Safe Arrival

No brake fluid? Load the car back up and take it to Firestone.

We finally pulled into Kansas City. I smelled like vomit. Mr. Smith was in hyper “geterdone” mode. He and my son had the dogs walked and the truck unloaded in an hour.

Then we discovered that somehow during the trip, the car had lost all of its brake fluid and was leaking it from a rear tire. So, the first visit together in KC was to Firestone.

I tried to help, but mostly I stood around trying not to throw up and/or pass out, all while looking helpful. When everything was situated, I realized we had no shower curtain.

A lukewarm bath really didn’t seem like a fair reward for all we had endured, but I took it gratefully. I finally crawled into bed, shivering and ill, to sleep for hours.

A safe arrival was all we asked for, and a safe arrival is what we got. Despite the unpleasant parts of the trip, we count it as a success.

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A 20 Hour Drive…

I thought it was a law that Walmart is open 24/7?

Little did we know the suffering that lay ahead… the trip started off great, except that I accidentally had my Google maps set to take back roads. I’ve only ever set it to that once, and it was earlier that day as an experiment. I forgot to set it back.

This resulted in the first hour of our trip driving down country lanes barely bigger than our truck and car caravan, with me yelling obscenities at Google and Mr. Smith telling me to calm down and watch the road. We figured it out shortly, and got underway.

I was the first driver and I started the trip by enthusiastically drinking a Five Hour Energy with a Redbull chaser. And then random snacks. Veggie Straws, chocolate covered almonds, turkey jerky… all of this was delivered via my mouth to go socialize with the pizza and BLT that already waited there. Then I followed up with another Five Hour Energy with a Redbull chaser. I was wired and drove for nine hours solid. Then I crashed…hard.

The next 12 hours I spent barfing into Walmart bags and feeling like death over the lovely country highways (meaning paved with large stones and cow poop) of Mississippi and Arkansas. Nothing against either state, but seriously? Spend some tax money on asphalt every now and then. I felt every notch in the pavement.

From left, Cheif, Dante and Bree

We tried to stop at a Walmart so I could clean myself up a bit and happened across the only Walmart in the US (maybe) that closes at 9 p.m. Isn’t there a law against that?

We stood outside of the Walmart, shivering under the burden of our first world problems, pushing against the glass trying to understand what was happening. Reality and bitter cold drove us back into the truck, denied.

We were traveling with three dogs, one of which became our least favorite as he decided to bark the entire trip. We were taking bets on which would go first, our sanity or his vocal cords. Turns out, both hung on by a thread. Mr. Smith heroically drove on through it all.

So why did a 14 hour trip take us 20 hours? Turns out a moving truck towing a car isn’t the zippiest thing on the road. We were pushing speeds of 40 mph up some of the steeper hills and got passed by a barn. Yes, a barn was faster than we were. I have video to prove it.

If the video embedded here loads too slow (like our truck), just see it on Youtube here.

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Miss You Already!

The Smiths are heading out…

I loved seeing everyone who stopped by yesterday and miss all of you already. I’m going to plan another trip in the spring which will be less hurried and more about visiting friends.

Thanks especially to the French Family of Cafe Bienville fame for babysitting Bree while we were up in KC setting things up.

I loved seeing you all, off the top of my head it was Denise, Rusty, Candice, Tom, Shari, Marni, Alyssa, Rachel and Paul… and of course the French Family and Cafe Bienville.

I apologize for the super short notice—it looked like I might not get to have a visit at all until the night before. This was all very rushed.

I’ve been craving one of those BLTs for two months now. Of all the wonderful things Kansas City has, I haven’t found anyplace here as good as Cafe Bienville in Niceville.

If you wanted to stop by and say hi and got your dates mixed up (you know who you are…:) don’t worry. I will be back, and next time it will be just for fun.

Packed and ready!

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Back in Niceville for a day!

I’ll be back in Niceville tomorrow for just a few hours and I thought it might be easier to just hang out at Cafe Bienville the whole time and visit anyone who wants to stop by.

I’ll be there from noon to 2 p.m. This is a time change. Originally I was planning to be there later in the day, but I need to go see my adult son, who is staying in Florida, as well.

Stop by and say hi tomorrow, Sunday Nov. 12 from noon to 2 p.m. at Cafe Bienville, 314 Bayshore Dr, in Niceville.

Now I need to get moving… actual moving… into the new apartment and be ready for a 3 a.m. flight in the morning.

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Story for KC Star is live online

E.M. Hemingway, Reporter Star

Now I can say that Hemingway and I have written for the same publication—the Kansas City Star. My story went up on their website this evening.

It was a fun story to do, but I felt very rusty. I didn’t ask a few obvious questions that I normally would have. I’m definitely out of practice.

With my car still in Florida, I had to Uber to the meeting and was late, thanks to a driver mishap. And I found a typo… but it still feels fantastic.

Maybe I’m being too much of a romantic, but I can’t help but wonder how Hemingway felt when he first saw his own byline in the Star. Did he see his name, inked on the newsprint, and imagine the future ahead?

Of course, I aspire to become as excellent as Hemingway one day. We all should. Why not set the bar high? For this moment, however, I am just happy to share a snippet of history with him. Me and Hemingway, writing for the Kansas City Star.

A screenshot of that magical byline… and find the story here.

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First Story for the KC Star

First assignment for the Kansas City Star. With my car still in Florida, I had to Uber there. Worth it.

I just sent in my first story for the Kansas City Star. A few weeks ago I’d written about having the opportunity to freelance for them. Yesterday it felt good to go back on assignment. I finished up the 700ish word piece this afternoon and sent it with the photos and cutlines.

About a family that has prospered despite suffering from multiple, major health issues, the story focuses on how their friends, family and hard work helped them survive and grow. As soon as it’s published in the Star, I’ll do a little bit on it here as well share their shop.

New city, new climate, new byline :)

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Everly #4 Climbs to Top 100

One of our recent Everly Everywhere books is at #90 today on Amazon’s children/inspirational list. That brings the Everly collection up to a total of five books total. We couldn’t be happier to see our vision behind this little, blue mouse take shape.

So far, the Everly Everywhere collection includes:

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Happy International Speculative Poetry Day!

Today is, officially as of today, International Speculative Poetry Day. The Governor of Minnesota presented the Science Fiction and Fantasy Poetry Association with a proclamation recognizing the day. The SFPA is preparing to observe its 40th anniversary in 2018. The celebrations will include readings, presentations, workshops, publications and exhibitions across the US and abroad.

Now, you may ask, what is “speculative poetry?” Don’t feel bad. When I was told I was a “speculative poet” I had to Google what it meant. As a guess, I thought it might be a nice way of saying I was unclassifiable—a writer with no genre.

I didn’t know if that was an insult, a trendy new genre term or an actual thing. Thanks to Google, I was enlightened. Speculative poetry isn’t a mysterious, unnameable genre. Here’s what Google says:

Speculative poetry is a genre of poetry that focuses on fantastic, science fictional and mythological themes. It is also known as science fiction poetry or fantastic poetry. It is distinguished from other poetic genres by being categorized by its subject matter, rather than by the poetry’s form.

That was a derp moment for me. I didn’t really know there was any other kind of poetry. My favorite poet has always been Poe, for as long as I can remember, followed by Lewis Carroll and Ray Bradbury. In recent years I’ve fallen in love with Bruce Boston, Marge Simon, Linda Addison, John Reinhart and Bryan Thao Worra. I didn’t know it, but they are all speculative poets. It makes sense that I would write in that genre.

So, today I invite you to celebrate the first ever International Speculative Poetry Day. Perhaps, you, like me, are a huge fan of speculative poetry without even knowing it. That is why the SFPA has asked for this day to be designated—to promote awareness of the genre.

And now I feel like celebrating! Find out more about the official designation, including the proclamation, here.

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Are Horror Writers Psychopaths? Test Yourself

Alex, the teenage protagonist from “A Clockwork Orange,” a dystopian novel by English writer Anthony Burgess.

People often assume horror writers must be psychopaths that keep bodies in the basement. The truth is, horror writers are too busy writing to worry about real bodies. Case in point—what books have you read by Norman Bates and Dexter lately?

In reality, horror writers tend to be some of the more emotionally stable people in our society. Anyone that says they don’t have negative thoughts and emotions sometimes is lying. We all go through dark times. Rather than bottle it up, writers of the dark arts express, deal and then transform that negative energy into something positive.

Writing is a form of therapy that can pay if you have the talent. Many writers capitalize on personal negative experiences by mining them for inspiration. I can’t think of any other line of work that pays for your emotional baggage.

Anthony Perkins as Norman Bates, the fictional character created by Robert Bloch.

Personally, I’m often told that I have an upbeat, positive personality. People are surprised when they read some of my darker work, but it is because I write about terrible things that I can be so happy.

If I get mad at someone, including myself, I kill them with ink. There is nothing like a violent  fictional bloodletting to put me in a good mood.

But rather than have me convince you, let science decide. The Hare Psychopathy Checklist-Revised is the industry standard for identifying psychopathic individuals. At £400 for the complete test kit, the official text would be outside of the Bates’ budget and mine as well.

Fortunately, for those of us without government backed funding, we can take a test based on the Hare version. It’s free, fast and available online here. I invite everyone I know—fellow writers, friends and fans—to take the test and share results. I scored an 18, so you are safe with me in a dark alley. Scores above 30 indicate psychopathy.

Michael C. Hall as Dexter, the mild mannered serial killer that targets other killers.

As a bonus, I invite writers to take the test from the mindset of a psychopath and try to score high. To write a compelling perspective we have to be able to slip into the skin of others. See how well you do when you test from a different mindset. As a psycho, I scored 32, so I made it.

What are your scores?

Note: This test is just for fun. Only a professional, which this test is not, can make a true assessment. Please don’t take this as anything more than an exercise in creativity and self assessment.

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New Google Calendar Upgrade!

Even more information and tools can be connected to event listings.

It must be a holiday—Google just upgraded their already awesome calendar!

I am a fan of Google for productivity and depend on their calendar to keep me on track. I have the calendar widget downloaded on my phone and it lists events and tasks for the week as they come up. And, as of yesterday, the calendar app is even better.

Google has redesigned their calendar to be more streamline and user friendly. My favorite upgrade is how much information you can connect to those boxes.

Events can now include all sorts of extra info such as spreadsheets or documents so people can access the necessary files without having to open other apps like Google Drive.

Another feature: If someone receives an invite for an event, they will see a portion of their calendar blocked off in the calendar app that’s “all in one color,” according to a tutorial on the new calendar. If people indicated that they will “maybe” attend the proposed event, they will see diagonal lines instead of one color, and if they haven’t replied, they will “just see the event’s outline” in the calendar app.

I just upgraded tonight, but I’m excited to see what new productive possibilities Google has in store for us.

Here’s a preview of the upgrade:

Here’s the old design for a comparison:

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