Have you ever looked back at something you did, and realized you’d been warned all along not to do it?
I don’t mean like when you were a kid, and your mom told you not to go out without your hat and gloves. Although come to think of it, sorry, mom: My mottled, aching hands tell me you were right. No, I’m talking about when you get those little signs, those portents that, in retrospect, stick out like giant stop signs.
Our plan was to go to southern Missouri, to see my wife’s family and visit with her friends. The friends are largely alumni of Emily’s Girl Scout camp, Latonka, where for many years she went as a camper and then worked. It’s the basis for (and receives half the profits from) my novel The No-Campfire Girls.
This trip required driving a thousand miles over a four day period in late December. What could possibly—well, you know something went wrong, or I wouldn’t have written this.
|Spoiler alert: Emily did get to spend some time with her family.|
I got the time off work, but felt guilty about it because right afterward one of my coworkers resigned, making scheduling a problem. Early in December, Emily got sick with what might have been a mild case of strep throat. Later my oldest daughter and one of the grand-kids came down with a much more than mild case of strep throat. (The other grand-kid came later.) A week before we were to leave, the dentist told me I needed a filling replaced as soon as possible, plus a crown on another tooth. Three days before we were to leave, I was cleaning my glasses when they literally fell apart. And I literally don’t use the word literally very often: They just broke into two pieces. Then my grand-kid got scarlet fever. Friggin' scarlet fever.
All the while I kept watching the weather forecast.
I’m accused of obsessing about the weather, and it’s true; but when you’re about to drive five hundred miles through three states in winter, then hopefully return, it’s a reasonable obsession. In this case, we had a one day window to get there, after which a winter storm would hit the whole region, clearing just in time for a one day window to get back.
What could possibly—ah, never mind.
Emily was better by then, and although it was a cold trip all the way down, that only counted when I had to get out of the car for gas or the dog’s bathroom needs. (As for my bathroom needs, I held it. Kidding! But I didn’t join the dog by a tree.) That was Friday.
On Saturday the temperature got up to 69 degrees in southeast Missouri. That’s not a typo, you northern Indiana people. We ran some errands before the party, and were driving around in t-shirts with the windows down. It was glorious, right up until about the time the tornado sirens went off.
There was a confirmed touchdown, although safely to the south of us. At about the same time, starting on a line twenty or thirty miles north, the rest of the Midwest was being socked in by an ice and snow storm. But we’d expected all of it—except the tornado—and although it was a little odd watching lightning in December, we really did have a good time with Emily’s parents and at the party.
This despite the fact that by the time the party started, the temperature had dropped thirty degrees. As the storm progressed south the temperature dropped close to fifty degrees in twelve hours, and if you think my car doors got iced shut, you’re right.
But we were there, and had some time before we had to go anywhere, and everything was just swell until Emily developed severe pain from a urinary tract infection. It was bad enough that we decided to go back a day early, which was totally not inside my weather window.
Still, a lot of dedicated highway personnel had the roads in good shape by the time we left Sunday afternoon. We passed some wrecks along the side of the road and, just to punctuate the point that we should have seen the “don’t do it” signs, we hit a discarded semi tire tread in Illinois. That was an exciting after-dark moment. But we got home, where at 9 p.m. Sunday night it was three degrees. For those who didn’t do the math, that was a 66 degree temperature change for us.
Sure, I got hypothermia unloading the car. But it was good that we’d traveled and charged up the car’s battery, because it got down to minus 9 later that night.
|The sad part is that I've been colder.|
It was a couple of days later when people who were at the party, including Emily and I, finished incubating our upper respiratory infections.
So, what have we learned from this? Don’t travel in winter? Be prepared? Watch for signs and portents?
I’m gonna go with all of the above.
How hard could it be?
I'm trying to keep the sales going, since the proceeds go to a good cause ... and, I'm testing this Amazon embedding thing that I noticed on the page.
I’m a little late passing it on, but I did indeed get a review this month of The No-Campfire Girls. As all fourteen of my regular readers know, half the proceeds from sales of this YA humor-adventure story go to support Girl Scout Camp Latonka in Missouri.
Spoiler alert: I think they liked it.
Very nice, and we may see main character Beth and her family in another story sometime soon! I always have plans, see. Meanwhile, don’t forget that half the profits for sales of The No-Campfire Girls go toward the continued operation of Camp Latonka, Emily’s former Girl Scout camp in Missouri. (The other half go toward writing the next book.)
Here’s our Christmas present to fans, readers, friends, non-fans, and … well, non-readers maybe won’t appreciate it. Just go to our website extras page at http://markrhunter.com/extras.html, and you’ll find a new short story, “Look Outside’, as well as stories from the previous two years. Download the PDF and enjoy on the device of your choice, and let me know if you like it!
The No-Campfire Girls first paired Beth Hamlin and Cassidy Quinn, and in “Look Outside” we find they’ve developed a long-distance friendship: Beth lives in northern Indiana and Cassidy at the southern end of the state. Both are missing a parent at Christmastime, and it takes an extra holiday effort to cheer them up.
We previously met Beth in all four of my published works of fiction: Storm Chaser, Storm Chaser Shorts, The Notorious Ian Grant, and The No-Campfire Girls. In addition to her appearance in the latter work, Cassidy is the lead in a so-far unpublished YA mystery, Red is For Ick. Don’t worry: Although events from other stories are mentioned, you don’t have to read them to enjoy the story … although I’d be happy if you did.
Merry Christmas, and Happy Holidays!
Apparently this is the last couple of days you can order something and still be sure to get it before Christmas, which includes my books if you don’t buy them locally. I know … usually I try to hide my sales pitches behind humor, but honestly I’m exhausted.
A few days ago Noble Art Gallery asked for more copies of Images of America: Albion and Noble County, and I’m told Albion Village Foods has sent off for additional copies three times now. I don’t know how sales are going at Doc’s Hardware, Black Pine Animal Sanctuary, or the Old Jail Museum (which isn’t open this time of year), but as soon as I get medical clearance I’m going to do my happy dance.
Meanwhile I just finished another polishing of my newest book, now with the working title of Hoosier Hysterical: How the West Became the Midwest Without Moving at All. Emily has it for a fresh-eye review, and if we don’t get a bite from a publisher, we’ll probably self-publish in mid-Spring.
Also meanwhile, look for a free Christmas themed short story soon, as a present from us to you.As always, check us out at www.markrhunter.com, because sometimes you just need a little book … or a big book. But most of mine skew shorter.
I suppose this would be a good time to remind all of you that books are, by far, the best Christmas gifts. Yes, even for non-readers: In fact, books owned by people who don’t read are not only great re-gifts, but when not re-gifted they’re among the books in the best condition. No dog-ears, no food stains, no bent pages … pristine. Two hundred years from now, you can resell books in such good condition for enough money to make up for inflation, if you should happen to still be alive.
In addition to that, books:
Require no batteries.
Almost never rot your brains.
In hardcover editions can be used for self-defense.
Can be hollowed out to hide all sorts of contraband and/or listening devices.
Make bookcases much more useful.
Never go offline during power outages, assuming you have backup lighting. If you don’t have that in case of power outages, are you really smart enough to read?
Also, should you go into a place like, say Albion Village Foods, Noble Art Gallery, Doc’s Hardware, Black Pine Animal Sanctuary, or the Old Jail Museum, you’re shopping locally. You might even pick up things other than, say, books with my name on them, and that would support local businesses, and if you mention I sent you they might stock more of my books. This makes me happy, and don’t you want to see me happy? I thought so.
But if you’ve heard horror stories about going out shopping this time of year, you could always go to our website at http://www.markrhunter.com/books.html. This gives you a choice of nine books in five or six different genres (because I just can’t seem to keep my mind on one thing), with prices ranging all the way down to free (for Strange Portals, anyway). It’s like Black Friday somehow turned into bright December.So that’s my pitch, and if you spread the word I promise I’ll continue to be funny and entertaining. Okay, I’ll try.
I’d like to ask everyone to considering spreading the word about two books that raise money for worthy causes:
All the proceeds from sales of Smoky Days and Sleepless Nights: A Century or So With the Albion Fire Department go to, yes, the Albion Fire Department. We’re expecting delivery of a pumper-tanker in about a month, so the money could help equip the new truck, or help with any number of other expenses. Our fire department history is illustrated, but is still only $9.95 in print—and like all our books, can be ordered directly on my website:
There are copies at the fire station, the Brick Ark Inn, and the Noble Art Gallery, and it’s also available for $2.99 on Kindle:
I’d like to give the fire department a nice Christmas present of a check for this year’s sales, and I hope both history buffs and firefighting fans will get something out of Smoky Days.
Half of the proceeds for my humor-adventure novel, The No-Campfire Girls, go toward the upkeep and continued operation of Camp Latonka, Emily’s former Girl Scout camp in southeast Missouri. It’s only $5.00 anywhere good books are sold—well, anywhere this good book is sold—and just 99 cents on Kindle:
The main character in The No-Campfire Girls is Beth Hamlin, a major supporting character in my novels Storm Chaser and The Notorious Grant, who also has a story of her own in my collection, Storm Chaser Shorts. You don’t have to read the others—The No-Campfire Girls is a standalone—but if you have, you know she’s the type who loves a good challenge and is never boring.
If you care for Scouts, firefighters, firefighting Scouts, or just a good cause in general, please: Purchase, review, retweet, repost, tell a friend, tell other camps/troops/firehouses, or maybe tag the book titles on a passing boxcar. I would suggest waiting until the boxcar comes to a stop.
I’m posting this mostly for my benefit, so you can ignore it or, preferably, embrace it and send it to your friends all over the world. I’ve had a few (rather surreal) moments this summer when I struggled to remember all the works I’ve had published. Not that there are that many, but I’m putting them up as a list here so I can refer to it in a hurry, and/or refer it to a potential reader. This has made me realize my next book after Images of America: Albion and Noble County will be the tenth publication my name has been on! That’s assuming you don’t include newspapers.
Storm Chaser (2011): A famous weather photographer runs afoul of an Indiana police officer, who suspects she may be manufacturing disasters to photograph.
My Funny Valentine (2011): I have a piece in this anthology about Valentine’s Day, and how very wrong it can go.
Storm Chaser Shorts (2012): A series of short stories featuring characters from Storm Chaser and The Notorious Ian Grant. (E-book only)
Smoky Days and Sleepless Nights: A Century Or So With The Albion Fire Department (2013): This illustrated history of my volunteer fire department was written for its 125th anniversary; proceeds go to the department.
The No-Campfire Girls (2014): When a group of teenage girls find out a drought will prevent campfires at their annual summer camp, they go to extreme lengths to bring on the rain. (Half the profits go to Girl Scout Camp Latonka in Missouri)
The Notorious Ian Grant (2014): A B-list Hollywood troublemaker tries to redeem himself by coming to Indiana to plan his sister’s wedding—whether she wants him to or not.
Strange Portals: Ink Slingers’ Fantasy/Horror Anthology (2014): Two of my characters from Storm Chaser and The Notorious Ian Grant have a Christmas encounter in this holiday themed fiction anthology.
Slightly off the Mark: The Unpublished Columns (2015): A collection of humor pieces published to “celebrate” being downsized from my weekly humor column job, and picked up again as a monthly.
Images of America: Albion and Noble County (2015): A photo-filled journey through local history, covering the settlement and early growth of this northeast Indiana county.
Well, I didn’t sell enough books to make my grappling hook throwing skills necessary, but it was for the best: Turns out my Batman suit doesn’t fit anymore. I promised that if I sold enough at the Saturday book signing I’d scale the Black Building, but over the years I’ve grown from Christian Bale Batman to Adam West Batman. It’s too bad, after all the work I did to find a Robin costume for Emily.
Still, we made some sales and had fun hanging with Dan Gagen at the Noble Art Gallery. And it goes on, in a way: Dan kindly allowed signed copies to be displayed in his gallery, there at the corner of Orange and Main in Albion. I don’t know if I’d call it art … but if you want to pick up a copy of Slightly Off the Mark, Storm Chaser, Smoky Days and Sleepless Nights, The Notorious Ian Grant, or The No-Campfire Girls, you can get them there while perusing the real art. (Friday and Saturday, 10-5.) You might also be able to pick them up in other local places soon, if I get off my butt and get it done.
Now I can just kick back and relax and … *insert hysterical laughter here* Nah, I’ve got another book coming out in a month and a half, and I’m already hip deep in the next project.
All six Amazon reviews of the book can be found on—well, on Amazon.
Please spread the word about The No-Campfire Girls, and leave a review on Amazon, Goodreads, your blog, wherever, if you’ve read the book. (If you haven’t read it, pass it along to yourself!) Just 99 cents on Kindle, with half the proceeds going to support Girl Scout Camp Latonka.
We’ve dropped the e-book price on The No-Campfire Girls from $1.50 to 99 cents, to celebrate the May 1st release of my humor book, Slightly Off the Mark! The print copy of our summer camp story remains $5.00, but if you’re hesitant to give us too much money, then hear this:
One third of the proceeds from The No-Campfire Girls was going to support Camp Latonka, the Missouri Girl Scout facility Emily called home for many years. That is now increased: Half of all profits from the book will go to maintenance and support costs to keep the camp operating. Can’t afford the five bucks you’d spend on some fancy Starbucks drink that will make you die young? Then get an e-book for what you’d spend on a vending machine can of pop that will make you die young!
So read about the story and get it here:
Or read about all my stories and get them here:
Don’t forget to leave a review, retweet, repost, pass it on, support the Scouts! Or at least support our writing costs. I’m cool with that.
We sold several books at the signing Saturday, and got to talk to some great people. Thanks to the Kendallville Mini Shops for hosting us! One visitor picked up books for her relative in Ohio, and another recognized me and bought The Notorious Ian Grant because she liked Storm Chaser so much.
Thus ends book signing season—this year. You won’t be hearing much from me for several days as we finish a deadline for the new book project, but my Christmas “Slightly Off The Mark” column is up in the Kendallville Mall. If you don’t get it in the mail and you’re in Albion, pick it up from the box outside of the Albion Village Foods or check out “blogs” at 4countymall.com.
My last book signing of the year, and probably the winter, is this Saturday, and I’d like everyone to attend. Everyone in the world. Yep, all seven billion of you. Except you, that guy with the blue coat in Apsheronsk. You’re a little creepy.
Don’t worry, there’s plenty of free parking along Main Street in Kendallville, although some of you might consider carpooling. I’ll be at the Mini shops, 134 S. Main Street, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on December 13th. It’s a new place, where you’ll find a number of small vendors in the former Best Little Hair House (not making that up) a block south and across the street from the News-Sun building.
Remember, every time you don’t go to my book signings, a butterfly in the Amazon flaps its wings. Don’t cause a hurricane.
We sold eight books at yesterday’s signing! Hoping some will make good Christmas gifts. Thanks to our hosts, and good luck in their efforts to find a permanent Albion home for their art.
Now on to the next book signing, a week from now at The Mini Shops, 134 S Main Street in Kendallville. Look for us from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
That doesn't mean this press release is a work of art, but this is what I sent to the local news outlets. I have two theories about press releases: 1. Make them as easy for the news people to work with as possible. 2. It’s always worth a try.
For those of you who are in the area, don’t forget that in addition to this one, I now have a second book signing on December 13th, at the Mini Shops in Kendallville—134 S. Main Street, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Art Sale, Book Signing Planned During Albion’s Christmas In The Village
Visual and written art will be featured at a holiday open house during the December 5th Christmas in the Village in Albion.
Gagen Art is sponsoring the exhibit and sale, which will be at the historic Black building at 100 North Orange Street, on the southeast corner of Albion’s Courthouse square. Dan Gagen, whose paintings have previously been displayed at the location’s windows, is a noted local painter who’s invited fellow artists to display and sell their works from 4-8 p.m.
Also attending will be author Mark R. Hunter, whose diverse works include two romantic comedy novels, a young adult adventure, a collection of short stories, and a history of the Albion Fire Department. Two of his works came out in 2014: The Notorious Ian Grant, a romantic comedy set in northeast Indiana, and The No-Campfire Girls, a humorous adventure at an Indiana summer camp.
Proceeds from Hunter’s earlier book, Smoky Days and Sleepless Nights: A Century or So With The Albion Fire Department, go toward the Albion Fire Department, and copies of all the books will be available. It will be his second book signing of the year, although he hopes this one won’t be as adversely affected by the weather.
The event’s Facebook page is at https://www.facebook.com/events/
I’d planned on one book signing this holiday season … now there are three. In addition to the one coming up this Friday at 100 N. Orange Street, I’ll be doing another one a week later in Kendallville—only the second book signing I’ve ever done outside of Albion.
That one will be at The Mini Shops, 134 South Main Street, on Saturday, December 13th. At the moment we’re planning a mid-day signing: 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. More information will be forthcoming, but meanwhile don’t forget to stop by the art show and signing in Albion, during the Christmas at the Village! That’s running from 4-8 p.m. December 5th, and here’s the event page for it:www.facebook.com/events/310190809164184