Saturday, December 03, 2016

No Crow for Me, Thanks.

Holy crap. I can't wait to get all of my computer stuff set up in the new office space I have in Huntersville. Then I can get back to a regular writing schedule and return to posting on my blog.

I am hoping to have the new writing space set up and dedicated in a few days.

Until then, I just wanted to post some musings on writing.


In the past--and for very good reasons--I have been extremely critical of the self-publishing game. I had sworn never to do it again after my brief flirtation with following along those lines. (I did self-publish one novel and quickly withdrew it until I could sell it legitimately.)

But then, over the past year or so, editorial doors have chambered closed to me, mainly over the fact that I am often politically vocal. And my politics are not popular, especially among the liberal self-described "Social Justice Warriors", among whom are many anthologists, editors, even some publishers who all refuse to consider my work out of hand. They won't even look at my manuscripts or respond to queries, not even from my agent.

Thus, I had begun to lean toward eating some crow and move into the self-publishing field.

However, after discussing the scene with some of my good friends who do self-publish, I decided against it. The market is just way too crowded. And not crowded with good writing, but with the inept and hollow shit that is indicative of the scene. Added to the task of producing work, you also have to commission cover art, format the manuscripts for publication, employ a professional editor/proofreader, and advertise. If you want to do it right you have to spend a fair amount of money. And then you have to struggle to try to get your work noticed over the vast flood of literary turds that dominate self-published novels.

Therefore, I opted not to self-publish. A couple of my friends who do publish their own books encouraged me, but the word I got from most of them is that it's almost a lost cause and that few of them can make any money at it. Yeah, your work is published...but alongside crappy tomes about woman-on-lizard bestiality and racist gun-porn parading as zombie fiction.

No, thanks.

I'll continue to try to find traditional publishers. It will be hard to do and I'll have to seek out some honest editors who aren't blinded by crazed politics.

Otherwise, I'll just write and be unpublished. And for now I won't be eating any crow.

"Git some! Git some!"

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Morons I Have Seen

I once saw a clueless tourist walk up to a bull bison in Yellowstone. The bison was lying down in the dust. Massive, one-ton beast. The tourist walked up to the furry critter and leaned back against the bison's spine so that his equally stupid wife could snap a photo.
Unfortunately, the bison took it all in stride and did not squash the two morons into paste. But it could have (and probably should have) been otherwise.

Bull bison. I took this from a great distance. Keep your distance, people.

I once saw an idiot tourist in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park walk up to a bear and begin to toss it slices of bread, one slice at a time. After a few tosses the bear realized the freaking moron had a whole bag of bread and was just doling it out like a greedy asshole. So the bear charged. To, you know, get the whole bag. The moron tourist had his tiny toddler daughter beside him. When the bear charged he ran. Just left his tiny girl there, alone. Fortunately for them all, he dropped the bag of bread and so the bear veered aside at the last possible second and did not trample the toddler. (It had no interest at all in the girl, only the bag of bread.)

Black bear I encountered while hiking in Douthat State Park in Virginia. I took this from a great distance as the fleeing bear turned to make sure I wasn't following him. Keep your distance, people.

A few years back I hiked into the Shining Rock Wilderness Area. It was on a Saturday so that wilderness was packed to the gills with humans, many of them having set up tents. This wilderness does not allow fires (signs posted at all trailheads), and being a wilderness, all plants and trees are protected. As I hiked along the air was filled with firesmoke. Every campsite had a campfire. In addition, I saw people with axes chopping not just dead, dry timber, but actively felling living trees. I even saw some of these scumbags chopping down living rhododendron.

There are few things less likely to burn in your campfire than the wood of a living rhododendron. Don't cut them down.

We don't have anywhere near enough rangers (a classic case of politicians trying to starve our parks and wilderness areas into extinction); but I also cannot imagine being a National Park ranger and having to put up with so many idiots.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Campground Review: Hurricane, Jefferson National Forest, Virginia.

Carole and I have used a LOT of National Forest campgrounds in our years. Both when we tent-camped and after we got our Casita travel trailer. We have had almost uniformly wonderful experiences using the campgrounds in our National Forests, but some of them stand out above the others.

While not our all-time favorite campground, Hurricane--located in the Mount Rogers National Recreation Area--is easily in the top three. What it might lack in some of the things some people expect in a campground, it more than makes up for in others.

As luck would have it, we were able to grab our favorite spot in the campground (#19). All of the sites have paved surfaces for your vehicles. We were able to back into our site with our truck and had much space to spare. There are no hookups (neither water, nor electric), so if you want to use electric appliances you'll have to have a generator. Also, fill up your onboard water tanks at home, or use a water spigot at the campground. These minor drawbacks (for some, not for us) are made up for in the campground's isolation from paved roads and subsequent lack of traffic and the peacefulness of the forested surroundings.

The campground has two bathhouses with flush toilets and warm water showers. But there is no dump station. Just a couple of miles down the road from Hurricane is Raccoon Branch Campground, another National Forest facility. It does have a dump station and it is open to campers at Hurricane.

We like this campground so much for many reasons. But at the top of our list is that it is very, very quiet. There is no noise from passing autos because the only nearby roads are gravel Forest Service roads and not heavily used. The forest is deep and lush, classic Southern Cove Hardwood. Plenty of trees of an amazing variety and lots of flowering plants in spring and summer.

There is no shortage of things to do here. I love to hike and there are hundreds of miles of amazing trails. You can access the Appalachian Trail from the campground. One can drive to Damascus and bike the Virginia Creeper Trail, which I very highly recommend. Start at the Whitetop Station and you can bike pretty much all downhill to Damascus. A very inexpensive and gorgeous way to spend part of a day. Grayson Highlands State Park is nearby, and the trails there make you feel more like you're hiking in Montana than in Virginia. Seriously. I have shown photos I've take above Massie Gap to people and they think I took them in the Rocky Mountains.

To our way of thinking, Hurricane Campground is one of the best options in the southeastern USA for camping. Trails. Quiet. Solitude. Waterfalls. Wildlife. Deep forests. What the heck else do you need?

Entrance to Hurricane Campground.

Our site was level. All we had to do was park and use the tongue jack. Level as could be!

Carole is always in charge of the campfire. She does about half of her cooking over the fire.

Unlimited firewood was provided free of charge by the campground hosts! They did this on their own. They had permission to cut up and split downed trees. Then the hosts would pile it up in a huge stack near the center of the campground. Take all you want!

Our favorite site: #19. Streamside.

Bathhouse with shower.

I didn't see much wildlife on this trip, but I did get this photo of a grouse.

A hike I took to bag a 4,500-foot peak. I got lost. This was actually taken after I'd gotten lost.

Monday, November 07, 2016


I might be eating some crow. Details Thursday. Maybe, if I have some free time.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Color Coming In.

We picked up our travel trailer from the RV service center in Terrell, NC. They did quite a lot of repair work that needed to be done, including replacing the power converter that was wiped out by the lightning strike on our last camping trip.

Arriving back at home, I noticed that the leaf changes are starting to hit home in the neighborhood. So I took a couple of photos. One of the house across the street, and one of a small dogwood in the back yard. Dogwoods are among the first trees to start changing color in the Fall.

So far, it doesn't feel like Autumn, at all. Temperatures are in the mid to high 80s. They say that this past September broke yet another record for heat. Alas.

Picking up the Casita from Terrell Camping Center.

Back home where she belongs! (Well, when we're not camping.)

The neighbor's house across the street. Color coming in!

Little dogwood at the edge of the parking lot.

Spider on the window! Yikes!

Sunday, September 25, 2016


Fall colors are on the way. Looking forward to seeing them. Until then, here are various Autumn colors I have photographed from a wide variety of locations. (And, yes, we have a camping trip scheduled in the midst of the color change in the mountains.)

Stone Mountain State Park, NC.

Stone Mountain SP, NC.

Stone Mountain SP, NC.

Charlotte, NC.

Charlotte, NC.

Kumbrabow State Park, WV.

Kumbabow, WV.

Seneca Rock, WV.

Seneca Rock, WV.

San Juan Mountains, CO.

San Juan Mountains, CO.

Sunday, September 04, 2016

Rock Climbing.

Now and again I'll consider taking a class and learning some light rock climbing. Sometimes I'll look up on the walls and see someone making their way to the top of a cliff face and it seems like something I might want to try. And then I think of Mr. Gravity and come to my senses.

So I'll continue to hike and occasionally I'll do some light scrambling...maybe top out at what they term "Class IV". But nothing more serious than that.

Stone Mountain, North Carolina. Said to be one of the easiest places around to learn rock climbing.

Joshua Tree National Park, California. Where I did some rock scrambling and boulder climbing in 2010.