots and lots of photos. It’ll be akin to our Images of America: Albion and Noble County book in its picture-ness, I hope.

    Oh, boy …

    I’d better start working on captions. And maybe I should have warned Emily about doing the layout?
    Sunday, October 21st, 2018
    9:32 am
    Clamping Down on Glamping
    Have you heard of glamping? Apparently it means glam camping, which in turns means glamorous camping, which in turn means camping in luxury and style.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Our compromise:

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

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

    One, a car-top carrier. It turns out a lot of our camping gear used to go in the back seat, which is now fully occupied by dog.
    "No, I'm not sharing this with two folding chairs and a cooler."

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

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

    And that's the closest I get to glamping.
    Monday, October 15th, 2018
    4:46 pm
    Price reduction on my book, and hardcover ... or so I hear
    It's been kind of a rough year, and especially a rough last month or so. But as an author I have to get back on the horse, because gift giving season is coming (I don't use an actual holiday name until November), and it turns out promotion is part of an author's job.

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

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

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

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

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

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

    (And, as usual, check out all our books at ...)
    Saturday, October 13th, 2018
    6:39 am
    Linemen are always wired up:

    It's an electrifying job.
    Tuesday, October 9th, 2018
    3:35 am
    Reviewing The Walking Doctor: A Tale Of Two Season Openers
    Sunday was the season 9 opener for The Walking Dead, and the--what--season 48?--opener for Doctor Who, the British SF series originally designed for children that went into development the year I was born. It was also my only night off that week, so even though my wife doesn't like watching more than an hour and a half or so of TV a night, we managed to catch both of them close to the hour of their premiers.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    In short, the new Doctor is fine; but the new season needs some work.
    Wednesday, October 3rd, 2018
    7:02 pm
    Linda Taylor--mom's obituary. R.I.P. September 27, 2018
    We just this afternoon (and after I sent my newsletter out) confirmed mom's memorial service, which will be at 11 a.m. Friday (with an hour's visitation before) at the Albion Wesleyan Church. Here's her obituary:


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

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

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

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

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

    Oh, I almost forgot: They're going to earmark memorials to the Parkview Cancer Institute or Parkview Heart Center. We've spent so much time in recent years at Parkview facilities that I feel that should name a wing after us.
    Saturday, September 29th, 2018
    4:31 pm
    On my mother's passing
    I just can't come up with anything to write at the moment, which I realize is a rare thing for me. So I'm posting here what my sister wrote:

    It is with great sadness that my brothers, Mark Richard Hunter, Jeff Hunter, and I along with our stepfather (Harry Taylor) would like to let everyone know that our mother/wife passed away this morning due to complications from her stroke in August. Arrangements for a memorial service are pending per her cremation next week as were her wishes. We will all love and miss her dearly, but know she is in a much better place.

    Mom had been in failing health for some time due to a stroke along with complications from diabetes and congestive heart failure. The service is going to be sometime toward the end of next week here in Albion, after the cremation--I'll post further details when I have them.
    Sunday, September 16th, 2018
    5:27 am
    Lead, Follow Me, or Just Watch the Videos
    I used to blog every day, after hearing authors say it kept their names in front of their readers. Then I realized blogging every day left me with no time to actually write anything for readers to read. Also, I'm not interesting every day--even after editing myself.

    But this time I've been away from my blog for two whole weeks, which might be a record. I actually had a real vacation, by which I mean I not only didn't do my full time job, I didn't even work on writing. (We did spend a portion of our vacation in medical facilities, but that's tradition.)

    I missed it. The writing, not the full time job. But sometimes a guy's gotta take a break.

    But I wasn't totally offline. We've taken some very short videos in places we visited--I've posted a half dozen on Instagram so far, and they cross posted to Twitter and Facebook. They're fun videos, kinda, and give you a little sense of where we were, maybe, and if you turn the volume all the way up you can hear me, sorta. (I'm new to the video thing, and haven't gotten the volume part quite figured out yet. Some so far unpublished videos will probably have to come with subtitles.)

    Having had very little luck posting videos to Blogger, I'd like to steer those who are interested over to my other accounts. I get videos and pictures up on Instagram:

    Although I once swore never to go there, I'm a Tweeting Twit at:

    When my first book came out Emily set me up with another account at, but let's face it: The same stuff mostly goes up on both.

    There's a similar thing going on at Facebook, where my regular account is at

    Personally, I'd rather everyone follow me on my author's page, at

    Why? Because as I understand it, it's easier to find what your favorite author is up to that way ... and don't you need someone else to fill in the time between hearing from your favorite author? Gaiman and Martin don't exactly post every day, you know. (By the way, I loved their comedy routines.)

    Also, I've been hearing noises that small businesses (which is what authors are) are going to have a harder time promoting from personal FB pages, but we'll see. In any case, I'd very much like to avoid losing track of people who might someday want to read one of my books.

    Or--and I hate to say this--you could do nothing. Because let's face it, you'll see the best of the photos we took right here, sooner or later, whether you read this on Blogger, Livejournal, or any of the other places I post to. I kind of like the little videos, but they'll never be nominated for a ... do they have an Internet Video Award?
    Saturday, September 1st, 2018
    3:46 am
    Maybe for vacation we should book a hospital room
    I expect you won't hear much from me for the next couple of weeks, because right after Labor Day we'll be on "vacation". The quotes are because our vacations in recent years have been of the kind people need a vacation to recover from.

    My wife or I--or both--have been either sick or injured on every single vacation we've taken since the moment we met. Two years ago she was sick on vacation when a guy hit our car head on, leading to both of us being injured. In a variant of that, five years ago we were happily vacationing at a state park along the Mississippi River when we found out my father had been rushed to the hospital with cancer. (He's fine now, by the way.)

    So I'm not expecting much.

    In the run-up to this upcoming vacation my mother was hospitalized, and we got bad medical news about two other relatives, which I can't help thinking was a shot off our bow--a little warning that maybe we should just build a panic room and stay in it for two weeks. But no, we usually go for it; and Emily and I are fond of camping, hiking, and traveling to places where we can camp and hike. The question of what could possibly go wrong easily answers itself.

    That answer may have come early this year. Maybe it was the hospital chairs, which were about as comfortable as the iron throne made of swords on Game of Thrones. Maybe it's because I've been wearing a knee brace, which could have caused me to lean more heavily on other muscles. Whatever the case, this week I've had the worst back pain since I pulled a lower back muscle three years ago--while on vacation.

    It's in my middle back, in the area where I first hurt myself way back in 1983 at a business fire in downtown Albion. We wore heavy steel breathing air tanks back then, and I wore one for way too long, and you can guess the rest. (No, I wasn't on vacation at the time.) Instead of the dull ache I experience almost all the time, this was a sharp pain that refuses to be ignored, kind of like the American election cycle. It hurt so bad that for a few days I couldn't even concentrate on writing.

    I could still read. Let's not get silly. (Oh, and about the end of the third Game of Thrones book: What The Living Heck?!?!)

    So now I face going into vacation with back pain (oh, and knee pain), which might cut into my hiking time. I know what you're going to say: "Just relax, sit around the campfire with a good book and some music, have a beer ... you know, relax".

    I hate beer. More to the point, according to Emily, I suck at relaxing. At the moment I'm thinking road trip, since I can still drive, and there's a lot of road we haven't seen.

    In the evening I could work on a new story, which to me is relaxing. I also have a book to finish editing, which is not quite so relaxing, but might be if I'm typing on a lounge chair along Lake Superior.

    There's also the fourth Game of Thrones book to read ... but man, those gargantuan kill-fests aren't so relaxing. Just the same, Emily and I do want to get away for awhile, kind of an escape from reality thing.

    At least, until one of us gets sick.
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