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Howdy folks!

Back home from Fandom Fest to a tree down across the road at our driveway after a helluva storm last night (not a very restful night, but that’s why i took the day today). Excellent Con in Louisville as always, Stephen Zimmer puts together a great Literary track and seeing old pals and making new ones is always good. BUT it is 8 hours away…

Left at 4AM Friday solo (the wife went early with a friend) and headed up to Spartanburg on SC 9, then onto I-26 to I-40 in Asheville…then I-40 to Knoxville. It was 78 degrees when I left home and at 730 in Canton NC…57 degrees (HEAVENLY). 2 stops for gas , two for potty breaks and 2 welcome centers. Then up I-75 to Lexington KY and over to Louisville on I-64… at the Galt House lobby at 1230. Had a full round of panels, including the “How to be a Panelist” panle which was the best attended one all weekend and should be mandatory for all cons. Did a pitch session Saturday afternoon with BlackWyrm Publishing and will send them something this week… Looks promising on both ends. Ate at the Troll Pub Friday night (YOU MUST GO THERE IF YOU ARE EVER IN LOUISVILLE) and at the Old Spaghetti Factory Saturday (if you have one close,  I envy you). Saw many many folks too many to mention, but I want to give props to our buddy Selah…con virgin and just about ran the joint after the first day). All my peeps did very well in panels and at the table.

The wife and I left at about 230 yesterday afternoon. Had to lap downtown Louisville due to exit closures on I-64…a bad omen. Got to Lexington in good time and got a heads-up about a rock-slide on Jellico TN on the KY state line…only one lane open. Our pal Crymsyn Hart (a most excellent author) told us about the detour via US 25E and US 25… well I forgot the US 25 part and we stayed on US 25E through some awesome countryside (HOLY COW at the views!) and wound up on I-81 and jumped back on I-40 only about 30 minutes off Friday’s pace.

Then my beloved mentioned that she had never been to Gatlinburg TN… so away we went…the back way via US 321.  And it was as tacky as I remembered and she was dumbfounded by Myrtle Beach North.  HOWEVER, traffic (as usual) SUCKED, so I couldn’t jump on 4411 to escape and headed out towards Smokies National Park…Since it was still daylight, no worries and  I knew Cherokee was just over the hill (lol) but it was pushing 8 and we hadn’t eaten since Louisville either. Gassed up in CHerokee and decided against hitting the casino even to just eat and headed through Maggie Valley and I-40. Ate in Canton NC about 11 and hit the hay at 2, after calling the DOT to clear the tree.

Now to rest up for tomorrow and see if the wife’s cousin can come tote off the remains. I hate the neighbor’s fence got crushed but…

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If you read this after 230PM on Friday 6/29/12…I will be at Fandom Fest. If you’ve grabbed one of my cards and am curious about what’s up…look around in the archives. I write true ghostlore books, almost all on SC. I can do ghost stories on anywhere and I work cheap for schools and libraries. I also write fiction. I work in a library…am married (no younguns yet)… I have plenty of friends and… well, just look around, buy my books and say HI! if you’re at Fandom Fest…

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Yeah, I know, I’m an awful blogger, but between RL, new boss at work and etc, I have excuses. Anyway, this weekend is MystiCon… the 24th-26 at the Holiday Inn Tanglewood in Roanaoke Va. I dig this con because it’s the first non-Carolinas con I got an invite too, it’s where the wife’s family is from on her mom’s side (as well as my aunt Mary Ann’s), and it’s in some beautiful country. My schedule is up on my FB page and y’all come see me. I’m working on the Civil War Ghosts of SC book… which has a deadline LOOMING.

 

Work has been hectic. The new Director is good, but wowza, I’m busier now than I was when I was interim. Y’all buy the books and I’ll try to do better with the whole blog thing…

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What do y’all have planned for this weekend? Me and Rooster are heading up to Stone Mountain State Park up near Roaring Gap, NC…no NOT the one with the Confederates carved on the side. We will be on the Widows Creek Falls trail. It’s 2.5 miles and is rated strenuous… we will see how this goes. I’m a bit too fat and smoke WAY too much for anything strenuous, as Mt. Rogers proved. But 2.5 beats 8.5, so we will see. I’m packed and ready. Just need to buy some grub and some rope for the tarp over the hammock in case it rains.

On the writing front, I’m still retired/blocked. I’ve printed out all of the current fiction WIPs and non-fiction outlines to see if anything sparks off, but nothing yet.I have hope, but we will see.

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One of the great things about being a writer of ghost stuff is going to cons all over the place…and then buying books there. An example of this happened in Louisville for Fandom Fest last month. I bought a copy of Weird Kentucky and saw a story about the alleys of Louisville and how great they were for dumpster diving (for trash to treasure folks) and for avoiding traffic. This reminded me of my story Creek Walking and of the joys of what we called “back alleys” on the mill hill. The best ones were paved and offered all manner of fun… some offered spots for rock (and root) climbing training; others offered ideal spots for showing off a la Evel Kenevel. All allowed preteens to travel from one end of town to the other unobstructed and we thought unobserved, hence their popularity for smoking and underage drinking, when we could swipe a beer or two.  The only threats we worried about was the occasional unfriendly dog, garbage trucks, and the rare case of double parking, since most folks just parked on the street in front of their houses, especially after the old wooden garages were outgrown by the land yachts folks drove in the late 70s. When I’m home visiting my parents, I still get to drive on the one behind their place and it always takes me back to being that boy with the bowl cut and cigarette, riding his ten-speed back from the library through the mill parking lot with his books in a bag over the handlebars, saying to himself, “Ya know, if I put a big enough ramp at the bottom of this hill and the gravel didn’t mess it up, I bet I could jump over the kudzu, creek AND highway and then just ride on over to Mama’s…”

One of these days, I will need to try that. I wonder what Blue Cross would say about that. Of course I can guess what the wife would say… and I’d need a new bike. Ten-speeds don’t like Buicks, but that’s a tale for another time.

Next…more cheap music playlists…

 

 

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Howdy from sunny SC…

Made it back home last night about 1030…left Louisville at about 130PM, so a 9 hour drive home after a 8 hour drive up on Friday. The drive up and back were both AWESOME!!! I-75 and I-64 were both smooth sailing with beautiful views…and of course I-40 and I-26 aren’t scenic slouches either. I was good and DIDN’T scrape off the con to go sightseeing, despite many temptations…Henry Clay’s estate, Boone’s Tavern, Cumberland Gap (and the tunnel), KY State Capitol, U of Louisville, UK, UT ,any of the dozens of rock cuts and river gorges, and etc… In fact we (Rachel and I) arrived geeked up and ready for a kick-butt weekend…SIGH.

We got to the hotel about 3 and went to check in to our King room that we reserved back in late March or Early April…and the wheels flew off… Ah the Fern Valley Conference Center and Hotel…a place I won’t go back to for folding money. The lady working the counter (who was nice, despite the rush of geeks, nerds, and writers that had engulfed her) told us that we had a room with 2 doubles..and that flicked my bic. I asked for a manager and was told that con staff had overbooked their rooms and were given the kings…despite reservations for con guests and etc. I asked about a comp’ed night or other resolution and was offered a room across the 4 lane road from the con. NOT a good option for 2 con guests. So, I took our keys and bitched the whole way…2 other visits with that same manager got me buptkis for my efforts. The room was ok, but only worth about $30/night NOT the $75 it had set us back. the main problem was the HEAT inside. I knew Louisville was in the same boat Chester was as far as heat went (and they say global warming’s a myth) but good LORD. The door handle to our room gave me a 1st degree burn when I opened it due to the fact that it was enclosed in glass and made to hold the heat. The vendor’s room was even worse as it was the dumping ground for all the AC exhaust and the pool was not drained. Now, imagine several hundred of the heavier folks you’ve see lately…many in costume OR dressed to sell books or other stuff…in this situation…it wasn’t good. But the panel rooms had AC and 3 of the 4 were well-marked…except for the one I had all my stuff in…of course.  But we survived, though my ghost story gig was a flop, due to the lack of programs.

As far as the actual event, a lack of programs made planning moot for Bill and I, so we decided to romp Louisville while Lexx and Siobhan did their panels (it was Siobhan’s first as a guest). We hit both dealer’s rooms and I got all manner of kewlness (over the course of the weekend)…2 art prints, 3 CDs, 2 books, 2 tee-shirts (one of which is for my dad’s b-day), 2 hand-carved wooded crosses, a DVD and an inflatable space shuttle for Katie. I also got 4 more books, another CD, a map of the mid-west for the US 64 book, 3 comics, and highway maps for KY and TN as well as the usual “ridin'” brochures. I also grabbed several business cards. I got to see Stephen Zimmer; writer of epic fantasy, screenwriter and more, who invited us to come as guests and invited us back, Bobby Nash; writer of neo-pulp and comics, and some other folks. I met Bertena Varney, author and contact for Scarefest, which I am going to try to be a guest at in August (Lucy, look her up on FB..she does vampire reference/non-fiction and wants to invite you too). I saw David Naughton, John Carpenter, Martin Kove,  Robert Carradine, Henry Winkler, who signed a book for Siobhan and induced a geek-out by her, and some other notables.  However, I can’t afford $20 per for signed pictures, so no autographs for me. I also drank some Wild Turkey and Bud Light, especially after Bill and I found Hunter S. Thompson’s boyhood home and I got some pix. Lexxx and Siobhan both kicked butt in their panels. Bill and I also drove over into Indiana over the JFK Bridge over the Ohio River. In addition to all this, we met up with Chad and Kim from Chester and Dale and Mary, two friends of Bill and Siobhan’s from Warcraft and went to the Louisville Slugger factory and tried to see the Da Vinci exhibit at the History Museum (sorry but $40 apiece was a bit steep). We then ate at The Old Spaghetti Factory… home of the best butter and cheese sauce in the WORLD and the site of my first date with my blushing bride way back in 1994 when the one in Charlotte was still open (There’s one in Nashville TN too… is it bad that I want to drive 8 or 10 hours just to go eat there again?). Dale and Mary are good folks. At check-out from the hotel, the manager took pity of us and gave me back $46 for the bait and switch and she even apologized for it.

All in all a good trip, if a bit long for a straight through drive. I hope to go back to Fandom Fest next year and back to Louisville this fall maybe.

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Can’t wait for the weekend! I’ll be doing a Special Ghost Storytelling Event on Saturday at midnight AND will be on the Paranormal in Fiction panel at 3Pm Sunday…come say HI! And if you bring by any of my books, I’ll sign them! A long ride…good folks and company..and I can show off 2 of my writing minions…Lexx and Siobhan to boot…or rather they can show each other off and be ashamed of me by association… and I’ll have Bill to bore silly too!

Any writer, or in fact anyone who attends these conferences, will tell you that half the fun is getting to know the people.  I’ve met so many wonderful authors, publishers and editors at Sci-Fi Conventions.  In fact, I met the publisher  of Creek Walking at ConCarolinas in Charlotte, NC.  A lot of people don’t realize that many of the authors, media guests and vendors do several of these conventions each year, as do the people who are faithful attendees.  Therefore, you often get to see the same people at the conventions and start to forge friendships that exist beyond Facebook.  This is the part I love best– collecting friends.  Stephen Zimmer, Marcia Collette, Dahlia Rose, Bobby Nash, Dorian Wallace and Nicole Kurtz are just a few of the author friends I’ve made doing the Con thing.  I hope that Fandom Fest will be as fruitful for my collection.–the above was swiped from Lexx Christian’s blog…somehow that vanished in the original post…

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