Sunday, November 22, 2009

Tell Obama we need jobs, not more expensive cars

Here's a bit of info that just drifted across my desk. I did a little research before I posted this, just to confirm what it is. There really is an Institute for Energy Research, Tom Pyle really is the president, and this is an e-mail action alert he sent out on Friday.

For more information about IER, go to

So here is the alert:

The Obama Administration needs to hear from you. They are working to raise the price of cars and trucks by at least $1,100 per vehicle with the goal of reducing carbon dioxide emissions.

Increasing the price of cars will harm families and make America less competitive economically. America needs affordable transportation, not costly regulation and new mandates.

The Obama Administration wants to require that all cars and trucks to get an average of 35 mpg by 2016. This will be difficult and expensive, if not impossible. The tiny car in this picture only gets 36 mpg. What about all other cars? What about minivans to carry the kids? What about regular-sized cars to get to work comfortably?

What about full-sized trucks necessary for many construction jobs?

President Obama’s plan will be very expensive. Estimates say it could cost the auto industry over $100 billion, harming these already struggling businesses. The Administration claims this mandate will only cost $1,100 per car. But IHS Global Insight found that while the price of small cars may only increase by $1,000, larger cars and trucks will be $5,000 more expensive under a similar plan. Higher car prices means less jobs in the auto industry and fewer car choices for all Americans.

Your voice will make a difference. Send your comments to EPA right now by clicking here.

The Obama Administration claims it wants to regulate carbon dioxide to address global climate change. However, their report shows that this plan will reduce global temperature by a maximum of 16 thousandths of a degree Celsius (0.016 °C) by 2100. That’s not a joke or a misprint. The Obama Administration, according to their reports, wants to increase the cost of automobiles by thousands of dollars to reduce global temperature by a few thousandths of a degree 90 years down the road.

Forward this email to family and friends so we can send a clear message to the Administration that America needs jobs and a sound economy—not more regulations and mandates.

Thank you,

Tom Pyle
President, Institute for Energy Research

Friday, November 20, 2009

Deals for Dog Lovers

Since I write about retail for the most part, I tend to run into a lot of neat products that aren't necessarily all that well known. So since the holidays are approaching, I thought I'd make some lists of items that you might like to find under the tree.

I'm going to start with a list of stuff for hunting dogs, since I have a weakness for any breed that gets out there and works the way a good hunting dog does.

First aid:

One of the best things you can give your hunting buddy is a knowledge of pet first aid. Take Gene King's Pet First Aid & CPR course here in Tampa; he arranges times by request, with a minimum of 10 people. So get your hunt club together and find out what do to if your dog gets hurt in the field.

Creative Pet Products has their basic Bow Ow Kit for around the house, and Sporting Dog and Sporting Dog II kits for in the field. Also check out their book on what to do in emergency, "Practical Pet First Aid for Dogs and Cats."

Ready Dog Products has first aid kits for high performance dogs. And if you ever have the opportunity to talk to Terry Wilson, the owner of Ready Dog, he has a story about an injured black Lab that will make a believer of you.

Ugly Dog Company leans more toward retriever gear in general, but they also have first aid kits.

Protective Gear:

It's not just about what happens after your dog gets hurt, but keeping him from getting hurt in the first place.

Go to FidoGear for all sorts of protective dog gear, including a floatation vest and a belly protector. All FidoGear's products are made in the USA, and are fitted to your dog's measurements.

Ugly Dog Company also has a chest protector and boots. Think boots are just for snow and ice? Get into a field of Florida sandspurs!

And we can't forget Remington, which has a chest protector, an orange safety vest, and bells for in the field.

Whatever hunting buddy you have, don't wait for Christmas--be sure he's protected throughout hunting season from whatever comes along.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

From Hunting Camp to Africa

A while back--a couple of months ago, in fact--I was talking about how I got from writing a simple article on fishing to hunting and fishing in Africa. Then I got sidetracked by a trip to Wyoming.

Now it's finally time to tell the rest of the tale.

When we left off this story, I was talking about the women's hunting camps my friend Galen Geer and I did in Colorado for five years. The first year actually was kind of a test--to see how we hunted together and how we got along on that kind of an expedition.

You see, Galen had another agenda. He had been to Africa that spring to arrange a safari for Soldier of Fortune, and the owner of the ranch where he stayed expressed an interest in having a woman come and write about hunting in Africa. Galen immediately thought of me, but we had never hunted together, and he wanted to know more about what I was made of before he asked if I wanted to go over.

That first hunting camp settled any qualms he had about it. My biggest two issues were--and are--temperature and altitude. I get cold easily, so I have to be careful what I wear and the situations I get into, and I don't adjust well to high altitudes. Neither of those is a big surprise, given that I've lived in Florida all my life!

However, neither one is a problem with African hunting, so it was settled--the following spring I would accompany the Soldier of Fortune safari to South Africa. And as it happened, my 40th birthday was right in the middle of that trip. Not a bad birthday present!

At the conclusion of that trip I made arrangements to bring some women hunters back the next year, and in 1994 did so. I kept on traveling to southern Africa for the next two years--a total of four trips in all--and hunted and fished in a lot of places, sometimes with Galen and sometimes not. But by then I had made my own friends there, and I was pretty comfortable to come and go as I pleased with them.

What ended those trips was becoming a single mother. When my son's dad and I divorced and I moved to Tampa, I didn't have anyone to stay with Chris, so my hunting days came to an end for a while. For whatever reason Chris never got the hunting "bug," so it wasn't something we did together, and I didn't want to force hunting on him if he didn't like it.

I did fish some during those years, mostly on weekends when Chris was with his dad--he doesn't like to fish either. But now that he is 19--almost 20--and can take care of my dogs, I'm starting to travel and hunt again.

So look for more adventures in the not too distant future!

Monday, October 19, 2009

Old Butch

Here's a bit of nonsense for all my writing and hunting friends. It's not original with me, but I thought you'd enjoy it.


John was in the fertilized egg business. He had several hundred young layers (hens), called “pullets,” and ten roosters to fertilize the eggs.

He kept records, and any rooster not performing went into the soup pot and was replaced.

This took a lot of time, so he bought some tiny bells and attached them to his roosters.

Each bell had a different tone, so he could tell from a distance which rooster was performing.

Now, he could sit on the porch and fill out an efficiency report by just listening to the bells.

John's favorite rooster, old Butch, was a very fine specimen, but this morning he noticed old Butch's bell hadn't rung at all!

When he went to investigate, he saw the other roosters were busy chasing pullets, bells-a-ringing, but the pullets, hearing the roosters coming, could run for cover.

To John's amazement, old Butch had his bell in his beak, so it couldn't ring. He'd sneak up on a pullet, do his job and walk on to the next one.

John was so proud of old Butch, he entered him in the Renfrew County Fair and he became an overnight sensation among the judges.

The result was the judges not only awarded old Butch the No Bell Piece Prize but they also awarded him the Pulletsurprise as well.

Clearly old Butch was a politician in the making. Who else but a politician could figure out how to win two of the most highly coveted awards on our planet by being the best at sneaking up on the populace and screwing them when they weren't paying attention.

Vote carefully next year, the bells are not always audible.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Back to work

I'm back in the office today. I was sort of here yesterday, but you know how it is after you've been out a week--it takes you a day just to figure out what you're doing. So now I have to get my head out of snow and hunting and deer and interview someone about his logging business for Timberline Magazine.

OK. Think cutting trees and what kind of equipment he uses.

Are you sure I have to do this?

Friday, October 9, 2009

Snowbound in Story (Wyoming, that is)

I'm glad we finished our hunt last night! We had planned to leave where we're staying here in Story, Wyoming this morning, ahead of some bad winter weather. It was a good idea, but one that didn't quite work out. The weather got here overnight, and now we're stuck.

Fortunately, we don't fly out from Denver until Sunday morning early, and the weather is supposed to improve overnight tonight. So we should be able to get home on time.

After we got our antelope on Tuesday, we went back to hunting some of the Walk In Areas (WIAs) right around Story and Sheridan on Wednesday morning. What a mess! If you've never walked in Wyoming gumbo, think of it as red Georgia clay on steroids. Thursday morning it was cold and windy, but the snow and sleet wasn't predicted to start until about 2 PM. The weatherman was a little off on that one, too. By the time we had gotten about a mile back into the WIA we were walking, the sleet started and the top layer of the soil got just wet enough to turn into gumbo. At one point I had about 4 inches of mud on the bottoms of my boots and could only take a few staggering steps at a time before I had to stop and clean off my boots and start again. I thought I would never get down off that hill!

That was the same day we had an epiphany. To put it another way, we stopped by the Wyoming Game & Fish office in Sheridan and I rather randomly asked the right question.

I have to preface this by saying that the Wyoming game regulations are some of the most complicated and arcane regs I've ever seen. At the time Rick put in for tags, he was told the only public land deer tags available were for whitetail, so that's what he got. However, some of the WIAs we were hunting on were private land, and there were still private land mule deer doe tags available.

So early on Wednesday morning we stopped by the Sheridan office and asked if those mule deer tags were valid on the private land WIAs. The answer was yes, so we bought one each. After all, if we happened to bump into a muley doe on the WIA, it would be a shame not to be able to take it because we didn't have the right tags!

Then came that random question: I asked if by any chance Game & Fish had a list of ranches that accepted hunters who were willing to take does instead of bucks. The lady behind the counter handed us a short list of ranches in Sheridan County who were actively looking for doe hunters, and a longer list of ranches statewide who allow hunters for bucks for a trespass fee.

After staggering down off the gumbo mountain, Rick and I decided we'd had enough of that kind of walking. I got on the phone calling ranches on the list we have, and within ten minutes had us lined up for a whitetail doe hunt on Thursday morning with a down-the-street neighbor of Bob's, just four houses down from where we're staying.

"Just don't shoot any bucks," he said. "I have all those sold."

"No problem," we assured him. "We don't even have buck tags."

Another phone call resulted in the rancher's wife telling us they had an outfitter who handled all that, and we called the outfitter. His response was "Do you want to go this afternoon?"

So at 5 PM Wednesday we met Tim Loftus, a guide for Big Buck Outfitters ( and off we went in search of mule deer does.

These boys know their business. We both had our does that evening.

One thing I learned during my phone calling, though, was that althought the ranches don't mind the mule deer--and some would prefer not to have hunters take mule deer does--they surely do hate whitetails. As the rancher's wife said to me, "They eat the hayfields, they eat your flowers, and they'll eat your children if they stand still."

Thursday we spent a fruitless morning plowing through deep snow on the neighbor's nearby ranch in search of a whitetail doe. We saw deer, all right--at 3oo to 400 yards away! Not an ethical shot for hunters who are accustomed to southern hunting, and maximum shots of 150 yards. At least it wasn't gumbo, but it wasn't productive, either, and we knew we had only Thursday evening left to hunt.

So that afternoon we went with Tim again, this time for whitetails. It's truly amazing how many whitetails this country holds. You can see literally hundreds of them in the green fields in a single afternoon, and they mostly ignore vehicles and even people walking. We had another hunter with us this time who took two whitetail does, and still we had all four animals in 90 minutes.

To be fair about it, that kind of harvesting of animals isn't hunting in the true sense of the word. It's much too easy to be real hunting. Nonetheless, I can see why landowners desperately want the number of deer on their property reduced, and if you're meat hunting, that's a simple way to get your venison and work on the population size at the same time.

So now we're waiting for the weather to clear, so we can pick up our venison from the meat processor and head for home.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Antelope Day

Today we got down out of the snowy foothills and onto the plains. We drove over to Thunder Basin National Grassland, where our antelope tags were, and took two antelope does in two hours. Not a bad hunt at all.

It's nice to go back to the same area like that two years in a row. This year we had a whole lot better idea where we were and what we were doing.

Tomorrow we're going back to hunting deer in the snow.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Range Day

Today was our day at the shooting range.....sort of.

We got here about lunch time, had a quick bite to eat, and got sorted out to leave. Bob wanted to stay here and watch a football game, so we were on our own to find the range. Since he gave us directions--and since we've been there before--we didn't figure it would be too big a problem.

What none of us counted on was that the county has done some major work on the roads out there recently, and put up a street name sign at a new intersection they created, and we couldn't find the range. We wandered up and down for almost an hour before we finally figured out where we were going.

Once we were at the range it didn't take long. I just wanted to check the zero on my H&R and make sure it hadn't shifted, and then see what it was doing at 100 yards. I bumped it just a little to the right, and ascertained that it's about an inch high at 100, and I was done. Rick didn't take any longer.

It's just as well. It was 40 degrees and drizzling in where we were in Sheridan, and 34 degrees and snowing back up at Bob's house.

We're not sure yet what we're doing in the morning. We'll have to see how much snow there is and how icy the roads are. We may hunt deer in some of the walk-in areas around here and save the antelope for Tuesday or Wednesday. The roads going out to where we're going to hunt antelope could be treacherous.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

North… Wyoming

We’ve made it to Colorado and we’re headed north to Wyoming. We’ll spend the night in Casper, because in the morning I need to see a lady about some jade. Wyoming is one of the biggest producing areas of jade in the world, and I’m supposed to pick up a bucket of jade I’ve already paid for and maybe buy some more.

Tomorrow we’ll go on to Story and settle in with Bob and Ramona Rogers for a few days. Bob is the editor of Shooting Sports Retailer, for whom I used to write until I got into a dispute with the publisher over a check he refused to pay and he summarily fired me. I’ve missed writing for Bob, so it’s nice to have a few days to visit with him and Ramona and catch up on everything.

Tomorrow afternoon also will be range day. I was planning to bring along a Ruger Hawkeye to shoot and then ran into eye relief issues with it. Because there was some confusion about getting the right caliber, I didn’t get it until last week so I didn’t have time to solve the problem. I was going to bring both it and my H&R for backup, but when I packed the gun case last night, it was three pounds over the allowed 50. I guess with Rick’s .30-06 and my two .25-06s in a Kalispel case, I should have expected that. I stewed on it a while and decided I’d rather shoot the single shot H&R—which I’ve had for about 15 years—than risk a hunt on a gun on which I haven’t worked out the bugs. So the Hawkeye stayed home, and I’ll hunt deer with it in Florida.

One thing I’ll say for the Hawkeye, though, is that it’s one sweet shooting rifle. It’s a consignment gun for me to write about, but I have a sneaking feeling I’m going to pay for it and keep it.

It’s been a long time since I’ve made this long ride up I-25 from Colorado to Wyoming. Except for more development just north of Denver, I can’t say much has changed. It’s still some lonely country in places, with a whole lot of nothing out there. But the High Plains have their own beauty that’s a world apart from my native Florida. I’m glad to be back.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Wyoming time

I said I was going to make the connection between that first fishing article and Africa, and I'll get around to it. But at the moment I'm more caught up in current events.

I hunted the West for five years in a row, from 1992 until 1996. To say that Chris's dad didn't like me leaving the farm and going hunting is putting it kindly, and in late 1997 we came to a parting of the ways over it. I always thought that was too bad.......I would have loved for him to have come with me, and brought Chris, and to have made it a real family affair. But he would have none of it.

So in the spring of 1997 Chris and I moved to Tampa. Not my first choice of where to live, but I had some opportunities here, and it seemed like the thing to do at the time. However, it was the end of me doing any traveling to hunt, and almost the end of me hunting at all for 10 long years.

When Chris turned 18, though, I started thinking about going West again. And about that time, a wonderful gentleman, Rick Marshall, entered my life. I had sworn, "Never again," but it just goes to show you that you should never say never.

Last fall we made what was Rick's first hunting trip to the West, but my 6th. For him it was a new adventure, and for me it was going home to the mountains and the prairies.

And now it's that time again. Tomorrow is opening day of antelope season in Wyoming. The only downside of being with Rick is that he works in Montreal and I still live in Tampa! But Saturday we will meet in Denver, pick up a truck and drive to northeastern Wyoming, and have a glorious week of chasing antelopes south of Gillette, and deer in the foothills of the Bighorns.

What could be better than a great guy, great guns, and great friends to share it all with?

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Moving on......

So how did I get from a fishing article to where I am today?

Another long story. After I started writing about hunting and fishing for Florida Game & Fish, I really wanted to expand that part of my writing. However, you have to get out there and do it to know enough about it to write about it.

For a long time, family pressures kept me from doing any traveling. A long time being 12 years. Finally, when my son Chris was 18 months old, I had an opportunity to go mule deer hunting in Colorado.

At the SHOT Show in 1991--the Shooting, Hunting, Outdoor Trade Show--one friend of mine, Kitty Beuchert, asked another friend of mine if he would do a hunting camp for us. That second friend was Galen Geer, an outdoor writer living in Canon City, Colorado. When she first asked, the silence was deafening. Finally Galen said, "I swore I would never have a woman in hunting camp. But since it's the two of you, I'll do it."

So in early October, Chris went down to visit my mother for a week. Kitty and her daughter and son-in-law and I showed up in Colorado Springs and Galen picked us and all our gear up. Galen was--and is--the Environmental Affairs Editor for Soldier of Fortune, and he already had all the SOF hunting camp gear packed.

We left Canon City, headed for the Rifle/Meeker area, about 3 PM the next day. By dusk we were headed up the Front Range. Elk and deer flowed down off the mountains and into the green fields like water. It's a good thing Galen was driving and not me, because I'd have been all over the road--all I could do was stare at all those animals until it got too dark to see. We pulled over by one green field and lost count at more than 200 deer and elk in that single field.

We rolled into camp about 4 AM, put up tents, and fell into bed. The next day we got the camp set up, did some scouting, and got ready to hunt. That was the day Galen broke the news to us that we were going to have guests--two German Army officers were in Colorado for some sort of combined maneuvers, and they wanted to go hunting American style. They were going to join us for camp.

They were hilarious. They were both stiff and Prussian, but with a ribald sense of humor underneath. It would have been fun without them, but they made it a total hoot. Over the 5 day season we all got our deer, and had a wonderful time doing it.

At the end of the week Galen declared that he had completely changed his mind about women in hunting camp. Kitty and I proposed that we plan a women-only camp for the following year, and he readily agreed--with the caveat that we come up with enough women to fill it (which we did).

In fact, we ran that camp for 5 years, using the SOF gear every year (thank you, Bob Brown), and had good women and good camps every year.

I came back from each of those camps with a wealth of material to write about, and they took me even deeper into the world of hunting and fishing. Africa ties into it all.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Strange days

This has been one of those weird writing days.

I started out this morning working on a piece for Fishing Tackle Retailer about how to be sure your customer gets what he wants.

I finished up this afternoon with a profile of Empire Labs for Adult Novelty Business. Empire Labs' signature product is called Clone-a-Willy, and it's a mold kit for making a rubber model of guys' private parts.

The one thing I can't say about what I do is that it's boring!

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Step two......

The next step in this saga--ironically--also involves 4-H.

After my job writing 4-H marine science materials ran out, I went back to school. I had gotten my Bachelor's Degree in biology from Florida State University, but since the Florida 4-H Department is located at the University of Florida, and they offered a Master of Forest Resources and Conservation, I applied for the program.

All of this was partly philosophical. Yes, I wanted to be a writer, but I also had an agenda. At the time I applied to the master's program, I was as anti-hunting as it gets. I was even a vegetarian because I hated going into the grocery store and buying meat. When you buy meat that way it's just a "thing" in a package, and it doesn't have any relationship to the animal. I had (and still do have) a problem with that. We have so divorced ourselves from the source of our food that we forget that an animal had to die to put those steaks on our plates.

So, my agenda was to learn enough about the outdoors and wildlife to write about how bad hunting is.

Once I got started into my master's program, my philosophy came face to face with reality. I bumped head on into the uncomfortable notion that hunting is not only a legitimate use of wildlife, in some cases it's far less wasteful than letting an overpopulation of large grazers starve as they attempt to thread themselves through the midwinter needle's eye. Not that I would ever hunt, I assured my friends, but I finally accepted that hunting is a part of conservation.

A few months later, one of the staff members in the department mentioned that he was going duck hunting. I talked to him for a while about it, half-dreading, half-hoping that he would invite me along. He didn't.

But he did bring me some ducks. I plucked them in the kitchen, leaving little mounds of fluffy feathers in the corners while my cats went wild.

For several years, that was as close as I got to hunting. I finished my degree and went back to work in the Florida 4-H Department, this time on a longer term grant, writing Integrated Pest Management materials for 4-H. It wasn't as much fun as writing the marine science materials had been, but it was a job, and it was writing, and it taught me to meet deadlines and work with printers.

Then in 1981 I got married and moved to the country. One of my first acts was to insist that my husband remove the remains of someone's old deer stand from a big oak tree on the back of our property. I might accept hunting as a part of conservation, but I certainly didn't want to be reminded of it each time I turned around.

I started freelancing--a tough gig no matter how you do it--writing about agriculture. It was a logical move, since I already knew many Extension specialists from my time in 4-H, and I was in an area with a lot of agriculture.

I also started doing a few stories for Florida Wildlife. This was the old Florida Wildlife, when it was still published internally at the old Florida Game and Fresh Water Fish Commission.

Meanwhile, my position on hunting underwent another quantum shift. During my second winter in the country, I heard a couple of my neighbors discussing hunting. "You know," I thought, "hunting is a valid part of conservation. How can I call myself a conservationist if I've never tried it? I'm going to hate it, but I owe it to myself to have the experience."

I didn't get a deer that year, but I did the following year. The experience of taking an animal from the field to the table--knowing I could literally put meat on the table--changed my life forever. It is an incredibly powerful feeling to know that you can provide a meal no matter what it takes to get it.

Along about that time, I got a call from Rick Lavender. He had just been hired as the editor of a new magazine, Florida Game & Fish Magazine. Would I do a story on fishing?

You bet! (And just as an aside, I am still writing for them today.)

That's enough for one post. I'll pick up there the next time............and pretty soon we'll be talking about Africa.

Monday, August 3, 2009

How this madness got started

A friend recently asked me how I got started writing, and how I ended up writing what I do today.

Talk about a question with a convoluted answer! Nonetheless, I'm going to try to answer it. This saga is going to take us some strange places, but here we go.

I always knew I wanted to be a writer. Actually, I wanted to be Fiona Sunquist, who has traveled all over the world writing for magazines such as International Wildlife and Audubon and other high end conservation magazines.

I went to Florida State University to get a degree in biology, intending to use that as a place to start following that path. At the time that made sense to me, but looking back from the distance of 30 years, it would be nice to go back and tell my younger self that that degree in biology wasn't going to do what I wanted it to do. All it really taught me to do was work in a lab or go on to graduate school; I would have been better off with a degree in journalism or one in conservation of natural resources.

About the time I graduated from FSU, I got a phone call from someone in the Florida 4-H Department at the University of Florida. I was involved in 4-H all thought high school and into college, and knew a lot of state level faculty members, so this call wasn't totally out of the blue.

Dr. Tom Greenawalt wanted me to come to Gainesville and work in the Florida 4-H Department writing a new set of youth materials in marine science. This was right after the movie Jaws came out, so there was a lot of interest in all things marine, and in fact the very first document I did was on sharks.

I only spent 6 months in that job; it was a temporary position with no benefits that ran out at the end of 1975. But the materials I wrote were well received, and the Florida 4-H Department eventually hired a full-time regular faculty member to expand the program.

And having something I wrote be that well received reawakened my desire to write.

So that's step one on the road to how I became a writer.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

What goes around comes around

Back about 15 years ago, I conceived the idea to write a book on hunting for women. It was to be a look at hunting from a woman's point of view, and look at everything from history to how to.

I had a contract from CountrySport Press--the old CountrySport Press--and was really going to town on the manuscript. Then the company changed hands. I don't remember exactly what the issue was, but the new owner wanted some things that were not in the original contract and it turned into a pissing contest. I ended up giving back half the advance to get out of the contract. However, it was a long and protracted legal issue that dragged on for about a year.

Meanwhile, I had talked to another, very well known and well respected book publisher in the industry. I have mercifully forgotten the particular editor's name (probably blocked it out), but he was very interested in the book and said when I got free of the deal with CountrySport to come on over. He had a copy of the outline, which turns out to have been a serious mistake on my part.

As the thing with CountrySport was winding up, I got an e-mail from another woman writer--whose credentials were (and are) not nearly as good as mine. She indicated that she was doing a book on hunting for women for this same publisher, and asked some questions about my experience, etc.

I responded with a fairly puzzled note to the effect that I thought I was doing this book for them and could she please clarify? I also wrote a nice note to the editor, not indicating that I'd been in touch with her, but just telling him that things were almost done and I'd be his way in short order.

Next thing I got was a very nasty, hostile note from the editor saying he wasn't about to deal with me on any book on hunting for women and basically just go away and don't bother him again.

When this other book came out, it was very similar to the one I had proposed--albeit with a stronger slant toward shotgunning than mine.

My supposition was that the editor liked the topic but didn't want to wait for me, so he found someone else to do it and didn't tell her he had "lifted" the idea and basic outline for the book from someone else.

It is the only time in my career that I can truly say an editor "stole" one of my ideas and gave it to someone else. But the trail was pretty clear on this one.

All of that really took the heart out of me on that book and I put it away. It's too bad, because I have some really neat historical information in it that nobody else has.

Now it may be that the book's time has come around again. We've been discussing it on the Outdoor Writers Forum, and I'm getting a lot of encouragement to pull it out and dust it off and think about self publishing it.

Ironically, I'm just putting the finishing touches on a manuscript for a client who's self publishing a book, so I have an idea of what goes into that.

I'm really going to have to think about it. With all the younger women who are coming into hunting, and what they don't know about our heritage and history--or herstory, if you will--it may finally be time to do the book.

I pulled all the files out of my archive this morning.......the trouble is, they're all in Word Perfect, and the whole world is working in Word now. So I have some file conversions to do.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Summertime, but the livin' ain't easy.......

Summer is definitely here, with the heat and humidity and rain and bugs. I don't mind any of those things.

What I do mind, though, is the summer slowdown in writing assignments. Things always slow down in the summer, but this year it's more pronounced than usual because things already are so bad.

That's going to make it real tough in another month or so. I've tried getting a part time job somewhere, but the best thing I could find was $7.50 an hour at the Target customer service desk. I couldn't afford to take it.

Hopefully things will start to improve before long. Until then, it's doing whatever I have to do to survive.

I've always said I'll write anything as long as it's legal and the check doesn't bounce; that's even more the case now.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Baked potatoes

The potato story is almost done. There's a county extension director who's ducking my calls, and I need to include him. I can't tell if he's just had enough of talking about flooding in the tri-county area of northeast Florida three weeks ago, or doesn't consider this story important.

It's amazing how one person can hold up the entire works with something like that.

I run into this a lot, though, particularly with manufacturers. It's as if they don't "get" that being interviewed is the best advertising they'll ever have. It's free, and if they're smart about what they're doing, they come off like the expert in the field.

What more could you ask for?

I can't attribute that to any one industry, either. I have run into it with someone in every industry I've written in.

It always makes me want to jump up and down and scream "What part of free advertising don't you understand???"

Adult toys to potatoes

What do adult sex toys and potatoes have in common?

They're both topics I'm writing about today. This morning I finished up a profile of an adult toy manufacturer located in England, Je Joue.

Now I'm writing about how the late spring flooding affected potato growers in northeast Florida.

What I really want to do is go take a nap..........

Alas, Spudman awaits. Yes, that really is the name of the magazine I'm doing the potato story for.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Back to work

My last company from my son's graduation has left and now I can get back to work. This week promises to be brutal. I'm behind on everything.

The down side is that as soon as I catch up I won't have anything to do. Assignments have been hard to come by the last six months, and the little flurry of work I had starting about 6 weeks ago is running out.

Typically recessions have been good to me--magazines lay off people and use more freelancers. But his time the recession is so deep and so prolonged that it's gone beyond that. Not only have magazines laid off staff members, they've gotten smaller and are using fewer stories. And staffers who have been laid off can find other jobs, and they're competing with freelancers for the assignments that are there.

It's a tough world right now.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Domestic crisis 101

One thing about working at home is that you never miss out on a domestic crisis. This evening when my son Chris went out to mow the yard, he bumped the outside faucet along the fence.

That wouldn't have been a problem except that the standpipe has been there since the 1970s and the PVC has gotten brittle. Next thing Chris knew, we had a high velocity geyser in the back yard.

He thought it was a catastrophe. I laughed at him and sent him out to the street to turn off the water, and then showed him how simple it is to cut off a split piece of PVC with a hacksaw. Then I headed out to Home Depot for a new elbow and some pipe dope.

I made him fix it. After all, he won't learn unless he does it a few times. But the water is back on, the yard is mowed, and now it's time for me to clean up the kitchen.

In the beginning.........

This is going to be another new experience for me. I'm accustomed to writing for a magazine audience, for both consumer magazines and trade publications. But this kind of "talking to your friends" writing is utterly different and just a big disconcerting!

I've always wanted to be a writer. I remember when I was about six--and barely tall enough to see over the typewriter--standing and picking out words on the old Royal manual typewriter that sat in one corner of my parents' bedroom. My first project was a dictionary--I think that lasted about a day.

Then I tried to write a cookbook. That came to an end when I realized I needed to know how to cook first!

A couple years later, my parents took my sister and me to the farm in north Florida where my mother grew up. I was entranced by the idea of being out in the woods and away from the city. That crystallized my goals.

"I'm going to live in the country and travel around the world and write about it!" I declared to my mother.

I must have been all of ten at the time, and my mother said, as mothers do, "That's nice, dear."

But I have had the good fortune to do exactly that. I lived on a farm in north Florida--not the one my mother grew up on, but one my former husband and I built--for 16 years. I've traveled this country and been to Africa four times, and I've written stories about all of it.

But just when I think I've seen it all, something surprises me. I don't see how I could cover a wider range of topics than I already have, and then an assignment takes me down a path that leaves me shaking my head.

Writing is a hard life. You wake up every day unemployed and have to hustle for all the work you get.

But it's also a good life. I wouldn't do anything else. I've had more adventures than I ever expected.

I'm looking forward to sharing some of them--past, present and future--with you.