Here's the news release I sent out earlier this month for our appearance at the Avilla Freedom Festival. It might be a good template for other authors to use, if you get set up for a book signing of your own. Or ... it may not be, since I came up with this myself. I have questionable confidence in my self-promotion ability. As usual, if you should know the news director for a major TV network, feel free to pass this along.



News Release

Local Author to Appear at Avilla Freedom Festival


            It might be an unusual location for an author appearance, but a local writer will be one of the venders at the Avilla Freedom Festival this year.
 
Mark R. Hunter of Albion and his wife Emily, who has co-written and edited some of his works, will be at the Festival along with other various venders, June 22-24. He calls it the “longest book signing ever”: They’ll be selling their works from 4-9 p.m. Thursday and Friday, and from 9 a.m. until dusk on Saturday of that week.
 
The Hunters have nine printed works, in addition to three others that are available as e-books only. Their most recent written together was last year’s Hoosier Hysterical: How the West Became the Midwest Without Moving at All, a humorous take on Indiana history. More recently Torrid Books published Mark R. Hunter’s romantic comedy novel, Radio Red. Set in Michigan, it’s his first published work not connected in some way to Indiana.
 
Together the Hunters specialize in not specializing, as their books cover several genres. Mark Hunter’s solo works are romantic comedies and a short story collection; he and Emily worked together on books covering history, humor, and young adult fiction. Together they’ll have copies of nine books available at the Avilla Freedom Festival, at prices discounted for the event.
 
The Avilla Freedom Festival’s website is: http://www.avillafreedomfestival.com/
 
More information about the authors can be found at www.markrhunter.com, or on Amazon at amazon.com/Mark-R-Hunter/e/B0058CL6OO.
 
 
 
 
Mark R Hunter can also be found on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/MarkRHunter/, and on Twitter at @MarkRHunter 
 


SLIGHTLY OFF THE MARK
Weathering Indiana Festivals

In one of my books I included a photo of the Onion Days Festival, in Wolf Lake, Indiana. Never mind that it’s called Onion Days—that’s another story—but the photo was taken in the early 1900s, over a century ago.

Hey, I wrote the book; I never said I took the picture.

There are also photos in Albion of what would one day become the Chain O’ Lakes Festival. Those pictures were taken some fifty or sixty years before there was a Chain O’ Lakes State Park … so if the street fair had been called that at the time it would be some pretty amazing precognition.

While researching local history I was shown many photos of fairs, parades, and other gatherings from back a century or so: A late 1800s fair in downtown Kendallville, a 1914 wedding in the middle of Albion’s main intersection … to this day we’re still doing a lot of those same outdoor gatherings. (I assume they shut down traffic for that wedding, but maybe they had to use a team of wild horses to drag the groom in.) )

We're in the habit of holding author appearances in unusual places, so why stop now

This year Emily and I will be vendors, at the 2017 Avilla Freedom Festival. My very first book signing was at a 2011 First Friday event in Albion, so we've been outside before, and we've been in vendor-type festival situations before. The change this time is that we're going long term--three days straight, June 22-24.

That's quite a challenge for us--especially Saturday, which goes all day. The longest book signing we've ever done was, I believe, five hours. I have this figured as being something like twenty hours, total. I'm worried about how much interest we'll get, but it has the advantage of being in a town where we've never had a signing before. (And the disadvantage that I'm probably not all that well known there. Although on the other hand the paper that publishes my column, 4County Mall, is based in Avilla.) It also has the advantage of being our first signing since the release of Radio Red.

I hope you'll all join us. Naturally we'll have some discount prices and deals, and we're also going to figure out some giveaway stuff ... but even if you don't come to buy, don't let us be lonely for all that time! Stop by and say hello, and stay for all the other stuff going on. After all, it's an entire festival, not to mention a car, truck, and motorcycle show.

http://www.avillafreedomfestival.com/

Selling stacks of books outside in early Indiana summer. What could possibly go wrong?

 

I got a bit of a weird feeling when I heard actress Erin Moran once stayed in (and got kicked out of) a Holiday Inn Express in Corydon, Indiana. A little research confirmed it was the same Holiday Inn that Emily and I stayed in while researching Hoosier Hysterical a couple of years ago. Corydon was the original state capital of Indiana, so naturally we spent some time in the area.

We weren't there at the same time as she was, of course. Well, not that I know of, although apparently she lived in the area then. I suppose it could have been the same room.

On the one hand, I was a little offended at the way the news media covered her move to Indiana, as if Moran had been banned to the seventh circle of Hell. (Apparently she and her husband moved here to take care of his mother, after her acting jobs dried up and they lost their California property.) I'd take southern Indiana over southern California any day.

the other hand, I suspect I'd choose wealthy in California over impoverished in Indiana. She'd hit on very hard times, and didn't make the move for the scenery; those of us trying to work our way up can't begin to imagine what it's like to be a TV star at fourteen, and considered a has-been by thirty. Her happy days were far behind her, and it sounds like she spent the last years of her life trying to drown her sorrows in alcohol. I remember the fresh faced kid on "Happy Days", and can't help thinking she was only two years older than me. It could have been any of us; and it's very sad any way you look at it.

 

 


ozma914: (Courthouse)
( Apr. 15th, 2017 03:55 pm)

I posted this photo on Instagram the other day, but didn't get a chance to put it up elsewhere until now:

That's the Albion Fire Department off in the distance, and the Sheriff's Department communications tower to the left. I'd just gotten off work and was really lucky to snap this--the orange dimmed out just minutes later.

 The Pokagon State Park Saddle Barn opened for business the first weekend of April, and Emily's first day back was that Sunday. The temperature was in the thirties when she got to work, but warmed up to close to sixty by the end of the day. (Her two days this weekend have been in much nicer weather.)

It was her first chance in months to see the horses, and they were glad to see her!

I don't think they cared so much about me one way or another, but apparently they're shedding, so they were happy enough when I scratched some necks.

Meanwhile, confession: It was the first time since our car accident in September that I walked more than a mile at a time. I made about 2.6 miles, mostly on the bike trail, which is easy going. But I did hit a trail along the way and even went off-trail a little--while I still could, before the foliage fills out and blocks cross country travel. My only complications were a little ankle pain and a sore back.

Not that the trails themselves didn't have complications:

Over the winter it was windier than election season. Emily says there were a couple of small trees across the horse trail, although they didn't present a serious problem. This one was high enough that it would have held them up. I vaulted it, which was a remarkably dumb thing for someone in my shape to do in the middle of nowhere.

There was one across the bike trail, too. I'd imagine the park employees will have everything cleaned up in short order--we could see a lot of places where fallen trees had already been cut up and moved.

 

No idea who the gentleman in the distance is; I didn't notice he was there until after I took the picture. I wonder if he said cheese? The good news is, people are already out and about, enjoying weather that, if not great, is at least better. The bad news is, my allergies are already acting up.

But that's okay, because I love green ... and the green is coming along:

Molly Daniels Says, “Happy 'Bison-Tennial’ Indiana!” 

 

50 Authors from 50 States highlights another Indiana author, Molly Daniels:

https://annettesnyder.blogspot.com/2017/04/molly-daniels-says-happy-bison-tennial.html

"I grew up in Tippecanoe County, where I survived the Blizzard of ‘78;  traveled to the Indiana Dunes once; and spent many happy hours canoeing down Sugar Creek, then exploring Turkey Run and The Shades State Parks."  Emily and I were on the way back from visiting Turkey Run and Shades State Parks when our car was totaled in an accident last year; but we don't hold it against the parks.

Oh, and I get a sidebar next to Molly's post. :-)

https://3.bp.blogspot.com/-Gy_rmmUypC4/WMfEKYPbosI/AAAAAAAAH4E/i_J7CNV-UoovOIjhzdnXkRcBPh7O3KR2ACEw/s1600/4-2%2BFobiddenLove_fullres.jpg

 

 

SLIGHTLY OFF THE MARK

(Note: This was originally written on February 7th and then misplaced, which isn’t the first time. It was the beginning of what was overall a nice February—for Indiana. You all know how things changed in March.)

Ah, spring.

Or, possibly, &$@# spring!

That’s the way it is, with springtime in Indiana. It’s feast or famine, a saying that goes well for farmers wondering if they’ll be able to get into their fields early, or ever.

I was reminded of spring just a few days after that stupid groundhog predicted six more weeks of winter, a prediction that’s essentially meaningless in Indiana. There are always six more weeks of winter—we just don’t know when. It could start next week. It could start next month. (Note: It did.) If you’re having a mild winter, like we had this year, a backlash is almost guaranteed. I’m worried about whether spring is going to be full of terms like “polar vortex”, “late winter snowstorm”, and “Is that groundhog still alive? Get my gun”.

On this particular day my wife and I got out of the car while shopping and simultaneously cocked our heads, which come to think of it probably looked pretty funny.

“Is that a bird?” I asked.

“That is a bird.”

“But that’s not a bird we usually hear in February.”

“No, it’s a spring bird.”

It was indeed a spring bird, one that was soon to be very, very unpleasantly surprised. On that particular day, the outdoor temperature hit the mid-forties. Two nights before it dipped into the teens. Two days later it hit sixty and we had thunderstorms, followed a few days after that by snow.

A typical March in Indiana, the only strange thing being that we heard the bird in early February. As you read this is should now be March, which means (if you live in the Midwest) you’re dressing in layers to combat both frostbite and heat stroke, possibly on the same day. But for February, that weather was actually pretty good.

February is usually easy to forecast. You have two choices: It’s cold and it’s going to snow, or it’s not going to snow but even colder. (Note: I said usually.) But spring—spring is different. Here’s a typical Midwest meteorologist in, say, mid-March:

“Looks like a blizzard headed our way, folks—oh, wait. The radar just updated, and the blizzard has been sucked up by a tornado! I think we’re going to see some serious snow drifts.”

We have something called March Madness, which most people think is about basketball playoffs. But in Indiana, March Madness translates to ice season: that time of the year when sleet and freezing rain fall as often as snow.

“Aren’t those icicles on the electric lines pretty—oh, the power’s out again.”

Occasionally we’ll have a dry spring, and instead of frozen precipitation you can see columns of smoke in every direction, often accompanied by sirens. This is called grass fire season, and generally comes just after March Madness. People realize they can finally walk outside without fifty pounds of outer clothing, and their first thought turns to the mess their lawns have become over winter.

“What shall we do with all these branches, leaves, weeds, and trash? Oh, I know—we’ll burn them! The ground is still wet; what could possibly go wrong?”

Pro tip: All that dead plant life around your fire is plenty dry, fella. The ground being wet simply means fire trucks can’t go off road to extinguish that wildland fire you just started. And then firefighters end up out there, ironically, trying to beat the heat with their own fifty pounds of outer clothing.

But it’s spring, so who knows? I’ve helped fight a few grass fires that I had to walk around snow drifts to reach. I’ve gone out on tornado watches in March. (Terrible idea, by the way—the basement’s way calmer.) I’ve shoveled snow in May. And all the while those poor, confused birds are flying around up there, trying to figure out whether they should be heading north or south.

They’d better decide fast, because if they head west they’ll run into a blizzard, and if they fly for the East Coast they’ll run into an even bigger blizzard.

So yeah, I’m worried about that bird. What is he living on, anyway? If he pecks the frozen ground for worms he’ll break his beak. The first bugs don’t come out until … well, about now, if you include mosquitoes.

In fact, it’s not uncommon in Indiana for the big piles of plowed snow to still be melting off in July. Sometimes, on the first really warm days, you can see kids skiing down snow mountains at Wal-Mart, then surfing on across the parking lot.

It’s why I often call Indiana the greatest place in the world, except during winter. Luckily, surviving winter is like surviving pain: Once it’s over, you tend to forget how bad it is. By the end of May you can put your snow shovel away (you might want to keep the gloves and wool hat out, just in case), and enjoy the outdoors, until it gets hot.

Maybe the hot is why we’re not all living in Florida.

 

 

 

 

 

ozma914: (Storm Chaser)
( Mar. 15th, 2017 12:15 am)

Crazy mild February (at least, in Indiana). Trees start blooming weeks early, people can take walks without a clothing store worth of covering, we can see the light at the end of the frozen tunnel, then ...

 

BOOM!

 

Well played, winter. Well played.

I didn't catch this when it first came out, but here's another review of Hoosier Hysterical ... and new reviews make this Hoosier hysterical:

https://www.amazon.com/gp/customer-reviews/R2TAWWSKJVFMO1

It was actually posted the last day of 2016, which means I'm still waiting for the first review of this year. Remember, to authors reviews are like chocolate: Sure, in theory you could have too much--but it very rarely actually happens.


ozma914: new novel cover art by Kelly Martin (Default)
( Feb. 8th, 2017 08:00 pm)
SLIGHTLY OFF THE MARK
 
Cheating on Indiana
 
I’ve had the strangest feeling lately that I’m cheating on Indiana.
 
As a writer, I mean—get out of the gutter. You see, my new novel is about to be published, and it’s set in Michigan. There’s nothing wrong with that. Lots of authors do this thing called using your imagination, in which their stories are set somewhere other than where they live. One of the best authors I know routinely sets her stories in California, even though she lives in Missouri. One of my favorite authors, L. Frank Baum, set most of his stories in places that don’t even exist.
 
But up until now, all my published works have been set in Indiana.
 
It wasn’t supposed to be that way. In fact, when I first started writing, none of my stories were set in Indiana. When you’re a teenager—at least, an introverted, emo teenager like I was—all you care about is getting out. Half my stories were set in space. Half were set on a fictional fire department, somewhere generally to the west. The other half either took place in other areas of this planet, or started here and then journeyed away.
 
(What, that’s three halves? That’s why I took up writing: I suck at math.)
 
But things happen and, long story short, I stayed in Indiana. Why? Because it’s an awesome place, when it’s not winter. I also moved from science fiction and action to romantic comedy—see above about things happening.
 
Years ago I had a literary agent for a time, and of the three novels he looked at he thought the first one I wrote, Radio Red, was the best. It was set in an area of northwest Lower Michigan where my family vacationed at the time. Why? Because my in-laws had a cottage there, and I had … debt.
 
Michigan is almost as beautiful as Indiana, but even colder.
 
 For whatever reason, Radio Red never sold. Maybe editors don’t like red—they’re always complaining about red ink. Instead the second one I wrote, Storm Chaser, sold first. It’s not only set in Indiana, but in my home county of Noble. I didn’t have to research a setting; there’s a fine line between brilliance and laziness.
 
I told my publisher that I was writing some short stories to help promote Storm Chaser. Showing awesome overconfidence in my ability to make them money, they said, “Great! Put them together, we’ll publish a collection.” All but two of the stories in Storm Chaser Shorts are set in Indiana.
 
Are you detecting a pattern? You should, because along came The No-Campfire Girls. Although inspired by a Missouri Girl Scout Camp, I set it in southern Indiana. Why? Because I stole some of the characters from another book of mine, an unpublished mystery set in, yes, southern Indiana. The rest of the characters I stole from Storm Chaser. Is it stealing when it’s from yourself? Or just another case of brilliant laziness? I’ve coined a new term.
 
The Storm Chaser sequel, (hey, it works for Hollywood) is The Notorious Ian Grant. Now, it’s not essential that a sequel be set in the same place as the original. But except for the main character, I didn’t have to invent new people or locations. Creating Ian Grant was exhausting all by itself; in Storm Chaser he’s mentioned in exactly one line, in which his sister calls him an “ingrate”. Great introduction, sis.
 
My first entry into non-fiction, Smoky Days and Sleepless Nights, can be described entirely by its subtitle: A Century or So With the Albion Fire Department. Granted, there are more than two dozen Albions in the United States; but come on—pay attention to the theme, here.
 
My unpublished “Slightly Off the Mark” columns were collected into the imaginatively named Slightly Off the Mark: The Unpublished Columns. See what I did, there? You can argue this one, but many of the columns are about Indiana, and by gosh they were all written in Indiana by an Indianian, so there.
 
(Indianian? No wonder we call ourselves Hoosiers.)
 
After that was what I call my picture book: Images of America: Albion and Noble County. Kidding, I never called it that, but it’s historical images and fun stuff about Albion and Noble County. Which are in Indiana. Any questions? I didn’t think so.
 
Last year we released Hoosier Hysterical: How the West Became the Midwest Without Moving At All, and if I have to explain how that’s about Indiana … well, I just don’t.
 
(I also had a short story in Strange Portals and a humor piece in My Funny Valentine. I usually don’t count them as my wholly published work, but in this case what the heck—they’re both set in Indiana.)
 
So that’s … how many is that? Jeez, the other day I told someone I’m about to get my tenth book published, but if you don’t count the parenthesis above, Radio Red will only be my ninth. It gives me the warm and fuzzies, to say “only” nine. I’m on track to beat Isaac Asimov’s publishing record! Only 500 more books to go.
 
And now … well, Radio Red, like the Storm Chaser series, is set in a real place; but that place happens to be in Michigan. It’s been bought by Torrid Books, and has an official release date on March 7, and …
 
And I’m cheating on Indiana.
 
But I feel Hoosiers will forgive me. And if they don’t … well, then I can only imagine what they’ll think of my first spaceship story.
 

 

 

In this photo, police block main roads and crowds begin to line up days in advance of Mark R Hunter’s author appearance at the Noble Art Gallery. The first person in line told reporters, “I’m actually just here to ask his wife Emily how she puts up with his genius eccentricities.” Several thousand people were expected …

 

 

Okay, not really; the photo is from the Albion Christmas parade. But that is where we’ll be this coming Saturday, from 1-5 p.m.—the old Black Building at 100 E. Main Street, now the Noble Art Gallery.

We’ll have all our books, including the latest one, Hoosier Hysterical: How the West Became the Midwest Without Moving At All. Also, we just finished printing out the front and back covers of our newest book, so you can get a look at it far ahead of the scheduled March 7th release date. No police line required.

I’ve done an interview about Hoosier Hysterical: How the West Became the Midwest Without Moving At All with an Indianapolis radio station, 93.1 WIBC. Just to prove it really exists:

 

http://www.wibc.com/

https://www.facebook.com/93wibc

 

Once I got over the mind-numbing terror, I really had a good time talking with Terri Stacy, who seemed to have a genuine interest in Hoosier history and trivia. I don’t know when (or if, because things happen) the interview ran or will run, so if anyone happens to catch it, please let me know.

 

Terri also said she’d send the story along to the statewide news organization that WIBC is affiliated with, Network Indiana—so if all goes well, the interview could turn up anywhere in the state.

 

http://www.networkindiana.com/

 

Fort Wayne’s regional publications about what there is to do, WhatzUp, came out Thursday and … say …

 

 

 

Why, that’s my name on the cover! I’m actually above Mannheim Steamroller! I wonder what’s inside …

 


 

Why … it’s an interview with me! And anyone who can’t find a copy (I got mine at the Kroger’s in Auburn), can read the interview online:

 

http://www.whatzup.com/?page=feature&id=666

 

Because that’s whatzup.

 

In an earlier post I mentioned trying to come up with original ideas to promote author appearances; I’ve now done over 734 thousand of them, and have a new one coming up December 10th. My newest book, as all fourteen of my regular readers know, is Hoosier Hysterical, a humorous look at the history, people, and trivia of Indiana. The signing at the Noble Art Gallery will be the third since Hoosier Hysterical came out, and also the third appearance I’ve put in at Dan Gagen’s gallery in downtown Albion.
 
What hook could I use to get people to come? The first thing I thought of is to have the cover reveal of my new novel there, and that’s great, but I wanted something more.
 
Then I realized the bicentennial of Indiana’s official formation is December 11th—just one day after the book signing.
 
And what inspired me to write the book was the upcoming bicentennial.
 
Say it with me, now: “Duh.”
 
So, the Facebook event details are now on my FB writer’s page, along with the hooks. While you’re checking it out, please like my page!
 

 
A view from the Noble Art Gallery. Well, actually a view from the middle of the street. Boy, were the other drivers mad.
I've been so busy that I completely forgot this column, which came out in the 4County Mall On November 2nd. But considering it mentions the election, maybe a little time was just as well.
 
SLIGHTLY OFF THE MARK
It’s been a rough autumn here in the Hoosier land. An exciting-in-a-bad-way presidential election, clowns all around us … although as far as I know, this time the politicians and clowns aren’t connected.
But sometimes, bad things can lead to better things. Our car got wrecked this year, but now we have another one that’s pretty nice. It’s got so many electronics that when it’s time to be serviced, we have to take it to the Apple Store.
And sure, I hate late autumn, but there are advantages. In all my life, once the first snow falls I’ve never had a lawn mower blow up on me. Well, once.
This thing with all the threatening clowns lurking around neighborhoods? Hey, that keeps them out of Washington, where they’d cause even more trouble. (I know, two political clown jokes, but it’s just so easy.)
And the presidential election?
Okay, you’ve got me on that one.
As I write this the election’s still three weeks away, and it’s been a nasty one. The only real benefit is that it’s given me lots more time, because I gave up social media. It’s so … antisocial. You can’t just politely disagree on the issues anymore, largely because we’ve all forgotten what the issues are. It’s all about the three P’s: personality, past, and prison, as in who should be there.
The name calling and mudslinging haven’t been this bad since Cleveland vs. Blaine, and we all know how that one turned out.
If we have the two most disliked candidates in history, it makes you wonder how they got nominated in the first place. Clinton had a sense of inevitability (“Well, it was her turn … wasn’t it?”), while Trump got in mostly because the party bosses assumed he wouldn’t get in. I normally castigate people who refuse to vote, but this year I’ve already ordered my “Don’t Blame Me, I Voted for Neither” bumper sticker.
Whoever wins will have an uphill climb to get the majority of Americans truly behind her. (Although I’m not a fan, I’ve got $20 on Clinton—and I’ve been right in the last three elections. Four, depending on where you stand on Florida in 2000.)
Enough about this year’s election, which will be settled by the time you read this. Here in Indiana, we pine for a repeat of the election of 16 … 1916, which wasn’t nearly as mud-slung, and featured the height of Hoosier influence. There were not one, but three Indiana natives on the ballet that year.
One was Thomas R. Marshall of Columbia City, a country doctor who, to everyone’s surprise, took the governor’s election in 1908. Woodrow Wilson was looking for someone more liberal, but he couldn’t deny Indiana’s political power (seriously!) and chose Governor Marshal as his 1916 running mate.
Marshall didn’t want the job—it didn’t pay enough. But convinced by his wife, who wanted to live in Washington for some reason, he joined Wilson, They won in a landslide in 1912.
That put him on the 1916 ballot against Republican Charles Evans Hughes and his running mate, Theodore Roosevelt’s former vice president, Charles W. Fairbanks. I loved him in Robin Hood! Wait, that was Douglas Fairbanks.
Fairbanks arrived in Indianapolis as an Ohio lawyer, but we let him in anyway. You college football fans, insert your own joke here. His main claim to fame was serving on the commission on Alaskan affairs before that territory became a state, and now you know where the city of Fairbanks, Alaska, got its name—from an imported Hoosier.
Just as Wilson wasn’t thrilled with his less than leftist running mate, Roosevelt would have preferred someone further to the Republican left, but he picked Fairbanks and they won in 1904. Unable to get a presidential nomination himself, Fairbanks joined the ticket again in 1916, as Hughes’ vice.
Just goes to show, presidents have always had vices.
If you’re a political history buff, you’d guess the third Hoosier running in 1916 was socialist Eugene V. Debs, who ran the four times before. But no, he sat out 1916, before running again in 1920—from a prison cell. Again, insert your own joke about modern candidates here.
No, in 1916 the third was J. Frank Hanly, still another former Indiana governor who led the Prohibition Party ticket. No, I’m not kidding—I’m stone cold sober, and so was he. He’d been trying to make America a dry country for many years, and this was the pinnacle of his attempts to save our livers. When a man compares liquor to slavery, you know he’s serious. Imagine what social media would do with that today?
Hanly was confident his beloved cause of saving America from the evils of alcohol would propel the Prohibition Party to victory—stop laughing, I’m not done. Yes, Hanly underestimated his country’s love of booze, and his party got only 1.19 percent of the vote. The winner? Wilson with 49.25 percent, which continued Indiana’s Marshal as vice-president. I suppose they celebrated with a brewskie.
Considering that just a year later Wilson—who originally ran on an anti-war platform—brought us into WWI, maybe the others were thankful.
So there you have it: Three Hoosiers in one election, and only the average amount of mudslinging. Way better than when Alexander Hamilton claimed Thomas Jefferson was having an affair with one of his slaves (which was true, by the way), or when Ben Franklin’s grandson called John Adams “old, querulous, bald, blind, crippled, (and) toothless”. Adams was also called a hermaphrodite, and his son John Quincy was accused of being a pimp.  Andrew Jackson’s opponents declared Jackson to be a cannibal. So he ate them.
Maybe the clowns aren’t so bad.
 
ozma914: cover of our new humor book (Hoosier Hysterical)
( Oct. 21st, 2016 06:09 pm)
This photo is actually from a few years ago when Emily was still in school, but Indiana University-Purdue University has been in the news lately (not necessarily in a good way). The time of year is about right! This is the Liberal Arts Building, if my rusty memory serves.
 
I really loved being down at IPFW, which is easy for me to say because it was Emily who had to actually pass the classes. I'd find a nice spot and write, and there were lots of nice spots. I wrote several columns and the majority of two books—maybe three—while she was in school. For a writer, there's something to be said for leaving behind the distractions and errands of home.
 
Plus, the library was awesome.
 
Here are some photos from last week’s introduction of the Albion Bicentennial Mural, part of the year-long celebration of Indiana’s 200th anniversary. There was a good crowd there on a dreary day, which included an appearance by the Bicentennial Torch that’s been touring around. Oh, and it’s also the Bison-tennial:

 
Bison-tennial! Get it? Never mind.
The mural was designed by Wolf Lake resident Daniel McDonald, an art major in his junior year at the University of Saint Francis. Here’s an appreciative crowd just after the unveiling of the mural, which graces the south side of the Noble County Economic Development Corporations building—which we old timers tend to call the old Albion Town Hall.

 
It’s very cool. Here’s a closer look, which is a bit out of perspective because it’s tall and I’m not as tall as I used to be. There are now two murals on this block—the same block that includes an antique store and the Noble Art Gallery building. It’s an art block!

The home at top right was that of Gene Stratton-Porter, one of Indiana’s more famous authors. And yes, I have three books involving Indiana history, but my home is two blocks further south … I won’t count until we expand it to be an art neighborhood.
In all the fuss about car crashes I haven’t taken much time to sell the soap in the last few weeks, which is ironic because now we have to pay for a new car. Luckily I don’t have to pedal my own Dial this time: Just before we left on vacation Kay Kauffman did a review of Hoosier Hysterical.
 
I shared this review in a few places when it first came out, but you can’t blow your own horn too much, especially if you’re Muhammed Ali. (This is totally untrue—lots of people blow their own horns too much. That’s why election season now lasts three years.)
 
 
Kay lives in the midst of an Iowa cornfield that was probably just harvested; follow her blog so she has something to talk about in coming months other than walls of wind-driven snow blowing in from the north. (I’ve never been to Iowa, but I loved The Music Man.)
 
The only problem is, Kay suggests I write histories of the other 49 states. I spent a whole year researching Hoosier Hysterical: running all over the state, seeing parks and historic places, taking photos …
 
Actually, it sounds like fun.
Here we are with another appeal for everyone to pick up a copy or two of Hoosier Hysterical: How the West Became the Midwest Without Moving At All, and by “pick up” I mean buy, because shoplifting’s illegal. At ten bucks for a hard copy, it’s less than a price of a large Starbucks triple latte coco-café supreme with extra cinnamon and that foam stuff, with a muffin on the side.


 
(I have no idea if that’s true: I don’t drink coffee, and my doctor won’t let me eat muffins.)
 
We need to sell a few more copies to justify the year we spent researching and writing. I know what you’re thinking: “You spent a whole year researching a humor book?”
 
Okay, when you put it that way, it does seem a little silly. But if not for the research, I wouldn't have discovered some neat stuff:
 
How would I have found out that Indiana was the site of a Revolutionary War naval battle?
 
How else would I have had the chance to photograph Lincoln’s well, Roseanne’s house, or a coffin in a cave?
 
How would I have learned about Elvis Presley’s connection to the country’s first train robbery?
 
How else would I know that George Washington’s (alleged) illegitimate son moved Mount Vernon to Indiana?
 
Most important of all, how would I have discovered the nickname for Indiana residents may be related to missing body parts?
 
I know what you’re thinking: “Mark, are you trying to tease us into reading the book?”
 
Yes. Yes, I am.
 
So for the funniest historical humor book ever written by someone living in my house (I can’t confirm that—I have no idea what the dog wrote before we got him), it wouldn’t kill you to read a preview here: https://www.amazon.com/Mark-R.-Hunter/e/B0058CL6OO, or get it straight from me at www.markrhunter.com.
 
Probably it wouldn’t. Do you have any preexisting conditions?
 
 
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