Monthly Archives: May 2014

The Case of the Misplaced Graveyard

My wife, son and I just spent our family vacation in upstate New York. It was four days in total with one day spent driving in, one day driving out and forty-eight hours to visit the dead relatives.

This tradition started nearly twenty years ago when our daughter passed. We interred her in the family plot in Richfield Springs with a stone for her, Kit and I for economical considerations. Each year after that, we made sure to visit, if no longer than a weekend. Other relations on my wife’s side passed away over the years until there were more family members beneath the turf than above it.

I like dead relatives. They hang out in graveyards. They’re quiet. They don’t espouse embarrassing political opinions. Of all my relatives by blood and marriage, I think I like the dead ones best.

Kit had become the family genealogist and chronicler, if only because she was the only one who had any interest. She had in the previous years found many graves scattered all across the upstate area from Cooperstown to Croghan and beyond. This year she wanted to re-visit some of the sites she had incomplete notes on and tend to the graves.

I enjoyed helping with this. Though my primary super-power is Disappearing in a Crowded Room, I’m pretty good at Finding Things. Several times we’ve had exchanges along the lines of: “Keep an eye out for such-and-such stone.” “You mean this one here?” “Yeah, that one.” One particular graveyard this week was thwarting our every attempt to locate it. We had pictures of it, but no name or address. Only scanning of her Family Treemaker files narrowed it down to which city.

Our son and his GPS guided us to a cemetery in New Bremen, but this was not the one with Kit’s great-great-great-great grandfather who fought in the Civil War. There was a baseball field across the road from the churchyard. Knowing that baseball moms just love to be questioned by out-of-towners about graveyards, we stopped and asked a couple.

Oddly enough, no luck with that.

Then we noticed that the town offices were situated in the double-wide trailer at the back of the diamond’s parking lot. We scooted over to one of the employees coming out and showed him the images we had of the graveyard. They showed nineteenth-century headstones, a partially buried vault used for storing bodies over the upstate winter and the corner of somebody’s house beyond that.

The town employee, a very nice young man, immediately recognized the house as belonging to the second employee that had just come through the door. After a minute’s consultation, the first young man lead us to the graveyard. Kit was re-united with her Union artilleryman ancestor and we all drove back to our hotel in Cooperstown.

Kit and I sang along loudly to the oldies on the radio, because that is what middle-aged parents do when they’ve had a good day visiting the dead relatives.

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Getting shot…

I walked into our vintage and costume shop the other day, and a photographer friend of Kit’s looked at me and said:

“I want to shoot you.”

Oddly enough, that is a common occurrence. Many people want to shoot me. At least half of them are photographers. Frequently, this is a function of my costuming. Dozens have wanted to share a photo op when I was done up as Snape from Harry Potter. Many more would stop Kit and I for pictures of our garb at conventions or ren faires.

During my years as a street mime, it was a fifty/fifty split between cameras and small arms fire. Or at least, pimento loaves wielded in anger.

I don’t change my social media profile pictures as frequently as some authors I know, since I no longer have a screaming need for the world to validate my existence. It still warms my heart a bit to have women look at my face and smile, even though I know it is not from appreciation of my rugged good look, but amusement at the mustache that rides my upper lip and looks like an illo from a Dr. Suess book.

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Because I Took Crap from Everyone…

Fellow writers, we all get this question:

“Where do you get your ideas?”

There’s all sorts of deep and shallow responses to that one, but I have an entertaining answer for my first novel “Camp Arcanum.”

“Because I used to take crap from everyone.”

For about a year, I worked in an EPA licensed lab that tested drinking and waste water for municipalities and facilities all around the state of Ohio. At least once a week, I would get a white plastic bottle filled with unprocessed sewage labeled: “City of Arcanum, Darke County.” Now, with a name like that, you have to expect something weird going on under the surface. That concept fermented in the back of my brain over the years until I came up with my version of Arcanum populated with witches, Qlipphotic demons and a university with a Bindings and Summonings classroom in its basement.

See, sometimes all an idea needs is a steady supply of organic fertilizer to grow.

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I Am Now Intercontinental

Like a Titan missile or some similar Weapon of Mass Destruction, I am now Intercontinental. My good friend in Perth WA Hilary Callaghan nee Radowick bought my novel Camp Arcanum, read it and then donated it to the Victoria Park library in my name. Now, denizens of that Perth suburb can check out Camp Arcanum and see that Arcanum Ohio, with its tree spirits, Qliphotic demons and undead skinless squirrels and bunnies, has metaphysical fauna just as spectacular as Australia’s. Thank you, Hilary!

In a related vein, I was recently solicited to purchase an online seminar on how to promote my work without whining, begging or stealing. The point is, there is NO way for an independent author to promote without begging or looking pathetic, so here it comes. If you have bought or read Camp Arcanum already, I thank you from the bottom of my heart and assorted other internal organs. Now, I fervently request that, where possible, you would post reviews on the web. Amazon, Goodreads or Library Thing are the highest profile sites, but personal book review blogs are always nice. This will allow me to increase my book’s profile, reach more people and convince my publisher to consider the sequel. Again, many thanks and watch out for the reanimated roadkill.

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