Sunday, November 27, 2011

Ramblings: Thanksgiving?

Ramblings: Thanksgiving?: Isn't it ironic that we Americans celebrate Thanksgiving with actions and thoughts about the many blessings in our lives -- and less than 24...


Isn't it ironic that we Americans celebrate Thanksgiving with actions and thoughts about the many blessings in our lives -- and less than 24 hours later we are pushing and shoving and pepper spraying others for Black Friday merchandise?

What a way to ring in the holiday season!

I don't want to make a whole lot out of it because it's only a handful of  covetous consumers out of the millions of shoppers who attract the attention from the media. That's the news of the day.

I didn't venture out for Black Friday specials. One reason is because I like my sleep. I'd probably fall asleep in the stores despite all the commotion in the aisles.

Another reason is that I really can't think of anything I truly want so much that I would venture out at 10 p.m., midnight,  4 a.m., or whatever time to go out and purchase. I can wait...until after Christmas.

I did stop by a store on Black Friday and bought a refill bottle of hand soap and laundry detergent. I might add there will no altercations with other customers as I reached for the products.

I hope you have a safe shopping season.

Until the next time...

Thursday, November 24, 2011


I know it's Thanksgiving Day and most folks are blogging about all the things they're thankful for -- and I'm a thankful-kind of guy as well -- but I want to write about something before too much time passes.

And since Thanksgiving is also about family, parades, and football, this one is about Yale quarterback Pat Witt.

Witt decided to forego an interview for a Rhodes Scholarship to play the final game of the season against arch-rival Harvard. There was a conflict on the day scheduled for his meeting Rhodes representatives and The Game (which is what the Yale-Harvard fans call it).

"I had a commitment to these guys long before I applied for that scholarship," Witt said after the game.

Harvard was heavily-favored to win the game (and it did, 45-7) so Witt's presence probably didn't make that much of a difference. Lots of folks would have understood if he had decided to meet with the Rhodes interviewers rather than face the Crimson defenders.

But Witt decided to finish what he started with his teammates. I think that's commendable and was very unselfish on his part.

Witt, who is 22, can reapply for Rhodes Scholarship since eligibility ends at age 24. I hope his decision to play weighs positively on the Rhodes selection committee if he does decide again to seek one of the coveted scholarships.

"The important part here is not so much the game, but the principle of it," Witt told USA Today. "If I were to go to that interview and skip the game, in a lot of ways I'm not acting like the person they selected to interview."

And Witt, who is 6-foot-4 and 220 pounds, has attracted some attention from the National Football League after passing for more than 2,000 yards this season. He spent his freshman year at Nebraska before transferring to Yale.

In this age where you often read and hear about selfish athletes, I think Patrick Witt's commitment to his teammates is admirable.

Until the next time...

Monday, November 21, 2011

Support Your Local Bookstore

The New York Times recently ran an article about novelist Ann Patchett opening a bookstore called Parnassus Books in Nashville.

According to the story, Patchett was concerned when a popular bookstore closed, saying she "had no interest in living in a city without a bookstore."

So Patchett and Karen Hayes, who has a background in book sales, decided to open Parnassus Books. And they did this despite the decline in independent bookstores across the United States, the newspaper noted.

Photo by Mary Ann PinneyPatchett, by the way, is the bestselling author of "Bel Canto," "Truth and Beauty," "State of Wonder," "The Magician's Assistant," "Taft," and "The Patron Saint of Liars." and "Run."

Photo by Mary Ann Pinney
Local bookstores are important to communities, large and small. They have a certain distinctive quality that sets them apart from the chains; offer an array of books; support area authors; provide readings and other cultural activities; and they let you know they appreciate your business.

That's not to say I don't support the national stores., Barnes & Noble, Books-A-Million and others provide valuable services to consumers and authors. Because of the Amazon, readers in North America, England and Ireland can purchase my books. Amazon is also provides author pages and discussion forums. And I love to browse and purchase merchandise from B&N and BAM.  

But I think it's also important to make purchases at my local bookstore (Poor Richard's in Frankfort, Ky.). Other stores include as Morris Book Shop and Joseph-Beth Bookseller in Lexington, and Carmichael's Bookstores in Louisville. Many of the local independents have adapted to the changing marketplace by offering many of the services of the international and national stores.

So when you're in the market for books, don't forget to shop local.

Until the next time...

Thursday, November 17, 2011

A Proud Kentuckian

The National Book Award winners were announced last night and Kentuckian Nikky Finney's "Head Off & Split" was named the best in the poetry category.

Although a native of South Carolina, she's lived in Kentucky for the past 20 years. A creative writing professor at the University of Kentucky, Finney has written four volumes of poetry. She's also the author of "Heartwood," a collection of short stories.

I realize that every state can lay claim to distinguished writers. Being a Kentuckian, I'm proud of our literary heritage.

Wendell Berry, a renowned essayist, poet, and novelist, was recently presented the National Humanities Medal.

Other living luminaries include Sena Jeter Naslund, Bobbie Ann Mason, Gwyn Hyman Rubio, Barbara Kingsolver, Kim Edwards, Sue Grafton, Karen Robards, Silas House, and Teresa Medeiros. And there are more.

Our most distinguished writer was the late Robert Penn Warren, the only three-time winner of the Pulitzer Prize (two for poetry, one for fiction). He also won the National Book Award for Poetry in 1958, and was later named the first Poet Laureate of the United States.

Some of his contemporaries include Elizabeth Madox Roberts, Allen Tate, James Still, Jesse Stuart, Janice Holt Giles, A.B. Guthrie Jr., and Harriette Simpson Arnow. And there are more.

And I can't leave out the late and great Hunter S. Thompson, a novelist and father of Gonzo journalism.

Until the next time...

Sunday, November 13, 2011

On the Books

The 30th annual Kentucky Book Fair is history.

And what is nice is that the book fair almost made history. The event took in about $157,000 -- about $32,000 more than last year -- and making it one of the most successful and reversing a downward trend for the state's premiere literary gathering.

I like reporter Kayleigh Zyskowski's lead in The State Journal: "In a convenient literary world of e-readers, digital copies and smartphones, the Kentucky Book Fair proved once again that printed word is very much a part of the book world."

It did, indeed.

I was there all day with two of my books and noticed a steady crowd of book buyers until the doors were closed. It was a great day for everyone involved.

According to the newspaper, these were the top 10 best-selling books/items:

Al Smith -- "Wordsmith: My Life in Journalism"
Paul Michael Glaser -- "Chrystallia and the Source of Light"
James Archambeault -- "2012 Kentucky Calendar"
Meadowlark Lemon -- "Trust Your Next Shot: A Guide to a Life of  Joy"
Douglas Boyd -- "Crawfish Bottom: Recovering a Lost Kentucky Community"
Dick Burdette -- "Kentucky Babe: The Babe Parilli Story"
Bobbie Ann Mason -- "The Girl in the Blue Beret"
Ron Rhody -- "Theo and the Mouthful of Ashes"
Bob Edwards -- "A Voice in the Box: My Life in Radio"
Gene Burch -- "Frankfort and Beyond"

I enjoyed participating in this year's event, signing a few books, meeting other authors and conversing with readers who still treasure seeing the printed word on paper.

Until the next time...

Thursday, November 10, 2011

A Salute to Future Veterans

On 11-11-11 the United States will honor those who have served in the military.

As an Air Force veteran, I also salute the men and women who are currently in the armed forces. You are making sacrifices for our nation and other countries in trying to make this a safer world.

Regardless of how long you plan to serve, make the most of it. It's an experience that you'll cherish as time goes on. Believe me. I look back on my service with many fond memories.

Take advantage of the training, travel, and most of all, the people you encounter along the way. I still maintain contact with guys I served with 40 years ago.

I hope you use the many opportunities you will have, such as  educational benefits and VA home loans. I used my GI Bill to  complete my college education and used the VA program to purchase a home. My sons have done the same.

I look forward to the day when you join me in the ranks of military veterans so I can salute you again.

Until the next time...

Sunday, November 6, 2011

A Day for Books

This is one of my favorite times of the year in Kentucky. I'm not talking about the gorgeous fall scenery throughout the state, although it ranks high on my list.

What I really enjoy is the Kentucky Book Fair in Frankfort. This year marks the 30th anniversary of the event, making it one of longest running book fairs in the nation.
The KBF will be on Saturday, Nov. 12, from 9 a.m. until 4:30 p.m., at the Frankfort Convention Center.  Nearly 200 authors will be signing their books. And it's free (but not the books)!

Some of the luminaries taking part this year include Bob Edwards of NPR fame, best-selling novelists Bobbie Ann Mason, Liz Curtis Higgs, Teresa Medeiros, Will Lavender, Kim Edwards (all Kentuckians, I might add), Wendell Berry (a National Humanities Medal winner), former TV star Paul Michael Glaser (a children's book author among other interests),  former Harlem Globetrotter Meadowlark Lemon, Robert R. Morgan, and football great Vito "Babe" Parilli.  

In addition to novels, you'll find history, sports, poetry, cookbooks, children's and young adult books -- just about everything. Go to and download the catalog and read about all the activities. You also can find info on KBF's page in Facebook.

Proceeds from the KBF go to school and public libraries and literary programs across the state.

Oh, by the way, I'll be there as well signing my young adult novel, "Shooting Star." Drop by and say hi.

Until the next time...

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

No Nanowrimo for Me

I admit I was tempted to join the thousands involved in National Novel Writing Month -- nanowrimo -- but I just couldn't find the time.

I know for some that sounds like a lame excuse. And perhaps it is. But I've been so busy the past few weeks (I know that shouldn't matter) and the next couple of weeks are busy as well.

I like challenges and nanowrimo is certainly a challenge -- a goal of writing a novel of 50,000 words over the course of 30 days.

But sometimes we have too many things going on to really commit to something like nanowrimo. I do write every day in my job. I'm also involved with the Kentucky Book Fair as marketing chair and that will keep me busy until Nov. 12, the day of the big event at the Frankfort Convention Center (from 9 a.m. until 4:30 p.m. if you're interested).

I also have a work in progress that has been stalled because of my busy schedule and other things. I truly don't have an hour to spare each day to write. And I doubt if I could produce enough words spending only 60 minutes a day at the keyboard.

I do plan to take part in nanowrimo one of these years; maybe even in 2012. That's my goal, at the moment, if things aren't haywire at the time. Only time will tell.

So to those who made that commitment to nanowrimo, I wish you all success and may your words find a home inside a book.

Until the next time...