Sunday, April 15, 2018

Liberal in Kansas

Who knew there was a Liberal in Kansas??? I decided to stay a few days.

Well, to catch up a little, I was in Liberal, Kansas for ten days, including a few with temps in the teens and snow on the ground. Then at the first break, I moved to Oakley, Kansas and have been here for five days, including temps in the teens, a blizzard, and winds at 30-50 mph. Tomorrow, though, I plan to scoot farther north and will leave Kansas for Nebraska.
For the past 500 miles, I’ve only seen one kind of scenery. I expect that will continue until I turn west toward Wyoming.

Back to being Liberal in Kansas. Liberal is the adopted home of Dorothy Gale of The Wizard of Oz. Adopted, I say, because L. Frank Baum never said exactly where in Kansas Dorothy lived, so an enterprising local promoter a few dozen years ago petitioned the Governor of Kansas to declare Liberal as her home. Around that declaration, a museum and town theme has grown. I walked the Yellow Brick Road and toured the rather fun museum that includes several animatronic scenes from Oz and a few exhibits like a replica of Baum’s office and how he determined the name for the mythical land.

Which brings me to the discussion of being a liberal in Kansas. I’ve often been called a liberal, though I always thought of it as simply trying to be a good person. Now, though, I have reason to claim the name and try to purge it of all the neo-liberal and pseudo-conservative connotations.

A historical marker at the information center talked about Francisco Vasquez de Coronado traveled to this region in 1541. He, of course, was looking for gold and finding only a poor tribe of Indians and the flat plains, killed his guide for misleading him. Great way for Europeans to be introduced to the area. It was not, however, until the mid-1880s that the first white settler established his homestead here.

Seymour S. Rogers, the settler, was said to have been “mighty liberal” with water from his well. From this came the name for the city, established in 1888.

And I got to thinking about that. “He was mighty liberal.” In other words, he gave generously to those in need. Case closed. I am a liberal and I will accept no other definition. I give generously to those in need.

So stop whining. I’m not going to take away your guns.

I not going to engage in a debate about who deserves to benefit from my generosity, nor attempt to judge people’s worthiness or priority based on their color, sexual preference, nationality, legal immigrant status, age, religion, gender identity, sex (or lack thereof), ability to return the favor, or smell.

So stop telling me one person or class of people should be helped before another. If they are in need, they are in need. It isn’t a contest.

And stop telling me about your rights and all your programs to get the government to help the homeless, refugees, veterans, drug addicts, pets, and spotted owls. That’s not what being a liberal (or a conservative) is. It’s giving generously to those in need. You personally. Those other things might be good or bad or indifferent. Go argue them on a case by case basis. Start thinking about good government instead of neo-liberal and pseudo-conservative causes.

Be liberal. What excuse do you really have?

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Looking for the City

I’m looking for a photo for the cover of my next book, City Limits. It could be yours! Here’s the skinny:

Gee wanders into Rosebud Falls and discovers he can’t remember anything about his life before he crossed the City Limits. In attempting to make himself a home in this small city of 4,190 people, he becomes something of a local hero, rescuing a child from the river, breaking up an attempted kidnapping, intervening with a woman overdosed on drugs, etc. He discovers that the City’s Forest, comprising a poisonous variety of hickory trees, holds a strange power over the populace and especially the seven Families who founded it. In attempting to save and expand the Forest, Gee saves the soul of the City as well.

Okay, photographs: I believe there are three likely subjects for the cover.

1.    The first is a picture of a City Limits sign that shows either a small town in the not too distant background or a bridge over a rushing torrent just beyond the sign.

2.    A picture of Main Street in small town USA.

3.    A picture of a hickory forest (could be walnut or pecan, but not an orchard with trees in a straight line).

Here are some characteristics that I’m looking for:

1.    Rosebud Falls is located somewhere east of the Mississippi and north of the Mason-Dixon line. Population ~4,200.

2.    Mountains are okay, but not as a focal point nor a recognizable peak.

3.    Trees should be deciduous, not evergreen.

4.    No buildings along Main Street should be more than three stories.

5.    Buildings on Main Street should all be connected.

6.    I need to be able to edit out identifying information in the photo like store names, name of the city, license numbers, etc.

7.    Pictures that show cars or fashions need to be contemporary. This is not a historical piece.

8.    Photo resolution must be at least 4,000 by 3,000 pixels, prefer larger. (The bigger the better.)

If you’ve got a question about it, let me know. I’m happy to fill in the blanks in what I want. In fact, here are some examples of the kind of Main Street scene I want.

North Manchester, Indiana: A great Main Street, but my photos of it are either too low resolution or a bad angle.

Lakeport, California: Photo by Arnaudh (Own work) [GFDL ( or CC BY 3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

These are the kind of buildings that I see, but the picture is flat and doesn’t show enough interest. This is also an illustration of something else I don't care for. I'm not fond of looking up at the buildings. I'd rather the photo was taken from a higher angle.

Ames, Iowa. Photo by Tim Kiser (w:User:Malepheasant) (Self-photographed) [CC BY-SA 2.5 (], via Wikimedia Commons

Though Ames is a much larger city than Rosebud Falls, it does show some of the characteristic buildings. I don’t think I want so much street in the photo.

Middletown, Connecticut: Photo by Joe Mabel [GFDL ( or CC BY-SA 3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

Middletown is also the ‘right kind’ of town, even though it is much larger than Rosebud Falls, as indicated partially by the extra story of height on most of the buildings. Also, note that if I have legible license plates, I’ll have to edit those as well as all the names of the businesses. I think I would rather have the trees in leaf, as well, as most of the story takes place in the summer.

Leavenworth, WA. This is obviously a bit Bavarian for my tastes, even though the photo angle de-emphasizes the fact that it is a city in the mountains. Notice, too, that the tree is not evergreen, giving the town less northwest atmosphere.

Honesdale, PA: Photo by DWilliamsFrey - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0,

Honesdale is just the kind of town I want, but this photo is too highly distorted on the wide-angle lens. Again, I’d like to see the trees in leaf.

My biggest problem with this hickory forest photo is figuring out where and how to position a title that would be legible. Photo licensed from Shutterstock. And… although it represents a principal player in the drama (the Forest), it seems foreign with title “City Limits.”

This aerial view of a small city has potential. I especially like the river. The church might be a bit quaint. I’d probably flip the whole photo horizontal to get the open area where I could put the title. Photo licensed from Shutterstock.

This is a picture of exactly the kind of Main Street I want, but… It almost looks like a ghost town. The buildings are a bit shabby. The street is deserted. There are no trees. I might be able to use this but the amount of photo editing required would be staggering! Photo licensed from Shutterstock.

So, there are some samples and descriptions of what I’m looking for. What do you have in your photo files??? Want a cover credit?

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Catching Up

This is likely to be long and rambling as I've been traveling and that puts me in a wordy mood.

I finally got my lazy butt out of Glenn Eden and spent a couple of very pleasant days camped at DeAnza Springs, about fifty miles west of El Centro, California. I liked it well enough that I was considering the possibility of snowbirding there. Then they told me that they actually had snow as recently as the week before. Not my idea of fun.

As I was driving along toward Arizona, I decided to check out a town I saw along the way called Tequila Bend. Coming out of Yuma, I realized I'd misread the sign--or my puny brain had played with it--and it was Gila Bend. No fun on that. So I camped at Tacna, Arizona for a couple of days.
Visited my friend Jim down south of Tucson for the weekend and he assured me that tequila was available in plentiful supply. But another friend, Doug, noted that he hadn't been able to find Tequila Bend on any maps or in any references and thought perhaps I'd stumbled upon the location for my next book. That was all it took for me to go rocketing off with a new story (only in my head at the moment) of a poor settler who stumbles upon a good place in the Southwest for a homestead near the river. The settler is T. Killa and the name for his little trading post soon is transposed to Tequila Bend. While out exploring his little area, he discovers a small man who is very hairy. Turns out, he's the first illegal alien in that part of the country, but after they learn to communicate, they become good friends and partners. Some crisis occurs (give me a break, I haven't written the story yet) and T. Killa and alien friend are transported in time to the 21st century. Most time travel stories are to the past for some unknown reason, but this one goes a couple hundred years into T. Killa's future. Most of the story is then about how easy it is for a gun-toting pioneer of the 19th century to get along in the might-makes-right 21st century, all while trying to get back to Tequila Bend. So there.

Above is the trading post at Tequila Bend (Really Black Canyon City, AZ where I camped for a few days while taking care of a couple of client projects. Below it is my rendition of T. Killa.

So in my naiveté, I thought about the fact that there were some places in Northern Arizona I hadn't explored the last time I went across, so I headed up to Flagstaff and then east on I-40. I had to stop in Windblown Arizona to stand on a corner, of course.
In fact, the wind was so strong that as I slowed to exit the freeway, a gust tore the refrigerator vent cap off the top of the trailer and sent it east faster than I was going. Which is why I'm currently in Albuquerque, NM about to get a repair. I did, however, get a chance to visit The Petrified Forest National Park and take a long drive and a few hikes through the Painted Desert.

I remembered this vaguely from a trip between my junior and senior years in college when I came home and told my folks that I thought this was probably the last time I'd be back to take a family vacation with them and Kim. So we packed up the car and drove to California to see my grandfather, then back to Albuquerque to see Mom's brother. It's the first (only) family car trip that I remember actually camping out and we drove through the Painted Desert but didn't stop. I always wanted to return and now I have.

My totem, the raven, kept showing up wherever I parked to take a hike or a picture in the desert. I thought that was quite friendly of him, so I bought a little commemorative at the gift shop to hang from my mirror along with the dream catcher. Now he travels with me.
This picture is just in case you had any doubts about how it is pronounced down here. In all fairness, the RV Park recently changed owners and they are working hard to get it renovated and in better condition for overnighters. I spent three nights and aside from the wind, rain, snow, sleet, and hail, it was very pleasant.

I got revisions on two client projects and spent time focusing on getting them out, but decided to stay an extra day as a writing day as I'd traveled, produced, and toured for a couple of days with little of my own work to show for it. As a result, I finished the final draft of City Limits and it is now in the hands of my very capable editor and proofreader. I'm looking forward to getting this book out early in the summer. I feel like it could be the best I've managed to produce since The Gutenberg Rubric.
When I took off (nearly literally) I continued to get buffeted by high winds and unpredictable precipitation. Not sure if the picture above was my farewell to Arizona or my welcome to New Mexico. From this point, however, the weather continued to be problematic all the way to Sky City (Acoma) where I booked a hotel room for the night just to have unlimited hot water for two or three showers. I passed several accidents and traffic westbound was at a complete standstill in three different locations approaching the Continental Divide and just after. I was glad to get inside and it was a reasonable price for the benefits derived.

I'm now in Albuquerque New Mexico where in just a couple of hours I will get the vent on the roof fixed and spend some time shopping for supplies. Then I'll be making my way over to visit sister Sharon in Texas by the weekend.

This post is one I'm quite proud of because I have succeeded in making no overtly political commentary, which was part of why it was delayed. Every time I sat down to write, I was spewing out reams of disgust over our political and social condition. Perhaps I got all the way through this one without offending anyone.

Thursday, March 1, 2018


I’ll do that… decide that… think about that… tomorrow. Or the next day. I’m a champ at it. In fact, I’m so good at it that they should name a disease after me, like I’m the first and only one afflicted with this level of putting things off. Only not my real name. Use my avatar, Wayzgoose. When you are feeling incredibly lethargic and it is too much effort to heat soup for dinner (I sliced up some summer sausage with Ritz crackers for dinner last night and that was almost too much work) then you can sigh and say, “I’ve been Wayzgoosed. I’ll do better tomorrow.”
I love the entrance sign for Glen Eden, but tell me if I'm wrong.
That guy is sunburned, isn't he?

My latest delay is the fact that I haven’t decided where to go when I leave here. My ‘schedule’ says that I’m supposed to leave Glen Eden at noon today and go… somewhere. In my usual ‘just in time’ fashion, I walked into the office yesterday afternoon and extended my stay through Sunday. Now I can wait until Monday to decide what direction I’m going.

That’s not to say that I’m doing nothing. My perennial excuse for not getting things I ‘should’ done is that I’m writing. I managed some 78,000 words in February, most of which (60,000) are in the rewrite of City Limits. As extensive as this rewrite is, it’s like starting from the ground up. In fact, just last night I wrote a scene that is very important to the new story, but significantly changes a major plotline of the novel. I need to spend time today evaluating whether the importance of this scene to the revised story is important enough to change or abandon the previous plotline. And if I decide against it, it won’t be the first time in this rewrite that I write a thousand words and then delete them.
My February writing goals have been adequately exceeded after a rocky start to the month while I fought off a head-numbing cold.

I’ve set City Limits in an Eastern U.S. town with a population of 4,190. I’ve kept the exact location a little vague, but it could be anywhere from Southern New York State through Pennsylvania Maryland or Virginia. But I’ve lived much of my life in or near smaller cities. The model of Main Street that I’m using in my head is that of North Manchester, Indiana, a town only slightly larger than my target. But ‘small city’ means something very different in different places. The little town of Lake Elsinore just south of where I am in Southern California, has a population of over 51,000. That’s a fair-sized city where I come from.

I watched Twin Peaks while I was preparing to write this and one of the things I noticed was that the story views Twin Peaks as a sleepy little town in the mountains of Washington State, and even used North Bend and surrounding areas as its setting. Well, North Bend is a city with a population of 6,700. But it is obvious that the directors and writers were California-based and held a California mindset as to what a small town was. Take a look at the city limit sign for Twin Peaks from the opening credits.
This tiny town, too small and remote to have a resident judge and prosecutor and policed only by the county sheriff's department has a population of 51,201? California dreamin'!

Well, that’s just one of the things that I look at when I’m writing. For example, in a community of 4,200 people, how large is a charismatic evangelical church likely to grow? (I highly doubt it will have a thousand members!) From where, besides the City, will it attract members? How far will they be willing to drive to get to church? Are there other population centers within that radius that would build their membership? And then when I’ve done all that research, which might take days, it will show up in a sentence in the story something like, “Pastor Beck looked out at the hundred people filling the pews and was pleased with how dramatically the church had grown.” But when I say it, I’ll know that this is consistent with the kind of town I’ve created.
I need to pack my grill and propane tanks, then home sweet home is on the move.

So, I’m sitting still for a couple more days and will have a new book to lay out for a client tomorrow on a very fast, no-edits, turnaround. I plan to have it back to him before I pull up stakes on Monday. Then I’ll be leaving the brown hills that surround my little campsite and charting a path that will lead me back to Sun Meadow in Idaho by mid-May. Looking forward to seeing home!
I am looking forward to exchanging the scene of California's brown bare hills for the rich greens of Northern Idaho!

Monday, February 26, 2018

Mad as hell…

I admit it. I’m mad as hell and I’m going to take this anymore.

Hmm. Did I misquote that? Really? If you think you’re not going to take this anymore, think again. You are. I am.

Of course, I’m talking about mass murders, school killings, black on black crime, white supremacists, bought off congressdweebs, and the NRA. We’ve all got a solution, right? We’re all mad as hell that another batch of kids has been cut down in what should have been a place of safety and learning. But frankly, no matter how mad we get, we’re going to take it some more. Each day, I sit and wait for the next mass murder.

Of course, my liberal friends want to ban all guns! Get rid of them. That will end this. They forget that effectively banning all guns would not require a law, but a rule of martial law. Yep, the very thing that gun-owners are so paranoid about that they need their guns to defend us all against.

My conservative friends want to arm the teachers, not for a moment considering the fact that means they want to conscript teachers into an armed militia, against their will, and force them to stand between students and armed intruders where volunteers have refused to stand.

I have to say that if Mr. Hess had been carrying around a .44 magnum in 6th grade math class instead of that damned big paddle, we’d have had fewer people in our graduating class. Maybe not. I’m not sure anyone he hit with that board ever graduated.

Now I’ll spit out the standard conservative drivel that the problem isn’t guns.

Of course not, say my liberal friends, it’s gun-owners.

Both are wrong. Wrong. Wrong. Wrong.

This has nothing to do with rights, first, second, or fifth amendment. The problem is not gun control, it’s gun culture. Like the oft-touted American rape culture, gun culture is all-American. We want something, we kill to get it. Our rhetoric, our sports chants, our sales presentations, our corporate board rooms are filled with ‘Kill, kill, kill.’

The Pilgrims arrived at Plymouth in November 1620. In March 1623, my unmourned ancestor Myles Standish, invited two chiefs and their families to dinner and killed them all. Our first all-American mass murder. We kill to take whatever it is we want. It’s the American way.

We live in a Harry Potter world. Only instead of magic wands, we have magic guns. We have the same divisions of evil wizards battling good student witches in America today as in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. Only instead of battling each other with magic wands we battle with magic guns.

There were three unforgivable curses in HP’s world. Avada Kedavra, (the killing curse), Crucio (excruciating pain curse), and Imperio (taking control of another person curse). I can’t remember how many times Voldemort hurled Avada Kedavra at Harry and missed. But the heroes (students) won the war and not once used one of the three unforgivable curses.

We don’t have that choice. Our magic guns only have one spell. Avada Kedavra! You’re dead. We only have one curse in our bag of magic tricks. If you pick up a magic gun, there is only one outcome. Death. It’s the American way. Kill for what you want.

So, if you are upset about school killings, about gun control, about bought off legislators, about whatever cause du jour you espouse, good for you! Just understand, you are going to take it some more. You’re going to be sitting in the same fucking chair tomorrow when another (probably white male) executioner attacks a school, mall, or concert. And you’ll still be sitting on your ass, mad as hell, the next time. And the next time. And the next time. And the next time.

It’s the American way. It’s our cultural heritage. If you want something, kill. If you’re angry, kill. If you’re afraid, kill. If you want someone to believe your religion, kill. If you’ve got pimples, bad breath, hurt feelings, or a two-inch dick, kill. Get yourself a magic gun and practice the unforgivable curse.

Avada Kedavra! You’re dead.

It’s not about gun control. It’s about the American way.

Friday, February 23, 2018

The Vultures are Gathering

I think that means it’s time to leave! These two turkey vultures have been spending mornings sunning themselves on the electric pole next to my trailer. Every morning I wake up to their subliminal message: Are you dead yet?

Turkey Vultures sitting on the power pole next to my trailer.

I didn’t see any of these birds last year. That’s one of the many reasons I chose not to go back to Florida for the winter. I thought I’d outrun them. In Florida, the turkey vultures line the rooftops, hop from pole to pole, and sit on abandoned playground equipment. Are you dead yet?

This is the territory the turkey vulture roams in North America. At least with the temperature where it is today, maybe they'll be hibernating or something.

Signs in the Everglades warn that vultures will eat the rubber off your car or trailer. Really? Just the kind of place I want to spend my waning years. Not that my years are waning. I’m not dead yet.

Which is more than I can say for seventeen students and teachers at Parkland. Rest in peace.

You know what really got to me when I saw the pictures of the murdered victims? That one guy who was wearing a UIndy swim team T-shirt. The kid was going to attend my alma mater. Cut down.

I don’t have any solutions to that situation. Every solution I hear is a bad one. Like banning porn. To my knowledge, no one has ever committed a mass murder while fapping.

They say we should arm teachers. Well, that would solve one of the terrible dilemmas that terrorists face: Who to shoot first.

Me? I write. I ridicule other people’s solutions, hoping they’ll come up with something better, though I sincerely doubt it. We’re all caught up in our own agendas. Whether you are pro-gun-ownership or against it, you won’t give up your solution. Note, I didn’t say 2nd Amendment. The issue has nothing to do with that. It’s all about me and what I want. Hell with the Constitution. We’d fight for or against gun ownership no matter what the Constitution said. We just use that as an excuse for our opinions.

I'm ahead of my writing goals for the year. But it represents four stories I'm currently actively developing! Can't do just one.

So, I write about characters and people who are concerned for the well-being of others and I try to simply turn a mirror on the world so we can look at ourselves through the eyes of others. My big project at the moment is City Limits, a literary fiction that I hope to release in late spring or early summer. I’m tracking well and the ‘final’ draft has entered the editing cycle with generally good comments coming back from my team. I don’t actually have a cover picture for the small city of Rosebud Falls somewhere in the eastern part of the country (not Indiana). I suppose, though, that my image of Main Street is heavily influenced by North Manchester, Indiana. I’ve seen several other towns with similar atmospheres, but this is unquestionably the scene in my mind when I write about Main Street in Rosebud Falls.

Main Street in North Manchester, Indiana

So, as the vultures circle my camp, it’s a sure sign that I’ve been sitting in one place for too long. Next Thursday, I pull up stakes and move. I suppose that before then, I should wash the dishes and sweep the floor. And write another couple thousand words each day.

Tuesday, February 20, 2018


I’ve slowed down my travel for the past two years. After leaving Hawaii in 2016 to travel to Thailand, Greece, Central Europe, Germany, and Iceland (among others) I got back to my little camp in Idaho pretty tired. So, I spent three months there, just laid back and writing my mythical memoirs. Then I had the brilliant idea that I should spend the winter in one place, so after a month winding my way south, I ended up camped in Southern California for four months.
Chiang Mai, Thailand

I got pretty lazy as I enjoyed the lifestyle of living in a sunny nude recreation area for the winter. After driving around the southwest for a few months, I ended up back in Idaho for the summer at Sun Meadow Nudist Resort. Over my third summer there, I discovered that I really feel like I’m home when I’m there. I have friends, activities, and plenty of time to write. I’m more sociable at Sun Meadow than anyplace I’ve been over the past five years. So, I’ve booked back there for the summer (five months) for the next two years. Even did some improvement to my little campsite so I have a nice patio now.
Relaxing on the patio at Sun Meadow in Idaho.

The question is, am I still looking for the first exit off the beaten path, or have I found it?

I’m planning to make tracks again. Not sure exactly what the next two months will bring as I leave Southern California and make my way back to Idaho, but during that time, I’ll also be planning another round-the-world adventure for this fall. Plan to dip south of the equator this time!

The important thing is that I plan to reactivate my travel blog. Now, I need to decide exactly how to do it.

Reboot or Start Over?

I plan a couple of significant changes in the way I blog, partly because I learned that I don’t really like writing about travel as a subject. I far more enjoy using what I see and experience as a jumping off point for long philosophical conversations with myself. I’ll attach a few photos to my stories, but expect my posts to be more along the lines of the past several that have appeared here on First Exit rather than the earlier day-by-day travel posts.
At my usual writing desk in the morning.

You might expect that I would bless you with the accumulated wisdom of my many years on this planet, but you are most likely to encounter my many doubts and questions.

As you might or might not know, I write books under two different names. My ‘serious’ literature is authored by Nathan Everett. My ‘erotic romance and adventure’ stories are authored by Devon Layne. I split my personalities so that fans would know what kind of book they were getting before they buy. I find that my serious literature isn’t all that serious and my erotica isn’t all that erotic, but if the story has any explicit sexual content, Devon gets to claim authorship.

It is too difficult to maintain multiple blogs for my multiple personalities, so I will only use one. Hence, both Devon’s and Nathan’s experiences will influence what appears here. I expect that everything written and shown in my photographs will be suitable for general audiences with no more than a PG rating. But I will talk about new books by both authors as I’m quite prolific in my writing.

For example, you can expect City Limits by Nathan Everett to be officially announced in about two months. A man arrives in the small City of Rosebud Falls just in time to rescue a toddler from a raging river, only to discover upon emerging that he has lost his memory. Nonetheless, ‘Gee’ soon becomes an integral part of the unusual community, often as the hero but not infrequently as the scapegoat.
I love the covers for this series!

About the same time, Devon Layne will release The Props Master 2: A Touch of Magic. Sequel to Behind the Ivory Veil and Ritual Reality, A Touch of Magic explores the unusual gift of healing empathy embodied in Serepte Allen. Healing people is a painful compulsion for Serepte, but only when she exercises the gift out of true love will she part the veil that has imprisoned her father for nearly twenty years. Book covers will also be shown here.

So, the question becomes one of rebooting this blog with a new design and broader scope than originally intended, or retiring it and creating something all brand new. Frankly, I tend toward the former, but I invite your input.

And if you’d like to contribute to my endeavors, please consider becoming a patron of Devon Layne at Patrons at the $10 level have already seen and read the first draft of City Limits as it was written and along with patrons at the $5 level will receive the finished book a week before it is officially released. Patrons have access to all my works before they are released to the public. Join me and know that your contribution is going directly to support my next world tour!

Let me know what you think!