Skip to content

Highway to Yesterday

Forthcoming Section, Research, Dog Training, and One Sultry Summer

A couple of months ago, I put up a page under Forthcoming for Magic by Starlight. Today I added to it an excerpt from the opening chapter. Have a look if you wish, and feedback is always welcome. It is quite raw–the beta readers have not seen it yet–so you can consider this a first look. Comments are open.

While pondering the final scenes of Magic by Starlight, I have been working on East of Yesterday as well. I realized that I was not documenting my research very well, so I am going to start keeping track of research sites on another Forthcoming page for East of Yesterday. That means working on the query as well, which I have not really tackled. I hit the 50,000 word mark for this story, and I think it will end up between 80 and 90 thousand words.


My mother gave us her eight month old puppy. He is a sweet Maltese, and so we have been adding “dog training” to our daily activities. Housebreaking a dog is a lot of work! We do have what we think is a good dog training method (the Dogfather), and we are already getting results even though we have only had the dog a week. Here’s his picture; his name is Finnegan.

FinnInActionMdIsn’t he so cute? We’re getting him used to riding in the Jeep, too! Got any hints for training an unneutered dog?


I am going to be glad to see the end of this summer. Not only because of the heat, which really wasn’t all that terrible this year, but because it will at least be an ending, and autumn will be a beginning, and it will mark the end of one chaotic summer. Remember my post from around Memorial Day, where I detailed my action-packed vacation week? Well, stretch that kind of pace out through the rest of the summer, and you know what my summer has been like. This summer has included:

  • Tragedy for family member
  • Surgery of family member
  • Squatters living next door
  • Dog-sitting
  • Major vehicle breakdowns and repairs
  • Vehicle purchase
  • Five trips out of town
  • Adoption of dog

I think the squatting episode and Finnegan’s adoption will make some good blog posts.

A Moonstruck Time Capsule Geek-Out

Back in the 70s, my family would occasionally have Saturday Night Slide Show night at our house. Dad would pull out the slides and we’d spend hours munching on Mom’s popcorn, listening to Mom and Dad as they narrated the slides. Sometimes Mom would even cook the popcorn over the fire. In this special aluminum container that would billow into a huge ball as the popcorn popped.

Recently, my husband scanned every one of Dad’s slides. There were over a thousand. Well, look at some of the gems we found. These never made the Saturday Night Slide Shows. Maybe Dad thought he would bore us.

Nixon Moon ChatYes, that’s Nixon you see there, taking to the astronauts during the first moon landing. Dad took a picture of the TV! There is over a dozen of these slides, some not even of anything recognizable.

I remember when he took these. (Yeah, I know; I’m aging myself.) Dad had to take these at a slow shudder speed because otherwise he would have gotten a bar across the TV screen showing an incompletely rendered picture. That’s why they’re blurry; he didn’t have a tripod. Plus the pictures were, yanno, moving.

Here are some more of the ones that turned out the best:

Moon Buggy?Looks like they’re putting up the flag, here.My beautiful pictureMilling about the moon, just because we can.My beautiful pictureLove that retro caption! Way to cover up the subject of the picture with the caption. Broadcasting types have learned a lot since then.

And finally:

Moonstruck PicnicMy sisters, brother, my Mom, and me at a picnic. I’m the daydreamy one wearing brown in the back. How does this picture fit in with the above? Check out the moon landing photos in the newsmagazine next to Mom.

I remember the moon landings quite clearly, but not the picnic. Looks like fun times anyway.

Recent Research – Language of the 20s

I recently read an article about how some language research used some analytics acquired through Google Books to compare the scripts from Mad Men to actual phrases in use at the time. This inspired me to reread some period literature from the 20s to identify phrases that we don’t use any more, and phrases that we still use. I’ll use this research in East of Yesterday to make sure the speech of my characters who belong in the 20s is authentic. Because this is a time travel novel, my main characters, Mike, Adele and Brad, will speak like they are from modern times–at least at first. But characters from the 20s should sound like they are from the 20s. African American characters should sound appropriate as well, but I will not attempt to use dialect. I thought I’d start with The Great Gatsby. Next, I believe I will read Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, because it, like Gatsby, was published in 1925 and probably has a good deal of dialog and slang. Lots of things have stayed the same, and other things have changed very subtly. You might get “tanked up” instead of drunk, and you would say “oughtn’t”. You would still use phrases like “Don’t you think” and “if you know what I mean.” Men refer to each other by their last name. It’s always Gatsby, almost never Jay (for men) unless you are a relation. Terms like “gypped” were still used, and men are still “crazy about” certain women, and vice versa, or maybe you “can’t stand” someone else. You might get “roaring drunk” and “have a gay time”. You would say “excepting” instead of “except” and you would still use the word “fortnight.” It’s a “gasline station” as often as it is a “gas station”.  Did someone thank you? A polite thing to say would still be “don’t mention it” or “don’t give it another thought”. And you would replace “whatsoever” with “whatever”. That’s all I’ve collected so far. Notice these aren’t necessarily slang–just common phrases that have change or may not have changed. I enjoy language research; I think it goes hand-in-hand with being a reader and a writer.

Rest in Peace: Bayard, Florida

On the first post of this blog, I said that I would be going off-topic more often, and making this blog a bit more personal. This is the first of such posts. Our family likes to go on road trips and explore historical places. We live in an interesting corner of Florida, where there are many cool–sometimes abandoned–places. I expect to put up many road trip posts like this one. I hope they interest you.


A town has been wiped off the map. In its place are a pair of a strip malls and a colorful biker bar that somehow escaped the bulldozers.

Welcome to Bayard, Florida. Click the photos to see them in full resolution.

Country (Antique) Store in Bayard, Florida
Bayard Country (Antique) Store in Bayard, Florida

I wish I had gotten a better picture of this old country store. I shot this in the car as we drove by. It’s too late now–it has been bulldozed. When I heard they were going to tear down the Country Store, I figured all the nearby abandoned places were all shortly going to be history, and I was right. Therefore, in 2004, we went on a short trip down US-1 to get photos of them all. I didn’t know at the time why I was gathering these photos; I just wanted to.

View from across US-1, south of Bayard.
View from across US-1, south of Bayard.

This old house interested me. Way back when, it must have had a front lawn, but before they tore it down, the house literally opened out on US-1. Check it out:

View from sidewalk.
View from sidewalk.

Check out the homemade swingset! I would have loved the ladder, but nowadays, the whole thing would be a safety hazard.

Notice how it's constructed of old pipes.
Notice how it's constructed of old pipes.

Off to the left of this picture is another old house, set further off the street. You can see the rest of the above swingset on the right side. I think someone still lived there when I took the picture, so I didn’t get too close.

Just north of the old house, south of Bayard, FL.
Just north of the old house, south of Bayard, FL.

Also nearby was an old tourism office.

Old Tourist Office along US-1, south of Bayard
Old Tourist Office along US-1, south of Bayard

And just down the road aways was this old “motor hotel” or hotel. It’s gone now, too. I suppose it was an eyesore, but someone loved it once.

This old motel used to be south of Bayard, Florida
This old motel used to be south of Bayard, Florida

Bayard technically still exists, and there are some lovely old houses down the side roads, but the “downtown” area of Bayard through US-1 is now all modernized.