Beautiful Scars: A Life Redefined by Kilee Brookbank and Lori Highlander

About the Book:

Kilee Brookbank was a typical sixteen-year-old, thinking about school, soccer, her friends, and her boyfriend. But her last ordinary day erupted in an explosion that consumed her house, burning over 45 percent of her body and sending her to the very brink of death. After thirty-eight days of surgeries, skin grafts, perpetual physical therapy, and excruciating pain, she had to discover how to live again.

When Kilee returned home, she had to find a new “normal,” relearning how to tie her shoes, put on her makeup, and even turn a doorknob. In each moment of her long journey back to everyday life, she had to make choices that would define who she was and who she would become.

With unwavering support from her mom, Lori, and the rest of her family, Kilee faced her journey with determination, strength, and a positive attitude that inspired not only her community, but people around the world.

Told together by Kilee and Lori, Beautiful Scars is a story of recovery, healing, and hope, reminding us all that we’re never powerless, never alone, and that each challenge we face helps make us the people we are meant to be.

My Thoughts:

This story of 16 year old, Kilee Brookbank’s experience with skin burns and her positive outlook to fight back and live a fulfilling life is encouraging and inspiring. The idea to get her story out there, to teach people to love themselves in spite of how they look or the scars they bear is wonderful and I applaud Kilee for the same!

This book brings out the sequence of events from both Kilee’s POV and her mother, Lori’s POV, thus helping us to understand all sides of the story and the feelings of everyone involved. It is a scary thing that happened, but the way in which it was approached and dealt with, made a huge difference to the recovery.

How do you recover from the pain and shock of the burns to living a normal life again? How does someone accept that they no longer look the way they used to, they are different in many ways? All this is covered and shared in great detail. The strength and support of the family and the people around them is wonderful and this story of hope and healing tells us that we are not alone, as long as we do not hesitate to ask for help. There is always someone out there who has gone through what you are going through and there are support groups and help if we seek it out. This is a story of growth and healing of not only of Kilee but also of her family and her mother who stood by her and supported her. They treated her as a normal person, in spite of her burns and the difficulties she faced initially. She had to re-learn to do all the everyday things by herself and I think Lori deserves a huge amount of credit for her unwavering faith and support. The idea to help people deal with the trauma of burns and healing makes Kilee’s story worth a read!

Guest Post by author Andrew Joyce

This is a guest post by author Andrew Joyce to promote his upcoming book – Bedtime Stories for Grown-Ups! Read on to know about him and the book! It is indeed a pleasure to host Andrew on the blog once again!

About the Author:

Andrew Joyce left high school at seventeen to hitchhike throughout the US, Canada, and Mexico. He wouldn’t return from his journey until years later when he decided to become a writer. Joyce has written five books. His first novel, Redemption: The Further Adventures of Huck Finn and Tom Sawyer, was awarded the Editors’ Choice Award for Best Western of 2013. A subsequent novel, Yellow Hair, received the Book of the Year award from Just Reviews and Best Historical Fiction of 2016 from Colleen’s Book Reviews.

Joyce now lives aboard a boat in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, with his dog, Danny, where he is busy working on his next book, tentatively entitled, Mahoney: An American Story.

Here’s what Andrew has to say…

Hello, my name is Andrew Joyce and I write books for a living. Well, I mean … I write books in between marketing my books, which is what I’m doing here today. I’m down on bended knee, asking you to check out my new offering. If nothing else, it’s a good buy—700 pages of genius prose. And if you buy the print copy, it will make a dandy door-stop once you’ve finished reading it. My stuff ain’t half bad. I’ve won a few awards for my writing and obtained best-seller status on Amazon a couple of times … blah … blah … blah.

Anyway, the blurb is below, and somewhere on this page I’m sure there’s a link to Amazon so you can read the first few stories and see if my writing might be your cup of tea, so to speak.

Thank you for your time.

About the Book:

Bedtime Stories for Grown-Ups is a jumble of genres—seven hundred pages of fiction and nonfiction … some stories included against the author’s better judgment. If he had known that one day they’d be published, he might not have been as honest when describing his past. Here is a tome of true stories about the author’s criminal and misspent youth, historical accounts of the United States when She was young, and tales of imagination encompassing every conceivable variety—all presented as though the author is sitting next to you at a bar and you’re buying the drinks as long as he keeps coming up with captivating stories to hold your interest.

Comprised of 218,000 words, you’ll have plenty to read for the foreseeable future. This is a book to have on your night table, to sample a story each night before extinguishing the lights and drifting off to a restful sleep.

Mr. Joyce sincerely hopes that you will enjoy his stories because, as he has stated, “It took a lot of living to come up with the material for some of them.”

Andrew Joyce is the recipient of the 2013 Editor’s Choice Award for Best Western for his novel, Redemption: The Further Adventures of Huck Finn and Tom Sawyer.

His book Yellow Hair was awarded Book of the Year by Just Reviews and Best Historical Fiction of 2016 by Colleen’s Book Reviews.

In Conversation with Dane Cobain

Here at redpillows, I’ve had the pleasure of chatting with author and poet, Dane Cobain.

Dane Cobain

His work is quite diverse and spans fiction, non-fiction and poetry. His first work No Rest for the Wicked was released in the summer of 2015.

Read on to know what Dane would like to share!

  1. Tell us a little about yourself.

Hi, I’m Dane! I’m a British writer who works across all sorts of genres, from horror and literary fiction to non-fiction and poetry. You can check out my work over here: www.danecobain.com/amazon

  1. How did you get into writing?

I’ve been writing for as long as I can remember. I suppose it all started when I was six or seven years old, singing parodies of popular songs with my own lyrics. When I was a teenager, I started to take it a lot more seriously, and the rest if history (and sweat, a lot of that too).

  1. You write such diverse things, novels and poetry, how do you manage that?

Honestly, I just don’t stop. I constantly work on finding ways to optimise my time and to cram as much productivity in as possible. I write a poem a day during the week, and I work on them while on cigarette breaks. Because my poems aren’t too long, I usually also get to spend a little time outlining stories, novels, marketing plans and other things that are stuck in my head. I write longer form things at the computer, while switching between other activities in a ridiculously specific routine I call ‘The Schedule’.

  1. Where do you find inspiration for your poetry?

Life, mainly. But my poetry is unique in that I only include maybe 5% of the poems that I write in the published collections. Sometimes, there isn’t much inspiration, but I still write poems – I just don’t share them.

  1. What are your favourite genres and your favourite books?

I like to read modern classics and ‘alternative’ books, as well as plenty of indie books and new releases thanks to my book blog (SocialBookshelves.com). Some of my favourite writers include Graham Greene, Charles Bukowski, Phillip Pullman, Terry Pratchett and, lately, Stephen King.

  1. Which kind of writing (genre) do you prefer?

They all have their pros and cons and, to be honest, when I’m writing, I don’t usually have a genre in mind. That comes when I get to the marketing stage. I don’t think I can answer this – sorry!

  1. Tell us a little about your research process while working on a novel.

It totally depends upon the novel, but I’m trying to carry out quite a lot for a current project. Unfortunately, the project itself is a bit of a secret, but it involves interviewing subject matter specialists from charities, reading books and documentaries and spending a hell of a lot of time looking at photos and videos that I’d much rather not look at.

  1. Who is your favourite character among those you have created and why?

Hmmm. It’s a tough one to call, but it’s probably Maile O’Hara from my upcoming series of detective novels. She’s basically me, if I was a woman and had specialised in computer stuff instead of writing.

  1. Describe a perfect writing day for you.

I wake up whenever I wake up and stay at home, working until I go to sleep while watching Netflix and chillin’ with my girlfriend. She’s only able to put up with me because she’ll quite happily play Skyrim while I’m working and we both have good taste in documentaries.

  1. What do you find most difficult while writing a novel?

Getting started during the planning stage. The more you plan, the more it all starts to come together, but the early days can be overwhelming. Once you’ve got a plan in place, it just becomes a case of endurance. You just need to stick with it.

  1. What do you find most difficult about writing poetry?

There are no rules. It’s just you and a blank piece of paper. It’s liberating, but it’s also terrifying – especially if you’re like me and you hate rhyming poetry

  1. Do you have any advice to share about writing a novel/poetry?

You just need to be prepared for heartbreak, do your best and stick at it. And you’d better make sure that you work with a decent editor if you want your book to be at its best.

Connect with the author:

Goodreads, Twitter

Author Website

Kick-start the new year with the Goodreads Challenge for 2017

This is the first post of the new year and I wanted to share my reading goals for the same.

As many of you may be aware, I was a part of the Goodreads reading challenge for last year, having pledged to read 60 books. I am proud to share that I surpassed the goal by 5 books, managing to complete 65 books in the year.

Hence, I have decided to increase that goal a little more and am pledging to read 75 books this year!

I am confident that this can be achieved and I would like to thank all you authors out there who had helped me achieve my goal last year! It is thanks to a whole lot of you contacting me for book reviews and putting your trust in me and my blog that I am here today!

Moving on from all the mushy talk, here’s to hoping that 2017 turns out to be even better than last year!

Wishing you all a Happy New Year once again!

Book Review: Scrappy Little Nobody by Anna Kendrick

About the Book:

Scrappy Little Nobody

A collection of humorous autobiographical essays by the Academy Award-nominated actress and star of Up in the Air and Pitch Perfect.

Even before she made a name for herself on the silver screen starring in films like Pitch Perfect, Up in the Air, Twilight, and Into the Woods, Anna Kendrick was unusually small, weird, and “10 percent defiant.”

At the ripe age of thirteen, she had already resolved to “keep the crazy inside my head where it belonged. Forever. But here’s the thing about crazy: It. Wants. Out.” In Scrappy Little Nobody, she invites readers inside her brain, sharing extraordinary and charmingly ordinary stories with candor and winningly wry observations.

With her razor-sharp wit, Anna recounts the absurdities she’s experienced on her way to and from the heart of pop culture as only she can—from her unusual path to the performing arts (Vanilla Ice and baggy neon pants may have played a role) to her double life as a middle-school student who also starred on Broadway to her initial “dating experiments” (including only liking boys who didn’t like her back) to reviewing a binder full of butt doubles to her struggle to live like an adult woman instead of a perpetual “man-child.”

Enter Anna’s world and follow her rise from “scrappy little nobody” to somebody who dazzles on the stage, the screen, and now the page—with an electric, singular voice, at once familiar and surprising, sharp and sweet, funny and serious (well, not that serious).

My Thoughts:

Anna Kendrick is honest and open about her thoughts and opinions. She refuses to hide what she thinks. She takes us into her mind and shows us the difficulty of trying to keep the crazy in! 😛

She highlights the journey towards becoming an actor and reaching where she is today. In her rather quirky, different way she gives us glimpses into various incidents in her life. She extols the world of cinema as well as theater and throws the doors open to us. She takes us into her world and shows us how that world is. It’s not all easy and she effortlessly brings out the differences to us.

From starting off with theater and auditioning for them to landing a role in small films and working her way up to larger films, Anna tells us what it was like to struggle and the determination and perseverance it took. I appreciate her humility and sincerity in openly stating that sometimes fame can get to the head or at times one may feel like giving up, but she keeps a photo of her 3 year old self as a reminder to trudge on.

Anna gives us a glimpse into the film fraternity and shares with us, through anecdotes and humorous thoughts, the behind the scenes. The feeling of walking down the red carpet, of presenting an award, of acting with some of the bigger stars. It’s all there for us to read. Throw in a few photographs of some life events and she has us hooked.

Without giving away too much about the content of this book, I think this is worth a read. It will open the eyes of the reader to some form of reality with respect to the film fraternity as well as leave us in splits.

Book Review: Mrs Funnybones by Twinkle Khanna

About the Book:

Mrs Funnybones

Good morning, it’s 6 a.m. and I am wide awake because the man of the house has decided that he needs to perform a series of complex manoeuvres that involve him balancing on his left elbow. When I fell asleep last night, there was a baby lying next to me. Her smelly diaper is still wedged on my head but aside from this rather damp clue, I can’t seem to find her anywhere. I could ask my mother-in-law if she has seen the baby, but she may just tell me that I need to fast on alternate Mondays, and God will deliver the baby back to me . . . Full of wit and delicious observations, Mrs Funnybones captures the life of the modern Indian woman—a woman who organizes dinner each evening, even as she goes to work all day, who runs her own life but has to listen to her Mummyji, who worries about her weight and the state of the country. Based on Twinkle Khanna’s super-hit column, Mrs Funnybones marks the debut of one of our funniest, most original voices.

My Thoughts:

Oh my God! I definitely died of laughter!

This book will have you hooked and in splits from page 1. ‘She’s just like you and a lot like me,’ is the tagline mentioned on the cover of the book. I must admit that there is a lot in this book that I cannot relate to but have enjoyed due to the author’s self-deprecating humor, witty one liners and her colorful opinions on everything.

Each chapter, rather ingeniously labelled by a letter of the alphabet, talks about some aspect of the author’s life, her experiences, or the experiences of people around her. Narrated in her signature style, most of the incidents are mundane day to day activities. The author talks about her children, her life as a mother, the humor she derives behind the choice of her name, incidents at work among many other things. She also talks of how a person’s outlook of life changes once they have children but most of the points are based on her opinions.

An overall fun read, that can be finished in just one sitting as once started, there is definitely no putting this book down.

The Tao of Book Publicity: A Beginner’s Guide to Book Promotion by Paula Margulies

The following has been taken from the Press Release of the book:

In The Tao of Book Publicity, publicist Paula Margulies outlines the basics of book promotion and explains how the business of publicizing a book works. Designed for beginning authors but also useful for those with some experience in book publishing, The Tao of Book Publicity provides information on the importance of writing a good book and the need for developing a platform, as well as how-to explanations for creating publicity material, including front and back cover text, press releases, Q&As, media and blog tour queries, and newsletter and media lists. The Tao of Book Publicity also covers social media, book pricing and sales, book tours and media interviews, and author websites. In addition to explaining how book publicity works, this valuable handbook explores practical topics such as publicity costs, timing, and considerations when hiring a publicist. Simple, straightforward, and informative, The Tao of Book Publicity includes expert advice on all aspects of book promotion and is a go-to reference guide for beginning and experienced authors alike.

TaoBookPublicity-Cover-FINAL

            “I wrote this book to help authors understand what’s involved in promoting a book and what they should expect if this is their first time trying to sell a book they’ve written,” said Margulies. “The Tao of Book Publicity is based on years of experience working with both traditionally and self-published authors and answers the most common questions I hear from new authors when they contact me about representing their work.”

The handbook has received early praise from the publishing community, including Huffington Post contributor and Author Magazine editor, Bill Kenower, Southern California Writers’ Conference director, Michael Stephen Gregory, and UCSD writing instructor, Marni Freedman, who writes, “The Tao of Book Publicity is filled with easy-to-implement, savvy, practical advice from an experienced industry insider. Paula Margulies breaks down the often-confusing landscape of book publicity with clarity, humor, and insight. Don’t promote without reading it first!”

Paula Margulies Photo

Paula Margulies is the owner of Paula Margulies Communications, a public relations firm for authors and artists. She has received numerous awards for her essays and works of fiction, including her nonfiction handbook, The Tao of Book Publicity, her historical novel, Favorite Daughter, Part One, her first novel, Coyote Heart, and her short story collection, Face Value: Collected Stories. She has been awarded artist residencies at Caldera, Red Cinder Artist Colony, the Vermont Studio Center, and Centrum. Margulies resides in San Diego, California. For more information, please visit http://www.paulamargulies.com.

For more information on the author or The Tao of Book Publicity, please visit www.paulamargulies.com or www.amazon.com.

For further information, please contact:

     Paula Margulies Communications

    8145 Borzoi Way

San Diego, CA 92129

T: 858-538-2047

paulamar@san.rr.com

www.paulamargulies.com

My Thoughts:

There is not much to say about this book, the title is self explanatory. However, I had the pleasure of reading through it and though I am not an author, I found the book to be extremely informative. Paula has explained in detail everything an author needs to know about how to promote their book, when is the right time, which methods might work and various other related topic. The book covers every aspect required and it is clear that a lot of the information has come from Paula’s experience as a publicist. The book is well written and is segregated into chapters making it very easy to skip ahead to the information an author is looking for. I strongly recommend this book for all the authors out there, use it as a guide, it is wonderful. Also, all the reviewers out there as well as the publicists would strongly benefit from some of the information provided. It will help while planning the a book’s promotion and in marketing.

 

Review: The Minds of Billy Milligan by Daniel Keyes

About the Book:

The Minds of Billy Milligan

A portrait of a tortured young man, arrested for a series of kidnappings and rapes, explores the world of a multiple personality, whose traumatic childhood shattered his mind into twenty-four distinct personalities.

My Thoughts:

This book chronicles the life of Billy Milligan who suffered from Multiple Personality Disorder and is said to have had 24 personalities. This biography of the man, written by author Daniel Keyes, tells us the story of Billy’s life. We are given glimpses into his life, shown how his childhood was and the events that eventually led to the existence of his various personalities. Initially, not having been diagnosed, Billy was treated as a different child and everyone thought he was weird. During his college days, he was arrested for rape and armed robbery. It was at this time, that he underwent psychological treatment and eventually diagnosed with MPD.

Initially, Billy was placed in state run mental hospitals and claimed to have received very little treatment. He was diagnosed to have 10 personalities at this time. It was only later on, when he started to undergo treatment under David Caul, did the rest of his personalities emerge.

The biography, as told to Daniel Keyes by the various personalities of Billy, highlights the various incidents in his life. We are shown the immense pressure he was under and he survived. Most of the time, the original person “Billy” was asleep as the others put it. Some of his personalities took turns in taking over his mind to conduct various day to day activities. Each personality was as different from the next as possible and each were talented in their own way. The book brings out the trouble faced and the kind of psychological effect traumatic events can have on the mind of a child as well as on people in general.

It was indeed difficult to read this book as it brought out so many emotions but it does succeed in making the reader stop and think. There is a lot that can be learnt from this book and even though it is an emotional roller-coaster, there are some key points that everyone should walk away with. Most importantly, it is very intriguing and teaches the reader that every action of ours and every word we utter can affect the other person at whom our actions/thoughts are directed. It is essential to be understanding and give people the benefit of doubt before blindly branding them and shunning them. It is rather difficult for me to continue with this review without giving away much of the story, though most of it is quite well known or can be read off the internet. I however strongly suggest that everyone pick up this book and make the effort to read it.

This is a must read for everyone as this book not only chronicles the life of Billy Milligan, it brings out the psychology of the mind in relation to MPD as well as how easy it is for people to brand someone a charlatan or an attention seeker without really understanding them. Moreover, through the eyes of Billy’s personalities, we can form a picture as to why each one came to exist and how they played a part in his life. We are indeed afraid of the unknown and I believe this book gives us great insight into one of the mysteries of the mind.

In conversation with Neil Hanson

I have had the pleasure of talking to Neil Hanson, whose new travel memoir, Pilgrim Wheels: Reflections of a Cyclist Crossing America was released in March. Here he talks about how he started writing and what inspires him as well as some information about his book.

Neil Hanson - Author Photo

What/who inspired you to start writing?

I don’t know that it was any single person or any single event. I will say that as a teenager, I fell in love with the stories of Mark Twain and Alexander Dumas, and probably from those early years always wanted to write. I was lucky in that writing came easily to me, so I was able to hone and improve my skills as the years went by.

Tell us a little about yourself.

I’d call myself a pretty average middle-aged guy. I’m very active (cycling, hiking, fishing, etc), and like everybody else, have to work for a living and to support the fun things I like to do in life. One thing that is a bit unique is the level of eclecticism in my life, the things I’ve done, the interests I have. I’ve made my living in many different ways, and am always eager to explore the next adventure life drops in front of me. I was married for 30 years, and we raised 3 great children together. All three of those children live close to me still, and I have two grandchildren. My wife and I divorced a few years back, and am engaged to a wonderful and beautiful woman who also has 3 grown children and two grandchildren, so my family is about to double.

Who is your favourite author?

I still love Mark Twain. I also love the historical fiction that Ken Follett has been publishing. There are a few new fantasy writers I love, including Patrick Rothfuss and Anthony Ryan. Craig Johnson is an author of westerns that I really like. As for classics, John Steinbeck is hard to beat. Oh, and Neil Gaiman of course.

Which is the best part of writing a story?

Learning what the characters and the story have to teach me. Watching and listening to the story emerge.

How much inspiration do you draw on from real life experiences, with respect to plot, characters etc?

Close to 100% of what I write is a reflection of real life in one way or another.

What kind of impact do your stories have on you?

In many ways, the stories define the adventure I had in a whole new way. I get to relive the adventure in slow motion, feeling all the different aspects, colors, smells, and feelings all over again.

What was the original inspiration for your bicycle trip across America?

 I wanted to take a bike ride. A long bike ride. Hundreds of miles, just me and my bike. Why? No particular reason, it just sounded like a neat thing to add to the checklist of “fun and exciting things I’ve tried.” The idea became an adventure. An adventure to plan for and to move toward. A box to check off. Eventually, I was clipping into my pedals in Monterey, California, pointing south along the coast on a beautiful summer day, discovering America and me.

The trip didn’t take shape to be a journey of discovery. I wasn’t trying to heal from a lost job, or a failed relationship, or trying to discover myself. I just wanted to ride my bike a long ways, with a really open mind, to see how I did riding 100 miles a day, day after day.

But then things evolved a bit, and I began to discover more about me, about my journey, about the people I met. About America. It didn’t start off as any sort of pilgrimage or deep journey, but rather as a bike ride. But it morphed into this journey that discovered me, and a pilgrimage I didn’t really expect.

How far did you travel on this journey and did you deviate at all from the route youd originally planned?

Total distance was just over 3300 miles, just under 125,000 vertical feet of climbing. My average rolling speed was 14.2 MPH, the lowest temperature I rode through was 35F, and the highest temperature I rode through was 119.

My route did evolve as I rode, sometimes due to road closure, and sometimes just because I felt like trying something different. This book takes me up to Medicine Lodge, Kansas, which is almost exactly halfway, though Kansas is probably where I deviated from my route more than anywhere else.

Are there any moments that stand out as being especially meaningful or emotionally transcendent as you travelled?

 Beginning in the lush forests of Big Sur, climbing over the coastal range, then spending a couple of days drawn further and further toward the Mojave, really set me up for the depth and meaning I found out on my own in the deserts. Standing on the side of a deserted highway in the Mojave, not long after sunrise, feeling the power and vastness of the desert around me, swallowed in the silence, was one of those moments I write about in the book. Another was the afternoon ride through the heart of the Sonoran, mesmerized by the sensual dance of distant dust devils in the wind, fascinated by the cars disappearing into the shimmering heat of the asphalt in front of me as oncoming cars would appear out of that amorphous mirage.

 If someone were to propose a trip like yours, what advice would you give him or her?

 First, take the time to decide what it is you’re looking for in a ride. I really like the general route I took, although in hindsight, I probably would make some small changes. What I love about my route is that I was able to find some really fine roads to ride on, I saw a wide variety of landscape, and I feel like I really experienced the heart of American culture.

Second, I can’t stress fitness enough. Be sure you’re fit to complete whatever distance you’re setting out to ride. I’ve read several accounts of cross-country trips where a good percentage of the joy was lost until the rider slowly became fit enough to do the ride.

Third, I’d recommend thinking hard about the “style” or riding you want to do. Do you want to be fully loaded and self-sufficient or minimalist? One of the things I noticed in the accounts I read of other cross country trips was that sometimes folks didn’t think this through a lot. It’s easy to overlook, and my “pack” dwindled considerably as I rode, learning more as I went about what minimalism really meant. Too often folks burden themselves with lots of gear, mostly because that’s their “vision” of touring on a bicycle. Many of them then end up spending a fair number of nights in motels anyway, and eating at diners.

 How has this journey changed your impression of our country? Do you feel the same about America as you did before you decided to bicycle across the mainland?

 I grew up in Kansas, a product of Midwestern kindness. So I pretty much expect most people to be kind and generous. Even with that as a starting point, I was continually humbled and heartened at the generosity, kindness, and true concern that I encountered from people across America. Sure there were some rude drivers, along with a few other exceptions, but generally I was overwhelmed by the goodness and camaraderie people shared with me. From the young woman I met at the airport in Monterey to the old rancher who pulled over and gave Dave and me ice cold water on a 100+ degree day in Kansas, the goodness in people warmed my heart.

 Are you working on a sequel to Pilgrim Wheels? If so, what can you tell us about it?

Pilgrim Wheels takes the reader up to Medicine Lodge in western Kansas, and the next book will take the reader from Medicine Lodge out to Annapolis on the east coast. From the time I left the Big Sur coastline in California, all the way across the western half of the country, I was nearly always riding in some form of “The West.” The landscape varied from semi-arid to deep desert, the air was always dry, the views and landscape big and sweeping.

 But Medicine Lodge is where that changed. I swept down into Medicine Lodge out of the big Medicine Hills, with vast views across landscape that is iconic American West, and emerged riding east into increasing humidity and rich farmland. From that point all the way to Annapolis, the journey took me through various forms of the “Old America,” one made up of lush farmland, deep woods, humid air, wide rivers, and more history.