HARDER GROUND’s official publication date is March 1, 2014. This is a collection of 29 short stories, each with a female protagonist. Great fun, and a challenge to write. There will be signings going up on the events section of this web site,, but here they are now: Sunday, Nov, 23, Horizon Books, Traverse City. And, Saturday, December 6th at Kazoo Books 3 p.m. in Kalamazoo at the Parkview Store. I’ll also be speaking in nearby Richland in January, but that’s already on the site.
Here are the titles of the 29 stories in HARDER GROUND:
This reminder for all drivers from the Michigan State Police. Read and heed.
While the state’s two million deer are most active in spring and fall, vehicle-deer crashes are a year-round problem. Each year, there are nearly 50,000 reported vehicle-deer crashes in Michigan. About 80 percent of these crashes occur on two-lane roads between dusk and dawn. The most serious crashes occur when motorists swerve to avoid a deer and hit another vehicle or a fixed object, or when their vehicle rolls over.
Here are some tips to avoid a crash:
Stay aware, awake, and sober.
Vehicle-deer crashes occur year-round, but be especially alert in spring and fall.
Signs are placed at known deer crossing areas to alert you of the possible presence of deer.
Deer are herd animals and frequently travel in single file. If you see one deer cross the road, chances are there are more waiting.
Be alert for deer, especially at dawn and dusk. If you see one, slow down.
Don’t rely on gimmicks, flashing your high-beam headlights or honking your horn to deter deer.
If a crash is unavoidable:
Don’t swerve. Brake firmly, hold onto the steering wheel, and bring your vehicle to a controlled stop.
Pull off the road, turn on your emergency flashers, and be cautious of other traffic if you exit your vehicle.
Report the crash to the nearest police agency and your insurance company.
Remember to buckle up, as seat belts are motorists’ best defense in the event of a crash.
I started this the morning of our departure from the U.P.
DAY 182, Halloween, ALBERTA VILLAGE—The Grady Service manuscript is packed and buried in the truck, but old ways die hard. Here I am awake and ready to write at 0400. We have several inches of snow on the ground and a half inch of ice on the Streamer and Lonnie’s Chevy. It’s 30 degrees, snowing and this is God’s memo that winter is here. It was in the high fifties and sixties for three days last week, three days amounting to this year’s entire dose of Indian Summer (which is the first warmup after the first hard freeze. The first freeze was way back in late September.
Missy iPad says the snowfall is 4-7 inches in a band that runs southeast from Herman (So of L’Anse), through Ishpeming- Negaunee and over to the Sands Township Plains and Gwinn up on the plateau pointing at Trenary, the typical snow path for this part of the world.
K.I.Sawyer AFB was located right at the tail end of that route and back in my flying days in the USAF this snow pattern gave us plenty of consternation over the years. The good part is that we got really skilled in taking off, landing and operating in really awful weather conditions.
When philosophizing travelers talk about journeys being more interesting than destinations, they are not talking about driving in snow and ice and high wind. It is this incessant 8 month blight of white dirt that renders the UP interesting.
A friend of mine stopped by yesterday, just as we were loading the vehicles. He was on his way north on business, one of those unflappable Finns, unfazed by snow (or anything, as far as I can tell).
Just as I sat down to write, a delivery truck (18-wheeler) came down one of our driveways to the cafeteria at the MTU dorm. Made me think about how in that “working for others world” most of of inhabit for most of our lives –my stint was 38 years worth—weather is one of those thins one is not allowed to kowtow to unless conditions and circumstances are demonstrably and documentarily in the life-threatening category and even then, some businesses seldom close, and employees are most often left to use their own common sense and hope that it conincides with the common sense of their supervisors and the upper echelons.
Yesterday I drove to L’Anse & Baraga to get gas and mail some things. Gas was at $2.94/gal, but that low price is for an octane with ethanol, which makes many automobile motors run for crap (they weren’t designed to handle the stuff). Hi test was $3.69 / gal, the only octane grade without ethanol.
The world is apparently in an oil glut and the Saudis are continuing to pump in an effort to pimp both the Russians and the Iranians, just another convoluted political strategy. Locally I hearfd a customer tell the gas station clerk, “Oil prices are predicted to go even lower.” The clerk said, “Good, I hope it goes A LOT lower.” Funny how folks can dichotomize and compartmentalize the various fragments that add up to our lives. I wonder how many social and political pollsters factor in this very real personal aspect of almost every life.
The radio says there is a $5 entry for the haunted house in Houghton tonight; all proceeds go to the Pigs in Heat Fund.” That’s a direct quote. Both Lonnie and I heard it, looked at each other and shrugged. A perfectly weird moment to close out our six-month sortie to our favorite land.
Plan was to head to Gaylord and we did. Took us 8 hours, roads semi nasty until we headed south for Rapid River and got over the now belt marker at the Delta County border. There’s always less snow on the Yooper Riviera ( or “Banana Belt”).
The next day, Saturday, we drove on in to Portage and were met by Lonnie’s sis Mary and had a fine dinner together and unloaded both vehicles. I happened to switch on the tv and see a program advertised: “Pit Bulls and Parolees.” What bookends, “All Proceeds to the Pigs in Heat Fund and Pit Bulls and Parolees on the boob tube. There’s surely a short story in that. Time will tell. It is 475 miles from our place in Alberta to our home in Portage.
Got the computer connected and t here in email were the page proofs for HARDER GROUND.
And the production manager was asking if I could turn them around in nine days.
Sure I said, and I am within a day of being finished. Everything at this stage is done electronically, but I simply can’t work in that environment, so I print off the manuscript (1-2 inches thick) and read the hard copy, make notes, then type them into the electronic version and send back. The publisher will then bump me with queries as needed. Meanwhile, I am making final preps for my DNR patrols, which will begin Nov. 14 at locations I’ll announce later.
Here are some photos I took the morning I went to town to get gas, a trout stream now on the log for future visitation, and other stuff. Thursday night we had dinner with the Stimacs at Tony’s Supper Club. Lots of fun and good food and outside I saw the power pole with warnings. Photos in this batch.