Campaign Catalogues Push Voter Variety


We hear about campaign spending every election. Candidate A is ahead in fund raising; candidate B is building up his war chest (gasp! He said war! Next he’ll say he’s battling for office!); Candidate C is saturating the market. You can’t win a national or statewide office without a whole bunch of money.

While some manage to win with smaller war chests (gasp!), your chances improve as you buy ads, mail flyers, bribe babies, and give candy to special interest groups. Or maybe those last two are the other way around. Or maybe not.

I don’t have a problem with candidates getting their message out; but their message often amounts to “the other guy’s stupid – vote for me, I stand for traditional family values and giving you a bunch of money that we took from you in the first place!”

There’s also the fact that political office these days seems to belong not to the better public servant, but to the one with the best PR machine. It’s a variant of the same old problem: whoever has the pretty face and the best sound bite delivery gets elected, whether he’s most capable or not.

When you get to rural counties or small towns, it’s different: there’s less budget and less need for one. This is my third run for office and I’ve spent exactly zero, because I don’t need to introduce myself: I’m right here. Nor did I spend anything when I was elected fire department secretary (“Let’s vote for Mark – he can type!”), or during that high school class election in which I somehow tallied a minus number of votes – despite voting for myself. Maybe I should have thrown around some swag on that one.

I could go on about being frugal and how it’s evidence that I could handle your money, but the truth is I’ve just been broke and cheap. Frugal is a good reason to vote for someone; broke and cheap probably isn’t a great selling point.

Anyway, I hadn’t given much thought to the whole war (gasp!) chest thing until, days after signing my name to another Town Council run, I started getting campaign ads. Not ads for other candidates – ads from companies that wanted me to buy their election materials.

I don’t have a problem with that. It’s good old fashioned capitalism at work, and if someone wants to buy a product made right here in America, that’s great. Someone has to manufacture the materials, run the company, come up with the slogans, and do the ads for the ads, so yay.

Um … they are made right here in America. Right? Just a sec …

Okay, I’m back. As best I can figure, about 90% of these products are American made. I can live with that as long as the other 10% doesn’t come from some Chinese kid working sixteen hour days for half a bowl of rice.

It’s amazing to me, the stuff you can give away when running for election. Pens? That could backfire: if a voter’s pen runs dry or springs a leak, he’ll stare down in a murderous rage at – my name. Then there are:

Emery boards. Grind down your fingernails, all the while slowly erasing your candidates name while wondering who Mr. Emery was and whether his decedents still get a cut.

Your photo on campaign signs. Boy, that’s opening you up for trouble. I saw an Obama sign that someone defaced … I kind of liked the eye patch, but the handlebar mustache was a bit much.


Heh. I can see it now: “Hunter sucks!”

Paddle fans. You’d have to stress to everyone that they’re fans, not paddles. Especially if they’ve got your face on them.

Rulers. What are you trying to tell voters, here? That you measure up? Or that you’re so old you can remember when everyone owned a ruler?

Then there’s my favorite: bookmarks. I’m a fan of that idea, because I tend to grab whatever scrap of paper is on hand to mark my place. This can lead to both embarrassment and identity theft. Also, it’s nice to think people still read.

One catalogue offered a 20% discount for candidates. Um … who besides candidates is going to buy campaign material? Do people get their names put on big signs and hang them on their walls?

I don’t recall any candidate for our Town Council distributing campaign materials, but I’m tempted after getting a flyer from a local company. What attracted me to their ad was my name, all over the thing.

A sign said “vote Hunter, County Commissioner”. Another was much better: “Hunter, Congress”. Hey, finally a high enough level to have perks. Lead me to the Congressional swimming pool!

They had a bumper sticker with “Hunter,, running for office”. I assume that’s a template, otherwise everyone would be fighting for that web address. Sadly, my website is, and other than poking fun at the process, there will be no mention of politics there prior to the election. Unless it looks like things are going badly for me: Then I’ll fire up the mud slinger.

My favorite of all, and one I might actually make use of someday, was a t-shirt. It said:

“Hunter. Sheriff.”

Hey, I already work in the building! I’d only have to move offices!

No, no, I have no plan to run for Sheriff in three years. That job’s hard; you have to actually be in charge, make decisions and stuff. But if I can get a logo put on almost everything, couldn’t I advertise my writing that way? I’ve got a novel and an anthology coming out, and the fire department history book in the works, and in today’s publishing industry advertising dollars are few and far between.

Imagine a bookmark with “Storm Chaser” on it, or a bumper sticker with my web address. Best of all: a t-shirt that says “Slightly Off the Mark”.

I’d run for that.

Storm Chaser excerpt and giveway in Jessica Subject's blogoversary

My writer friend Jessica Subject is celebrating the anniversary of her blog with a month of guests posts and interviews, with authors and other people she's met while blogging. It starts on April 1st; I'm proud to say that my contribution is coming up on April 14, and will include a never-before-read excerpt from chapter 1 of Storm Chaser.

Well ... I've read it. But it hasn't been posted anywhere.

But wait -- there's more! There will be several giveaways during the Blogoversary, and one will be a chance to win a copy of Storm Chaser. Details will be up on the site. Here's a schedule and list of participants:

And here are some of the available prizes:

Storm Chaser cover art

I've received the proposed cover art for Storm Chaser, and it looks great! I'll post the final version as soon as it's finished and approved.

Storm Chaser Cover Art

The cover art for Storm Chaser is going to be done by author/illustrator Gemini Judson. Here's an example of her work from her website:

Naturally, as soon as the cover is done I'll get it posted for all to see! Same with that TV interview footage -- which is still not posted on the station's website. Meanwhile, I guess this means I'll be getting the edits from Whiskey Creek soon, so until then I'd better get back to polishing the fire history book.

March, madness

So, I walked out to go to work at 10:45 p.m. and got hit in the face by a squall of sleet and heavy snow ... that was fun. Not entirely unexpected, though -- the weather always turns foul during basketball playoffs, yet another reason to hate basketball.

How 'bout them Cubs?

At least when their regular season starts the cold is mostly over. Think they'll do well until their traditional August crash and burn?

Novel Interview or: TV Terror


The important thing for a writer’s first novel isn’t the amount of money made: It’s the number of copies sold. The more sales, the more likely a publisher is to pick up that all-important second novel. It’s the circle of publishing life.

So although media attention came a couple of months earlier than anticipated, I was happy to talk for as long as my voice held out … right up until the moment Eric Olson of Indiana’s News Center told me he wanted a TV interview. At my house. In less than twenty-four hours.

Which brings us back to that panic cleaning I mentioned last time.

My fiancée and youngest daughter pitched in to make my house look great – downstairs. The spare bedroom upstairs looks like the staging area for the Normandy Invasion. And the closets? Well, here’s a typical conversation in the hours before the interview:

“What do I do with this?”

“Throw it in the closet. Later we’ll clean it, organize it, or feed it, but for now it goes in the closet.”

Ever hear of Fibber Magee’s closet? He was famous for having one so full of junk that whenever someone opened the door it caused an avalanche. We haven’t actually opened any closets yet, but when the time comes I might have to cordon off the room, the wall across the room, and the other side of the wall.

I’m not sure about the scrabbling noise we keep hearing in the office closet; the pets are all accounted for, I swear. Say, where’s my daughter?

The TV station pushed the “firefighter writes a novel” angle, and wanted to start with me in uniform, performing routine duties around Albion’s firehouse. Being a hungry writer, I was amenable to this (it’s a real word, I looked it up). Granted that it’s a cliché, suggesting that you seldom find a macho, action-oriented firefighter diving into the literary world.

Hey, I know lots of firefighters who read. Even if they don’t, I’m counting on some of them to buy my book, if only for their wives or to gather dust on a shelf. You hear me, guys? Ahem. Anyway, we’re a volunteer fire department, a mix of all kinds of personalities as well as professions (even though the interview made it seem as though I was there full time). Some love reading, some don’t – just like in real life.

I’m not macho, and I’m not particularly action-oriented unless you count pounding away at a keyboard, but I’m a good sport: I put on my Class B uniform and headed up to the station. Thankfully, it fit; I can count on one hand how often I’ve worn it. The uniform, not the station. (Formal wear is Class A, but I can usually be found in Class C, which is a fancy way of saying jeans and a fire department sweatshirt. Iron on a Maltese cross, and I’m set.)

The camera crew showed up, which consisted of Eric Olson, with a camera. Multitasking rules. He filmed me doing a gear check of my protective clothing (something it was due for anyway), checking equipment on the rescue truck, (something someone else had already done), and just walking around, which looks way cooler on a TV screen than in real life. So far, so good.

Then we went to my home, where he filmed me … typing. In fact, I wrote about half the column you read last week (you did read it, didn’t you?) while he filmed me, because why waste quality writing time? Like the walking, the typing looked cooler on the screen than it is in real life. I just wish he’d put some John Williams music to it, maybe the Indiana Jones theme.

I didn’t have the heart to tell him I was actually on my fiancée’s computer, instead of the dusty and stained ten year old Mac on the other side of the office that I usually write on. Instead of writing I should have been updating my website, in the interest of accuracy.

As he had at the fire station, Olson filmed more footage than he would ever use, including the Storm Chaser manuscript, numerous shots of me typing, and of course me talking. Then he asked me to read something from the book, which I had already anticipated. I’d decided to read some of the opening scene, which has jaw-dropping excitement. Well, okay, not jaw-dropping. Maybe mouth-opening-a-little excitement.

“Read something racy,” he said.

Say huh?

I’d been doing okay until then. Well, sort of, if you can call stark terror okay. Now I was petrified. I hate reading my stuff out loud anyway, and now he wanted me to read the sex scenes into a TV camera? Besides, there really isn’t all that much racy stuff in Storm Chaser, which I would describe as a romantic-comedy action-adventure rather than a flat-out romance.

With sweaty hands (guess I’ll have to replace that part of the manuscript), I located a scene that was, shall we say, heavy PG-13, or maybe light R. I’m fairly sure my voice shook as I read the scene out loud, a little shocked at my own audacity for writing it in the first place. Then, to my surprise because I hadn’t thought ahead, the tender moment was interrupted by a stunning moment of action. Okay, not stunning, but definitely mildly surprising.

I looked up at Olson and, with a shaky laugh, muttered, “coitus interruptus”, even though it never came close to that.

And that was it. The story aired that very evening, less than a day and a half after I got the first call. I still haven’t figured out what the rush was – who did they think was going to scoop them?

Also, how do I keep interest up in the book for three more months? Where can I go after getting on TV? CNN? The Tonight Show?

I have a feeling that, like that scene I read, the rest of the countdown might be somewhat anticlimactic.

Novel Contest Fail

Sadly, I didn't make it to the quarter-finals of the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award competition with my young adult mystery, "Red is For Ick". (Maybe because I still haven't come up with a better title?) Time to start gearing up for next year! ... I know I should sugar coat it and look on the bright side and all that, but I have to admit -- kinda bummed.

On the other hand, five years ago my writing career seemed to be one step forward and two steps back, but these days it's more two steps forward and one step back, which is the kind of progress I prefer.

There was a lot of great competition, and the list of who made it in the YA and general fiction categories can be found here:

Storm Chaser anthology off to Whiskey Creek Press

After finishing the last polish, I've finally sent Storm Chaser Shorts off to the submissions editor of Whiskey Creek Press. Ten short stories totally 15,000 words -- seven set before the events of Storm Chaser, and three set afterward, ranging from humor and action to one that's just a bit mystical. I have no idea what changes they might want, or when the release date might be -- or even if they'll accept it at all, if it doesn't meet their expectations. After all, it's a separate submission from the original novel; it could still be rejected.

Meanwhile, I'm going to take a week or so off and try and catch up with some chores that need done, then dive back into other projects: The fire department history book, and getting Coming Attractions and Radio Red back into submission circulation. This is all contingent on when Whiskey Creek sends edits back on Storm Chaser -- should be any time now -- which naturally will become first priority.

Then I'll have to start working on the next novel! Red is For Ick is still with the agent who requested a full, but unfortunately she's on maternity leave now. She's okay with simultaneous submissions as long as she knows about it, but I haven't had time to deal with that anyway.

Selling is as much a part of the full time job of writing as writing itself is. Must keep plugging away at it!

Publicity Path Leads to TV Panic

No word yet on when the TV interview will be up on the Indiana News Center website; apparently their website man is on vacation for the entire week, rather than the first few days as I'd thought, so it might not be until Monday. I'll get the link up as soon as I have it.

On a related note, the Storm Chaser short story anthology is polished and finished! I'm just waiting to hear back from a couple of beta readers; then I'll check their notes, make the necessary repairs and/or emotional meltdown, and have it on the way to Whiskey Creek Press where, hopefully, it'll receive a green light.


And so there I was – on television.

But perhaps I’d better start at the beginning.

Sometimes the beginning is hard to pin down. Like a butterfly in the Amazon flapping its wings and causing a hurricane, my story may have started when my parents read me a Dr. Seuss book as a kid. However, for the sake of simplicity and word count, I’m starting my story with a website.

When I was a kid a website was something to be avoided, due to my fear of spiders.

Then the internet came around. When I finally sold my novel, I started pushing it through my internet presence even though the publication date isn’t until this June. (I have an internet presence the way a minnow has a presence in the Pacific Ocean, but you gotta start somewhere.)

That resulted in an interview on the webpage Romance Writers on the Journey. I like to describe Storm Chaser as a romantic-comedy action-adventure, but you have to flip a coin and pick a main genre, and the emotional heart of this story is how two people meet and fall in love. The mayhem and destruction along the way is just gravy.

I posted a link to that interview on my social networking sites, and along the way someone sent that link to the local news media. (I’m looking at you, Bob.) The Albion New Era printed the interview, and that very afternoon I got a call from an unnamed Noble County daily newspaper (‘cause there are dozens of those) that wanted to interview me right now. Their interview went full circle, ending up on the fwdailynews website that covers several area newspapers.

A few days later the phone rang, as it will do. I always check caller ID; after all, it might be a bill collector, politician, relative, or all of the above – worse case scenario. In this case, the caller ID said “Indiana News Center”.

It had to be an interview, because TV stations don’t solicit subscriptions. I think.

The only real surprise by this point was that, in this chain of increasingly bemusing events, the radio stations got skipped. I’m waiting for your call, WAWK.

“Hello, Mark, this is Eric Olson.”

Olson is one of the anchors at Indiana’s News Center, which does regional news for three Fort Wayne affiliates: the NBC, ABC, and CW stations. He has a local connection, as he grew up in the Albion area not far from where I did – and only a few miles from Hurricane, the fictional community I invented for Storm Chaser.

Olson wanted to interview me the next morning. He wanted to work the “macho firefighter writes a romance novel” angle, and I didn’t have the heart to tell him I was voted “least macho firefighter ever” five years running.

You have to admit, “firefighter/romance novelist” isn’t a title you hear every day. Still, why not? Firefighters can be romantic. If they try hard. When they have to. Sometimes they even enjoy it, or so I surmise.

Chance Hamlin, the male protagonist of Storm Chaser, actually is a volunteer firefighter, so I’d better be able to convince people firefighters can be romantic.

As part of that, Olson wanted to film some footage of me at the fire station, and at my home.

The next morning, he wanted to do this. At my home.

I’ve spent an awfully lot of time writing recently – for all intents, I’m working two full time jobs. By the time I’ve done my column and other writing for the New Era, communicated with my publisher, planned publicity and future distribution for Storm Chaser, and worked on upcoming short stories and other fiction, I’ve put in as much time as on my full time job. How do I find that time?

I find that time by not doing anything else, that’s how.

Now, my fiancée has been cooking (I cook sometimes, but she craves cuisine that doesn’t have the word “surprise” in it) and maintaining my website, and I’m keeping up with the dishes. She’s kept the bathroom cleaned up and I’ve been scraping the top layers off the kitchen, because those two rooms just need to be watched after.

The rest of the house? Well, she’s a full time college student and I’m working full time plus two. The rest of the house? Nothin’.

I haven’t done a comprehensive cleaning since 1992. It wasn’t dirty so much as cluttered, which is to say that if it was dirty, I’d never know under all the mess.

We were about to embark on the most death-defying act of cleaning since the Marshal Plan, and possibly the most intense exercise since Mary Lou Retton thought it might be cool to try that gymnastics thing.

Next week (because brevity is the soul of someone else’s tact): the interview, or: Stark Terror.

Until then, I leave you with photos Emily took during the actual interview. If you don’t see them, my editor will probably leave out this last paragraph, which means you won’t know anything about the photos. So why are you reading this? (That’s a question many of my readers ask themselves.)

Emily's photo of me during the interview:

And of me "relaxing" as the equipment is set up:

2011 Noble County Relay For Life

Here's my Relay for Life homepage for 2011:

I hope some of you can donate this year, even though it's been a rough time with a lot of challenges for all of us. If you can't, please send your thoughts and prayers our way for this very worthy event....

Interview no-news and bad week for everyone

Still no word on when my TV interview will be posted on the Indiana News Center website; I was told it was going to be when the website guy gets back from time off, which means maybe mid-week. It will eventually be here:

Just to throw me, one of the first videos now up starts with "Local man authors a book" -- but it's not this local man.

Despite saying it would happen, I'm still ashamed of how very little I've been online recently. In addition to working on the Storm Chaser short stories, we had that day and a half of panic cleaning, followed by the interview, followed by collapsing from the stress of the panic cleaning and the interview. Then the entire weekend was dedicated to doing taxes, and on a related note I need to get better organized this year. With any luck, next year I'll owe taxes -- because that will mean I sold lots of books. (Hm ... and how do I handle sales tax for copies I sell myself?)

Any extra time was spent staring in horror at the news channels, and thinking a whole lot of people in Japan had much worse weeks than I did.

All of this possibly explains why I'm now experiencing what seems to be my very first migraine. If this is "mild", I can understand why severe cases are incapacitating.

And what have I missed amongst all of you on the world wide web? Fill me in, and I'll reply back when I can look at the screen without pain.

Going to be on TV -- tonight.

Barring some breaking story, my TV interview with Eric Olson should be on Indiana's NewsCenter at 6 p.m. tonight, on Fort Wayne's NBC (33) and ABC (21) affiliates. (That's 4 and 8 on the local cable schedule.) He says the video will be up on their website, but that might be a few days later. I hope I didn't suck. Needless to say, I'll post a link to the website when it comes up.

At Least Government Waste Keeps Taxpayers Entertained


            Two weeks ago I gave you the first ten of what one blogger called 20 of the craziest things that the US Government is spending money on. In tribute to the way the federal government operates, I used the blog’s numbering system, in which 1-10 were the bottom of the list, and 11-20 are the top of the list, with 20 being 1. Doesn’t that sound like a government operation?
            I believe we stopped halfway through, which brings me to one that’s actually a bit iffy in my mind:
            #11: The feds gave The Conservation Commission of Monkton, Vermont $150,000 to construct a special “critter crossing” that allows thousands of salamanders to migrate past obstacles.
            I need some details on this one. I mean, I don’t want salamanders to die out. If they’re endangered, a few efforts to keep them –
            Um … they’re not endangered? Well, flatten the little lizards, then – we can’t afford that crap. (Or spend maybe a thousand bucks to bore one little salamander sized tunnel under the highway.)
            That’s my whole point, anyway. A lot of spending can be argued either way, but we just can’t afford all these little micro-spending projects that add up to one big maxi-padded budget.
            #12: A park received $440,000 federal dollars (remember, this is code for your money) to perform green energy upgrades – on a building that has sat unused for a decade. This was in California; you knew California would pop up in here.
            #13: A rarely used office had a budget last year of $440,955.
            How’s your office budget? That one belongs to former Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert, but he apparently only shows up once a month to shovel a dump truck load of cash into it.
            #14: A Tennessee library was given $5,000 in federal funds. That doesn’t seem like much, until you multiply it by every library in the country. Even then, libraries are one of the last places I’d take money from – unless the money was going toward video game parties, as in this case.
            #15: The U.S. Census Bureau produced a television commercial to air during the Super Bowl, spending two and a half million dollars on it.
            In the pantheon of interesting and controversial Super Bowl commercials, this one stood out. Unfortunately, it stood out because it was so poorly produced that hardly anyone understood what it was about.
            Oh! That commercial! I remember that one. So it was for the Census, huh?
            #16: A Dartmouth University professor – hey, there are those crazy professors again! – got $137,530 to create a video game. The game is called “Layoff”, and features a recession theme.
            I thought video games were to escape from reality?
            #17: On a related note, the Minnesota Zoo got $600,000 to develop an online video game called “Wolfquest”. This came from the National Science Foundation, which then gave itself half a million dollars to study why they did this.
            #18: A pizza place in Iowa was given $60,000 to renovate its façade, in order to give it a “more inviting feel”.
            Now, I support this idea in theory. Albion has given small grants to improve facades, as a neighborhood improvement kind of thing, and I think it really does make a difference when a block of businesses get spruced up and attract more customers.
            But $60,000? For one façade? Given by a government that’s been running in the red for years? It’s like trying to fix a small problem by hanging multiple unrelated projects on a huge, bloated spending bill. Thank goodness the feds don’t do that.
            #19: The US Department of Agriculture gave a group of farmers $30,000 –
            Wait, that’s not much. Who do we need, and who works harder, more than farmers? Then again, this money was to develop a database of farms that would host guests, to give tourists what are being called overnight “haycations”. It’s like a bed and breakfast, with allergies.
            I kinda like the idea. But we can’t afford it.
            Now, before I get to the last one, let’s keep in mind that our elected representatives just don’t seem to understand why their approval rating hovers in the low teens. We’re facing a time in this country in which, realistically, we not only need to cut wasteful bullcrap (there’s probably some taxpayer funded study of bullcrap, as if they didn’t already have it in Washington). No, we need to cut spending even on stuff that’s arguably good and useful. That’s how bad things are. In order just to pay our outstanding bills, the United State government will have to borrow 4.2 TRILLION dollars this year.
            #20: So now, the top of the list, the big number one or, in Federalize, the #20 that’s number one, thus making everything backward:
            The National Institutes of Health received $800,000 in tax money taken from American workers to study the impact of a genital-washing program on South African men.
            Okay, let me say that again: $800,000 of taxpayer money to study how well men in another country wash their private parts.
            Kinda makes you proud to be a cog in this great bureaucracy, doesn’t it? And whether it does or not, you’re still a screw in the machine – and the feds are holding the screwdriver.

still hoping to sacrifice hair in Relay For Life

See how I sneaked a little mention of Storm Chaser in there, in my own greedy and underhanded way?

A recent press release about this year’s Noble County Relay For Life mistakenly stated that two of the Relay committee members, Leadership Chair Ed Anderson and Promotions director Mark R. Hunter, would shave their head if the 2011 Relay raised $55,000.

$55,000 is this year’s minimum goal for the American Cancer Society event, which will be held May 14-15 at the West Noble School. However, the pledge Anderson and Hunter made was to go bare if the money raised reaches $100,000.

The idea is to give everyone – especially people who know them – an incentive to raise more money toward cancer services and research. That means reaching for an amount that does more than meet the goal by a whisker. Anderson, Work Release Coordinator for the Noble County Sheriff’s Department, and Hunter, a Sheriff’s Department dispatcher whose first novel is coming out in June, have made the bold – and bald – guarantee to save their shave until the numbers reach six figures.

It’s not the only entertainment to be found at this year’s event, and certainly not the only reason to donate toward the cause, but the two men are dedicated to supporting the Relay by showing more skin than ever before – at least, on their heads.

More information is available online at, or by contacted Sara Jackson at Jackson-
. Or, contact Ed Anderson at (260) 693-2338 or by e-mail at

Storm Chaser Shorts and other stuff

I see that I've surpassed 2,000 tweets sent -- again. I got up to 2,000 once before, but then suddenly a bunch of them disappeared and I had to work my way up again. Really didn't break my heart.

At about the same time we reached 600 hits on my writer's website. I have a bad habit of not paying enough attention to stats like that, but I see 71 people now like my Mark R. Hunter Facebook fanpage, and 79 have liked the http://www.markrhunter/ website. This guarantees 70 people will buy Storm Chaser  in June, right? Sure it does.

On a related note the Albion New Era, the newspaper where my column first appeared, has reprinted the interview I did on the website Romance Writers on the Journey, at . The Kendallville News-Sun, this area's daily newspaper, called me right after and did an interview of their own, which should be showing up today or tomorrow.

It's a little intimidating, and I'm beginning to understand why some people fear success. Yesterday I had a little mini-breakdown along the lines of "Now everyone knows I've written a novel! I have to stand by my work! What if nobody likes it?" But then Emily slapped me around for awhile, and I'm okay now.

Anyway, I haven't been around much, and probably won't be around much in the immediate future, and here's why:

Some of you might recall me mentioning that I wanted to write a few short stories, set before the events of Storm Chaser but in the same universe. My plan was to post them on the website every few weeks, as a way to get people interested in the book when it comes out in June.

Well, I ran that idea by my publishers at Whiskey Creek Press. They liked the idea so much that they suggested putting a group of short stories out as an e-book anthology, a sort of companion piece to Storm Chaser. I'm hoping to still get one or two out for free before then, as an appetizer, but suddenly they've gone from a few fun little tales to another project all on their own!  (I still need a title for the new book, by the way. Storm Chaser Shorts is what I've been calling it, but most of the stories don't involve actual storms.)

The problem is that even though it will be short, like any book project it needs to go through the editing and publishing process -- and at the time I brought the idea up I only had two of about ten stories completely finished. So for the last couple of weeks I've been spending every spare moment writing, and for the foreseeable future I'll be doing the same. In addition to that, I'd promised myself that I'd spend part of Emily's spring break helping her get the house straightened out, because we've been too busy to do much with it.

So please, if you mention me in a post or see something you think I might be interested in, drop me a note. I'll keep up as best I can, but between now and Storm Chaser's release date I have to accept the fact that I'm just not going to have time to comment much, and maybe not even read as much as I did. I just went through my LiveJournal back to February 28, but I can't keep that up. Still, I'll always be available by e-mail, and naturally I'll post myself, because a writer's gotta write. And, of course, I'll always answer comments, unless they get lost of the internet somewhere. Even if I become a famous author. No, I mean when. Yup.

I used to worry when I hit busy times like this that people who didn't hear from me for awhile would defriend me. But I've been thinking about that, and I've decided that anyone who'd clear me off their flist just because I don't show up every week doesn't want to be much of a friend and, on the other end of the spectrum, isn't interested enough in my writing to buy my fiction. Life's too short to be ruled by impatient people with short attention spans.

Now, I'm off to find someone to beta my short stories ... oh, and does anyone have suggestions for a title? They all take place in summer, mostly in the midwest, and there's a little bit of a weather theme that runs through them, but otherwise they're a pretty eclectic bunch. Since all the characters are heading toward an eventual meeting in the little town of Hurricane, Indiana, I was thinking of incorporating that, but "Hurricane Tales" again sounds too much like they're all chasing storms. Writing's hard. *whines*

Fleeing Politicians Should be Fired


                I know you were waiting with bated breath for part two of my top 20 ways the government wastes money, but every once in awhile I latch onto something as it’s going down, and have to comment. We’ll continue counting down next time; I suspect there’ll still be federal overspending in a week or two.
One day, while at my full time job, I took a 911 call from someone who wanted us to check on a dog running loose. However, I don’t believe the police should waste their time on dog complaints, so I put the caller on hold and then drove into Whitley County, because that’s out of our jurisdiction in a place where I can’t be reached by my employers.

                No, that never really happened. But if it had, I would have been congratulated by fellow pro-dog people for doing the right thing in preventing the dog law from being enforced. My fellow dispatchers might have been a little sore at me suddenly leaving, but when I returned I’d have sat right back down at that console and gone to work without any repercussions.


                Of course not. That pink blur flying out of the dispatch center would have been my body, holding a termination slip. Agree or disagree with how your business does things; argue for or against a policy; but follow the rules and show up for work if you want to have a job the next day.

                Unless you’re a politician.

                I watched in disbelief as a portion of the Wisconsin State Legislature, in an attempt to defeat a collective bargaining bill, fled the state rather than participate in a vote they might lose. I listened in even more disbelief when one of them explained: "It's not so much the Democrats holding things up; it's really a matter of Gov. Walker holding things up.”

                Um … excuse me, but the Governor was there. What the speaker was really saying was, “The vote isn’t turning our way, so we’re taking our toys and going home.”

                The vote is being cast by the Republicans as necessary spending cuts to balance the state budget, and by the Democrats as a measure to break unions. I’m not going to get into that fight. On the one hand, unions once did great and important things for workers. On the other hand, both the states and the federal governments are going broke, and every borrowed dollar is on the backs of our children and grandchildren. It seems to me the two groups should get together and find every possible way to slash spending first, and if they’re still in the red after exhausting all other ideas they’ll have to come back to this issue whether they want to or not. At that point it’s not union breaking, it’s realism.

                My problem is with hiring someone to do a job, and having them run out with the job not done. Thank goodness our Indiana State legislatures are too dedicated and intelligent to punk out like that.


                Thirty-seven Indiana House Democrats, getting a 911 call they didn’t like, put the state on hold and skipped out. As I write this, they’re still crouching in their holes like that stupid winter loving groundhog, refusing to show their heads. With the House unable to reach a quorum, this act has effectively shut down the legislature. Instead of an honest vote in which our representatives actually represent us and have to stand by their decision, we get – nothing.

                Stupid Democrats – oh, wait. This has happened before. Both Democrat and Republican minorities have abandoned Indianapolis to prevent a quorum, and in one case (the Democrats, that time), it led to 130 bills dying without ever getting an up or down vote.

                Honestly, at this point I don’t care what party they’re in, I don’t care what bill they’re killing, and I don’t
care whether they’re in Illinois or on a junket to Libya. Here’s my only question:

                Are they still getting paid?

                Because I gotta tell you, not showing up for work wouldn’t just get my pay docked: If I left because I didn’t like the task assigned, I’d be out of a job. Oh, I might get a doctor’s excuse, maybe from that doc in Wisconsin; but what if I came right out and said I was fleeing because, say, most of the dispatchers thought we should send an officer to dog complaints, but I disagreed?

                Then I might as well run for the state legislature myself, because I’d have plenty of free time –  after signing up for unemployment.

                These people abandoned their job: to weigh the pros and cons, make arguments, cast votes, and to try if possible to find a compromise that works for everyone. If the other side refuses to compromise – a problem that comes from both the right and left – it’s still their job to get in there and fight the good fight. Every so many years they get the chance to talk their way back into a majority. Then, if there’s something they feel so strongly about that they refuse to compromise, it’s their turn to get their way.

                By this cowardly act they’re removing the democratic process, and taken the rights of voters away from the people who elected them. Anyone who does this – regardless of political party – owes it to their employers to immediately resign, in favor of someone who’s
willing to come in and do the job. Anything else is the worst possible exercise in undemocratic obstructionism, and should never be tolerated.

                In other words, if refusing to compromise is wrong, don’t respond with another wrong.