Nick Russell

Oct 202017
 

Note: This is a repeat of a blog post from a couple of years ago that I felt needed to be seen again, since I get the same questions about these items on a regular basis.



I am a big advocate for safety in the RV lifestyle and in everything we do. Sometimes I probably err on the side of caution, but so far I haven’t wrecked our motorhome and it hasn’t burned down with us in it, so I guess my method is working out.

In the course of a normal week I get a number of e-mail from RVers and wannabes asking me about a lot of things, including what options I think they should purchase. Among the things I always tell people they should invest in are good smoke alarms and CO detectors, the proper fire extinguishers, an Electrical Management System (EMS), a supplemental braking system for towed cars, and RV driving lessons. And I can’t tell you how many people think some or all of those items are a waste of money. I’ve always been baffled by that train of thought.

Among my other activities in life I was a firearms instructor in the military and also as a civilian. Over the years I’ve had many people ask me if a quality self-defense firearm is really worth the extra cost over a cheaper make and model. I always ask them, “I don’t know, how much is your life worth?” It’s kind of the same thing here. Is your life and the lives of your passengers worth the investment in a supplemental braking system, or quality fire extinguishers, or spending a day and a little bit of money learning how to be a good RV driver? Only you can answer that question. I don’t know you or your family. But I do know what mine is worth.

“My rig came with smoke detectors. Why would I want to replace them if they work?” Some, not all, RV manufacturers put top quality detectors in their products, and some cut corners anywhere they can. Yes, the detectors they install may meet minimum standards. Are you willing to bet your life on the guy who was the lowest bidder?

“My RV has a fire extinguisher mounted right by the front door. Isn’t that enough?” Yes, and that dinky little thing won’t have much more effect than spitting on an RV fire. We have a dozen quality foam fire extinguishers from Mac McCoy, the RV industry’s acknowledged fire safety expert. These include extinguishers in our bedroom, kitchen, by the door, in the front bay, in our Ford Explorer, as well as fire suppression units in our refrigerator and engine compartments. Is that overkill? Have you ever seen an RV fire? I have, and they are an ugly thing.

“Why do I need an EMS? Don’t campground power outlets have to be up to code?” I don’t know what the local codes may be, but judging by the number of bad power pedestals we encountered in our time on the road, I’m sure a lot don’t meet the standards. I have seen a lot of RVs damaged by both high and low voltage, and the cost of replacing things like TVs, microwave ovens, and air conditioners, plus the possibility of those appliances shorting out and starting a fire, is a lot more than the investment in an electrical management system.

“I don’t need an auxiliary braking system. That big heavy motorhome of mine will stop that little old car I tow behind me!” I used to think that too, until I had to make a panic stop one day after somebody ran a red light in front of us. We were in an MCI bus conversion and the Toyota pickup we were towing ended up sitting on top the motorcycle rack mounted on the back of the bus. We’ve also known at least two RVers whose tow cars became disconnected from their tow bars and went rolling down the highway and off the road all by themselves.

“I’ve been driving for 50 years. Why do I need RV driving lessons?” Even a Class C motorhome is a lot bigger and heavier than most passenger cars and pickup trucks. They take up more space in the road, and they need more room to turn, stop, and maneuver. It takes an entirely new skill set to safely drive one. Not only should the primary driver take a driving course, but also the spouse or partner should know how to get the rig to a safe place in case the regular driver becomes sick or is incapacitated.

Yes, an RV is a big investment, and it does cost even more money for the safety upgrades I’ve talked about here. Only you can decided is it’s a worthwhile investment. How much is your life worth?

A lot of you do your online shopping by clicking this Amazon link or the Amazon Search box at the top right sidebar of this blog. We appreciate that, because when you purchase an item on Amazon any time of the year from one of our links, we earn a small commission, which helps us offset the cost of publishing the blog.



Be sure to enter our latest Free Drawing. This week’s prize is a Gold Rush Romances Box Set by my friend Mona Ingram. With over 100 5-Star reviews, Book One of this series has captured the imagination of readers who enjoy romances about strong women. Set in the San Francisco Gold Rush era, each book tells the story of a woman determined to make her own way in this exciting, sometimes dangerous time. To enter, all you have to do is click on this Free Drawing link or the tab at the top of this page and enter your name 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.

Thought For The Day – All marriages are happy. It’s the living together afterward that causes all the trouble. – Raymond Hull

Oct 192017
 

Occasionally I have RV salesmen or RV dealers take me to task because I frequently say that if their lips are moving, they are lying. No, that’s not true for everybody in the business, and maybe it’s not even true for the majority of them. But it’s been my experience that it’s more common than they would want you to believe.



Why does one have to lie to make a sale? If you have a good product at a fair price, and you believe in it, there’s no need for that. Yet I have seen it myself over and over, and I hear about it on a regular basis.

Our first experience with this was early on, when a hotshot salesman tried to convince us that our half ton Ford F-150 pickup truck with a six cylinder engine would have no problem at all pulling the 40 foot triple slide fifth wheel trailer he was trying to sell us through the mountains out west. Obviously he didn’t give a damn about our safety, only in making a sale.

Back when we were first looking for a diesel pusher to replace our old MCI bus conversion, fuel prices and interest rates were high and RV sales were at an all-time low. There were thousands of rigs gathering dust on dealers’ lots all over the country. Terry and I were in Mesa, Arizona in the early summer, which would be one of the slowest sales periods in an already slow market. We stopped at one dealership to look at a motorhome that caught our eye, and before he even opened the door to let us inside the salesman was telling us how we had to make a deal that day because RVs were literally flying off the lot. They could not keep them in stock. That told me all I needed to know and we were done right there and then.

Another time, I questioned the salesman about why the toilet paper holder in the second bathroom of a high dollar diesel pusher was situated in such a way that it would bang into anyone’s leg when they sat down. He told me that didn’t matter because nobody ever uses the bathrooms in their RVs anyhow. That’s what highway rest areas are for. Really? Then why did the motorhome have two bathrooms, if nobody ever uses them? He didn’t have an answer for me, except to say “studies show” that less than 10% of RVers ever use their bathrooms.

Those are just some of the things we personally have been told. Other people have similar, or even more outlandish tales. Like the people who contacted me recently to ask about residential refrigerators in RVs. At the dealership where they were shopping, every unit had a standard RV refrigerator. They had heard all the horror stories about the fires they cause, so they really wanted a residential model. The salesman told them that his dealership never sold anything with a residential refrigerator because they were not reliable in an RV, and that it was a violation of Food and Drug Administration rules to transport food across state lines in a residential refrigerator because it was unsanitary. Seriously, he expected them to believe that. They said they laughed in his face and walked away.

One of our longtime blog readers told me that while shopping for a new rig, an upgrade from the 36 foot gas motorhome they have now, a salesman told them that new federal regulations are going to require anybody with a diesel rig to have a special license, just like commercial truckers have to have. You guessed it, there wasn’t a diesel rig for sale on his lot.

That kind of reminds me of when Terry and I were looking for TVs for our house last year. A salesman at Best Buy in Daytona Beach warned us not to buy anything except a 4K TV because after January 1, 2017, all of the cable companies and satellite companies were switching exclusively to 4K, and any TVs that weren’t 4K would be obsolete. I asked him if he really believed that the cable and satellite companies were going to just throw away millions of customers who could no longer receive their signals. He said yes, they were forcing people to upgrade.

But it’s not just the guy selling new high-end RVs who will lie to you. A very lovely lady named Janice, with whom I exchange emails with on almost a daily basis, has been looking for a small Class C, or maybe even a B van, that she can use to go somewhere warm during the winter. She said she looked at a used RV at a dealership recently that had very noticeable bubbles on the sides of the gelcoat from delamination. She told the salesman she wasn’t interested in that one at all because of its obvious problems, and the sales manager came out to tell her that it wasn’t delamination, it was just “swelling caused by the changes in temperature” since they recently had a cold front move through the area. He promised that once the weather stabilized, the swelling would go away.



No, not every RV salesman is a liar. I know that. But enough of them are that it’s better to be cautious and take everything they say with a very large grain of salt rather than to just trust them at their word. You will be better off in the long run.

A lot of you do your online shopping by clicking this Amazon link or the Amazon Search box at the top right sidebar of this blog. We appreciate that, because when you purchase an item on Amazon any time of the year from one of our links, we earn a small commission, which helps us offset the cost of publishing the blog.

It’s Thursday, so it’s time for a new Free Drawing. This week’s prize is a Gold Rush Romances Box Set by my friend Mona Ingram. With over 100 5-Star reviews, Book One of this series has captured the imagination of readers who enjoy romances about strong women. Set in the San Francisco Gold Rush era, each book tells the story of a woman determined to make her own way in this exciting, sometimes dangerous time. To enter, all you have to do is click on this Free Drawing link or the tab at the top of this page and enter your name 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.

Thought For The Day – Difficult roads often lead us to beautiful destinations.

A Lot Going On

 Posted by at 12:40 am  Nick's Blog
Oct 182017
 

We have had a lot going on the last few days, so I thought I would bring you up to date on things in today’s blog.



Terry finished the first proofreading and editing of Badge Bunny, and it is now in the hands of the second proofreader. Once she’s done and the corrections she suggested are made, it will go to proofreader number three, and after I get it back from her and make those corrections, I will format the e-book version and upload it to Amazon. It won’t be long now.

Yesterday I put together the newest issue of my author’s newsletter, which will be mailed out as soon as the book goes live on Amazon, so I can include a link to it. If you haven’t seen my newsletter, it’s an email publication that usually runs from 4 to 6 pages where I talk about my books, how I go about the writing process, share news of books from some of my author friends, and things like that.

I am trying something new with this issue of the author’s newsletter, a free drawing for a Kindle Paperwhite e-book reader. The winner will be drawn from our newsletter subscribers and will be announced sometime in the coming weeks. If I get a good response I may continue doing giveaways. Be sure to tell all of your reading friends so they can subscribe, too. The more the merrier! And don’t worry, I never share your email address with anybody else, so you’re not going get on a bunch of spam lists. If you want to be added to the list, just send me your e-mail at Editor@gypsyjournal.net

After my last audiobook narrator didn’t work out I kind of stepped away from the whole audiobook thing, since there is a lot of work involved in finding a good narrator and then reviewing the project as they work on it, and overall, sales of audiobooks have not been that great for me. But several readers have asked me if there is any possibility of doing audiobooks of the rest of my work, so I have begun accepting auditions again. I’ve listened to half a dozen so far, but as of yet I haven’t found anybody who I care to listen to for seven or eight hours. And I figure if they can’t get me interested in my own books, they’re not going to do much of a job with listeners, either.

I’ve also been organizing the next issue of the Gypsy Journal and will start working on it today or tomorrow.

While I’ve been doing that, Miss Terry has been busy with some projects of her own, including hemming the towels that she recently wove, and now she’s working up some designs for the next project. But that didn’t keep her from making a delicious meal of grouper sandwiches for dinner last night.

And it’s finally cooled down enough that when our friend Jim Lewis came over yesterday we managed to throw a few rounds of darts. It’s been too hot to do much in the garage all summer long, but I’m proud to say that I’m just as good as I was last spring when we were throwing every day. Of course, I wasn’t very good back then, either!



And finally, we have some news on the Winnebago sales front. On Monday, two weeks to the day after we dropped it off at PPL Motorhomes in Houston, somebody put down earnest money and it is now listed as sale pending. I talked to someone at PPL yesterday and they said some financing details have to be worked out, but if everything goes according to plan, they expect the whole thing to be finalized in the next 5 to 10 days. And the selling price is actually a few thousand dollars more than what we were asking for it when we were trying to sell it ourselves! We’re keeping our fingers crossed that the transaction goes smoothly.

A lot of you do your online shopping by clicking this Amazon link or the Amazon Search box at the top right sidebar of this blog. We appreciate that, because when you purchase an item on Amazon any time of the year from one of our links, we earn a small commission, which helps us offset the cost of publishing the blog.

Thought For The Day – There’s no money in poetry, but then there’s no poetry in money, either. – Robert Graves

Oct 172017
 

An outpost of westward expansion, Fort Laramie in eastern Wyoming was crucial in the transformation of the American West. The fort served as a fur trading post, military garrison, and as a way station for fur trappers, Indian traders, missionaries, and Oregon Trail emigrants for over 50 years during one of the most important time periods in the history of the United States.



Fort Laramie served everyone from mountain men to Pony Express riders, as well as being an important staging area for the United States Army during the Indian wars.

Founded as Fort William by fur trader William Sublette and his party of mountain men in 1834, the fort sits near the confluence of the Laramie and Platte Rivers. Two years later the American Fur Company bought the tiny stockade from Sublette, and it thrived as a major fur trading center for a few years. By 1841 a competing trading post, called Fort Platte, was built a mile away. The American Fur Company responded by replacing their original fort, which had fallen into disrepair over the years, with a larger adobe structure they named Fort John. However, most people called the location Fort Laramie, after the nearby river, and the name stuck.

It should be noted that these outposts did not serve a military function during this period and were built and operated by private companies to take advantage of the rich fur trade. Mountain men, trappers, buffalo hunters, Indians, and prospectors all stopped at the forts to trade. By 1840 the forts were also doing a very good business supplying the hordes of emigrants seeking new horizons down the Oregon Trail. As the fur trade dwindled, commerce associated with the westward migration replaced it in importance.

Relations between the whites and Indians were peaceful at first, but as more and more settlers came into the area, friction developed and wagon trains became targets of opportunity for marauding war parties. Answering the emigrants’ demands for protection, in 1849 the Army purchased Fort Laramie and turned it into a military outpost. A new fort was erected by the Army around a large parade ground. This new Fort Laramie included barracks, officers’ quarters, a bakery, stables, mess hall, guardhouse and other buildings.

As in most military posts of that period, there were no walls surrounding the fort. The Army relied on the numbers of troopers garrisoned and their firepower to prevent attacks. Fort Laramie was only raided once, in the summer of 1864, when a band of about 30 Indians followed a cavalry patrol back to the fort, rode onto the parade ground and made off with the patrol’s horses.

The fort’s first garrison consisted of a company of infantry and two companies of mounted cavalry. Many of the soldiers were recent immigrants from Europe, most poor and illiterate. Conditions and discipline on the frontier could be harsh at times, and the post suffered a desertion rate of 33 percent during its busiest years. As happens with most soldiers from any war, more of the soldiers’ time was spent performing routine maintenance, training, and garrison duties than actually engaged with the enemy.

Perhaps the most infamous battle between Fort Laramie’s soldiers and the Indians occurred when a small patrol led by Lieutenant John L. Grattan entered a nearby Sioux village to arrest an Indian accused of stealing a cow from a passing wagon train. When the Indians refused to turn over the suspect, Grattan pressed the issue and a fight erupted, in which the entire patrol was killed. The incident, known as the Grattan Massacre, was a turning point in relations between the Indians and Whites, leading to further confrontations.

As troubles with the Indians increased and more and more Whites came west, Fort Laramie took on even greater importance as a refuge and source of protection. Troopers from the fort ranged throughout the area to escort wagon trains and to answer threats from the hostile Indians. During the Civil War, the Oregon Trail became the country’s major overland mail route, and Fort Laramie became a major station for the Pony Express until the completion of the first transcontinental telegraph was completed. Later the post served as a stage station and an important stopping point for those headed to the gold fields of the Black Hills.



Life at Fort Laramie was relatively comfortable for some – the bakery supplied fresh bread daily, officers and their ladies dined on fine china and were entertained by musical recitals and plays, and laundresses kept the soldiers’ uniforms in good repair. (Laundresses drew a regular food ration and earned more money than a line trooper, making them quite a catch for the soldiers and NCOs looking for marriage.)

By the late 1880s, the Plains Indians had been conquered and the need for the fort decreased until it was abandoned in 1890, its buildings sold at public auction. By April, 1890, all of the fort’s 60 buildings had been sold and were used as private homes and businesses, or were stripped and allowed to deteriorate into oblivion.

The fort was back in the government’s hands by the end of the 1930s and restoration was begun, a project that lasted until 1964. Restorers depended on extensive research, old drawings, photographs, and records to make the restoration as accurate as possible. Close attention was paid to every detail, including using square-cut nails and oak dowels to ensure the finished work was as close to original as possible. Nearly a dozen buildings have been restored and are open to visitors, including the stockade (below), while the ruins of other structures remain visible.

Among the most successful, and most imposing, of the fort’s restored structures is “Old Bedlam,” used to house bachelor officers and as the fort’s headquarters for a time. The building is the oldest military building in Wyoming. Today visitors can walk through its rooms and see it just as it looked during the fort’s busiest period.

Other restored buildings include the cavalry barracks, a huge two story structure that includes sleeping quarters, dining room, and day rooms. After being sold to the private sector, the old barracks served as a private residence, store, saloon, and dance hall. Today visitors see it as it looked when it housed troopers who spent their time pursuing Indians and protecting wagon trains.

The commissary is used today to house the visitor center, which includes displays on the fort’s history, the Indian wars, and a gift shop stocking an excellent selection of books and souvenirs. Restored officers quarters give visitors the opportunity to see what life was like for the genteel class on the frontier. The trading post, once the centerpiece of the fur trade, has been restored and looks much as it did 150 years ago.

Now a National Historic Site, administered by the National Park Service, Fort Laramie is open to visitors every day of the year except for Christmas, New Years Day, and Thanksgiving Day, from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. From early June to Labor Day, hours are extended to accommodate visitors. Fort Laramie is located three miles south of the town of Fort Laramie, Wyoming, off U.S. Route 26.

There are no camping facilities at the fort, but RV parks and motels are available in the nearby towns of Fort Laramie, Lingle, Gurnsey, and Torrington. There is a small admission charge, and National Park Service passes are honored. Other nearby historical attractions you should check out while you’re in the area include the Oregon Trail Ruts and Register Cliffs.

A lot of you do your online shopping by clicking this Amazon link or the Amazon Search box at the top right sidebar of this blog. We appreciate that, because when you purchase an item on Amazon any time of the year from one of our links, we earn a small commission, which helps us offset the cost of publishing the blog.

Thought For The Day – There are seven days in a week, and someday isn’t one of them.

Chinese And Cake, Too!

 Posted by at 12:02 am  Nick's Blog
Oct 162017
 

Our normal schedule has always been for me to write late into the evening and we usually didn’t get to bed until about 1:30 AM or later. Then we would get up around 10 AM. But for a couple of months Terry and I were working hard at going to bed earlier and getting up around 7 or 7:30 AM. I will admit it wasn’t an easy transition to make, since were both basically night owls, but it’s amazing how much more day you have when you get up that early!



Unfortunately, the last couple of weeks we have found ourselves slipping back into our old habits, staying up later and sleeping later. Yesterday was a good example, it was after nine when we woke up. We need to try to turn that back around again.

Even though we got a late start, it was still a very good day. Well, as good as a day can be when you turn 65. Yep, I’m an official Medicare card carrying old fart now! Thank you to everybody who sent me emails, instant messages, and left birthday wishes on Facebook. The last time I looked there were over 300 of them, and there is no way I could answer each one individually. But trust me, you all made me feel very special.

Terry had about a dozen pages left to proof in my new book, and once we were up and about she finished that. Then I made a few corrections between trying to reply to emails and taking happy birthday phone calls.

In the afternoon our friend Jim Lewis came over and the three of us drove into Daytona Beach. Our first stop was at Lowe’s to see about purchasing a couple of window air conditioners that we will run off of generators the next time we lose power in a storm. But after checking the shelves and then back in the warehouse, the clerk assisting us told us they were sold out of just about everything and said we would have to order them.

From there we went to Bed Bath And Beyond, where Terry wanted to get some of the syrup for our Soda Stream machine, but they didn’t have what she wanted. We weren’t exactly batting 1000.

By then it was time for an early dinner, so we went to Hibachi Grill & Supreme Buffet, our favorite Chinese place around here. They always have a huge selection and it’s always hot and fresh. And yes, we all ate too much.

Driving home, we stopped at a produce stand so Terry could pick up some fresh berries to go on her yogurt and my cereal in the morning. Back at home, Jim visited for a while and then called it an evening. He should have stayed around a little longer, because Terry wasn’t done yet. She made me a delicious chocolate birthday cake. I think I may have saved Jim a tiny slice of it. Maybe.



Then we spent the rest of the evening relaxing in front of the TV. A great ending to a great day!

Today I’m going to finish making the corrections to the new book, then send it off to my second proofreader. She’s waiting for it and ready to begin.

A lot of you do your online shopping by clicking this Amazon link or the Amazon Search box at the top right sidebar of this blog. We appreciate that, because when you purchase an item on Amazon any time of the year from one of our links, we earn a small commission, which helps us offset the cost of publishing the blog.

Congratulations Trisha Schmidt, winner of our drawing for an audiobook of Dog’s Run, my mystery set in a small Midwestern town in 1951. We had 130 entries this time around. Stay tuned, a new contest starts soon.

Thought For The Day – Time is the coin of your life. It is the only coin you have, and only you can determine how it will be spent. Be careful lest you let other people spend it for you. – Carl Sandburg

Not Such A Good Deal

 Posted by at 12:02 am  Nick's Blog
Oct 152017
 

It’s happening already. But that’s no surprise, it happens every time there’s a flood or a hurricane. Rip off artists are already advertising RVs and cars at amazingly low prices, sometimes less than half of retail. They’ve always got a reason why it’s such a good deal. Their uncle bought it and only put 2,000 miles on it before he died and they’re selling it for their aunt. After they got the rig they found out their wife or kid has a serious illness and are not going to be able to travel. There are a dozen more stories to explain why you are getting such a bargain. But it always comes down to the same thing, some personal issue came up and they just need to unload the RV in a hurry. Their loss is your gain. Yeah, right!



I heard from somebody yesterday who saw a rig advertised on Craigslist in Oklahoma City, a 2016 diesel pusher with less than 3,000 miles on the odometer, and the poor folks were forced to sell it because their sister and her family lost everything in Hurricane Harvey and they were selling the RV to use the money to help them rebuild their lives. They said low Blue Book on the motorhome was just over $125,000 and the seller was only asking $60,000 because he needed to move it quickly to help his poor sister.

Fortunately, these folks had sat through my How To Be A Smart RVer Shopper seminar at a rally once, and they said immediately alarm bells started going off in their heads. They asked a lot of questions, and the seller had a perfectly reasonable answer for every one of them. No, the rig had never been wrecked, no it was in like new condition, yes he could probably get more from a dealer but he was in a hurry and didn’t want to mess with all that.

Then, while the wife was listening to the spiel, the husband crawled inside of one of the basement storage bays and looked closely and saw the faint stains from a water line. Just as they suspected, the motorhome had been in a flood somewhere. Mr. “I just want to help my sister” picked it up for next to nothing and was trying to pawn it off with a sob story about what a great guy he was. Yeah, his loss is your gain.

Don’t fall for it folks! If a deal seems to be too good to be true, it always is. Do your homework. Spend the time to look in every nook and cranny. Then look again. Because I guarantee you, if somebody is selling something for that much less than it’s worth, there’s a reason. Once a vehicle has been flooded like that, there’s no way that you can ever correct all the problems it’s going to have. So save yourself the trouble and buy from a reputable seller. You’ll pay more but you will still be money ahead in the long run.

A lot of you do your online shopping by clicking this Amazon link or the Amazon Search box at the top right sidebar of this blog. We appreciate that, because when you purchase an item on Amazon any time of the year from one of our links, we earn a small commission, which helps us offset the cost of publishing the blog.



Today is your last chance to enter our Free Drawing for an audiobook of Dog’s Run, my mystery set in a small Midwestern town in 1951. I have written over seventeen novels, and a total of close to thirty books in all, but I have to say that this is my favorite of all of them. I think that’s because it’s loosely based upon a case my father was involved in when he was a young deputy sheriff back when my parents were first married, and I remember hearing the story several times over the years.

To enter, all you have to do is click on this Free Drawing link or the tab at the top of this page and enter your name 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.

Thought For The Day – If you can smile when things go wrong, you have someone in mind to blame

Number 18

 Posted by at 12:36 am  Nick's Blog
Oct 142017
 

I didn’t sleep well the night before and woke up feeling groggy yesterday morning, so it was a little after noon before I started writing. But I still managed to crank out another 5,500 words and finished Badge Bunny, the third book in my John Lee Quarrels mystery series. It came in at just over 79,000 words.



I began working on the book on August 30, and we were gone for a week taking our Winnebago to PPL Motorhomes in Houston to drop it off, so it took me around five weeks to write this one. That’s not too bad, to my way of thinking. This is my 18th mystery novel, not counting the 10 or 12 nonfiction books I also have out. I’m rather proud of that, if I do say so myself.

This morning I will print it out and then Terry will begin the first editing and proofreading. When she’s done we’ll repeat the process with our second proofreader, and then do it one more time with a third one. Hopefully that won’t take too long, and the book should be out sometime this coming week, or the week after.

In other book news, the printed version of Big Lake Tragedy is now available on Amazon, for those of you who aren’t into e-books.

While I was doing that, Miss Terry was busy working the finishing touches on the towels I showed you in yesterday’s blog, as well as these two scarves she did a while back.
The different patterns she can do simply by changing which foot pedals to push down at different times always amazes me.

I get confused enough trying to remember which of the two pedals in my car to push at any given time. Back in the days when cars had a clutch I was really a mess!

While Terry is proofing the new book, I’ll spend some of my time this weekend deciding which stories to put in the next issue of the Gypsy Journal, then I’ll start working on it next week while the other proofreaders are doing their thing. As Gilda Radner’s character Roseanne Roseannadanna used to always say on Saturday Night Live, it’s always something.

A lot of you do your online shopping by clicking this Amazon link or the Amazon Search box at the top right sidebar of this blog. We appreciate that, because when you purchase an item on Amazon any time of the year from one of our links, we earn a small commission, which helps us offset the cost of publishing the blog.



So far over 65 people have entered our latest Free Drawing. This week’s prize is an audiobook of Dog’s Run, my mystery set in a small Midwestern town in 1951. I have written over seventeen novels, and a total of close to thirty books in all, but I have to say that this is my favorite of all of them. I think that’s because it’s loosely based upon a case my father was involved in when he was a young deputy sheriff back when my parents were first married, and I remember hearing the story several times over the years.

To enter, all you have to do is click on this Free Drawing link or the tab at the top of this page and enter your name 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.

Thought For The Day – Have you ever noticed, when you’re driving, that anyone who’s driving slower than you is an idiot, and anyone driving faster than you is a maniac? — George Carlin

Oct 132017
 

I received an email the other day from someone telling me that they had reservations at the Las Vegas Thousand Trails preserve for two weeks this month, but now they’re thinking about canceling them because they are worried about the mass shooting that happened there earlier this month. They asked me if I thought it was safe to go.



Why wouldn’t it be? The person responsible for the massacre is dead. So probably the most dangerous thing they’re going to have to worry about is the lure of the slot machines or overeating in one of the casino buffets.

Face it folks, crime can happen anywhere. Yes, it’s possible that some other lunatic could commit another attack in Las Vegas. But it’s just as likely to happen in San Diego, or Portland, or Toledo. Or anywhere. We can’t live our lives in fear of what might happen.

Fear is a four letter word, and if you are going to live in fear, you might as well be another four letter word – dead. Any one of us is a heartbeat away from dying every second of every day. Think about that. It could come from a deranged person with a gun or bomb, but it could just as easily be some nitwit texting while coming down the highway at you from the other direction at 60 miles an hour. Or, it could be that miniscule piece of plaque that breaks loose inside an artery and blocks the blood flow to your heart.

Ever since I was a very young soldier I have believed that each of us has a time, and when that time comes, it’s going to happen. It might happen in a mass tragedy like Las Vegas. It might happen out on the highway somewhere. Or, hopefully, it will happen after you have reached a very old age and are sleeping in your own bed. But there is one thing I am absolutely sure of; whenever or however it happens, there’s not a damn thing you can do about it.

What you can do is get in your RV and go live your life. Drive the Oregon coast. Boondock in the Arizona desert. Kayak the Everglades. Go leaf peeping in New England. Stop and visit that cousin you haven’t seen in 20 years. Go see your grandkids and give them a big hug and spoil them to pieces. Savor every minute of your life. Don’t let what might happen tomorrow or next week or next year ruin your today.

A lot of you do your online shopping by clicking this Amazon link or the Amazon Search box at the top right sidebar of this blog. We appreciate that, because when you purchase an item on Amazon any time of the year from one of our links, we earn a small commission, which helps us offset the cost of publishing the blog.



So far over 65 people have entered our latest Free Drawing. This week’s prize is an audiobook of Dog’s Run, my mystery set in a small Midwestern town in 1951. I have written over seventeen novels, and a total of close to thirty books in all, but I have to say that this is my favorite of all of them. I think that’s because it’s loosely based upon a case my father was involved in when he was a young deputy sheriff back when my parents were first married, and I remember hearing the story several times over the years.

To enter, all you have to do is click on this Free Drawing link or the tab at the top of this page and enter your name 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.

Thought For The Day – If you go around being afraid, you’re never going to enjoy life. You have only one chance, so you’ve got to have fun. – Lindsey Vonn

My Peeps

 Posted by at 1:06 am  Nick's Blog
Oct 122017
 

After reading yesterday’s blog in which I said we needed to run into New Smyrna Beach to get the registrations renewed on our vehicles, three blog readers left comments or sent me emails asking why I didn’t just do it online, which would be quicker and more convenient.



When we changed our official domicile from South Dakota to Florida last year, we paid a few bucks extra to get Save The Manatee license plates on the motorhome and our Ford Explorer. As it turned out, they were numbered sequentially, which was pretty cool. Fast forward to June of this year, when we purchased our Chrysler Pacifica, we knew we were going to be selling the motorhome. So I went to the tax office in New Smyrna Beach, which is where you handle those things here, and paid a few bucks to swap the plate that was on the motorhome with the generic plate that came on the Pacifica. So now it and the Explorer have the sequential license plate numbers, which even my often befuddled brain can remember.

When I did that, the nice lady at the tax office told me that when the renewals came the state might not have updated the registrations on the renewal forms, and if not I would have to come back into the office to do it in person. Which is what happened

When we got there yesterday at 11:30, I told Terry I figured it would be crowded, being so close to lunch hour. But there was nobody there! We walked in and right up to one of the service windows with no wait at all. As it turned out, that was good timing, because in the 15 minutes or so that it took the lady behind the desk to renew the three vehicles, my boat, and my boat trailer, 15 or more people walked in. In fact the lady processing our paperwork looked up and asked where they were all coming from at once. I told her I have an entourage that follows me around, and they were my peeps.

Overall, it was a quick and painless process. Well, painless except for the $550 it cost to get everything done. But that was for two years, so we don’t have to go back and do it again anytime soon. And the next time around, we will probably renew online. Although I do have to say that, having dealt with MVD people all over the country, I’ve never been any place where they were as friendly and as efficient as they are in the small office here in New Smyrna Beach.

With that out of the way, Terry and I had delicious blackened grouper sandwiches for lunch at Oceans Seafood, and then came home and got back to work, me at my desk and Terry at her loom. She finished the project (actually I should say projects) that she has been working on late in the afternoon. With her big Glimakra loom she can wind on so much yarn that she can weave for days and days and days without having to put any more on. And yet, by just changing the way she works the foot pedals and the yarn she uses in the shuttles, she can create entirely different patterns.

This is what everything looked like when she took it off the loan. That’s over 17 feet of weaving, folks.

There are five towels here, each with its own individual pattern, waiting for her to cut them apart and hem them all. Then they will be washed and sized so they are nice and square. These are some of the different patterns up close.

Terry is her own worst critic and can always find a flaw in her work that I couldn’t discover if I searched for it. I think these are beautiful, but she assures me that when she gets a little more practice with the loom she will be turning out some amazing stuff. I don’t doubt that for a minute.

As for my part, besides uploading the print version of Big Lake Tragedy, which should go into production any minute now, I cranked out close to 4,000 words on my work in progress. Things are coming to a head and I should be wrapping it up and finishing by the weekend. It’s always exciting to finish a new book and send it out into the world.



A lot of you do your online shopping by clicking this Amazon link or the Amazon Search box at the top right sidebar of this blog. We appreciate that, because when you purchase an item on Amazon any time of the year from one of our links, we earn a small commission, which helps us offset the cost of publishing the blog.

It’s Thursday, so it’s time for a new Free Drawing. This week’s prize is an audiobook of Dog’s Run, my mystery set in a small Midwestern town in 1951. I have written over seventeen novels, and a total of close to thirty books in all, but I have to say that this is my favorite of all of them. I think that’s because it’s loosely based upon a case my father was involved in when he was a young deputy sheriff back when my parents were first married, and I remember hearing the story several times over the years.

To enter, all you have to do is click on this Free Drawing link or the tab at the top of this page and enter your name 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.

Thought For The Day – Money can’t buy friends, but it can get you a better class of enemy.

Okay, Enough Already!

 Posted by at 12:14 am  Nick's Blog
Oct 112017
 

We love our home here on Florida’s central coast. We really do. We’ve got plenty of room for all of our activities, from Terry’s huge weaving room to my snug little office, a garage that is large enough to hold all of our toys and then some, and we are just minutes from the beach. What’s not to love?



Well, the heat, that’s what. Don’t get me wrong, we knew it was going to be hot and humid here in the summertime, and that’s okay. We were prepared for that. And truth be told, the summers here really aren’t all that much worse than the summers in the Midwest, where we used to spend a lot of our time.

We spent most of our last summer as fulltime RVers at Elkhart Campground in Indiana. We were strongly considering purchasing this place, so every day all summer long I compared the weather there and here. It was usually a few degrees hotter here, and the humidity was 5% to 10% higher. But really, if you’re talking 85° and 80% humidity in Indiana versus 90° and 85% humidity here, what’s the big difference? In either place, I wasn’t going to spend a lot of time doing things outside during the middle of the day. It’s no different than living in a cold climate, where you spend months of the year staying inside as much as possible.

But enough already! I’ve got friends in Montana who have already had snow this year, and it’s still at 90° here. Now, I don’t want anything to do with snow ever again, but isn’t there a happy median somewhere? We’ve been here in Florida many times in October in years past and the weather’s been pretty decent. I sure wish it would get there now. Did you know you can get cabin fever in hot climates just as easily as you can in cold?

The good news is, since it’s been too hot to go out and play, Miss Terry has been getting a lot of weaving done while I’ve been writing. So we both have been productive. I’ve been knocking out anywhere between 3,000 and 6,000 words a day on my new John Lee Quarrels book and yesterday I hit 64,000 for a total word count. I should be able to finish it up by the end of the week so Terry can start the editing and proofing process.

I also have the formatting and cover finished for the print version of Big Lake Tragedy and will be submitting it to Create Space, Amazon’s print division, today. It’s been out as an e-book for a while now, and for those of you who prefer the print version, it should be available by early next week.

Today I do have to take some time away from my desk to run into New Smyrna Beach and renew the registrations for our vehicles and my boat. In Florida, everything comes due on your birthday, which is Sunday. It’s kind of nice to get it all out of the way at once, but at the same time, when things are staggered it’s not quite so hard on the old budget.



A lot of you do your online shopping by clicking this Amazon link or the Amazon Search box at the top right sidebar of this blog. We appreciate that, because when you purchase an item on Amazon any time of the year from one of our links, we earn a small commission, which helps us offset the cost of publishing the blog.

Thought For The Day – I made my money the old-fashioned way. I was very nice to a wealthy relative right before he died. – Malcolm Forbes