August 2018 Update & Books Read

Dear Readers:

Hard to believe that August is here and the end of summer is nigh. School starts back in less than two weeks, the days grow noticeably shorter, and the end of the summer tourist season looms (an important milestone in a town with only tourism as an industry). September will be quiet (hint – great time to visit Maggie Valley) until the explosion of the fall colors brings the crowds back in October. And, by early November, skiers will be descending the slopes next door to the house.

The rapid passage of time scares me because an August 31 deadline with my editor looms. When the September update appears, a metaphorical red pen will be slashing, stroking and stabbing 80,000 or so of my words. Since I am focused on that deadline just weeks away, the publishing schedule for the website will be light this month.

Before I turn the calendar too far forward, lots of tidbits for you this month including crazy search terms, cord cutting, weather to make you jealous, and, of course, books read.

Crazy Search Terms

File this under things that amuse me. In reviewing the analytics for my websites, I always spot a few searches which lead me to believe the person did not mean to find my site.

For example, searching for “Cheesewhiz” may lead to my dogs’ website, The Thundering Herd, because of Cheoah’s nickname. Amazingly, they stay on the website and visit other pages. I am not sure if that is a desperate attempt to find snack food or utter amusement at finding a dog named for a snack.

Here on the author website, numerous people search for some variation of Amazon which leads them to the short story Amazon – A Retailing Dinosaur. More worrisome are the people who arrive at Modern Torture Devices, a short story about my dreaded elliptical, after searching for “modern torture.” I don’t think they will be future fans because they don’t stay on the website very long. Apparently, my exercise routine isn’t what they were looking for.

But the most specific search of the month cracked me up – “Tide Pods Liquid Detergent Pacs, Fresh Coral Blast, 81 Count.” Very detailed. Brand name. Scent. Size. They even included commas in their search. They knew exactly what they were looking for and Tide Pod Challenge was not it. I didn’t gain a subscriber from that one.

Website Activity

The most popular posts in order last month were all published in July: the photography post Wolf Tales and a Ranch Dinner; the short story Cave Entrapment of a Minor Kind; and the July 2018 Update. The fourth most popular post was an old photography post, Masonic Shrine on the Blue Ridge Parkway. The summer assembly for the York Rite Masons was held here in July, so that sparked an interest in the old post.

Wet and Cool

If you think I geek out about the internet, you should hear me about the weather. The weather station behind my house connects to CWOP (Citizen Weather Observer Program whose stated purpose is to “collect weather data contributed by citizens…(and)… make these data available for weather services and homeland security,” which might mean I am a homeland security agent.) If you are a fellow weather geek, that is station #EW1053. And if that means nothing to you, you still can find my current weather on my About Page.

Many of you are suffering from brutal summer temperatures, droughts, and fires, so thought I would let you know our high last month was 78.8ºF (26ºC). For 7 days in July, we never even reached 70ºF (21ºC). The last time we crossed the 80ºF mark was August 26, 2016, when we recorded a high of 80.1ºF.

Measurable rain fell 20 of the 31 days in July for 5.59″ of rain. Don’t worry, August has already recorded 4.68″ of rain, so we should beat July.


Cord Cutting

Quick question. Who increases the amount of TV watched by cutting the cord? Me.

Most evenings, I crawl into bed around 8 o’clock and read for an hour or two before going to sleep. Ask me about any of the current TV shows and you will find out how little TV I watch.

After months of complaining about the high cost of satellite TV, we canceled the service, installed Roku devices, and stream our TV. In addition to my daily TV show (currently, West Wing) while the elliptical punishes me, we have started watching a show most evenings, either Castle Rock or Stranger Things (no, I had never seen it).

Anyone have any suggestions of shows to add to our streaming list?

Books Read

That leads us to the ever popular listing of the books I read last month. In a repeat of June, I read 7 books bringing my annual total to 61. My goal of 100 books is still well within reach, though I will have to pick up the pace slightly.

Stephen King The Outsider

Stephen King – I’ve been reading Mr. King’s books since I was a child with The Stand still ranking as one of my favorite all-time novels. His latest novel, The Outsider, opens as more of a murder mystery than a horror book. Several eyewitnesses place local Little League Coach Terry Maitland at the scene of a brutal crime against a young boy. Forensic evidence proves his guilt. The horrified police arrest Maitland in a very public fashion only to discover he has a solid alibi miles away from the crime. But how can a man be in two places at the same time? The Outsider is a terrific book, classic Stephen King.

Dean Koontz – The Crooked Staircase is the third book in the Jane Hawk series, a former FBI agent wanted by the very government committing a heinous crime against its citizens. Hawk is a fierce protagonist with nothing to lose fighting a ruthless and shadowy group that has no qualms of injecting people with a serum that destroys their ability to make free choice.  This is a fun, fast-paced series, but you need to start with the first book, The Silent Corner. The fourth book in the series, The Forbidden Door, is out in just a few weeks.

Harlan Coben The Stranger

Harlan Coben – A great benefit of writing this post each month are reader suggestions. The Stranger is such an example and I am so happy it was recommended. What if a total stranger approached you, told you about a secret that a loved one was keeping from you, and offered just enough evidence to make the accusation believable. How would you react? And how many layers to the lie would you find if you insisted on digging for the ultimate truth?

Lisa Gardner The 4th Man

Lisa Gardner – I’ve explained before how much I love Lisa Gardner’s work. If you haven’t tried her yet, here is a great introduction to her style via the short novella, The 4th Man. Five years after a mysterious murder, the three men who last saw a co-ed alive are in separate interrogation rooms. Boston Homicide Detective D.D. Warren, Ex-FBI Profiler Pierce Quincy, and former Police Officer Rainie Conner work with little time to determine which man is the murderer. Or is there a fourth man?

Right Behind You – I’ve said repeatedly that Lisa Gardner creates some of the creepiest villains, but she also devises some twisted characters that take much of the book to determine if they are good or bad. Such is the case with 17-year-old Telly Ray Nash who has already killed one man. Eight years earlier, he took a baseball bat to his drunken, abusive father. When a string of murders break out, the first suspect is Telly Ray and the search for him envelopes his thirteen-year-old sister, Sharlah, who hasn’t seen her brother since that fateful night. Will the recrossing of their paths lead to disaster or redemption? Telly Ray is one of those characters who will haunt you.

Lisa Gardner Look For Me

Yes, I read three Lisa Gardner’s this month and am now totally caught up, but not before Look For Me introduces yet another Gardner character who is difficult to determine if they are good or bad. Boston Police Detective D.D. Warren responds to a home massacre – four of five family members mercilessly gunned down. The fifth, a sixteen-year-old girl, is on the run. Is she hiding from the police? Or is a murderer on the loose? Warren is overrun with potential suspects as she tries to solve the crime.

Angela Ackerman and Becca Puglisi – Each month, I read at least one technical book about writing. The Emotion Thesaurus is not for the average reader simply because it is more textbook than light read. After a brief introduction, the authors take various emotions and then produce lists of ways to have a character show an emotion rather than having the author tell the emotion. If you are a writer, you will find this useful.

What Are You Reading?

Please share with me what you are reading. One of the books I read this month came from a reader suggestion and I love getting ideas of books I should have on my list.

Thank you for hanging out, enjoying my creations, and making this journey fun.


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