Update On My Writing

My Writing Life:

From time to time I get asked what I am working on in my writing life.

I have a few projects. First, I’ll share the new projects. On-going projects will follow. I’ll close with the old projects.

New projects:

  1. I am excited about joining the Author Culture Blog. It is at http://authorculture.blogspot.com. In the days ahead I’ll be doing some book reviews for them. I owe them my biographical information, getting the bio information up on the site as well as scheduling the first review.
  2. I am a writing a science fiction book. Here’s my book pitch. I’m 15% through writing the first draft of the book (about 15,000 of 100,000 words written) … What if all religion had been eradicated from the solar system in the twenty-second century? What if a time capsule is opened two centuries later containing a copy of the Holy Bible? Its reading causes a revival of the “dead” religion Christianity to spread across the solar system. What if a coalition of the descendants of the atheist, freethinkers, and humanist that had eradicated religion centuries earlier comes together to again free the solar system from the scourge of religion? What if the place where the time capsule was found and read becomes a holy shire? What if this city is attacked with resulting severe damage? The Bradbury-Burroughs Rain Dome tells the story of the rebuilding of the Great Wall and Rain Dome in a retelling of the Holy Bible’s Book of Nehemiah set on the planet Mars in the twenty-fourth century.

On-going Projects:

  1. I have a dozen scheduled book reviews on my blog Kepler’s Military History Book Reviews. You can find it at: http://keplersreviews.blogspot.com
  2. I continue writing flash fiction, short stories and poetry. I submit the fiction monthly.

Old Projects:

  1. I continue seeking a traditional publisher for my book, “Honor and Jealousy in Texas”. Traditional publishing moves as slow as a glacier. When will I sell it? When I get the correct offer. Will I Indie publish it. I don’t think so, but no not to ever say never. It may be a book written to show I can write on from start to completion. I learned so much in the process.
  2. I am finishing the edits on a book of poetry titled, “Lonely and Feeling Blue.”


Vacation: Day Four – May 28, 2014  

Last night I attended high school graduation of my nephew Ryan Jones. He graduated from Sevierville County High School in Sevierville, Tennessee. The graduation was held on the University of Tennessee campus. He was the salutatorian. He gave an excellent speech was a Star Wars theme. He returns to the University of Tennessee in the fall as a computer engineering major.

The event was a lovely affair. We started eating out for a nice family dinner. Twelve attended at one of Knoxville’s finer restaurants. Ryan’s father’s entire surviving sibling’s attended the graduation.

It was 1 AM when I got back to my hotel. The evening was enjoyable, but tiring.

I got up at 8 AM. Again, we had breakfast at the Bavarian (Christmas themed) Denny’s Restaurant. Following breakfast, we headed to Dollywood where it is BBQ & Bluegrass month. Fortunately, I love both.

The temperature was in the mid 80’s. The humidity was high. Overall, it was comfortable.

We went to a different show with live music every 60 to 90 minutes. We enjoyed bluegrass gospel, southern gospel, traditional gospel, Irish, Scottish, and Celtic music.  A pleasant surprise was the Dolly Parton Story Museum. In it was all her awards, pictures and an enjoyable trip down memory lane. It included:

Dolly Parton Story

  • Dolly’s Friends – Several pictures of Dolly with her celebrity friends including: Cher, Jane Fonda, Lily Tomlin, Carol Burnett, Johnny Cash, and others.
  • Dr. Robert F. Thomas – Contains a copy of Dolly’s birth certificate and the original doctor’s bag belonging to the doctor that delivered Dolly.
  • Tennessee Mountain Home – A replica of a cabin like the one in which Dolly grew up. This exhibit contains dolls like the one her father made for her as a child called “Little Tiny Tassletop,” which was the influence for Dolly’s first song written.
  • Coat of Many Colors – The original coat that Dolly’s mother made for her is displayed next to the original lyrics from the song, written on the back of Porter Wagoner’s laundry slip which is also featured.
  • Greene’s Rolling Store – A replica of a bus that traveled the area Dolly grew up is displayed.
  • House of Prayer – A church house is replicated, displaying objects that belonged to Dolly’s grandfather Rev. Jake Owens including: a pair of glasses, a fiddle, an organ, and a family Bible.
  • School House – A one-room school house like Dolly attended as a child. Objects on display include love letters written to Dolly by a schoolmate, a photo of Dolly in front of the United States Capitol her senior year, and her high school band uniform.
  • Cas Walker Show – An area that is dedicated to Cas Walker and the show that introduced Dolly to show business.
  • Early Career – A copy of Dolly’s first record “Puppy Love” and other objects from her start are on display.
  • Do You, Dolly… – A copy of Dolly’s wedding certificate as well as other pictures of Dolly and her husband are displayed.
  • The Porter Wagoner Show – Costumes belonging to Dolly, Porter Wagoner, Speck Rhodes, and Don Warden are on display. Also on display are “Dolly Dolls” made by Ann Warden.
  • The Dolly Show 1970s – Costumes from that era of Dolly’s life are on display as well as video footage from The Dolly TV show.
  • Lyrics – A collection of hand-written lyrics.
  • Movies – Costumes from 9 to 5, The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas, Rhinestone, Steel Magnolias, and Straight Talk are displayed.
  • Dolly Remembers Porter – A video of Dolly remembering Porter Wagoner is presented along with a costume belonging to Porter Wagoner.
  • Awards and Accomplishments – Dolly’s Academy of Country Music Awards, Grammys, Country Music Association, and other awards are on display in a two-story case.
  • Listening Station – Listeners can listen to Dolly’s music.
  • Videos – Viewers can select Dolly’s videos.
  • Family and Friends – Using touch-screen, viewers can watch interviews with Dolly’s family and friends.
  • Ask Dolly – Using touch-screen, viewers can “ask” Dolly questions.
  • Dolly’s Closet – A display of Dolly’s old stage costumes, as well as costumes from her 1980’s TV show.
  • Wear Dolly’s Wigs – Using touch-screen and cameras, viewers can put their pictures on a screen and select Dolly wig styles.
  • Imaginary Library – A video plays of Dolly talking about her Imagination Library program through the Dollywood Foundation.
  • Dollywood – An exhibit with Dolly at various events from Dollywood.
  • Family Tree – Pictures of Dolly’s family.
  • For God and Country – A room dedicated to Dolly’s love for her country.
  • Rotating Costumes – Various display cases that showcase various costumes from Dolly’s career.
  • Smoky Mountain Reflections – A room that is made to look like it’s outside, which serves as the exit of the museum.


Chasing Rainbows from door

Speaking of Dolly. She is in town for her 50th high school reunion. She graduated from Sevierville County High School, class of 1964. She is doing a benefit concert tonight in Knoxville. Most of my day was spent walking over the hills of Dollywood.

We had a nice dinner after our outing. Now I am resting and relaxing on the balcony overlooking the river, enjoying the cool of the evening. I will rest and relax. Miss Benita is watching a classic movie.

Some material is from: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chasing_Rainbows_Museum


Vacation: Day Four – May 27, 2014

Last night I went to bed too late. It was after 1 AM by time we made it back to the hotel and got ready for bed. For someone like me who rarely stays up past 10 PM it was traumatic.

I awoke a little after 5 AM. Miss Benita was snoozing in her bed. I decided to read a few minutes. I went back to bed after realizing she wasn’t waking up. I went back to sleep. I didn’t wake up until just after 9 AM. By time we both did our morning hygiene, shower, etc. it was 11:10 AM when we left for “breakfast”. I felt like the day was lost, wasted. I’ll never get those five hours back.

Bavarian Denny's

We went to the Denny’s in Pigeon Forge. She ordered biscuits, gravy and hash brown potatoes. I had a heart hearty hamburger with fries. If you are a fellow AARP member, Denny’s gives a 20% discount 24/7/365 to AARP member who show their card and ask for it. Nice. Oh, I’ll call the it Bavarian Denny’s because of it’s architecture.

Next drove Miss Benita to her sister Joette’s house. I deposited her there. No offense to my in-laws, but I needed to have some “me” time. I’ll be back over there at 4 PM. I’ll spend the evening with them. We will drive to Knoxville for dinner with them, my brother-in-laws siblings, and more. We’ll then drive over to the University of Tennessee campus. My nephew Ryan’s high school graduation is there. we” then go back to there house for desert and pats on the back. Ryan in attending the University of Tennessee next fall. He will major in computer engineering.

After dropping of Miss Benita I drove to the gasoline station and topped off the car. Next I drove up and down US 441 which is the tourist strip in Sevierville, Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg. It took some pictures of the strange and interesting venues along the way. There are signs everywhere telling you where you are. This one kind of summarizes all the location signs.

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There are some interesting and weird building along the US 441 drive. In the cities commercialization is out of control. How about these:

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I found this strange building turned upside down.

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When did the Hatfields and McCoys move to Tennessee? They had more billboards than a rich politician. They were everywhere!

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Pigeon Forge has it’s own Titanic. The last time I saw it had been in Branson, Missouri. The feel of the Seveirville, Pigeon Forge, Gatlinburg area is like a blend of Branson, Missouri with a dash of Eureka Springs, Arkansas.

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I guess they were envious of the people of Rapid City, South Dakota which has Mount Rushmore. They have their own version of the famous mountain. Now if I could just figure out who the four are on the Pigeon Forge version,

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You can’t be in Pigeon Forge without saying hooray for “Dollywood”.

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The were some places peddling adult beverages. Here is one of the venues.

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Just when you can’t stand the traffic any longer you run into beautiful scenery and the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. The development stops at the boundary. The scenery is what you come here for, well at least me.

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Why is my first thought of the late Mr. Fred Rodgers when I see this picture? Trolley!

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I am a nature lover. Few places are prettier.

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And my final example of how nice it is.

More tomorrow. Tomorrow’s agenda is Dollywood.

Vacation: Day Three

This is a quick and dirty “highlights” for the day.

  1. Left Gadsden, Alabama at 9:45 AM
  2. Miss Benita was surprised we cut across the northwest corner of Georgia on I -59.
  3. The traffic was terrible – Dallas like on I-24 and I-75 in Chattanooga, Tennessee.
  4. Head north from Chattanooga toward Knoxville, Tennessee.
  5. Got off I-75 near Sweetwater, Tennessee and took the back way up old US411 to Sevierville, Tennessee.
  6. Got to our hotel midafternoon. Unloaded the car and then went to my sister-in-laws house.
  7. Had a nice reunion and supper.
  8. Went for a walk around the hills in their neighborhood.
  9. Our nephew who just graduated from Liberty University and his finance arrived. We had the pleasure of meeting his soon to be wife. She is as nice as she is pretty.
  10. At midnight headed back to our hotel.

Vacation: Day Two

Today is the day the vacation really begins. I awoke at 4:07 AM. I have been awake since then. Miss Benita has been up since then as well.

I took us two hours to get ready and load the car this morning. I decided to take the southern route. The southern route is I-20 from Dallas, Texas to Birmingham, Alabama. Then I-59 from Birmingham to Chattanooga, Tennessee. There we change to I-75 taking it to Knoxville. At Knoxville we go east on I-40 to the Sevierville exit. The trip will take a day and half. It is over 900 miles.

This morning we departed The Colony, Texas at 6:05 AM. Stop one was an hour later in Terrell, Texas for breakfast. Stop 2 was for coffee and gasoline in Lindale, Texas. That’s country signer Miranda Lambert’s hometown. Contemporary Christian Music played to help us worship the Lord as we drove.

Miranda Lambert

The traffic on I-20 was not bad for any time of year. Usually it is crazy heavy. Not today. Our third stop was the Louisiana welcome center just west of Shreveport. It took until 9:45 AM to get there; The Carpenter’s Greatest Hits were our music of choice followed by John Denver’s greatest hits. Do you remember those artists from the 1970s?

Welcome to Louisiana


We travelled next to West Monroe, Louisiana arriving at noon. West Monroe is the home of the Duck Dynasty boys. We stopped for lunch.


After a 45 minute break we headed east on I-20. Garrison Keillor told us stories for the next hour and a half as we drove to Vicksburg, Mississippi. We stopped at the Mississippi Welcome Center. We’ve been greeted there over twenty-five times since it first opened in 1981. We listened to Mur Lafferty’s podcast “I Should Be Writing”. She talked about her skepticism for productivity sites, and then had a LONG talk with her agent, Jen Udden of the Donald Maass Agency. She asked lots and lots of questions.


Welcome to Mississippi


Back I-20 we headed east. We stopped in Newton, Mississippi at the Sonic to get Miss Benita a Peach Slush. Their slush machine was broken.

Back on the road, we drove to Meridian, Mississippi. There I topped off my Ford Taurus with gasoline. The music of choice now turned to the greatest hits of The Seekers, good 1960s folk music.

The Alabama Welcome was whatever stop number this was. We took pictures and picked up hotel coupons.

Welcome to Alabama


Back on I-20 we headed to Tuscaloosa where the tornado damage from recent years was very visible and the on to Birmingham, Alabama. At Birmingham we headed north on I-59 and headed to Gadsden, Alabama. We made it there at dark. We arrived at our, got them to honor the discount coupon, unloaded the car and then went out for the evening meal.


It is bedtime now. Miss Benita and I are tired. Two queen beds insures we will both sleep well.

The adventure continues …

The Martian Chronicles: Chapter Nineteen

Usher II (April 2005/2036) first published as Carnival of Madness in Thrilling Wonder Stories, April 1950. “Usher II” tells of Bradbury’s and other writers’ fear of censorship.

A literary expert named William Stendahl retreats to Mars and builds his image of the perfect haunted mansion, complete with mechanical creatures, creepy soundtracks and the application of many tons of poison to kill every living thing in the surrounding area. He is assisted by Pikes, a film aficionado and former actor whose collection was confiscated and destroyed by the government and was subsequently banned from performing. When the Moral Climate Monitors come to visit, Stendahl and Pikes arrange to kill each of them in a manner reminiscent of a different horror masterpiece, culminating in the murder of Inspector Garrett in a sequence reminiscent of Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Cask of Amontillado”. When Stendahl’s persecutors are dead, the house sinks into the lake as in Poe’s short story, “The Fall of the House of Usher”.

Bradbury hints at past events on Earth, set in 1975 – 30 years prior to the events in “Usher II.” A government-sponsored ‘Great Burning’ of books is described, followed by the emergence of an underground society of citizens possessing small hoardings of books, the ownership of which had been declared illegal. Those found to possess books had them seized and burned by fire crews. Mars apparently emerged as a refuge from the fascist censorship laws of Earth, until the arrival of a government organization referred to only as “Moral Climates” and their enforcement divisions, the “Dismantlers” and “Burning Crew”. Bradbury would reuse the concept of massive government censorship (to the point of abolishing all literature) in his book Fahrenheit 451.

In 2010 Los Angeles artist Allois, in collaboration with Bradbury, released an illustrated copy of Usher and Usher 2 double feature.

Vacation: Day One

320px-El_viaxeru_d'UrculoThe day began as many others. I awoke during the five o’clock hour. I did the shave and shower routine. This morning I cut off my goatee. Did I do it on purpose? Yes, but only after I messed it up trimming. Only then did I purposefully shaved my chin.

I headed to my favorite Starbucks in Plano, Texas. I had a nice visit with a few “coffee friends”. All I drank was a tall blonde roast coffee.

Next, I headed back to my town, The Colony, Texas. I went to the Walmart Pharmacy and picked up a refill on my glaucoma RX. I also purchased some Q-Tips, a three-ounce bottle to put liquids in for travel, and a new case for my smart phone. It is one of those cases you see on older men’s belts to carry the phone. No Generation X or Millennial Man would be caught dead wearing one.

I said hello to my spouse, Miss Benita. She was swamped with people lined up to check out. She works as a cashier at Walmart.

Next, I headed to Vista Ridge Mall in Lewisville, Texas. Actually, I headed to one of the stores on the pad sites that surround the mall. I went to SAS shoes. I purchased new inner soles for my SAS Side Gore shoes. They still look wonderful. A $25 investment makes my $200 shoes feel like new all over again.

I returned home. The next item on the “to do” list was mow the front and back yard. It was 90 degrees with 60% humidity when I finished mowing. It required a return to the shower to wash the dust and sweat off.

About mid-afternoon, I took a break and what an hour program “World War II in Color: D-Day”. Then it was time to do some laundry and start packing. I did that until Miss Benita arrived home from work. I stopped packing and cooked the evening.  After eating and doing dishes, I finished packing.

The last thing I did was reload the iPod with music for the trip. I removed my heavy metal and hard rock and roll. I replaced it with music I know Miss Benita likes. I have hours of Contemporary Christian, southern gospel, and early 70s pop music. I have several hundred short stories and a couple of books loaded as well. I am ready. I also loaded my Kindle with several books and short stories.

Well, time to go to bed. My guess is I’ll wake up around 5 AM and head east as the first day of the road trip begins Sunday. I know our kitty will miss us. My 33 years old son is our house sitter and kitty care giver during our absence.

More tomorrow …

Photo Information:

Description: Asturianu: El viaxeru. D’Eduardo Úrculo. Ubicada en Oviedo (Asturias).España
Date: 14 October 2007
Source: Own work
Author: Astur

I, the copyright holder of this work, release this work into the public domain. This applies worldwide. In some countries this may not be legally possible; if so: I grant anyone the right to use this work for any purpose, without any conditions, unless such conditions are required by law. Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:El_viaxeru_d%27Urculo.JPG

The Martian Chronicles – Chapter Eighteen

The Naming of Names (2004-05/2035-36) first appeared in The Martian Chronicles. Not to be confused with the short story “The Naming of Names”, first published in Thrilling Wonder Stories, August 1949, later published as “Dark They Were, and Golden-eyed”.

This story is about later waves of immigrants to Mars, and how the geography of Mars is now largely named after the people from the first four expeditions (e.g., Spender Hill, Driscoll Forest) than after physical descriptions of the terrain

Vacation: Day Zero

VacationI started to title this post, “What I did on my summer vacation”, but summer doesn’t start for another month. Instead, I’ll call it Benita and Jimmie’s Excellent Adventure. No, I think Bill and Ted used that title about twenty-five years ago. I know, I just call it “Vacation: Day {enter day number here}”. I’ll start with “Vacation: Day Zero.”

It has been fifty-four weeks since I have taken a week’s vacation. It’s not that I don’t have the vacation days. I do. I have nearly five weeks accrued. Finding time that meets my work’s schedule, my wife’s schedule, and my personal want-to seems to be a problem. Add to the mix I am a workaholic that is overly caring about my day job and you kind of get the picture.

Day is day zero of my vacation. What is a zero vacation day? It is the day vacation starts. What I mean is I worked until 3:30 PM today and then magically it is vacation time.

Prepping for time off is hard work. This last week I have been documenting some of my routine tasks with step by step documentation. I work for a Fortune 500 privately held company as Solutions Support Analyst for its business intelligence and marketing analytics organization. What I do isn’t rocket science to me, but it is to the non-geek. I have been making sure the half-dozen people covering for me not only have the documentation, but the confidence to face the opportunities of the week.

In celebration for day zero of vacation, I wore my loudest Hawaiian shirt with a pair of khaki shorts to work today. The shirt screamed “look at me” or maybe old man who doesn’t know how to dress. Either way, it helped me announce my last day at work before time off.

The day passed quickly. They all zoom by to me. I was able to help over a dozen people. My day job let us off early to start the Memorial Day holiday. I am a lucky man.

After work, I battled the world-class north Dallas traffic as I went to a national chain hair cutting place to get my hair trimmed. It took longer to walk in from the parking lot than it did for them to trim my hair.

I then came home, cooked the evening meal, ate, and took and hour nap. I awoke when my bride of 39.5 years and my co-vacationer arrived home from work. She works for an Arkansas based big box supercenter store. Her vacation doesn’t start until after work tomorrow.

After my nap, I watched three hours of recorded Dancing With the Stars with my bride, Miss Benita. When it ended, she headed to her bedroom for the night. I washed the evening meals pots and pans. I rinsed off thee plates and glasses that went into the dishwasher.

Next I retired to my bedroom and fired up the computer I am using to type this. I hear my bed calling.

I know, this is sort of a laundry list of the day, but it is what I did on day zero of my vacation. Oh, I have a house-sitter so my house is occupied during my time off work.

The Martian Chronicles – Chapter Seventeen

the-martian-chroniclesWay in the Middle of the Air (June 2003/2034) It first appeared in Other Worlds, July 1950.

In an unnamed Southern town, a group of white men learn that all African-Americans are planning to emigrate to Mars. Samuel Teece is an obviously racist white man who loudly decries their departure as he watches a great mass of humanity passing his shop porch. He tries to stop several black men from leaving. One man is harassed because of an old, unneeded debt — other black passers-by give money to relieve the debt. Teece then tries to keep a younger black man (named “Silly”) from leaving, claiming that his work contract (signed with an “X” on a contract, as it is implied that Silly could not read or write) forbids his departure from Teece’s business. After an argument and a threat to lock him in a shed, some of Teece’s white companions stand up to Teece and force him to let Silly leave with his family.

As he drives off, Silly yells to Teece, “what will you do nights now, Mr. Teece?” Teece realizes that Silly is referring to his nocturnal visits to black homes, destroying houses, and lynching black men. Enraged at Silly’s comment, Teece and his father set off to get him. After giving chase in a car, the road becomes impassable, blocked by the discarded belongings of all the departing African-Americans. Teece and his father walk back to the shop, after which the rockets for Mars lift off. Teece, saying that he will be “damned” if he looks at the rockets, sits back in the quiet afternoon, and wonders what he really “will do nights.”

This episode is a poignant depiction of racial prejudice in America. However, it was eliminated from the 2006 William Morrow/Harper Collins, and the 2001 DoubleDay Science Fiction reprinting of The Martian Chronicles.