If you are interested in blogging or want to promote your book next year, please contact E. B. Davis at writerswhokill@gmail.com

Our August interviews feature: Shawn Reilly Simmons on August 10th, James Jackson, August 17th, Julia Buckley, August 24th, and Dawn Eastman on August 31st

Saturday Guest Bloggers: 8/6 Luke Murphy, 8/13 Stan Jones, and our Saturday Bloggers--8/20 Margaret S. Hamilton, 8/27 Kait Carson.

Warren Bull has two short stories, "A Christmas Journey" and "Killer Eulogy" in the Darkhouse anthology titled Black Coffee. Available--Now! Warren's short story collection No Happy Endings is also available at Amazon in paper or Amazon for Kindle.

Jim Jackson's 4th book in the Seamus McCree series, Doubtful Relations, is now available for pre-order.

KM Rockwood's Abductions and Lies, the 6th in the Jesse Damon Crime Novel series, will be released in April. "Last Laugh," a short story in the anthology Black Coffee is available on Amazon. "Tarnished Hope," a short story in Murder Most Conventional, sponsored by Malice Domestic, April 29, at the conference. "Frozen Assets," a short story in Chesapeake Crimes: Storm Warning, release date May 14th (an anthology compiled by Chessie Chapter of SINC)

Gloria Alden released the seventh book in her Catherine Jewell mystery series, Blood Red Poinsettias, which is available at Amazon. Congratulations, Gloria.

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Monday, August 29, 2016

Travel Lessons - Korean Style

by Shari Randall

Travel is a great teacher.

When you travel to a new place, it’s impossible not to pack a few expectations along with your passport.

Rome? One expects traffic, the Coliseum, and model-handsome men on Vespas.

Hawaii? Beaches. Pineapples. Volcanoes.

South Korea? The DMZ. The Korean War. Kias. 
Gangnam Style.
But when I visited my daughter and son-in-law last month in South Korea I learned a lot I didn’t expect. Here are a few of those lessons:

The most humbling lesson? I learned what it is like to be illiterate. Korea uses a complex character based alphabet called hangul. In general, South Korea does a great job of bilingual Korean/English signage in tourist spots, better than China or Japan according to my globe-trotting daughter. The airport and train stations were particularly English-friendly. But once outside these areas, I found myself groping for clues. Did that symbol mean coffee? Was it okay to enter this door? After awhile I just relaxed and relinquished control, relying on my child to guide me. Also, many Koreans, especially young people, speak English and were friendly and eager to help.

Pokemon Go? Try Tourist Go. You, as a Westerner, will be the star of many vacation photos. Those aforementioned helpful young people will want to take a selfie with you. I wondered if this was a homework assignment – ask an English speaker for a photo. My blue eyed, blond daughter took these requests in stride. I still laugh that somehow I landed in Cindy from China’s Instagram feed.

South Korea is more technologically advanced than we are. Modern Korean apartment doors open with keypads that not only spin a cool safe-cracker wheel but also play a little musical ditty I think of as “Don’t Worry! Be Happy! Your Door Is Locked.” Trains and buses are sleek and run on time. When the train approaches the station a “Rocky” fanfare plays. However, traditional courtesies remain: Conductors bow upon entering and leaving the train car.

Enjoying the Hello Kitty Cafe
As you might have guessed from the playful musical embellishments, South Korea has an inner child unafraid of self-expression. Young women who could grace the cover of any sophisticated fashion magazine sport sparkly pink headbands and Minnie Mouse bows.  Guys wear t-shirts with cartoon characters you’d see in American kindergartens. Speaking of cartoon characters, every town has a cartoon “ambassador” to brand their city. I think this is a reaction to being not many years distant from a devastating war and living so close to a country run by a madman. As my professors would say, “Discuss.”

Even so, my daughter reminds me that most Koreans are more concerned about finding a parking space in Seoul than they are about North Korea.

There are not only Hello Kitty cafes in Korea, but also sheep cafes, cat cafes, and raccoon cafes where you can enjoy your coffee while you visit with the animals.

The food was great. I ate a lot of things I couldn’t identify, but it was all good.

Except for lotus. Lotus tastes like wood.

There is one trashcan in all of gigantic Seoul train station and no paper towels anywhere. South Korea’s 50 million people share a mountainous country approximately the size of Indiana graced with ancient palaces, temples and natural beauty. Conservation and recycling are a way of life.

Chilburan in Gyeongju National Park
Because of those spectacular mountains, Koreans like to hike. Grandmas in house slippers zoomed by me on the trail up Namsan Mountain in Gyeongju National Park. In addition to the beautiful scenery there, one hikes past ancient Buddhist statues and a temple where you can stay and take part in the life of the nuns and monks. At a rest stop on the trail by a centuries old statue of the Buddha, a nun-in-training greeted us with hard candies and tea. Not only did she speak English, she was from the town where I live!

The most important thing I learned? The world is small.

What have you learned on your travels?