Kurt Maxxon Racing

Kurt Maxxon is a Stock Car Race Driver who becomes an amateur sleuth in a series of mystery novels.
Keep up with author Jim Overturf as his wife Karen explores the universe and shares their impressions of life in general and what is going on with their myriad projects.


We've posted a Logline! Ummm, I think...

Romance writer Linda Boulanger, invited authors to post their logline on her site. Now, I had never heard of a "logline" and even I had trouble getting the information down to "one to two sentences"... I'll have to work on that skill. Four sentences isn't bad.

I've been keeping an eye on the virtual Halloween Contest (there is  a prize) at Kurt Maxxon Mysteries on Facebook. Apparently I'm not the only Facebook user that has her hands full the rest of the week! It is gradually gaining popularity, and it should be interesting to see how many people we end up with at the "party." Do drop by and see if you can guess what our creative guests have come up with for a favorite mystery character costume!

I'm going to consider expanding the posting time, and changing the reveal, since many people around the world may be asleep during the hour I posted for the reveal.

I'll get a successful contest down! Have a wonderful day!

Hugs, Karen


We are honored!

We have taken two big steps in our future today! If you check out Facebook, you will find that we have posted a Virtual Costume Party - LOL! All you have to do is post a picture of yourself, on our Facebook Fan Page, portraying a favorite mystery character. Then get people to figure out who you are! The full rules are in the events listing at Kurt Maxxon Mysteries.

Meanwhile, most of you might have noticed I haven't been blogging (or otherwise) very often these past couple of weeks. I have been taking classes in Long Term Care Administration. I may get my first 4.0 grade (I'm certainly trying)!

Fall is here, and the colors are popping! I hope there's still some color left when I am ready for vacation at  the end of the month!

Today's tasks beckon, with lovely weather... I'm heading outside for the purpose of enjoying some fall sunshine, green grass, lovely colors and... cutting down the peonies and bushes for winter... (ugh - winter won't appeal to me until I can sit inside and watch the snow, instead of drive in it.)

Until later!
Hugs, Karen



With the recent tropical rains along the east coast we are reminded of how unsafe our cars become with water on the highways. One family was killed when their SUV hydroplaned and crashed.

What is hydroplaning? Hydroplaning is when your tires surf on the water. It is the very same principle as a surf board gliding along on the surface of a wave.

The first thing I want to impress on you is that water is incompressible. Your tires are not going to squeeze the water out from between your tire and the pavement. Any water on the highway is going to stay between your tires and the road; the tire will push a wave of water in front of it and ride up on that wave. It doesn’t matter how much your vehicle weighs; tractor trailer rigs are just as susceptible to hydroplaning as little bitty cars.
Tire manufacturers try to convince you that their tread design “carries” the water out from between the tire and the road. That’s not going to happen. Tread designs may channel some of the water off to the side, but, there’s still that itsy, bitsy film of water between your tire and the road. Is that itsy, bitsy film of water dangerous? It is as slick as oil. Not heeding water on the road is about the same as playing Russian roulette with a six shooter with five live cartridges in the cylinders. That itsy-bitsy film of water can lift your heavy old car off the road and turn it into an uncontrollable mass of destruction.
How do you deal with water on the highway? First and foremost is simply slow down. If there is water on the road, you are hydroplaning. But, if you are driving slowly enough, you can control it. The reason most of us don’t get killed when it’s raining is that we are forced to slow down because the windshield wipers can’t clear the windshield and most of us are smart enough to realize, that if we can’t see very far ahead, we probably need to slow down. But there are those among us who don’t think that way.
The second major thing we can do in rainy weather as well as winter weather is make sure your tires have enough tread depth. The absolute minimum safe tread depth is 1/16th of an inch. A lot of pundits like to use the ol’ penny trick. The distance from the top of Abe Lincoln’s head to the edge of the penny coin is about 1/16th of an inch. Stick the coin in and measure the depth of your tread that way.
I would never drive on tires with just 1/16th of an inch. I consider my life and my family more valuable than the four to six hundred bucks a set of new tires cost. The SUV that crashed back east during the tropical rain was running on tires that were bald, generally interpreted to mean they had tread depth of less than 1/16th inch.

And lastly, even if the rain has stopped, be careful not to drive into water standing in low spots of the roadway. You can either hydroplane out of control or be washed away if the water is moving. You’ve probably heard “turn around, don’t drown,” and that is absolutely great advice. It only takes twenty to twenty four inches of moving water to float a car and about eight inches to wash most of us off our feet. Since I’m six foot, about two-seventy, it might take a foot of water to wash me of my feet. The important point, however, is that very little water can do it to us all.

Roads are built with taper toward the edges and most water runs off. But the systems can get overwhelmed quite easily. You, the driver, are responsible for recognizing when the system is out of kilter. You’re going to be surfing every time you drive on roads wet from rain. So slow down, and keep good tires where the rubber meets the road.

Jim Overturf


Keeping Track of Your Characters - Jim's workshop at the Muse Online Conference

Jim uses a spreadsheet to keep track of his characters. It does a pretty good job, because there are days I'm reading something of his, and I'll say, "Are you sure that was the # 129 car?" or some such thing. I'll always be sure of Kurt's car. Nikki is number 27!

He'll hand me the printout, and say. "Yes."

Ask a dumb question... so now, I'll read something, and if I have a doubt, I just ask for the sheet, and check it myself. Sometimes it IS a typo! Life is good.

He asked for editing help on his conference handouts. (It's a free workshop for writers, so not a bad deal! If you're interested, just click the title for information.)

Part of the program he prepared is "aging your character" and discussed the issue of aging discrimination against romance writers.

You'll love this humorous bit I found (with Jim's permission, of course):

"To some, the aging question may seem to discriminate against romance writers. Many people believe that romance is for the young--forty-something, tops. While that may be the general misconception of the public at large, I basically disagree, having remarried a couple of years ago at age 68, to a woman 14 years younger. Romance is a matter of the heart, and rightfully should remain as such. With the way things are going, it won't be too long until there will be a demographic group of octogenarians sufficient to support The Nursing Home Romance series."

Hugs, Karen

Today is exciting! Exhilarating! Fabulous!

I didn't write anything yesterday. I had just given my critique on the blog of a classmate in Book Blog Tours class, when I realized one of the questions dealt with pages. Pages? Pages!? Back to this blog. I made a sincere attempt at it, thinking I could change all the elements on each page just like you do a web page. Nope. Not on blogger, anyway. When I got back to my main page, all that was left was my followers and my blog entries... oops. So, I spent all of yesterday and some of this morning trying to correct my faux pas...

I hope you like the changes, and the way it looks. Any suggestions from any of you would be great, as my old brain is still in the pen and paper era! (if you think that's bad, some people are worse off than I am!)
Naturally, you'll be thanked for your opinion, but the webmistress (me) has the final say as to whether it goes up or not! LOL!

I am having a blast, though! I enjoy giving my opinion (for what it's worth) and writing on a computer is lots easier than writing with pen and paper, as corrections are only as good as crossing through or starting over with pen and paper. I still remember having to cross through on an old mechanical typewriter!

Life is fun! I was commiserating with myself yesterday afternoon, when someone decided to tell me about her disagreement with her husband over whether they should go to a cabin this year. After about a half hour, I began to feel a whole lot better! Nothing like talking to someone to be grateful for your own circumstances!

My parents taught me to enjoy every morsel of food on my plate. That particular lesson went something like this... "There are children in Africa that have nothing to eat." (They knew I'd never believe them if they told me children in America go to bed hungry.)

My dad loved the phrase from Dr. Seuss.  "Try it, try it, Sam-I-Am. You will love green eggs and ham."

That lesson goes for today. I am blessed! I am thankful, since there are people who do not have the ability to make themselves a part of the economy. They were not taken camping as children. They do not know survival skills. They do not count themselves blessed with whatever they are able to do, that others cannot, or will not. They cannot see a future in which they will wish they had what they have today.

Age makes us all equal. Even though I don't believe that days exist in the energy realm, Carpe Diem!



Over the weekend, Jim took me on a romantic overnight trip to Nebraska City, for their Applejack Festival. No, I didn't think we had any plans, until Jim asked Molly, our 5 year old Rat Terrier/Jack Russel mix (you can see a pic of her on the "noodles from a writer's journal" blog), if she was ready to go to the spa (her favorite kennel)... and I had to ask "why?"

That's the fastest I ever got dressed!

We left the computers at home. We did take our reading, and we did have some fun walking around... the cold and cloudy day was perfect for such a festival. The fall colors arrive in late October (when you want a beautiful, crisp, sunny day to walk among the leaves). The smell of applewood in the fireplaces, a wonderful meal at the Lied Lodge, and quiet companionship with each other just reading and writing made a perfect afternoon and evening. We got a lot done. We usually do, as we discuss characters and plots on the way, the car giving us a perfect opportunity to get away from it all, and let us concentrate on puzzles that make our writing pack less of a punch than we'd like. We stopped at Kimmel Orchard for applesauce and apple butter, and we loved every minute!

Back to regular life... until the next opportunity arrives. Ahhh... I could retire to memories like these!

Hugs! Karen


About Eel's Reverence...

I finished this book last night. Written by Marian Allen, Eel's Reverence is a fantasy allegory, and wonderfully explores the interplay of relationships and the conflicts of good versus evil, and all the gradations of emotion and reactions in between. As a christian, I had no trouble relating to the allegory in the novel, as it dealt with "true priests" versus "reaver priests."

Just as I thought it was about over, the story introduced another conflict. Marian is a wonderful storyteller. If you like fantasy stories, you'll enjoy this one!

Hugs! Karen


Found my Kindle!

Well... I quickly realized I can't go looking at other people's  Book Blogs without being ready to read some of what they've found or what their guest authors have to say "in the big time."  There's too much fun in getting to know authors and characters, and wanting to read what their characters have to say about this, that and the other! The most fun about getting to know a character in a book is that my own personality can find it's way into the story. That's why I don't like to read a book after I've seen the movie, or see the movie after I've read the book. The personality of someone else seems to take over my reading, or the movie "left too much out" ~ after all, how can anyone cram the story's whole time period (a week, a month, etcetera) into an hour or an hour and a half of film?

So now I have a weeks worth of reading, and hope that I can quickly get through it (I used to read a whole book in an evening... before computers).  I'm going to restore that skill! I'm still reading (editing) Jim's efforts on his fourth Kurt Maxxon mystery, Centralia, which will debut Alisa Sharpe in 2011.  Meanwhile, Jim is also writing "The Reynolds Quintuplets," a future socio-political saga, and he's starting a new cozy mystery series that will include diet recipes. (Anyone notice the word "diet" includes the word "die" in it?)

I really have to give kudos to Dani Greer, of the Blood Red Pencil (Her blog is in the list to your left). Jim liked the way she handled the blog-a-day challenges, and suggested I follow along with her for awhile...The first thing she did was suggest I start hunting for book bloggers!



Sunday Morning's Armchair travels...

I found some interesting blogs, and a great idea for designing our own blog! If you look in the right hand menu bar, you'll see several blogrolls. Each one is categorized by interests, so if you want more than just writing, or what we have to say, you can visit any one else I've decided to follow! I've put a few into the food blogroll, and will be filling the others soon! I saw some great art!

On the subject of books and writing, though, I found a couple of interesting sites... and I'll be getting to more armchair traveling tomorrow...

http://thebookfetish-mybookfetish.blogspot.com/  This lady has decided she's going to read and review 52 books this year, one for each week. She says she wants to review from how the book makes her feel... which is a fabulous idea... I'm going to head back to her blog to read the rest of her impressions after I post this (maybe not all at once)!

http://www.presenttensejournal.org/submissions/  This was a "referral" on one blog I found, to an online magazine's first issue. It's not for pay, that I can see, but it may be a great place to showcase your non-fiction writing! It is an Academic Journal about Rhetoric in Society, The book reviewed, DANGEROUS WRITING, by Tony Scott, looked interesting, and I'm going to add it to the list of books I want to read!

Now to find the Kindle...

Later, everyone! Hugs! Karen

Book Blog Touring

Well, it is kind of cool to take a look at other authors, and I am desperately trying to find my Kindle reader, somewhere in the house! I am anxious to start it up, and read all these books. What a great way to find people you like (the way they write, especially) and to read what they have written for publication -I am fond of just about any genre that doesn't tend to dark and violent. I welcome anyone who would like to "introduce" themselves to me, even if they just want to promote themselves for an extra Google search entry. Introductions for Kurt Maxxon, our character, and our newest book, Carpentier Falls, are why I'm blog touring. I certainly will be searching out other blog sites for opportunities, and hope you'll follow along with me as I do so! I'm going to be on the blog later today with information for you on where I've been and what I've found...in my armchair adventures!

I hope you agree this is great stuff when you check back! See you soon!

Hugs, Karen


New Webmistress for the Kurt Maxxon Series!

I am taking over web duties for Jim, because I love to read about Kurt Maxxon, and I am listening to Jim swear at the computer. I'd rather have him writing...and he'd rather be writing. Kurt Maxxon is a wonderful character, and I want to get to know him better! I can't do that when the computer won't do what Jim wants it to do.

The Kurt Maxxon Series is the most fun I've ever had as a reader. When Jim felt like he was floating in limbo with Masonville, I asked him to let me read it. A few days later, I got a gift box, full of paper, each page lovingly printed for me. I read it as carefully as I could (and believe me, I was not an editor at that point) GENTLY taking care of this baby. Like an artist's first piece of art, we may only re-edit Masonville if we re-issue it in e-format.

Well, life has changed a lot. After deciding to edit the next book,Kings Rapids, by email, and exchanging daily emails for a year, Jim proposed to me with a business card. It contained my first name, and his last name. I knew from the emails what my answer would be.

Kurt Maxxon has filled out a lot as a character. Our readers can't wait for the next book, to find out who Kurt has befriended this time, and who he is helping, and what he has decided to do. It really is a soap opera... I think Jim ought to be doing a serial story like the ones you would find in magazines years ago. Maybe I'll get him there this year.

We published Carpentier Falls in April 2010. We are very proud of it.Centralia, the fourth book, will be released in 2011.

I am taking a class in book blog touring and will be checking in with other blogs... I'll keep you posted which ones.

I also am having fun with Marian Allen, who has done a fabulous job with Book Blog touring... She has a contest going for her new release, EEL'S REVERENCE. You'll have to try it - especially if you're looking for ways to promote your own blog... you don't necessarily have to be a writer!

 By the way... My classmates are Kara Petersen (Impatient Polly and a pending novel about Mermaids), Anne Randolph (writers' tips and hints), and Mary Montague (Monti) Sikes (Romance). You can find their blogs in my blogroll list to the left... Enjoy your travels! I'll ask Jim to drop in once in a while with some of his thoughts.

Drop in tomorrow...
Hugs! Karen


In German,the only word that translates to intersection is...

The NASCAR race Sunday (6/13) up in Michigan was another good one.Congratulations to Denny Hamlin, the #11 team, and Joe Gibbs Racing. After the race I saw a shot of a freeway somewhere with cars running four lanes wide—maybe in Chicago and it reminded me of what drivers need to think about in heavy traffic. In Sunday’s race the cars were running three and four wide at times and bumper to bumper—in the very real sense. As they hurtle around the track at 100 to 200 MPH, each driver is acutely aware of who and what is happening around them. They can generally trust their fellow drivers to not do anything stupid or out of the ordinary.

But, as we drive to vacations spots or weekend getaways, can we be as trustful of the other drivers on the road? The answer here is an emphatic NO! The reason, of course, is that while every driver sitting behind a steering wheel on our highways thinks he or she is the best driver on the road, statistics will prove them wrong. To be a good race driver you need honed hand-eye coordination (dexterity, or the ability to walk and chew gum at the same time); you need instantaneous reflex actions; and you must make instantaneous decisions about speed and distance. In reality, few drivers have the skills and instincts needed to be a successful race driver. Unfortunately, all the drivers around you will fall onto a bell-shaped distribution curve ranging from exceptionally good drivers to exceptionally poor drivers, with the vast majority of drivers half way between the polar region, or mediocre drivers at best. On a 3-sigma distribution, about 3 drivers will be race car quality, and 3 will be accidents looking for a place to happen. Forty-three percent of all drivers will be below average in driving skills.

Always be aware of who and what is happening around you as you drive down the road. Never trust the other driver(s) to be able to realize the potential danger or to do what is necessary to avoid an accident. Approach intersections alert and ready to do what you must to avoid an accident. Never assume the other driver(s) is going to give you the right-of-way. If someone wants to "own the road" and insist on the right of way, give it to them. It's better to arrive alive than to be dead right. I retired from a multi-national German company, and in German the only word that translates to intersection is “collision.” Enough said.

Another smart thing to do is drive defensively. Stay prepared to avoid the other driver(s) even if it means slowing down or moving out of their way. Getting to grandma’s house or the next vacation spot should not become a race against all the other cars on the highway. In a 400-mile drive, the difference between driving 50 MPH and 60 MPH is only one hour and twenty minutes. During the 8-hour trip you will be able to see some of the countryside.

Once again, have a safe and enjoyable summer. Pick up the newest Kurt Maxxon Mystery, Carpentier Falls, and relax awhile!  Jim