Phone it in Friday XXXV: My Second Book is Live on Kindle!

In case the daily reminders at the top of every post this week weren’t reminder enough, I’ve released my second book, Arizonan Sojourn, South Carolinian Dreams: And Other Adventures.  It’s a collection of travel essays I’ve accumulated over the last four years, and it’s available now on AmazonThe Kindle version went live today, so if you pre-ordered, you can now read the book!

I’ve been eager to release a second book ever since I published The One-Minute Mysteries of Inspector Gerard: The Ultimate Flatfoot back in March 2021, but various time constraints always seemed to interfere.  Ironically, maintaining the blog—even with help from good friends—is one such hinderance, while also serving as the source material for this book!

Blogging daily (today marks the 1545th consecutive day of blogging) is great fun, but it takes time.  Longtime readers will probably have noticed the increase in guest posts (especially from Audre Myers and Ponty), as well as lighter posts from yours portly.  Those lighter posts are partially out of necessity—in order to maintain my busy work and private music lessons schedule, I have to write some fluffier posts here from time to time.

No worries—I have not given up on political writing entirely, nor have I abandoned writing seriously about music, faith, art, etc.  Sometimes, I just need to upload some pictures of a LEGO set I built and call it a day.

That said, blogging daily is also the source of Arizonan Sojourn, as blogging daily will likely be the source of my next book (topic to be determined).  Pulled from four years of travel essays, with a particular focus on the six-part trip my older brother and I took to Arizona in December 2022, the book regales readers with tales of my not-so-outrageous exploits.

So, I found myself last week with a modicum of extra time because Middle School students were taking some horrendous standardized test, after which they were dismissed for the day.  That removed my duty to teach Middle Music Ensemble for a few days, and that extra fifty-six minutes each day, along with the lack of private music lessons with Middle Schoolers, enabled me to complete the compiling, organizing, and edition of Arizonan Sojourn.

Unlike Inspector Gerard, I also made sure to proofread and revise Arizonan Sojourn much more carefully this time.  I cannot guarantee it is free of grammatical errors—I found one as soon as I published the book (it is now fixed)—but it should be substantially less embarrassing in this regard than Gerard was.

That’s all to say that you should buy it.  I’ll also be uploading a PDF manuscript of the entire work to my Subscribe Star page for $5 and up subscribers tomorrow.

Of course, it’s much better to have a physical copy, no?

Here’s where you can pick it up:

Happy Reading!



SubscribeStar Saturday: Christmas Break Travels, Part VI: Home for Christmas

Today’s post is a SubscribeStar Saturday exclusive.  To read the full post, subscribe to my SubscribeStar page for $1 a month or more.  For a full rundown of everything your subscription gets, click here.

Trapped in the blizzard in Indianapolis, pipes bursting across the land (including in my older brother’s house), there was little to do besides sleep and let the responsible adults take care of things.

There are few things more reassuringly cozy than sleeping under heavy blankets in sub-zero temperatures.  It’s akin to the feeling of being inside with power during a torrential downpour or powerful thunderstorm—the sense of safety and warmth is experienced palpably in those moments.  In some ways, it’s even better to get soaked first, then to come into the dryness of the indoors.

But sleep can only forestall reality for so long.  Driving to South Carolina on Friday, 23 December 2022 as I’d originally planned was out of the question, given the frozen roads.  Tales of major wrecks and traffic snarls echoed across the land, so it seemed best to stay put.

That said, I desperately wanted to get home for Christmas.  The weather, it seemed, had other plans, but I soon hatched a plan that, if all went well, would get me South in time for at least some of Christmas.

To read the rest of this post, subscribe to my SubscribeStar page for $1 a month or more.

TBT: Summertime Schedule Begins

As of about 8 PM EST last Thursday, I’ve been living the Summer Break Lifestyle.  Other than camp and lessons, I’ve been enjoying a much more leisurely pace of living.

Summer is already filling up fast.  While the first week of Minecraft Camp is in the books, I have another session next week.  I’m attempting to run my Rock ‘n’ Roll Camp for the second year, but as of the time of writing, it looks like I might just have one student, so that may get axed.

Nevertheless, it’s a good time to knock out some projects, especially when I wrap up camps.  I’m hoping to get back—finally!—to wrapping up the first volume of my Sunday Doodles book, which will go through the first fifty editions of the feature (over at my SubscribeStar page).  Indeed, I may do the first 100 editions, as I am currently at 144.  That will require more editing, but will make for a beefier book.

It’s also time to get cracking on some short stories.  I’ve been sitting on one story about a guy who eats an undercooked frozen pizza with bizarre consequences; now I need to write it!

With that, here is 8 June 2021’s “Summertime Schedule Begins“:

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Election Day 2021

Today is Election Day in Lamar, South Carolina, and in several other towns in the region.  We have a competitive mayoral race, and I am up for reelection for the Council seat I currently hold.  Another Councilmember is running for reelection for her seat, but neither of us have any officially filed competition.

There’s also an election in Society Hill with seven candidates running—three for mayor and four for council seats.  I’m particularly interested in that race because of a homesteading-related issue at the center of it, with one candidate running largely to fight an ordinance limiting the number of animals he is allowed to keep on his property inside city limits.  Hartsville, home to the world headquarters of Sonoco, has five candidates running for mayor.

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Lamar Candidates Forum

Last night my little town of Lamar, South Carolina, hosted a candidates forum to give voters an opportunity to learn more about the candidates for Town Council and the Mayor’s race.  Our Town employees did an excellent job organizing the event, which was held in the Fire Department’s fire truck bay.  I brought some sound equipment and setup a very basic sound system for the candidates.

There are two Council seats up for election, which Councilwoman Mary Mack and myself currently occupy.  We’re both running for re-election, so we are officially running unopposed.  Residents will have two votes to cast in the Town Council race, one for each position.

As such, Councilwoman Mack and I were invited to tell voters a bit about ourselves and our visions for the town.  The main event was the mayoral forum, which was structured in a series of questions (nine or ten) posed to each candidate.  The mayoral candidates received their questions in advance, and the audience was not allowed to ask questions (although I think several people did after the forum formally adjourned).

Both candidates acquitted themselves nicely, differing mainly in the margins.  Councilwoman Inez Lee focused on cleaning up the town, literally and metaphorically, frequently invoking Franklin Roosevelt’s “First Hundred Days”:  we have a number of dilapidated buildings on Main Street that are eyesores.  James Howell, a local landscaper, focused on improving the town’s infrastructure and zoning to make the town more attractive to businesses.

All candidates for all offices touted the need to fix Lamar’s water system, so we sell our own water again.  We are currently purchasing around four million gallons of water each month from the Darlington County Water and Sewage Authority, paying rates that are onerously high for residents.

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More Georgia and South Carolina Backroads

As I noted in various updates about delayed posts, I was back in Athens, Georgia this weekend.  On the way over Friday, my GPS routed me a different way than usual, apparently due to a massive wreck on I-20.

The rerouting took me off I-20 at Lexington, South Carolina, taking me through painfully slow traffic in the bustling county seat before spitting me out on US-378 West, which wended its way towards the Upstate.

I then hit US-178 West towards Greenwood and Abbeville, transferring to various State roads.  I eventually ended up on SC-72, heading through Calhoun Falls at the South Carolina-Georgia border.

At that point, SC-72 became GA-72, which took me through Elberton and Comer, Georgia, before depositing me in Athens.

As many of my readers are not from South Carolina—or even from this country!—let me translate that for you:  I went through a lot of small towns in very rural parts of South Carolina and Georgia.

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TBT: Soda City Market

Earlier this week my little town of Lamar observed National Night Out, and the local neighborhood watch put together an organic, decentralized street festival to celebrate.  Regular readers know I am an avid fan of festivals, especially this time of year, and I look forward to visiting them—the weirder, the better.

With the proximity to National Night Out and the excitement of festival season in the air, I thought I’d dedicate this week’s TBT to a post about a much larger weekly festival, the so-called “Soda City Market.”  It’s been months since I attended, but it still holds a fond spot in my heart (and my stomach).

Here’s hoping that more of these open-aired autumnal festivals make a comeback this year.  After the long drought of The Age of The Virus, we could all use some fun.

With that, here is “Soda City Market“:

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National Night Out in Lamar

Last night the Lamar Neighborhood Watch organized an observation of National Night Out, an evening dedicated to supporting law enforcement and encouraging strong community building.  Most communities observe National Night Out in August, but Texas and other States observe it on the first Tuesday in October, when the weather is a good bit cooler.  August in the South is rarely a good time to host outdoor events.

My walking buddy neighbor helped organize the event, but he took a unique approach to it:  rather than having one person or a committee coordinating all of the participants, he invited residents to host whatever bit of entertainment and fun they could muster.  The result was a small but truly grassroots street festival.

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Walkin’ II: Early Morning Strolls

I’m currently cutting back on my calories and have so far dropped around ten pounds in the past two weeks.  I’d let myself get comfortable and complacent after a long, lazy summer.  Sure, I’ll loosen up a bit—both my calorie restrictions and my pants—for Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas, but I’ve been doing pretty well regulating my daily intake.  It had grown, quite frankly, massive.

I mentioned this latest of my various weight loss odysseys to my neighbor, the man who takes Murphy out for me and—more germane to this post—who is the Zone Captain for our Neighborhood Watch.  My adventures in dropping unsightly pounds and inches inspired him to propose the Lamar Neighborhood Watch establish small walking groups, and yesterday morning, he and I met shortly after 6 AM to walk a short circuit downtown.

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