Great Auto Service Can Still Be Found!

Atlantic Tire & Service

auto service

This is not the type of post I typically put up on my blog, but I feel I need to share this with any of my readers in the Cary/Raleigh, NC area. If you need to get your vehicle serviced, Atlantic Tire and Service is the place to get your auto service done.

I get my vehicles serviced and repaired there, and have done so since moving to Cary about three years ago. First it was my Ford Escape and now my Nissan Xterra. I have recommended Atlantic Tire & Service to several others friends and they have all thanked me for doing so.

Examples of great Auto Service

Here is an example of what I mean. My 2011 Ford Escape had an ongoing problem with the air conditioning. It was most inconvenient! I had it checked at three different auto service centers beginning on Hilton Head Island where it first quit working while on a vacation and sitting in a traffic jam on a very hot day. It was not a happy experience! Later, a service center in Knoxville checked it several times, and finally a Ford Dealership checked it when I moved to Cary.

Each time it cost several hundred dollars and would work great for six to eight weeks. Then it quit cooling again. I knew it was leaking coolant! Each shop recharged the system. Each shop said they put dye in the system but could not find a leak. I later learned that this probably meant the leak was in some kind of condenser under the dash and they just did not want to fool with it. The Ford dealer charged me $500 and changed a lot of parts under the hood, but eight weeks later … no AC!

Enter Atlantic Tire & Service

After the Ford Dealership flop, I tried Atlantic Tire & Service. They found the leak right away. It wasn’t a condenser under the dashboard. It was the lower connection on the compressor unit under the hood. Parts and labor turned out to be about $400 … but it worked great thereafter!

During the oil change Atlantic Tire and Service did for me just yesterday, I asked them to check an annoying rattle I had been hearing lately to get an estimate to have it fixed. I was pretty sure it was the heat shield over the exhaust. They looked and found it was just loose. The mechanic tightened it up free of charge. No more rattle.

On a last note. On several occasions I witnessed service technicians sitting down with women customers in the waiting room and explaining their repairs in detail, showing them the needed parts or the old parts, and giving priorities or options when budgeting was necessary. Atlantic Tire & Service really treats their customers right! As long as I am in the Cary area, I will use nobody else.

Shameless plug …

Also, check out my military action thriller, Serpents Underfoot, and my entertaining collection of true tales about encounters with black bears, Adirondack Bear Tales! Read other great blog posts here!

Biology of Bears: #1 New Release

Adirondack Bear Tales takes the #1 spot for New Releases in two categories!

Biology of Bears

I released my collection of short stories about true encounters with black bears in the Adirondack Park of upstate New York in Early December. A friend contacted me and told me he’d seen that it made the #1 New Release in the category Biology of bears! I was shocked and thought “no way!” So, I went and checked. I discovered it was actually the #1 New Release in two categories: Biology of Bears and Biological Science of Bears

Biology of Bears

In this category, Adirondack Bear Tales sits in both the #1 and #2 spots with the paperback version in spot #1 and the Kindle version in spot #2. It beat out 17 other new releases to take these spots. How cool is that?

Biological Science of Bears

Likewise, in the category Biological Science of Bears, the Kindle version sits in the #1 New Release spot beating out 4 other new releases. Certainly, it would be nice to reach best seller status in these categories as well!

Fame is fleeting!

I know sooner or later, another new release will come along and kick Adirondack Bear Tales out of these spots. That’s okay. Getting there is motivational and rewarding for me personally. Hopefully, I can keep working things and get on the Best Sellers list for these categories. In addition, the process of learning about Amazon categories and getting my books listed correctly will be very valuable moving forward.

Adirondack Bear Tales

Adirondack Bear Tales is a collection of 11 short true tales of encounters with black bears in the Adirondack Park of upstate New York. Most involve members of my family who have tented and owned camps at Raquette Lake for generations. It is short … only about 50 pages. I think this makes it a quick delightful little read when something like that is needed! Most of the tales are humorous, one is a little sad. All of them are entertaining. They are great stories for children of all ages and certainly make for some enjoyable, relaxing reading.

I know you will enjoy them to!

You can order a copy by clicking on this link!

Read other great posts here!

Hiking in Bear Country: Rotating Barrel Reduces Recoil

A good friend of mine recently went hiking in Colorado bear country. Hiking in regions inhabited by bears that can be aggressive in nature comes with risks. These more aggressive bears include Brown, Kodiak and Grizzly bears. It therefore pays to take precautions. Bear repellent sprays can certainly help. Many hikers also carry “bear pistols” designed to stop an attacking bear if needed. David’s painstaking research led him to write this article on firearms with a rotating barrel. I am sharing the article below with his permission. If you are planning on hiking in certain regions of the United States including Alaska, Colorado, Montana, Idaho, or Wyoming, you might find this interesting.

Loaded for Bear

rotating barrel

I have repeatedly noticed that my Grand Power 10mm auto loader has a surprisingly mild recoil.  This was true even with the high performance Underwood 140 Grain Xtreme Penetrator bear loads I shoot. These rounds have a muzzle velocity if 1500 fps and generate 700 ft lbs of muzzle energy. The Grand Power 10mm has a rotating barrel design which supposedly contributes to the reduced felt recoil. 

A Rotating Barrel?

The rotating barrel is not the reason I bought the gun. I bought it for the 10mm caliber, the 14 round capacity, double/single action trigger, and its safety features.  Also, its low weight of 27 oz. I discovered its felt  recoil is noticeably milder than my .357s (which only have 565 ft lbs energy). It was also much less than my heavier 44 mags, even when I load the 44 mag with 700-800 fl lb rounds.

So, I started reading more about the rotating barrel and turns out it absolutely reduces felt “kick.” The twisting of the bbl helps dissipate some of the would-be rearwards kick out to the sides, so you don’t feel it kick back into your hand back as much as with conventional “drop barrel” designs  such as Glock, Springfield, and most other current semi-autos. 

And, I’ve learned about some other advantages the rotating barrel has. It allows a lower bore (less muzzle flip), quicker re-acquisition of target for subsequent shots (due to lower recoil), and less flinch tendency (as compared to my 44 mag).

And, another big advantage I didn’t realize when I first bought the gun. The rotating barrel allows the barrel to have a “fully supported chamber.”  “Fully supported” means that the rear section of the cartridge has barrel all the way around it. The round is supported very close to the back rim. According to my research, this makes it be able to handle higher pressures more safely. This is important to me because I shoot the “over powered” Underwood ammo mentioned above.

rotating barrel

Bear Rounds

I’ve read a lot of gun enthusiasts blogs about “fully supported chambers.”  Most frequent shooter handgun folks agree that fully supported is better. Many shooters use the Underwood ammo, even in guns that might be of lower quality. I’ve only heard of one “mishap” with it. I’ve personally shot over 300 rounds of the Underwood 140 Grain Xtreme Penetrator thru my Grand Power with no issues.

Underwood’s website says, “Our 10mm loads are within pressure boundaries for SAAMI specs.”  You can read about this yourself to decide whether you are comfortable shooting upper-end power ammo in your particular gun.

So, if a rotating barrel makes a 10mm recoil as light as a 9mm, it should make a 9mm recoil as light as a 38 wadcutter … and so on I would think. If you search “does a rotating barrel reduce recoil”  an interesting bunch of articles pop up for further reading.

I’ve been thinking that the rotating barrel design might increase in popularity if more people experience the lower recoil. Unless, of course, there’s some downside that I haven’t discovered yet. A little more reading and I discovered that the Beretta PX4 Storm and maybe some other Beretta designs are also use a rotating barrel design. And now, even Glock is experimenting with a rotating barrel.    

David Smith
Tennessee

Cookbook Review: Gourmet Cooking for One or Two


Cookbook author and blogger: April Anderson

Full Disclosure

This cookbook by April Anderson is amazing!  But before I tell you more about it, I need to disclose the fact that April Anderson is an acquaintance of mine. We frequented the same dog park in Cary, NC for awhile before she moved back to New Mexico. While my German Shepherd, Sophie, and April’s Golden Retriever, Feynman, pretty much ignored each other (probably because Sophie is entirely focused on tennis balls), April and I shared a few interesting conversations about blogging, writing, writing tools, authors, etc. As I understand it, April got started with her blog called Girl Gone Gourmet in 2009 and this fantastic cookbook grew out of that original endeavor.

As far as the review goes, I solemnly swear that the fact that I know April in no way clouded my judgement when it came to reviewing this cookbook. That was entirely in the hands of my stomach … so to speak.

Back to the cookbook!

cookbook

I received my copy of April’s cookbook on November 29th and since then have tried three recipes. These were the One-Pan Chipotle Macaroni Beef, the Smoky Bacon Mushroom Soup, and the Steak House Dinner. All three of these recipes were absolutely delicious and perfect for me as a single adult parent of a GSD.

The fact that I did not share any of these three dishes with Sophie also says something about  recipes as well. Sophie still does give me the the “evil eye” over that from time-to-time.

The Smoky Bacon Mushroom Soup would serve two, but I have to confess I did not get two meals out of it. Only because it was that good. The Steak House Dinner and One-Pan Chipotle Macaroni Beef each nicely serve one person. And again, both dishes were excellent and plenty filling. The instructions are clear, easy to follow, and the prep times are very reasonable, even for someone with a busy life-style.

The great thing is that many of the recipes also include the entire meal. For instance the Steak House Dinner included instructions for the steak and the two sides … roasted potatoes and blue-cheese spinach.

All three recipes I have tried so far easily deserve 5 Star ratings. And, I am immensely looking forward to trying other recipes in this amazing cookbook! I heartily recommend this cookbook to any single person or couple who loves good food. You no longer have to eat out at restaurants to get it. Gourmet Cooking for One or Two will make preparing wonderful meals in your own kitchen a snap. Leftovers will be a thing of the past!

More information

April Anderson foundedhe blog Girl Gone Gourmet in 2009. Her recipes are featured on CountryLiving.com, Chowhound.com, Self.com and Buzzfeed.com, among others. You can order this cookbook from Amazon.com.

Check out other great blog posts here!

What to do when your book cover sucks!

It is not just about the reviews!

Learning to market your book as a self-published author is an interesting and sometimes painful journey. There is so much to learn and so much to do. The book cover, the story itself, the categories and keywords, SEO, social media marketing, Twitter, Instagram. BookBub, etc. … and getting reviews. The list of things to do can quickly become rather extensive.

The reviews I get tell me my story is pretty darn good.

Of course, you always get a few bad reviews. Not everyone will like your book. That is just a fact of life.

However, most of your reviews have been 4 and 5 stars. Some of the reviews have been absolutely outstanding. So why is your book not selling a little better?

Yes. It does take time. When first starting out, you are not exactly Tom Clancy, Lee Child, or Vince Flynn! At least not yet!

You do have to keep plugging away at finding what marketing ideas work for you. There is no way you can do it all. You have to have a plan and then you have to work the plan.

Enter the experts

Through ALLi (Alliance of Independence Authors), I have been exploring and learning about marketing for self-published authors. I have been working with Beth Kallman Werner at Author Connections and now with Jim Kukral at Authors Marketing Club.

The book cover story

book cover

About a week ago, while on the phone with Jim Kukral, we went through my book’s categories and keywords and at Jim’s suggestion, made some smart changes there. I learned about KDP Rocket and if you are a self-published author, I think this tool is indispensable.

We also looked at the book cover. Jim’s comment was that the book cover looked like exactly what it is … a first cover attempt by a newbie self-published author.

I must admit it hurt just a bit. After all, I was kind of proud of the cover. I mean, I designed it myself. Jim then suggested I take a look at other book covers in the same genre; essentially military action thriller.

I did this and his point became painfully obvious. A lesson learned. Jim explained the concept of “cover to market.”  Essentially, this means your cover has to stand out in the market you are competing in. Kind of a “duh” moment actually.

So … back to the cover drawing board we went. And, about a week later, voilà!  I must admit, I love the knew cover. It fits the genre and stands out among the book covers of my competitors. It gives clues to the story line with out being a “spoiler.”

In addition, many people I have shown the book cover to really like it.  A few have not. But when I dug a little deeper, I realized this is not a genre they read very much of. That kind of clicked as well.

The unveiling!

book cover
The new cover

I would be happy to hear your thoughts on this new book cover.

I think there are several good lessons in this post. Self-publishing is an interesting new venue for aspiring authors. It is very cost effective when you are just getting started. But being self-published does not mean that you have to remake the same mistakes as everyone else.

You most certainly can if you want to!

And, we will all make our share of mistakes. However, there are legitimate experts out there who really love helping authors succeed and it does not have to be prohibitively expensive. Talk to a few people who know. Check out the competition. Learn about concepts such as “cover to market.” Check out tools like KDP Rocket. And always remember, it is not a sprint to instant success  … it is a marathon where endurance and training count.

Amazing Arial Combat and Chivalry

Read an incredible story of courage, combat and chivalry during World War II that will quicken your pulse, give you a strong sense of American pride, make you chuckle, and then bring a tear to your eye!

Higher Call: An Incredible True Story of Combat and Chivalry in the War-Torn Skies of World War II

A “beautiful story of a brotherhood between enemies”* emerges from the horrors of World War II in this New York Times and international bestseller. 

combat and Chivalry

December, 1943: A badly damaged American bomber struggles to fly over wartime Germany. At the controls is twenty-one-year-old Second Lieutenant Charlie Brown. Half his crew lay wounded or dead on this, their first mission. Suddenly, a Messerschmitt fighter pulls up on the bomber’s tail. The pilot is German ace Franz Stigler – and he can destroy the young American crew with the squeeze of a trigger…

What happened next would defy imagination and later be called “the most incredible encounter between enemies in World War II.”

The U.S. 8th Air Force would later classify what happened between them as “top secret.” It was an act that Franz could never mention for fear of facing a firing squad. It was the encounter that would haunt both Charlie and Franz for forty years until, as old men, they would search the world for each other, a last mission that could change their lives forever.

Simply an amazing read!

It is almost impossible to describe the range of emotional responses reading this story invoked within me. As a patriotic American and the great-grandson of German immigrants to America, this story touched me on many levels. 

This is the story of two men, pilots in their respective country’s air forces, meeting in a chance encounter in the skies over Germany.  This meeting would eventually go down in history as one of the most amazing tales of World War II. 

I stayed on the edge of my seat reading this story. It was very hard to put down even when I needed to. It was like I became Lieutenant Charlie Brown and the fate of  ‘Ye Olde Pub” and the B-17’s crew was in my hands.  I also became the pilot of the ME-109, torn between my humanity and the orders of the Nazis government that I secretly despised. We do not hear the words combat and chivalry used in the same sentence these days.

I became totally engrossed in the characters on both sides! This book made me wince. At times it made me chuckle. In addition, this story tugged at my heart and there were several times it even brought a tear to my eye.

I give this book 5 out of 5 stars ( maybe even 6 out of 5!)

If you enjoy military history, this book is an absolutely must read. It is rare that we get to glimpse such an amazing spark of real humanity in the awful chaos that is war. It truly is a story of combat and chivalry!


Check out my novel, Serpents Underfoot!

How to Survive a Forest Fire While Hiking

Saw this great post on surviving a forest fire by The Wandering Itinerant. If you spend time hiking in the woods, especially during dry summer seasons, this might be a really good post to take a look at!

via How to Survive a Forest Fire While Hiking

survive

Read other great posts and book reviews here!