Lake Washington

Lake Washington

I was at a conference in Seattle last week.  It was held on Lake Washington.  The weather was nice and the lake beautiful.  The hotel was right on the water and there was a walking trail that followed the shoreline for quite a ways.

Lake Washington 2

A park stood next to the hotel, which I wandered through a few times, and to top it all off, they had an Ivar’s right on the water.  So, of course, I had to get some clam chowder while I was there.  Delicious!

Ivar's

I’m not sure it was worth the 5-hour flight, but it was good.

 

 

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Octoberfest in Georgia

Helen

No, this isn’t Disney, it is a little town called Helen.  Helen sits in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains in northeastern Georgia.  The town is designed to resemble a Bavarian village, with shops and a beer garden on every corner (Yes, I had a few beers while I was there).

the Chattahoochee River runs through town.  It actually cradles Helen by flowing down one side and up the other. Helen also sits on the edge of the Chattahoochee National forest for all you outdoor fans, with a waterfall hike not too far from town.

Now’s the time to go visit while the town celebrates Octoberfest.  We were there during the week when it wasn’t too rowdy, but I understand the weekends get busy.  This was fine with me because I was looking a few days of mellow in the mountains.  The river ran right behind our hotel with a fire pit and benches.  Here’s a picture from my balcony:

Helen river

It was a nice place to visit, and we’re looking at going back in November when they perform the Lighting of the Village.  Of course, one of my favorite places in town was the Hansel & Gretel Candy Kitchen.  Imagine rooms full of homemade candy – more chocolate than you can eat in a lifetime (Although, I’d give it a shot).

Helen’s a cool little town, definitely worth a visit.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Rain, Rain, Go Away

We’re just now getting rain from Florence here in Charlotte.  It’s supposed to keep falling until Monday or Tuesday as this storm meanders through South Carolina.  Luckily, it is now a tropical storm, so we don’t have to deal with the high winds.

I saw a news show on the local television station yesterday that was talking about hurricane myths.  One myth, according to the show, was that the hurricane category is not a good indicator of the severity of the storm.  I beg to differ.

The hurricane category is a measure of the wind speed.  From my experience, wind speed is the most immediate danger of a hurricane.  High wind speed can blow over trees, rip the roofs off of houses, and send debris flying through the air.  For me, this is the unpredictable part of the storm that can get you killed.

Of course, we’re hearing a lot about rainfall and flooding with this storm, which can be just as deadly.  I don’t want to downplay the danger of flooding, but I don’t think it is as immediate a threat as the wind.  Basically, I prefer one danger to two.

I guess my point is that there will be flooding with every hurricane, but you can have flooding with a bad rainstorm too.  The thing that makes a hurricane scary and dangerous is the wind.  Otherwise, why would they be categorized that way?

And why would the Weather Channel people by playing it up so much?

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It’s All Greek to Me

I went to the Yiasou Greek Festival yesterday in Charlotte.  Even though it rained a bit and was hot and humid, it was a good time.  I’ll admit that I showed up for the food more than anything.  I had the gyro pita and souvlaki on a stick and a beer to wash it down.  The food was good, and I got to watch the kids come out and dance while I enjoyed my meal.

Greek Festival

Seeing those kids come out on stage in their Greek costumes reminded me of Catholic school and the uniforms we wore.  I always felt awkward in the school uniform and would have died of embarrassment if they had made me dance.  The only time I danced in Catholic school was trying to avoid the nun’s rulers.

Ever been smacked on the back of the hand with a ruler?  You’ll never forget it—I guess that was the point.   

Back on the stage, some kids were enjoying themselves while others were going through the motions.  Watching the latter group, the kids that seemed to have two left feet, reminded me of 9th grade PE class.  This was my first year in regular (public) school.  Whenever it rained, we had to go to the gym and square dance.  Yes, I was one of the awkward ones trying to shrink into the wall.

Greek Dancers

I think part of my issue with square dancing was because it was an infrequent occurrence.  Maybe if we danced more often and it was part of everyone’s curriculum, it would have been easier to deal with.  Maybe if we started dancing earlier than the 9th grade, before puberty made us awkward and embarrassed, it would have been better.  Maybe I wouldn’t have stumbled into half the girls and wished I was back in Catholic school being chastised by the nuns(Okay, that was probably one too many maybes).

As you can probably tell, I don’t like square dancing, but I can see the wisdom of the Greek dancing.  These kids may or may not appreciate learning these traditional dances, but I’m guessing they won’t feel awkward when they go to a Greek wedding or another dancing event.

Okay, even though watching the Greek dancers churned up some old semi-painful memories, I still enjoyed the festival.  Memories help us to learn from past experiences after all.  I did learn that rulers and nuns don’t mix well with incomplete homework assignments.

By the way, I have yet to see anyone square dance at their wedding either, so I stand by my aversion to that particular dance style.

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Dragon Con was Sick

I finally figured out what the kids are talking about.  I got sick while at Dragon Con (that’s what it means–right?).  I guess it was inevitable with all those people that someone was infected.  I mean, we were packed in so tightly in some places that I’m sure the guy next to me knew when my cell phone vibrated or could tell me how much change I had in my pocket (Twenty-three cents according to the guy dressed as Hellboy).

Saturday was the crazy crowded day.  I’m not sure if I’ve ever been in such a large crowd before.  I would have taken a picture, but that would have meant trying to get my cell phone out of my pocket without losing my place in the mob.  I did enjoy all the costumes though.

Dragoncon Cosplay

Notice there are no crowds in this picture.  My wife took it on the way back to our hotel which was about four blocks from the convention.  Walking the four blocks every day was a pain, but getting away from the crowds made it worth the walk.

I didn’t get to do much of the programming.  We were there for two days, and it took one day just to go through the vendors and art show.  Here’s the entrance to one of the vendor floors on Friday.

Dragoncon

Silly me, I thought it was crowded on Friday.  The vendor area took up four floors.  We spent about five hours going through this area and then took a break back at the hotel and went back in the evening to check out the artist room.

I hit some of the programmings on Saturday, and we went to the Dragon Con Night at the Aquarium on Saturday night.  All in all, I had a great time, even though the crowds were a bit overwhelming.  I’ll be honest, I had the best time back at the hotel swimming pool on Friday afternoon recharging my batteries.  No crowds there.  Everyone was at the convention.

Pool

I doubt I’ll go back to Dragon Con again unless I can sell books.  For me, there wasn’t enough writing programming to make me want to spend the money to come back.  Besides, for an introvert like me, it was sensory overload.  It would be so much easier to stay in one place and sell books (Wow, never thought I’d say that).

A couple of days was enough time to see all the vendors, check out the costumes, and come home with a cold.   What more could you ask for?

 

 

 

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Filed under Conventions, Fandom, Travel, Writing

Dragon Con is Huge

I’m down in Atlanta for the weekend to attend Dragon Con.  I’ve been to several smaller Cons over the years, but not one of this size.  My wife came along, and we went over to the Sheraton to get our badges this afternoon.  The line wasn’t too bad, but I got a good idea of how large this convention is by wandering around downtown Atlanta.  The convention takes up five hotels and the convention center.

Normally, I go through the convention schedule and pick out the panels I want to check out, but there are so many.  It’s a bit overwhelming.  I decided to throw out the planning and just wander around.  So, tomorrow I’ll be checking out the exhibitor halls and probably hang out mostly in the Hyatt where most of the writer/literature stuff is happening.

On the writing front: I received my novel back from the editor and am working on the last (?) revision.  I still don’t have a final title for this one (working title was Half-hand), but as soon as I do, I’ll announce it and hopefully have a cover reveal coming soon after.  It feels good to be getting close, but that only means the marketing effort will be ramping up soon.  I’m looking at a December release date.

 

 

 

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Filed under Conventions, Writing Process

I Love the Mountains!

There are so many interesting places to visit in the Smokey Mountains.  I was just at Sugar Mountain, and now here I go again.  This time we visited Lake Lure for a couple of days to meet up with some friends.  Lake Lure is about two hours west of Charlotte and is named one of the 10 most beautiful man-made lakes in the world by National Geographic (Of course, this was according to the boat tour guide, so it has to be true).

Lake Lure

We stayed at Lake Lure Inn again.  It is a great place.  If you want to know more about it, check out my post here.  This time we decided to do the boat tour of the lake, which was very relaxing and entertaining.  I would love to have a house on the water there, but I’d probably have to sell my kids to afford one (hmmmm, no, I love them, right?).

We also stopped to check out the Lake Lure Flowering Bridge.  Wow, if you are into gardening, you have to check this place out.  Words can’t describe the beauty of this flowering monument to . . . see, I can’t come up with the words to describe it.

I guess I’ll have to go with a picture:

Grasshopper

The butterflies were prettier, but this guy just loved that flower.

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Filed under Gardening, Nature, Pictures, Travel

Anniversaries, Writing, and Fat-boy Pants

Yesterday was my 30th wedding anniversary.  As I tell my wife, it’s been thirty looong glorious years.  It was also her birthday (I’m not saying how many, because I want to live to see another day), and my parent’s wedding anniversary.  As if that wasn’t enough, I finished the latest revision of my book (Now called Quarrel) and am preparing to send it to my editor.

We are up in the North Carolina Mountains with some friends, at our favorite getaway spot.

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I love visiting the mountains.  It is so peaceful and rejuvenating, especially after the past week.

What are Fat-boy Pants?

I mentioned about a week ago that I popped the button on my shorts while preparing to attend Supercon in Raleigh.  To add insult to injury, the next day I was trying on my dress pants in preparation for a trip to the corporate office.  A few pair were a bit snug in the waist.

I told my wife that the elves must have snuck in at night and adjusted all my pants.  In my defense, I’ve had some of those pairs of pants as long as I’ve been married (style, what’s that? You mean it actually changes?), but it still stung.  Of course, my wife’s solution was to say, “Just pull out your fat-boy pants.”

I have one pair of pants that is a size bigger than the rest.  We call them my fat-boy pants because I only break them out when the others are feeling a bit snug.  Another reason that I call them my fat-boy pants is that breaking them out gives me the incentive to say no to the sweets.

Unfortunately, I had cleaned out my closest last year and got rid of the fat-boy pants.  I think my words at the time were, “I never wear these things.  I don’t need them anymore.”  Ahhh, somebody’s laughing at me right about now.  Oh yeah, it’s my wife.

Laughter is the key to a long marriage.

When I asked my wife why she’s stayed married to me for so long, she said, “Because you make me laugh.”

I guess popping buttons and giving away my fat-boy pants are just another day filled with laughter for her.  Of course, one of her primary missions in life it to make sure I stay with her to the end, so she only laughed for a moment and then told me that we’re going to start walking farther on our daily walk, and that I needed to get back to the gym.

Right after that, I got on a plane to the corporate office.  And wouldn’t you know it, my first morning there they had the most awesome looking donuts I had ever seen.  Yes, I resisted them, and the cookies for lunch every day, and the Panera Bread chocolate brownie.  Man, getting old sucks.  I used to be able to eat all that stuff and still thumb my nose at those fat-boy pants.

Luckily, all the rules are off when we’re on vacation (Not to mention for our anniversary).  Since we’ve been in the mountains, I’ve had a couple of donuts, ice cream, and some candy.  I know I’ll pay later, but what the heck, you only celebrate your 30th once, right?

And don’t forget the Writing.

I’m also celebrating the last revision on Quarrel.  I finished it up yesterday morning.  I say last revision, but, it’s not over until I get the comments back from the editor.  Still, getting the thing to the editor always seems like the biggest hurdle in the process.  Be looking for Quarrel around Christmas time.

One last thing for yesterday.  My free book giveaway for the Order of the Wolf ended, but you can still get Stenson Blues and The Eastern Factor at a discount until August 9th.

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Filed under Books, Editing, Humor, musings, Philosophy, Writing

Giveaway

Hello all my favorite internet people (Yeah, I’m looking at you.  Don’t look so shocked.).

Head on over to Amazon and get The Order of the Wolf free from today until August 6th.

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You can also get Stenson Blues, book 2 in my Kingdom of Haven series for .99 cents until August 9th.

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And don’t forget to pick up book 3, The Eastern Factor, for $1.99 before August 9th as well.

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This is just for you! (And anyone else who stumbles upon my sale over the next week)  Hey, I believe in equal opportunity (to buy my books).

Happy reading!

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Filed under Books, Fantasy, Free, Reading

Supercon and a Free Book

I enjoyed my visit to Supercon over the weekend.  It was really more a scouting trip than anything.  I have been looking at local writing events and conventions to try to plan out a strategy for book selling.  While there weren’t many authors at Supercon, there were a few and I had a chance to talk to several indie authors that were selling their wares.  It appears that Supercon is growing, and I anticipate more books and authors in the coming years.  Of course, that may be bad news for me if I go back again next year, because I came home with an empty wallet and a bag full of books from new-to-me authors to read.

If you want to read some books that don’t empty your wallet, check out my Kingdom of Haven series on sale on Amazon starting this Thursday, August 2nd.

Kingdom of Haven

The Order of the Wolf will be free from August 2nd to August 6th,

Stenson Blues is on sale for .99 cents from August 2nd to August 9th.

The Eastern Factor will be on sale for $1.99 from August 2nd to August 9th.

Give them a shot – why not.  You’ve got nothing to lose, and the first one is free.

And don’t forget to feed your favorite author (even if it’s not me) with a book review.  Book reviews aren’t quite as good as a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup, but they are the next best thing.  My pants will thank you for the calorie free treat.

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Filed under Books, Fantasy, Free, Reading