Welcome to the home of LSR Books!

LSR Books logo.pngI’m grateful you are here. It has been a lifelong goal of mine to become a published author and that goal is coming nearer by the day. The idea first came to me when I read Washington’s Secret Six by Brian Kilmeade. In it, he mentioned a plot hatched by George Washington for a soldier to defect and get close to Arnold so he could capture him and return him for trial. I was fascinated with it, and over the last couple years I’ve been researching and writing all about it.

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Currier and Ives publication of the escape of Sergeant Champe at the request of George Washington to retake Benedict Arnold from New York.

The novel is coming soon, titled Code Name: Augustine. It is a historical fiction story based on the real life attempt by Sergeant Major John Champe to recapture Benedict Arnold after he defected to the British. It has been a labor of love and I cannot wait to share it with you.

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Cover design

“What do you think would be my fate if my misguided countrymen were to take me prisoner?”
—Benedict Arnold, 1781

Reportedly asked to a captured captain from the Colonial Army, as quoted in The Picturesque Hudson (1915) by Clifton Johnson; the captain is said to have replied, “They would cut off the leg that was wounded at Saratoga and bury it with the honors of war, and the rest of you they would hang on a gibbet.”

 

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I walked one 1 mile on the Appalachian Trail (and why it matters, too) Part II

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29 Dec 18 – Not long ago, I met a lady that summited Lobuche in Nepal. Lobuche is a mountain on the Everest Base Camp trek. Yes, that Everest. Mount Everest… the Roof of the World. She, along with her cousin and some climbing friends made the long trip halfway around the world to take the peak of that 20,075-foot mountain. And they did. I learned after hearing her Lobuche story that prior to that, she took a trip to Africa to the 19,341-foot summit of Mount Kilimanjaro.  It was fascinating to hear her stories of how she would choose her destination, set her climbing goals, plans her trips, and then conquers whatever mountain is next on her list. Those feats are impressive, at least to me anyway.

I mention her story not because I want to do what she has done. As I said in part one of this blog, I am not that ambitious. I can live out my days not having climbed over 20,000 feet up a snowed and iced mountain of death and be perfectly content with that decision. I tell you about her because I admire the ambition she has to hit those goals. The desire to go and see and do something you might not ever get the chance to again. Those were items on her “list”. That is the type of goal-setting I’m trying to achieve for myself. The goals I want to accomplish before it’s time to punch my ticket… my bucket list.

I whetted my appetite for the Appalachian Trail in Vermont right before Christmas. Even though those initial 100 yards checked off an item, it just felt incomplete. Like my inner-Tim “The Tool Man” Taylor was grunting at me for stopping there. About four hours from where I live is the peak of Springer Mountain, standing at 3,782 feet above sea level. She’s nestled in the Chattahoochee National Forest, which is part of the Blue Ridge Mountains in northern Georgia.  Believe me when I tell you it is in the middle of the area that is formerly known as the middle of nowhere. At least it felt like it. Oh, and did I mention that it is the southern terminus of the Appalachian Trail? How convenient. Now I can make a bigger check mark on this bucket-lister!

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After talking my youngest son into going on this adventure with me, we grabbed a few items for the trip and off we went. He was a little reluctant at first, not knowing what he was about to get in to, but finally relented. We got a late start that morning, leaving home about 9:30am. Sunset was at 5:02pm that day. With the distance and time zone change, we would be racing the sun to reach the peak and get back off the mountain by dark. Time was against us, but wasn’t going to stop us. Again, undaunted, our heroes plunged on!

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After a long and winding drive through the beautiful Chattahoochee National Forest, at long last we finally arrived at the trail parking area about 2:45pm Eastern time. In the six mile drive up the mountain you gain about 1,200 feet on hard-packed dirt and gravel called Forest Service Road 42-3. I will give credit where it is due… whoever maintains that road does a marvelous job. It’s somewhat daunting, being just wide enough for one vehicle the majority of the way with occasional pull-offs where you could let cars coming down the mountain go by. We met a few on the way up, and the conditions were wet and muddy. I wouldn’t call it “white-knuckle driving”, however, there were some unsettling moments. In the end, we made it to the packed parking lot and were ready to start our trek to the peak. I was excited… I was getting ready to be on the AT once again!

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From the parking lot to the peak is about one mile. One of the websites I researched this trip on gave the trail to the peak a moderately strenuous rating, however I did not find it to be that difficult other than just going steadily uphill. It was wet and muddy in parts, but that wasn’t going to stop us. The peak was our prize and wet socks were but a penance to be able to say we conquered this mountain! At the beginning of our ascent, a group of about thirty college-aged people passed us on the way down. They were talking and carrying on as we passed by, but once they got out of earshot, I noticed something that I became aware of the rest of the entire time we were on the trail… the quiet.

Whatever noises you would hear up there were the ones you brought with you. The day was cool, with temperatures in the mid-’40s, slightly overcast skies and a light breeze. That breeze is the only thing you could hear. There were no birds, no planes, no sounds of civilization, just the light breeze making its way across the hillsides and giving the trees a gentle sway. It was a deafening silence, and it was amazing.

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We passed a few other people on our way up. Small groups of two or three, and some families, all out enjoying this beautiful day just as we were. The occasional friendly greeting was the only sound we heard making our way up. After about 30 minutes of our steady uphill climb, we passed two young ladies on their descent who kindly informed us we were about 100 feet from the top, and no one else was up there right now. We stopped for a quick water break and I looked out into the horizon through the leafless trees. I introspected on how Benton Mackaye and Myron Avery determined this place to be the southern terminus of their trail. What I had first thought of as just the middle of nowhere was becoming the perfect place to end it, and there was no better place on Earth to be right then other than where I was standing. I had to imagine they thought the same thing when laying out this amazing trail. The peak was within sight, so up we went.

 

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Throughout our history, man has created some amazingly beautiful spiritual buildings. Each is unique and beautiful in its own way, and many of the older ones have long and storied histories. I’ve been blessed to see inside several different ones of all shapes and sizes, and of different denominations. One thing I have not been to, however, is the top of many mountains. If I can be so bold to make a comparison, the top of a mountain has to be nature’s most spiritual place. Though this mountain is not the highest or most difficult to climb, none of that takes away from the feeling you get in your soul to sit quietly at the top and look out onto the world.

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At the top of this particular mountain, I was experiencing another feeling. I wasn’t just checking off another item on my bucket list. I was feeling closure. I didn’t realize, nor fully appreciate, how the research work I did on this historic landmark had opened up a need to experience it. I’ve always wanted to hike it, and for weeks this trail and its stories consumed my entire work life. I would compare it to a lifetime Red Sox fan getting to go to a game at Fenway Park for the first time. You just can’t describe it… you have to feel it to understand. It’s not just pictures on a screen or words on a page. It’s a real place and I’m here, and in this moment, there is no place I’d rather be.

We had the peak to ourselves for about 20 minutes, just taking it in. Sitting on the rock at the center of the overlook, I happened to notice to my left this little trap door. Inside was a visitor log book. Not uncommon throughout the entire AT. They can be found at almost every trailhead or shelter along the way. I started looking through the pages to see what others had written. Several were just signatures and dates, where they were from. Some had encouraging or spiritual messages, birthdays, even marriage proposals as you can see below. I sat and read through some of it just to see what others had to say. Suffice it to say, there were some neat things in there. The book was full so I went back a few pages to leave our mark. Nothing prophetic or poetic. Just a little something saying we were here, and we loved it.

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The sun was sinking quickly and it was time to head home. We took a few more pictures, gathered our things, and started back the same way we came for the journey home. At about the same spot we stopped for our earlier water break, we passed three guys coming up. We conveyed the same message we had received earlier, that they only had about 100 feet to go and they would have the peak to themselves. From there on out, we only saw two other people. Now we had the trail to ourselves. It was just as tranquil on the way down as we made our way to the car.

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Now I have officially hiked 100 yards plus one mile on the Appalachian Trail.  There’s a bigger check mark on my bucket list I’m dang proud of it. My son asked me on the way home if I was planning to hike any more of the trail. I thought about it for a little bit before I answered. I’m sure the opportunity will present itself again. I told him I probably would and maybe next time we’ll bring gear and plan it as an over-nighter or maybe we can do part of it over spring break. He jokingly said if you’re going to do that, why not just plan to thru-hike it. I laughed. I like his way of thinking, but I’m not that ambitious.

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I’m not normally a selfie person, but in this case, I made an exception.

I walked 100 yards on the Appalachian Trail (and why it matters), Part I

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Dec. 21, 2018 – Everyone has thought about, at some time or another, what would be on their “bucket list”. At the ripe old age of 44, I have yet to make one on paper. However, I have a few ideas swirling around my head of certain things I’d like to accomplish before my time on the third rock from the sun is up.

One of those swirling bucket ideas is to perform the American National Anthem at a major sporting event. I would gladly do it anywhere there is an opportunity, but I’m a big hockey fan at heart. I’d love to belt one out on center ice. I even hedged my bet and learned the Canadian National Anthem as well, just in case I ever get the chance!

Another long-time item on my list is to become a published author. That’s a goal I work towards every day, even if it’s only a little tiny bit. I try to write at least one thing daily and I set regular benchmarks for myself. I tested those goals in 2017 when I wrote 51,055 words in 30 days for NaNoWriMo. I’m still proud of that one!

Recently I was fortunate enough to accomplish one item on my list. For the longest time, I’ve wanted to hike a portion of the Appalachian Trail. I do quite a few short day hikes or overnighters with my Boy Scout troop at nearby State Parks, and they’re great, but to trek the AT… now that is some real hiking! Up until now, I would have classified this as a passive bucket-lister. It was on the periphery… one that I wanted to do but I didn’t actively seek to check it off. It was more like a target of opportunity should the occasion arise. Then, one day, it moved from passive to very active.

For my day job, I am a programmer for my city’s Parks and Recreation department (writing doesn’t pay the bills…yet!). One of my 2018 programs was a “virtual walk” of all 2,158 miles of the AT. The southern terminus is at the peak of Springer Mountain in north Georgia, and continues all the way up the eastern United States, with the northern terminus at the peak of Mount Katahdin in Maine. Teams of six people would sign up and count all their miles collectively toward the goal of “walking” the trail. In the end, over 300 people teamed up for the walk, covering over an impressive 50,000 miles as a group, and fun was had by all.

During the program, I had to do a lot of research for the weekly e-newsletters on the trail and some of the better highlights of its history. Each week of the walk, every participant received an email with the current standings, trail facts, silly hiking memes and stories from the trail. Over the course of my work, I caught the bug. The more research I did, the more I wanted to push the needle from this is something I’d like to do over to this is something I have done.  Not the whole trail, mind you. I’m not that ambitious. But hiking a small section would satisfy my curiosity and put a checkmark on my mental bucket list. Then, suddenly, it happened. While perusing a trail-finder website one afternoon, an opportunity appeared like a distant ship on the horizon.

My oldest son currently lives in Woodstock, Vermont, which also happens to be an AT “trail town” along with Barnard, Vermont. Woodstock is to the south of the trailhead, and Barnard to the north and the AT passes right between them. It just so happened that my wife and I were planning a visit to Woodstock right before Christmas this year.

Do you hear that?

Hear that sound?

That would be the soft  knock of opportunity!

I had a six-day window to answer that door. I packed my hiking boots and some halfway decent winter garb, hopped on a plane, and off we went. Upon arriving in Woodstock, I waited for a some decent weather and set out to find the trail off of Barnard Road/US-12.

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A few days before our arrival, a snowstorm passed through the area dumping about a foot of snow. The day before we went in search of the trailhead was rainy and warmer, causing a lot of snow melt and high water everywhere. Suffice it to say, I did not have high expectations with the weather conditions of what we would find. This was truly meant to be a “let’s-just-say-we-were-here” kind of stop. After passing it a couple of times (we didn’t have a GPS), I noticed this little sign (above) behind the guard rail. We finally found it!

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A small wooden bridge crossed a raging creek, through a gate, out into an open field and up a low hill. After eight weeks of researching and and newsletters and pomp and circumstance about the Appalachian Trail, I was finally walking on part of it! Now you can tell by the photos that I wasn’t joking about conditions. Under that snow over the bridge is about an inch of solid ice. The snow was packed and crunchy. Every step was like walking on a floor that gave way under each footfall, about eight inches down. Then you had to try not to slip while taking your next step. The temperature was sitting right about 35 degrees, and I forgot to bring a jacket with me. But undaunted, our hero plunged on!

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I’m sure to most, these just look like 100 yards worth of tracks through the snow, and it could be anywhere the white stuff falls, in any field, in any part of the world. However, these were my tracks on this national treasure of a trail fulfilling one of my bucket list items. My wife and son were in the car watching me tromp through the snow and ice, probably thinking, “Look at that idiot going off in the snow, and without a jacket even…”. It could have been waist-deep and I still would have done it. It could have been below freezing and I would still have gone up there. All the maple syrup in Vermont would not have kept me from walking up that hill, just so I could say “I was here, and this is what I did”.

As I’ve gotten older, I am more of a mind that material things are less valuable to me than experiences. I’d like to think I’m not alone in that thought process. That meager 100 yards was meaningful to me. It took all the reading, research and effort I put into that AT walking program and made it a real, tangible thing. It’s a real place in this wide world of ours and not just something on the other end of a keyboard.

If you haven’t thought about your bucket list yet, I encourage you to do so. Not as some sort of race against the grim reaper to see how much you can get in before he comes knocking, but as a scorecard of sorts. To give anything and everything you’ve ever wanted to encounter a chance to be realized. Go somewhere and experience it, even if it is only 100 yards at a time.

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My AT journey doesn’t end here!

My trip to Springer Mountain is coming in Part II.

To be continued…

Old books can be the best books

If you’ve read my other posts, you might already know I have an affinity for books over other mediums for story-telling. I particularly like hardcovers, but it’s not a requirement for me to read it. The allure is simply having the paper in my hands. I’m not much of a collector of anything anymore, but I will occasionally pick up a book to add to my small pile of stories I like to read now and then.

I am in possession of several books that belonged to my Great-Grandmother. As a child, I remember at her house a literal floor to ceiling built-in book shelf that towered over the console television in her living room. It was full of old tomes from her childhood up to mine. Some were leather bound and well-worn. Some were newer books with modern dust jackets. Some were small paperbacks. It contained a full works of Shakespeare and Edgar Allen Poe to The Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew for young readers. One day, as an adult, I started thumbing through a few of the ones I still have and discovered something I didn’t remember seeing before.

She had gone through and written her name in some of them. Some were inscribed to her from friends. Some were inscribed to others in the family and some were inscribed by the authors themselves. How could I have missed this before? How could I not have noticed this in all those years as a little boy looking through books I couldn’t even read yet? Suddenly that dusty old volume had a new point of interest. Who owned it before? Who was it a gift from? Not all of them had it but some did. Now it became a hunt to see how many I could find.

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This book was a gift to my Great-Grandmother from her long-time family doctor’s wife, who also happened to be her backyard neighbor.

I found quite a few with names I didn’t recognize, or from people she must have known that I’ve now forgotten. Some are from relatives who passed long before me. One of my personal favorites is depicted below. The book is called Poems of the South by Col William Lightfoot Visscher. When I cracked this book open, I was amazed at what I found. It was a trove of its own history.

Inside the cover was an index-like card containing a quote dated June 19, 1923 by Frank Murray that reads “Judicious silence is much better than truth spoken without charity”. The handwriting, after comparison with other writings, belongs to my 2nd Great-Grandfather John Baskerville. On the next blank page inside the cover is an inscription from him to his son, my Great-Grandfather, Jim Baskerville. The on the opposite page is an inscription to John from the author himself, whom he refers to as “Col Visch”.

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Inside cover inscription written by my 2nd Great-Grandfather, John Baskerville
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Poems of the South and Other Verse by Col William Lightfoot Visscher. The author’s inscription reads: My Dear John Baskerville, I would not fear to wager something valuable that you can find times in this book that will clutch at your old Virginia heart. This because I wrote them from a heart that warms at the thought of the dear old south of the day, when you and I were young. Anyhow, I send you the book with the best wishes that I have on tap, and at this writing the memory of pleasant hours in your company, being of unusual congeniality. Cordially, Wm. Lightfoot Visscher, Chicago, January 1, 1922.
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Author’s obituary, dated February 11th, 1924

 

It seems they were friends at some time and must have had a journey together, or at the least, they were more than just a passing acquaintance. The penmanship of the author is exquisite and his words flow right off the page. I can almost hear the Kentucky drawl he undoubtedly had while I read it. People don’t talk (or write) like that much anymore. It wasn’t until months after finding the inscriptions in the front that I found the author’s obituary in the back, which for me, painted the rest of a story I might not otherwise have ever known.

Last month I had the pleasure to meet Mrs. Lynne Tolley. Her name may not strike a bell, but I can promise you her famous uncle’s does. She came to speak at a luncheon about him and her experience being related to the most famous whiskey-maker in the world, Mr. Jack Daniel. She is his Great-Grandniece and still works at the Jack Daniel distillery, about 20 miles from where I am now sitting. While having lunch with her, we talked about all sorts of things before the subject turned to family heirlooms. I assumed being in the position she was in the Daniel lineage, she would have some significant items. I was right about that.

Among the many things she has that passed down from him through the family, one particular item stood out to me. She has a first edition of Ben-Hur, published in 1880 written by Lew Wallace. That alone is a valuable item, however, what else was in it makes it even more valuable and unique. Jack Daniel inscribed his copy with his signature in four different places in the book, as well as some other notes. It’s obvious by his note in the back cover it was valuable to him as well.

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Ben-Hur First Edition, owned by Jack Daniel. Photo courtesy of Lynne Tolley.
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Ben-Hur First Edition, owned by Jack Daniel. Photo courtesy of Lynne Tolley.
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Inside cover inscription. I love the way he talks about the day. He must have really liked this book! Ben-Hur First Edition, owned by Jack Daniel. Photo courtesy of Lynne Tolley.
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Rear cover inscription. Ben-Hur First Edition, owned by Jack Daniel. Photo courtesy of Lynne Tolley.

Next time you see an old book laying around, don’t judge it by the cover. Take a look inside. It may have more of a story to tell than just the title on the binding.

 

Researching your book when you don’t realize you’re researching your book.

Research can be a daunting task, no matter the subject. Whether it’s 16th century art or whitewater rafting or current political climate, every subject requires some knowledge and occasionally putting your boots on the ground to get dirty doing it. A couple years ago, an idea for a fantasy story came to me when I learned the lyrics to The Trees by Rush. (Songs can be a great source of inspiration by the way, but that’s a topic for another thread!) I jotted down some notes on the idea and filed them away for a future writing session.

The idea of being a life-long learner was instilled in me long ago. I was a terrible student in high school, so I attempt to make up for that in my adult years by taking more than a passive interest in all the things I find to be “cool”. Most recently, I enrolled in the Tennessee Naturalist program offered through our wonderful State Parks here. My intent was to learn a little more than I already do about my local natural surroundings, but there was another benefit I did not intend.

The most recent class I attended was on forestry and tree identification. The group met at the Fiery Gizzard trail head in Tracy City, Tennessee. It is a very popular hiking trail (evidenced by all the other hikers we encountered that morning) and has some beautiful scenery to take in. We met under the pavilion on the well-kept grounds of the small park and began our induction into forestry.

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We started our 2.2-mile tree identification trek here. I found it comical that “hazzards” is misspelled, but I don’t judge!

Our instructor for this class was a forestry professor from University of the South at Sewanee, a very knowledgeable guy that could name most every tree we passed with a quick glance. Over the entire hike, I really did learn a lot that I didn’t know. I came into this excursion with a good working knowledge of most trees and found some of the information to be gee-whiz nuggets I did not already possess. Then suddenly, we stopped to admire a very healthy stand of Reindeer Lichen and he said something that put me in book research mode.

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The gnarled and intertwined root systems you find on almost any forested trail in the United States.

While looking at the lichen, he asked us to look at our feet. We were standing on the trail in a large mass of twisted roots from several different species of trees that were exposed above ground. Years of hikers stepping on them had worn down the bark and left woody scars with every footfall. His next sentence was very profound. He said, “The best way we can diagnose the health and wellness of a forested area is not what is happening above the ground, but below it.” He said that recent research on some western forests in the U.S. have been able to prove that trees with these types of entangled root systems share the limited water and nutrient resources across species. He continued to tell us that younger trees are able to tap in to the older tree roots and help supplement their growth in the under canopy.

In Rush’s lyrics, The Trees tells a story through song of a short battle between the oaks and the maples for sunlight. On the surface, the lyrics seem to be giving a warning about some political strife. According to Rush’s drummer Neil Peart, he wrote the song after seeing a cartoon depicting trees acting like people with no particular message in mind other than he thought trees acting like people was interesting. Here’s the full lyrics of the song:

There is unrest in the forest
There is trouble with the trees
For the maples want more sunlight
And the oaks ignore their pleas
The trouble with the maples
And they’re quite convinced they’re right
They say the oaks are just too lofty
And they grab up all the light
But the oaks can’t help their feelings
If they like the way they’re made
And they wonder why the maples
Can’t be happy in their shade?
There is trouble in the forest
And the creatures all have fled
As the maples scream ‘oppression!’
And the oaks, just shake their heads
So the maples formed a union
And demanded equal rights
‘The oaks are just too greedy
We will make them give us light’
Now there’s no more oak oppression
For they passed a noble law
And the trees are all kept equal
By hatchet, axe, and saw.

It wasn’t long into this hike that I realized it was serving a dual purpose for me. Becoming a State Naturalist is a passive goal I would like to accomplish, but becoming a published author is an active, passionate goal that I work on daily. I was startled at how easily the two goals meshed into one purpose with very little effort. There are many things we all do on a daily basis that can fire up your imagination. The difficulty sometimes comes in recognizing it.

Where my thoughts finally crystallized was a stop to see a small white oak, which wasn’t quite yet a sapling, growing under a shady canopy of two red maples. It was like the song says, but in reverse. The whole time I listened to the forestry professor talk about this research of trees sharing resources, I kept playing the song over and over in my head and thinking about my original story idea when I first heard the song. By the end of the hike, I had worked out a decent plot, and idea of a few beginnings, a solid ending, and even a few of the characters, all because of these amazing trees and what is now proven to be their natural behavior. It was, without a doubt, the most enjoyable (and productive) research session I’ve ever had!

I’ve included some other photos of the beautiful scenery that day below. Enjoy!

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Second Novel is Underway!

Some folks will call it a creative slowdown, or a loss of inspiration. Maybe the educated among us refer to it as a psychological inability to write or produce new work. Call it what you like, but I call it writer’s block, and it is a terrible thing. Everyone has experienced it at some point, whether while working on your first novel, working on an essay for school or heck, even on a grocery list. It happens… and it’s awful.

However, sometimes it can be a blessing. While sitting at my keyboard one day, researching and typing and editing and researching some more on revolutionary-era documents, I hit a wall. A big wall. With bricks and such. And maybe some rebar in there for good measure. Rebar… that’s when I had an idea.

What if the last prisoner in Alcatraz was never recorded anywhere because he had a secret? Records vary a little, but most show there were 1,576 people who spent time behind bars there until the prison closed in 1963, but what if there were two more that no one ever knew about? What if it was closed because of these last two prisoners and what they did… or better yet, what they were?

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“What keeps you up at night, Mr. Talbot? Is it the loss of your freedom? Perhaps it is the echo of old miseries from these stone walls, or is it fear of the beast that murdered your wife? I know that beast, Mr. Talbot. You hunt it. You might be surprised to know, it hunts you too.” – Harald, “The Goalie”

And just like that, novel number two, with a working title of Prisoner 1578 is underway! More details are coming soon. Stay tuned!

The Book or the Movie?

I love a good story. I love plot twists and characters that are engaging and interesting. I also love to see and hear those stories across multiple platforms. Even though it predates me, I have sometimes imagined sitting in the living room gathered around a radio listening to the old westerns like The Lone Ranger or Hopalong Cassidy. Even today I will occasionally listen to one of my favorites in that medium, The War of the Worlds by Orson Welles.

 

Of course, film and television paint a broader picture, taking the description in a story and bringing it to life for all to see. The special effects industry has surpassed itself in creating anything your mind can conjure in an astounding level of detail. Actors and actresses who have mastered their craft put faces and personalities to what was once just a name on a page. My sister recently commented on how Peter Benchley’s Jaws was incredibly different from book to film. Benchley had a hand in the screen adaptation’s writing, however my sister still thought the book was better. Even though I personally loved it, many think the film version of The Lord of the Rings was not up to par with Tolkien’s original tomes. The separation comes when your mind conceives what you are reading and paints it’s own picture. Then on the big screen your mind’s picture is vastly different from what the director wants in the movie. There are many well-made shows and films that tell amazing stories, but in the end, my favorite platform is still a book.

 

I don’t mean e-books either. I don’t want to knock the platform, mind you. Technology has created a way for you to have an entire library in the palm of your hand! An astounding feat indeed, but for this consumer of stories, my favorite way to drown in a tale is flipping the pages of an old book. I want to smell that pulp. I want to feel the heft and the roughness of the pages. I want to hear the spine of the book crackle when I open and close it.
Some might say it’s archaic. Some might say I’m a Luddite. That’s O.K…. I identify with both of those descriptions. There is something about cracking the cover of a book and delving into a world that comes to life in your imagination. You can get the same experience from an e-book, but for me, I just like a plain old book.

 

To get back to the part of this that’s relevant, it is not so much about the medium as it is about the story. I remember reading the book Congo by Michael Crichton. My copy was a used paperback I picked up at a yard sale. The condition of it told me it had been well-worn and probably mistreated in it’s storage, but never judge a book by its cover. I read that wonderful book from start to finish in about 15 hours. I could not put it down! I had a similar experience with The Hot Zone by Richard Preston, and then again with the Grail Quest trilogy and The Saxon Tales by Bernard Cornwell. Just recently I did the same with Timothy Zahn’s Star Wars: Thrawn series and Noosejumpers by Trevor H. Cooley. I read them in record time and the stories were superb. What was it about them that drew me in so hard? It’s simple really… they told a good story.

 

That’s why I have started my foray into writing… to tell a good story. It is my sincere hope that if you ever pick up a book I have written, no matter what platform it’s on, that when you close the back cover or power down your Kindle after finishing the last page that you will sit back, ponder and think to yourself, “Wow, that was definitely a good story.”

 

All my best and my thanks to you,
Lyle

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