Ireland is for Writers #1: Galway

This entry is part 5 of 8 in the series Writing in Ireland

Last August I took a week in Ireland at a writers’ retreat of sorts. It wasn’t just a writing retreat, though I did do some writing. It was also a mini-workshop, with writing classes led by authors Susan Spann (The Shinobi Mysteries) and Heather Webb (Becoming Josephine, Rodin’s Lover). And it was also a tour of western Ireland.

Let me tell you about it.

First off, I landed in Dublin and immediately spied what I knew would be waiting: Continue reading

Irvington Eats – a Robin Archer Gastronomic Tour

So Orphan Heirs & Shades of Night comes out Friday, and it’s set in Irvington. I’ll let Robin tell you about Irvington:

Back in the nineteenth century, a town was plotted outside of Indianapolis, which of course has since swallowed it, and it was called Irvington, after Washington Irving. Yes, that Washington Irving, and because his most famous tale is perhaps “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow,” the community seized on Halloween as its patron holiday.

Irvington’s Halloween Festival is now over a week long, the oldest and largest in the country, and it features not only the ghost tours and costume parades and seasonal film screenings you’d expect but also roller derby and scholarship competitions and anything else which sounds fun.

This was a really fun setting to use, because not only is Irvington generally bonkers about Halloween and the supernatural (in a good way!), which is great for an urban fantasy, but Irvington has some fabulous local eats where I could send Robin and Jimmy. I mention only two by name, because you can only name so many restaurants in a novella before it looks like paid placement (it was not), but you really ought to know about these two. Continue reading

A Good Review and a Castle

Scarecrow anthology Rhonda Parrish

“Judge and Jury”

Totally just sharing something exciting, don’t mind me.

But today I found this review — in Tangent, no less — of Scarecrow, following up on reviewer Eric Kimminau’s take on Corvidae. And just look at what he had to say about my story.

“Judge & Jury” by Laura VanArendonk Baugh is the reason I had to review Scarecrow. It’s a continuation of “Sanctuary” from Corvidae. I simply had to see how it came to a conclusion. You can read my review of “Sanctuary” here….. If you read Corvidae, you must read Scarecrow, if for this story alone.

I’m pretty sure I floated down the stairs for an hour after that.

(Warning: there are major spoilers at the reviews. Use link caution.)
Continue reading

Route 66: Ruins and Ghost Towns

This entry is part of 16 in the series GDB & Route 66

One of my favorite things about Route 66 is discovering relics of a previous age, America’s answer to ancient ruins.

Sally Sparrow: I love old things. They make me feel sad.
Kathy Nightingale: What’s good about sad?
Sally Sparrow: It’s happy for deep people.“Blink,” episode of Doctor Who, written by Steven Moffat

Route 66 is full of old things, and many of them are falling apart from decades of abandonment. Here’s a gallery of some of my favorite findings. Continue reading

Route 66: Texas

This entry is part 15 of 16 in the series GDB & Route 66
decrepit building with empty sign, surrounded by scraggly weeds and utterly forlorn

the Texas Longhorn Motel, or what’s left of it. “The First/Last Motel in Texas.”

Glenrio, as we saw on the eastern border of New Mexico, straddles the state line on an abandoned stretch of road. What shell is left of the Texas Longhorn Motel (“the First/Last Motel in Texas”) sits a few feet over the border, but there will be no guests.

Eastward, we come to Adrian, the geographical midpoint of Route 66 — probably depending on exact alignments, but who really cares to quibble? Adrian has 166 residents, per their sign, and I’m not going to begrudge them their midpoint status.

Midpoint sign for Route 66, Adrian, TXTSunflower Station, western giftshe gift shop and cafe across the street is adjoined by Sunflower Station, another boutique, where you can sign the pickup truck. We didn’t stop or take the time. That probably makes us Fake 66 Cruisers or something. Losers. Continue reading

Route 66: Remote 66

This entry is part 14 of 16 in the series GDB & Route 66
the Cuervo Cutoff, two dirt tracks running off into tall grass

East of Santa Rosa, NM

As the Route 66 series continues (and we have 5 states to go!), I thought I’d share a few thematic galleries of photos which might go together well but be lost in a state-centric post.

Today’s theme is the abandoned road. I’ve mentioned that we sought out many alternate alignments or discarded sections of old Route 66. Here are a few of my favorite pictures from those less-traveled segments! Continue reading

Route 66: New Mexico

This entry is part 13 of 16 in the series GDB & Route 66

Across the state line into New Mexico, the Land of Enchantment!

The first major city Route 66 reaches heading east is Gallup, immortalized in Bobby Troup’s obligatory Route 66 road song. The city sits close to the Hogback, a “ridge of upwardly tilted sedimentary rock” (The Place Names of New Mexico, by Robert Hixson Julya), and allegedly because of this geological constriction Gallup was a potential bomb target during the Cold War, as a single strike might have taken out railroad, pipeline, wired communications, and Route 66 all at once. Continue reading

Route 66: Arizona, Part 2

This entry is part 12 of 16 in the series GDB & Route 66

We ran west again from Winslow to pick up Meteor Crater, which was closed the night before and also was closed the last time I’d been through the area. (“Meteor Crater is closed.” Like they roll a mile-wide tarp across it at night, or maybe one of those motorized pool covers.)

sign: Meteor Crater is closed. Opens at 8 am.

A really, really big tarp, I’m telling you.

But I am (as astute readers might have noticed) a bit of a nerd, so we ran back the next morning to arrive just as they were unlocking the doors and presumably rolling up the tarp.

Meteor Crater

Meteor Crater is the site of the first crater impact to be recognized as such, and where impact science was basically re-invented. It’s an impressive hole in the ground. Best calculations by modern science suppose a 150-foot wide chunk of space rubble came screaming through our hundred miles of atmosphere in just 10 seconds before plowing into a pulverizing a sizable part of Arizona. Fragments scattered up to 7 miles around the site. The crater is three-quarters of a mile wide, and they think parts of a meteor sank as deep as 3,000 feet. Wow. Continue reading

Route 66: Notes From the Mother Road

This entry is part 11 of 16 in the series GDB & Route 66

I’m behind in updating the actual travelogue for a number of reasons, not least of which is the photo-intensity of this trip, making backups and postings at typical hotel/motel speeds fairly draggy. While many old roadside motels are wonderful and equipped with all the modern conveniences, like the Roadrunner Lodge in Tucumcari, NM, others are not.

(One night I pulled in and asked first about internet access and second about vacancy. The owner/manager promised we would have internet. That turned out to be true only if I sat on the sidewalk outside the office, and even then my photo upload predicted it would finish at 8:16 the following morning.)

But there are a few notes common to all of Route 66 which I can share outside of chronological order. Continue reading

Route 66: Arizona, part 1

This entry is part 10 of 16 in the series GDB & Route 66
old filling station, gas at 66 cents

a restored Phillips 66 station

Remember, I’m reporting Route 66 from west to east, which is atypical. (I even found one guide which said running Route 66 from LA to Chicago was “historically wrong.” Like the whole highway was just a 2,400-mile one-way road.)

So here’s Arizona, from sunset to sunrise.

caution traffic sign, BurrosA Dearth of Burros

Oatman is famous for its feral burro population, descended from those escaped from or turned loose by prospectors in the (very rich) mining area. Tourists feed the burros, which wander down the street freely.

We arrived at Oatman early, and we shopped and we had breakfast, and…. Continue reading