Saturday, April 28, 2018

Travel Programs for Travelers

Those who know me, or follow me here or on Facebook, know that my wife and I love to travel. That's been one of the real plusses of retirement aside from being a fulltime writer.

I'm not saying that we come and go as well please because travel can be expensive. But when we don't fly off to distant places, we'll drive to a place in Kentucky.

I don't watch a lot of television, but when I do, it's usually travel programs. Especially those that take me to places that actually interest me and are simply doable and affordable.

Most of the programs piqued my interest to the point that we eventually made the trip or put it on our so-called bucket list of places to visit. I realize that if I lived to be 100 years old, it would be difficult to go and see everything is this wide, wonderful world that we live in. 

These programs, as well as travel books, blogs, guides, magazines, newspapers, and Internet sites, are informative and entertaining as we pick and chose our faraway destinations:

Rick Steves
Rick Steves: This guy with folksy, homespun humor spends a lot of time taking viewers to all parts of Europe and a few adjacent countries. He also has books, a travel service, and videos.

Samantha Brown
Samantha Brown's program is "Places to Love," and her journeys take you to various sites around the world. You can feel how much she loves to travel by the way she interacts with the locals.

Burt Wolf

Burt Wolf has been around for quite a while. I enjoy his acerbic wit on his "Travel & Traditions." Burt is also quite a gourmet, so that's a bonus in his program. 

Richard Wiese

Born to Explore with Richard Wiese takes me exotic places that I wish I had taken years ago when I had the energy. He doesn't mind getting down and dirty with the locals.

Joseph Rosendo
Joseph Rosendo's Travelscope takes you places near and far. His program is laid-back and interesting to watch. And you can sense his love of learning something new along the way. 

Dusty and Nikki Green
A recent discovery is "Two for the Road," featuring the husband-wife team of Dusty and Nikki Green. Their show makes you feel you're along for the ride. If only I were 20 years younger!

Stanley Siegel
A show I used to enjoy was "Stanley on the Go," with Stanley Siegel. I liked his silly humor and willingness to try most anything. It was good-natured reality TV. Sadly, Stanley passed away in 2015; and RLTV went dark last year.

I watch a few other shows such as Expedition Unknown with Josh Gates, Bizarre Foods with Andrew Zimmern, and Guy Fieri's Diners, Drive-ins and Dives.

You'll have to go through local TV listings but most of these programs are on PBS stations, Travel Channel, and National Geographic. You will probably discover some wonderful local shows that focus on your locales as well.  Check out Create TV for more ideas and insights.

A few Internet sites I visit include Expoza Travel, Trees and Travels, and Sonia's Travels.

A great way to learn about places is simply word-of-mouth with other travelers. They can provide you with some ways to cut costs, off-the-beaten pathway places to see, and best times to go on your adventures.

I used to watch a top-rated travel show but pulled the plug on it when I saw the host kill an animal. I'll let you guess the program.

Any recommendations for travel programs? 

Safe travels!

Until the next time . . . 

Thursday, April 26, 2018

A Thank You to Reviewers

While having coffee with a fellow author today, our wide-ranging conversation touched on  books, authors, writers group, travel, politics —and book reviews.

Authors, especially those outside the realm of King, Grisham, Roberts, Patterson and a few other literary luminaries, depend on readers to leave reviews on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Goodreads and similar book websites. 

More reviews means more exposure to potential readers. 

That being said, we both agreed that asking someone to read a book and then write a review is asking quite a lot. Why? Because the reader has to invest several hours in simply reading, depending on the length of the book. And then, taking the time to write something about the book on a website, whether it's a few sentences or several paragraphs.

Sometimes we authors get a bit antsy about it, and that's simply from our selfish perspective. As mentioned above, a book receives more attention with the number of reviews. At Amazon, for instance, the first magic number is 20. Reaching that level, the book is recommended to other readers who purchase similar books. It's all part of the algorithms used in the Amazon shopping experience.

Now back to the reviewer. I believe it's important that the author requesting a review realizes that it takes time to read a book, in addition to everything else swirling in a person's daily life. I know I don't have time to read a book in a day or two because of other things going on.

While I have reviewed books at the request of friends and authors, one thing I always do is leave reviews and rankings in all the books I read. If you own a Kindle, that's the first thing you see when you finish a book. But I do it when I turn the final page on a print book as well.

And while readers are giving a boost to authors with their reviews, they're also letting other readers know about the books they recommend, or perhaps those didn't especially enjoy. I always check out reviews before deciding on a book. 

So I want to thank  those who have reviewed by novels. And for those who haven't, I do hope you will take the time to leave a few words and a rating at an appropriate website. And please do it for other authors and readers as well. We truly appreciate it.

Here are a few good blog posts to get you started:

Until the next time . . . 

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Back to Work on No. 3

I took a two-week break from my work in progress, and now I'm back at the keyboard, churning out words and not missing a beat.

I spent a week in Ireland, and after returning home, took another week to get my bearings straight (jet lag, home chores, and the like) before delving back into the sequel to "Darkness Beyond the Light."

I had the best intentions to continue writing while in Ireland, even taking two notebooks with me. But looking back, it was delusional of me to believe that I could actually find the time to focus on the manuscript.

But I did read during that time, taking along my Kindle Fire to peruse books I downloaded,  during the flights to and from and before going to sleep each night. One of my few good habits is to read each night before turning out the lights. 

So I'm back at the manuscript, topping 66k words this morning. The WIP is actually two parts. I'll be returning to the first part, which takes place in Europe, in a few weeks. The second part is about what happens when John and Sally Ross  return home to Kentucky. And I already know what I'm going to write about in the fifth book.

While I don't generally recommend taking a break from a WIP, sometimes you can't avoid it. Besides reading, I did jot down a few notes to consider in the story, such as character development. I've also spent time researching a few topics the past week. 

I hope things are going well with your WIPs.

Until the next time . . .  

Monday, April 23, 2018

Back from the Emerald Isle

I've returned after a weeklong holiday in Ireland. It was a wonderful and memorable trip, visiting numerous places and making new friends along the way.

I'm not going to inundate you with photos, but if you're interested, visit my personal Facebook page and you can view the images there. (You may as well like my author page while there!)

After landing in Shannon on a misty morning, I smiled when the guide bus pulled out of the parking lot and I saw a large "Welcome to Ireland" sign across the road.   

Street performers in Galway
My wife, Mary, and I spent two days in Galway, a small, artsy city that's great to begin a journey on the "wild side of Ireland." It's a picturesque college town that has a colorful waterfront, street performers, museums, and more. 

From there, we drove through the desolate Burrens, a limestone landscape that has been eroding for years, especially during the Ice Age. Then we walked along the Cliffs of Moher, the majestic 600-foot drop to the battering Atlantic Ocean.

Anchors in Kinsale
We spent two days near Cork, visiting the nation's second-largest city, while taking in Blarney Castle (my wife kissed the Blarney stone) and sites in and around Cobn and Kinsale. So much to see and so little time.

The iconic James Joyce statue
The last two days were in Dublin, an underrated city that I wished could have lasted several more days. We walked across the Trinity College campus, hiked to other districts such as Temple Bar, stopped to see the William Butler Yeats exhibit at the National Library of Ireland, toured St. Patrick's Cathedral, walked around St. Stephen's Green, and spent several hours at the hallowed historic grounds at Glendalough.

Ireland is a fabulous country, offering a wide array of things to see and do. I encourage others who are considering a trip to this island nation to do so. The people are friendly (maybe a couple grumbly ones like the American I encountered leaving U.S. Customs), there a many places to experience and taste (such as a pint or two of  Guinness or Murphy's).  

I hope I live long enough to make another trip across the pond and take in more of this wonderful nation. 

Until the next time . . . 

Saturday, April 7, 2018

Across the Pond to Ireland

My wife and I will be flying over the pond, making our third trip to Europe in as many years. We've previously traveled to England, France, Italy, Hungary, Austria, and the Czech Republic.

This time it's Ireland, the enchanting "Emerald Isle." We'll spend a week there, taking in the rural and urban areas with stops in Galway, Cork, and Dublin.

We'll also take in the otherworldly Burren, the majestic Cliffs of Moher, and other landscapes in our guided tour.

I went to Ireland 14 years ago on a writing assignment when I was editor of Kentucky Monthly magazine. I found it to be such a fascinating place, beginning with looking down at the checkered green topography and the plane approached Shannon airport.

I'm especially looking forward to Dublin and going to Trinity College, Temple Bar, St. Stephen's Green, St. Patrick's Cathedral and seeing some of the sites that celebrate the nation's rich literary history with such luminaries as Oscar Wilde, James Joyce, George Bernard Shaw, Jonathan Swift, and William Butler Yeats.

And, as much as anything, going to a few pubs and acquainted with some of the delightful and friendly Irish folks with a pint (or two) of creamy, smooth Guinness.

As I have in the past, I'll take lots of photographs and share them with a few posts on this blog as well as my Facebook page.

Until the next time . . . 


Sunday, April 1, 2018

Spotlight on Herman's Hermits

While I was busy doing some decluttering this afternoon, Herman's Hermits' "I'm Henry VIII, I Am" came on Pandora. Before I realized, I was singing along with the feel-good ditty.

Herman's Hermits
And I recalled a PBS's fundraiser a month or so ago, featuring HH's lead singer Peter Noone as one featured acts and how he had a packed auditorium singing a rousing rendition of the tune with him.

It made me wonder why the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame ignores uplifting and fun artists such as Herman's Hermits, Tommy Roe, and The Monkees, who are often labeled as "bubblegum" performers.

If Herman's Hermits were bubblegum, then chew on this: 
Noone and his bandmates recorded 18 songs that reached the U.S. Top 40 from 1964-68, including No.1's "Mrs. Brown, You've Got a Lovely Daughter"  and "I'm Henry VIII, I Am," both in 1965.

Other noteworthy songs include No. 2 "Can't You Hear My Heartbeat" in 1965, No. 3 "Listen People" in 1966, No. 4s "Wonderful World" in 1965 and "There's a Kind of Hush" in 1967, and No. 5 "Dandy" in 1966. Their first hit, "I'm Into Something Good," written by Gerry Goffin and Carole King, topped the UK charts in 1964.

Maybe it's time for the RRHoF to give Herman's Hermits and a few other groups a lot more respect.  

Here are a few videos of this wonderful group (be sure to watch the last one):

Until the next time . . .