Saturday, June 27, 2015

Maine road trip 6/19-6/22/15




At 7:10 AM on Friday June 19th I was pulling my FJR1300 out of the shed and getting ready to hit the road when Randy showed up at my gate. He was supposed to meet me at the ferry, but instead came to my house. We said our hellos and I took the FJR out to the road, mounted the saddle bags and the Givi liner and off we went.

A quick 20 minute ride to the ferry and we were standing there waiting, but not too long as the boat was already in and ready to load up.  After the cars (What few of them there were) had loaded onto the big white boat, we followed and took our spots along the right side wall.

We went upstairs and had a light breakfast, then sat around waiting for the boat to cross the LI Sound to Bridgeport.

An hour and fifteen minutes later we disembarked and began to ride. Up rte. 8 and then east on rte. 84 to exit 32 where our third and fourth members of our party were waiting for us. Mike and Maria were ready and raring to go, so off we rode toward Bangor, Maine.

A quick and filling lunch at a Bertucci’s made for a great afternoon stop a few hours later. We continued on 90 then 290 then 495, around Boston before finally entering on to 95. We continued on 95 and then took that into Rhode Island and New Hampshire and finally Maine, where we exited onto 295, which a hundred miles or so later would re-connect to 95 once again. Bangor wasn’t much further from there and soon we were at our motel.

The Howard Johnson’s was clean enough with a recent remodel, but the constant Mexican’s or South American’s hanging out in the hallways and the parking lot was a bit disconcerting. I even found one asleep at one point against the wall.

But that afternoon we hooked up with one of my old high school friends, Carol, who agreed to show us around in exchange for riding on the back of my bike while I was there. That was a fair exchange as far as I’m concerned. The first night (Friday) we ate at a Texas Roadhouse and then headed out to Bangor and a casino there which we walked around in. Carol drove us in her car and we got the guided tour treatment. It was a fairly early night with all of us passing out around 11 or so.

Saturday started out as a bright, sunny day and we took full advantage of it all. We ate at the restaurant in the hotel and quickly hit the road. Carol was there early with us, riding gear in hand. Our first stop would be Acadia National Park and Cadillac Mountain. We rode around the park, making many stops for photos along the way, until finally stopping at the top of Cadillac Mountain, the highest point in the east.

More photos and some walking around the stony peak ensued.  After a while we saddled back up and headed back down to the main road that circled the park. We stopped next at ‘Thunder Hole’ which was not thundering. That was a disappointment.

We continued our loop of Acadia and then exited at loop[s end to head toward Bar Harbor and a lobster dinner. We stopped and ate at one of the many ‘Lobster Pounds’ that dot the road sides, it’s where the locals eat. 

After a (very) early dinner we headed into Bar Harbor proper and walked around for a few hours. Bar Harbor is a bigger town then I thought it was. It’s sort of a much larger and cooler Port Jefferson. The weather was perfect and the town was lively. We stayed there until about 7 PM and decided to hit the road back because we knew it was going to be dark soon.

Riding back toward the motel some forty odd miles away was a constant battle with the sun. It was right in our eyes almost the entire way back. Finally the road curved enough to the right that we were no longer blinded. We finished our ride back, and switched to the car before heading out for the night to Bangor.

In Bangor they had an outdoor concert going with Fallout Boy performing. I couldn’t get anyone to go, so we ended up in a little bar with a band playing in there. It was cool; I had a good enough time. We stayed there until about midnight and headed back.

The next morning we awoke to heavy rain, so the bikes were staying put. Carol picked us all up and we headed to a local transportation museum. After two plus hours of checking out classic cars motorcycles and trains we headed to a mall where we had a quick lunch and then over to the movies where we saw ‘Avengers Age of Ultron.’ After that we made our way back to the mall where we picked up Carols daughter who was joining us for dinner that night. 

After dinner it was back to the rooms. The rain was still ongoing and was scheduled to continue through the night.

The next morning we awoke to more rain that was supposed to be through the area already and done. We were heading home on that day. The sky cleared up after breakfast and we packed up quickly, topping the bikes off at the gas station across the street. The morning started out at about 68 but when we took off at about 8:45 to head home the temp dropped almost continually for the first hour or two as we headed south. A quick gas stop around 11 AM and we were back on the road.

Now the temps began to rise, finally topping out at about 93 by the time we were pulling back into the ferry yard in Connecticut at 4 PM.

It was a fun and fantastic weekend with a little bit of everything thrown into the mix. We totaled about 1000 miles and had the usual huge amounts of fun and laughs. The riding was mostly highway; save for the 150 miles we put on around Acadia and Bar Harbor, and that was okay. The riding went quickly as did the trip in each direction. All in all I had a great time and can’t wait for the next trip out with my riding buddies.

Friday, June 26, 2015

Lisa M Colins Interview on Ralph's Rants.


Hi Lisa, How are you?

I’m good, Ralph. Thank you for hosting me on the site.


We’re here to talk about your new novella, ‘The House Bast Made-Reid Cannon Archaeologist.’ What can you tell us about the title character and the story in general?

The House Bast Made is an adventure where a young archaeologist, Reid Cannon, learns myths need not be fairytales.

Reid is a Ph.D. student in Archaeology from the University of Chicago. He hails from Arkansas and got his bachelor’s from University of Arkansas, Master’s from UCLA. He is fond of the ladies and likes long walks on any beach where they serve drinks with umbrellas. There is a long line of archaeologists and anthropologists in Reid’s family tree. This particular adventure finds him on one of his father’s worksites. Reid got his nose for adventure from his grandmother Jane Roberts (Her story will be in an anthology this fall). Much like grandma Jane, Reid has an uncanny ability to sniff out the fantastical and paranormal. 



First off, is this a sci-fi story? I know you’re interested in sci-fi.

Science fiction is where my heart lies, but I wouldn’t call this story sci-fi. It is more of a pulp adventure with some paranormal…genres can be hard to nail down. On Amazon it is listed in the paranormal mythology section.

The genre I write is speculative fiction, and I mostly write science fiction or paranormal. defines speculative fiction as: A broad literary genre encompassing any fiction with supernatural, fantastical, or futuristic elements. In this genre I can write a love story, a mystery, a court drama, or anything really, and then add all the futuristic and fantastical elements that excite my imagination. The main thing I like about that freedom is my stories do not have to be bound to what society calls real life. I can be as audacious or daring as I want!

There are tons of books out there about real life or some snazzed up version of real life. I read books, watch movies, and play video games to escape reality. I want to see new worlds, meet new types of people, to “Boldly go where no one has gone before!” I want adventure and excitement, not day-to-day fiction based on everyday life. I know there are other readers out there who feel the same way I do. I write for them. I write so that maybe for a few hours out of the day my readers can relax and feel the wonders of the universe—to see something new that sparks joy in their soul.


Am I correct in assuming this is your first book?

Actually the first book I wrote is still in my “OMG this needs work” file on my hard drive. However, ‘The house Bast Made’ isn’t a novel; it is a novella of around 40 pages.

Some people don’t like writing short fiction, but I enjoy the challenge of writing to a specific word count. I had a friend once say, “I need 10,000 words just to get my stories going.” Today’s readers aren’t going to stick around for you to finally do something exciting 10K down the road. They have already moved on to the next book. Writing short fiction teaches me to get to the heart of the matter.



What are you writing inspirations? What writers inspire you to take up the keyboard and start typing out a story?

I find inspiration everywhere. Books, TV, Radio, and Movies make my mind feel like a sponge. My WIP (work in progress) was inspired by an article I read online. The article is about the micro apartments some Chinese people are living in today to save on costs and space in the larger cities. Some of these apartments are only around forty…that’s right four zero, 40 square feet! There was even one that only measured 28! That made me wonder what would happen to the world if overpopulation became a global pandemic. What would humans do? The sci-fi, Jedi, Trekkie, Browncoat, Whovian, geek girl in me has a plan. J

There are so many outstanding writers on the scene right now, so it is hard to choose. I would have to go with Hugh Howey and Michael Bunker…their experience in taking a short story and then building an entire world of publishing around a simple idea—that inspires the heck out me. If you don’t know who they are or their books, prepare to be amazed by their industry.


Is Reid Cannon your main character that you intend to write about more in the future? Is he your guy, your hero?

I do have plans for more Reid Cannon novellas and perhaps a novel. The next time we see Reid in action he will be going to South America to one of his mom’s dig sites. Archaeology is a family affair in this series.

Reid is a hero…but he isn’t the only one. I wanted him to have a group of people that will cameo in further stories. We meet his best friend Peter who is Southern good ole boy, who is also a bone specialist. There are two girls on the trip, Ashley an outstanding linguist and Pam an anthropologist.  Lastly, we have Ali, the tech geek, and Jason the historian.


Is Reid Cannon inspired by someone else? Is there a real world Reid Cannon?

Sadly, there isn’t a real-world Reid Cannon.

I would say Reid is based off four characters I adore, so I wrapped them all up into him. First, would be Indiana Jones. I love the movies and they fire my imagination. Indie is rugged and daring; I wanted those qualities for Reid foremost.

Second, is the book character, Amelia Peabody. She is the main protagonist of the Amelia Peabody (archaeology mystery) series, by Elizabeth Peters. Amelia’s adventures in turn of the 20th century Egypt are a far cry from my usual fare, but the books are thrilling. She uses her intellect and moxie to solve ancient and modern mysteries, and I want Reid to have her same sense of curiosity about the world.  

The other two characters I based Reid on are in the same movies. The Mummy series starring Brendan Fraser, Rachel Weisz (later Maria Bello) is a Collins household favorite. Rick O'Connell and his wife Evelyn are a powerhouse couple on the screen. I wanted Reid to have Evelyn and Rick’s blend of noting the necessary minutia of archaeology to solve puzzles and to know when brawn should win out on decision making. What can I say, ♫ These are a few of my favorite things! ♫


Tell us all about your writing history. What got you into writing in the first place?

In 2008, I was between jobs and decided I would take up my childhood dream and try writing. I came across NaNoWriMo, or National Novel Writing Month. I took up the challenge and wrote a fantasy adventure story that tipped the scales at over 50K.

By mid-2009 I was back to full time employment, but the desire to write never left me. Eventually, I had articles, poems, and essays published in non-fiction venues, such as the state newspaper and journals, but my passion was to write fiction. I wanted to recapture the feeling of freedom I felt writing my NaNoWriMo novel, but I was working full time. I needed a plan.

I love goal setting and lists, so I set a goal of writing one short story a month, and a secondary goal to find publishers who might print my work. As you can guess, I got my fair share of rejection letters.

Rejection is hard, but I didn’t let that hold me back. I went back to the drawing board. Read books on craft. Read novels like I wanted to write. The day finally arrived in early 2013 when my first science fiction short story, The Tree of Life, was accepted into the Holdfast 2013-2014 anthology. I was over the moon!


Who are your favorite authors right now?

At first I thought this might be the hardest question, but when I gave it a moment three authors sprang to mind. A.G. Riddle, author of ‘The Atlantis Gene’, J.A. Jernay, author of the ‘Ainsley Walker Gemstone Travel Mystery’ series, and Susan Kaye Quinn, author of ‘Debt Collector’ series and she also wrote a book near and dear to my heart—‘The Indie Author Survival Guide’. That is a book I recommend almost daily to my writing pals.

‘The Atlantis Gene’ is A.G.’s first novel and it has sold over One Million copies on Amazon. I have read the book and I must say Riddle knocks it out of the park. I look forward to reading more of the series. And let’s be honest, as writers we know we need to read to become better writers, but time is also a major factor. So when I take the time out of my own writing to read a novel and I plan to read book two as soon as I’m able, you know the series is a winner.

J.A. Jernay’s style is what keeps me coming back for more. This author writes like I hope my own writing comes across. Jernay has a flare for economy with words. Each sentence is a tightly crafted machine leading the reader deeper into the story without a single wasted mark. The best part the Ainsley Walker series is non-stop fun and mystery on every page. I expect a lot from this writer in the future.

Susan Kaye Quinn has several series, but the one that got my attention was the ‘Debt Collector’. The books are dark, gritty, futuristic, noir. That’s a mouthful, but each word is necessary to describe the series. One of the things I like most is Quinn walks right up to the line of eroticism and fear, lets us peer over the edge, then moves on without mucking up her story with unnecessary gore or sex. The books were produced in series form. I had the pleasure of listening to the entire series at one time by audiobook—An experience I highly recommend.



Let’s find out a little about Lisa Collins herself, what do you do in your spare time?

I work a 40hr a week job, so free time comes at a price. There are days when I get home I want nothing more than a bag of pizza rolls and a Netflix Star Trek binge. I can find time on my breaks or at lunch to jot a few words down, but those times aren’t really productive. I hit my creative stride around 5pm-8pm, and if it wasn’t for the pesky commute I do at 5:30-6:30ish that would be my ideal time to get my word count in for the day. For now, I write after my shift while waiting to be picked up, then again after diner while I’m hanging out with my family, and on the weekends.

I do have a running racing team called Wookiees for Cookies. The Wookiees at this time consist of my good friend and author Bonnie J. Sterling and myself. We do mostly 5k but we have done a half marathon. Our next races are the Race for the Cure in October 2015 and the Little Rock Marathon (Half) in March 2016.

I have an online persona, Tea and Cornbread. I am a foodie…not a food snob…but I like the vittles! My favorite thing to cook right now is roast chicken, which I make in a slow cooker. I have a great selection of recipes and directions on how to slow cook a whole bird in my second cookbook called Five Slow Cooker Recipes Every Southern Cook Should Master. The complete series is available on Amazon for Kindle.



Is writing a job or business to you or is it a hobby or is it somewhere in-between?

Writing to me is not how I pay my bills (currently) but it is how I want to pay the bills. I have been taking my word production more seriously as of late. I have a Gantt chart for each of my stories. I am a very visual learner and having the bar graphs show me where I am in a project helps me tremendously.  See how the bar goes from hot to cold as the date for finishing part of the project nears? That is a motivator and cue for me to get my rear in gear. J So I guess to answer the question, writing is a business for me, but it is the industry and artistry that makes me happy.


What are you writing next and when will we see it?

I have so much in the pipeline right now. Where to begin…I recently got the rights back to reprint ‘The Tree of Life’, so my plan is publish the short story most likely in July. It is a traditional science fiction story about a generational starship from Japan.

In August, if all goes well with my beta readers, I will be publishing my first novel. Chevron is the working title and it is a science-fiction romantic-suspense story. Here is the back cover blurb:


Doctor of Psychology and matchmaker extraordinaire, Margaret Morris, leaves her stale academic career on the Moon for a posting on Earth’s only colony outside of the Sol system. As a professional in relational psychology Maggie is hired by Western Federated Military to help colonize the planet Chevron and keep peace on the space station.

Maggie’s quiet life living aboard the station is turned on its head when newly assigned Lieutenant Mac (Toro) Castoro literally crashes into her office. Toro is a no frills uber-Marine. He sees what he wants and takes no hostages.

Dr. Morris’ mandate is to pick the perfect Eve for every Adam. Keeping her clients at arm length has never been a problem, but Maggie finds that she must disavow her own desires to complete her mission.

Not everything is harmonious on Chevron station. As the colonists begin to put down roots someone on the station is working behind the scenes to disrupt Dr. Morris’ best laid plans. Petty officer, Michael Donovan will do whatever it takes to see that Chevron will be cut off from human intervention. Michael’s religious zeal will reach the tipping point, leading him to attempt the destruction of Chevron station. Margaret and Toro must find the traitor and uncover his plot before the new Garden of Eden is cut off to mankind once again.




Thanks so much for joining us here on Ralph’s Rants, Lisa, and good luck with your new novel.






Lisa M. Collins has always been interested in Outer Space, Adventure stories, and Southern culture. She was born in Dixie and has always lived south of the Mason Dixon Line. She graduated from the University of Arkansas with a bachelor’s degree in history with specializations in American and Russian history. Lisa lives in central Arkansas with her husband and an adorable cat, Baby Girl, who believes she is Lisa’s co-author. They have one adult son who is married to his high school sweetheart.

Lisa’s non-fiction has been published in the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette and the Dead Mule School of Southern Literature. She copy edited and researched on Understanding Global Slavery by University of California Press. Her science fiction story, The Tree of Life, is in the 2013-2014 anthology by Holdfast Magazine. These days she edits for Metahuman Press, and is an upcoming creative contributor with Pro Se Productions and Mechanoid Press. She is a Sally A. Williams Grant winner from the Arkansas Arts Council for writing.


Where can readers find out more about you and where can they buy The House Bast Made?


Pen and Cape Society:

As always all of my own books are available at or



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