Sunday, October 28, 2007

The Effects of Full Moons on

Okay, so it's one full moon, and it most likely has nothing to do with my problems with But ARGH! anyway.

I have been busting my butt, straining my eyes, wracking my brain, beating my head against the wall and all the other cliched things that people do out of frustration for the past three weeks. Issue 5 of Epitaphs is done. I finished designing it, edited it, proofed it, redid the photos a few times, adjusted things, saved and resaved. Taught myself all sorts of tricks I hope I will remember for the next issue. Crazy me, I thought it would be smooth sailing from here on. But no. No no no. Uploading PDFs, embedding fonts, resizing, making things right, making things more right ... oh my gosh the list goes on ... is taking forever and driving me nuts!

I am no techie, my friends. I glean what I can from people and then search like hell all over the Internet to teach myself how things work. My gosh, I searched and searched until I located Swift Publisher (which I do recommend for the non designers like myself). Then I worked my way through that software, figuring it out along the way. Then I researched Decided to go with it, and struggled through that learning process. After THINKING I had loaded everything properly, I ordered my first "proof" copy. I waited impatiently for it to arrive. Only to find that I had loaded it IMPROPERLY and then paid $10 for two sheets of paper with my cover on it!

I was so proud of myself for finishing the magazine and having it available in the month I said it would be (and even the year, too!). Things aren't perfect, and I'm still working through them. Like links for the subscribers, breaking the news to subscribers that the magazine went bankrupt and has no money to send them printed issues anymore. (But, hey, they are receiving one free electronic issue for every paid for issue they have yet to receive, and that's a pretty sweet deal.) Some people are happy with the situation (hey, neither am I!), but most have been great about it and very understanding. Let's say that my dream of being able to quit my day job to do Epitaphs Magazine has blown away like so much smoke from the neighbors burning leaves. Oh, well. I'll keep doing Epitaphs until I can't do it no more. I'm stubborn like that.

I'm a little distracted right now. Bella is sick with a nasty head cold. She's my priority. And I'm taking off work to take care of her tomorrow, so Daddy's off night duty. Gotta run.


Thursday, October 18, 2007

I blogged too soon

Okay, so I blogged to soon in my excitement (didn't I tell you I was like that?). I thought the mag was really for real ready to go this time, but nope. I'm still trying to get the cover figured out. Argh. Foiled again!

More later ...

Epitaphs Magazine #5 is here and fabulous!

Everyone, I am so very flippin' proud to announce that Epitaphs Magazine #5 is ready and waiting for you to buy it! I'm doing the Snoopy dance as we speak!

And not only is it available, it is in COLOR! You can also either buy a print copy or download it in PDF format right on your own little computer. Keep in mind, though, that the file is pretty big and takes a while to download, but it's a lot cheaper.

Since the mag is in color, it's more expensive this time. I'm also working with a new They make books, magazines and other publications available. I'm also working on putting out a black and white version of this issue, too, which will cost less. But that one will take a while as I have to reconfigure it to make sure the photos still look great.

For those of you keeping score, you know that this is the first issue I not only edited as usual but also designed. It has a brand new look (a little more journal like) and a new layout. But it still has the same high quality of articles and interesting stuff.

Our last issue was the "spooky" issue, which by the way is selling like crazy this month. I may even sell out soon! This issue is back to the cemeteries without the spooky stuff. There are tons of gorgeous photos (in color!) and great articles, including one on how to adopt a cemetery. The cover story features amazing photographer Jeffrey Netz. You will love his work. His photography was also featured in issue #2, the New Orleans issue.

When you get your copy of the new mag, please drop me a line to let me know what you think. I'm already starting on issue #6. Stories and photos are due in by Dec. 1 to make the submission deadline. So start sending your stuff in! My goal, now that I have full reign on everything, is to get the magazine out more often.

Thank you for your continued support of Epitaphs Magazine,, "Cemetery Walk," and me! YOU are the reason I do all this crazy stuff that I do!

Yours in taphophilia,

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Farewell, Sweet Nola

This past Sunday our little Nola died. This is the first time I've actually said it, and really I'm just typing it. I've told people we put her to sleep, we put her down (which sounds terrible) or that we lost her. But to say she "died" is so harsh sounding. Of course, it is harsh. Humane, but harsh.

We adopted Nola at the very end of 2005. She was one when we got her at the animal shelter. She had traveled three hours from Fayette, Iowa, under the hood of a truck. She wasn't injured at all; she'd just taken a very long ride in a weird place. Even at the time, it made us tear up to think of what she went through to find us.

We had a pretty good couple of years (almost) with her. She was a fantastic cat. Everyone who knew her thought so. She'd play fetch with a ball up and down the basement stairs. She'd even give the ball to different people each time so everyone could have a turn tossing it down the stairs for her to run after. She was incredibly good natured. She loved to play and be a wacky cat.

Her favorite place in the world was on our screened in front porch. She always wanted out there. Unfortunately over the summer it was too hot most of the time, but we let her out as often as we could. Especially since she was sick for so many months. The doctor didn't know what her ailment was, so we weren't sure how to help her. We did what we could to make her happy and comfortable. It's so hard, though, because most cats don't show pain that much.

This past weekend, though, it was quite obvious she was very, very ill. She could keep nothing down and was barely eating. And she loved to eat. Even when it kept coming up, the poor girl still had her appetite. And no wonder, she was so thin. She must have been hungry all the time. Our once robust girl was skin and bones.

There is much less chaos in our house now. We've gone from three crazy cats to two. One stays mostly in the basement, and the other is back to her old princess self. The Nola chaos had been missing for a while since she was feeling so poorly, but there's a big hole in our hearts and our lives.

I know we did the right thing. We took her to the Animal Emergency Center to some of the most wonderful and caring people in the business. They made her last moments as peaceful as possible. The doctor administered the medication as I held our Nola and Bill and I were petting her. Her last moments were filled with love, as was her life with us. It's an almost physical pain in my chest just to write all of this. I thought we'd have her for a long time. She seemed to strong for so long. But we lost her and we miss her. I miss her.

I want to think that she is somewhere sitting in a window and snacking on some bread (she loved bread and would rip into any package of it if you turned your head away for five seconds). I want to think she had plenty of bouncy balls to toss around whenever she wants. I want to know for sure that she is happy and knows that we love her and miss her and that her mom feels awful about letting her down and not being able to make it all better.

Good night, sweet Nola. You brought us so much joy.

Your mom

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Since I have three main blogs I post to, I've decided to copy tonight's MySpace blog here to save time (since it is way past my bedtime) ...

I know, I know ... I sound like a broken record. "Man, I wish I knew how this whole MySpace thing works." I feel like an old ninny. Anyway, I need to shut up about it, because whining about not knowing what I'm doing on here is REALLY proving how very OLD I am. I just need to do lunch with Tom the MySpace guy and pick his brain.

Anyway ... I did find a site with some fab info on it: I'm adding the link to my blog so that I can find it again. I regularly use three different computers, so this is important. I'm all about web-based info.

Hell week #1 is over at work. Now we're in #2. The good thing is that I have Friday off. No baby caregiver that day. So it's me and the babe. That's the good news. The not so good news was that I've had to cram 5 days of work into 4. But it's all good. I was freaking for a couple days, but I'm beyond that now. Thank god. Spazzy me is not a fun me.

Cool news. I've decided on a new book. No, not to read. To write. I've been kind of working on the cemetery postcard book for a while now (and still will be), but my heart hasnt' quite been in it. My new book will resemble "Cemetery Walk" a bit but be focused more on cemetery people.

Here's the title: "Tales of the Taphophiles: Cemeteries and the People Who Love Them."

I thought of it on the way to work. Some story on NPR triggered it, even though it had nothing to do with taphophiles or cemeteries. It feels good. It feels do-able. It feels real. The postcard book will come in time. I'm still collecting the postcards, but I'm not going to rush it.

So now I'm looking for people who love cemeteries and have a story to tell. If you know any, send me an e-mail at

Monday, July 23, 2007

The Future of Epitaphs Magazine

Wow, what a slacker I am! No post on here since early last month? Sheesh.

Well, I'm back and have some updates. First, Epitaphs Magazine is in the process of changing. Though the magazine has a growing following, it just hasn't been enough to pay the bills. In essence, the magazine went bankrupt. Then with the increase in postal rates, printing costs and the loss of our designer, it just about fell into oblivion. But, much like the phoenix, it is starting its rise from the flames.

Epitaphs is being revamped. Originally I thought it would have to go online. Then I was faced with the issue of charging per online issue or for a subscription and how that would work. My website is great, but it does have limitations. And would people really want to pay for an online magazine? It's a hard sell, because people tend to think online stuff should be free. But it didn't change how printing costs and such had gone out of my non-existant budget. And, on top of all this, I still have subscribers with issues left. Being as the magazine was bankrupt, I could not just refund people's money. But I certainly was not going to leave people hanging. What to do?

The good news is that EM is staying alive. And the support of people has been wonderful. More good news is that my husband is going to be designing the new magazine. It will have a new look and feel. While the other one was wonderful, with this new era for the magazine, it's going to be treated as a new piece. So Bill is going to learn the ropes, as it were, and make it happen.

The magazine is also going through a new publisher. It will now be printed through This will take a great burden off of me, as I have been soley in charge of the printing, storage, mailing and everything for the magazine for two years. With the new version, people will be able to order it directly from CafePress and have it shipped from them. Let me tell you, not having to haul a few hundred magazines around at a time will be wonderful! I spend a lot of my not-so-spare time writing, editing and organizing the magazine, so this burden is doing a welcome disappearing act!

But while the magazine is changing, it's still going to have the same great quality of articles, photos and more. The writers and I are currently pulling together a great issue for the fall. I think you'll be pleased.

So that's the update for now. If you have any questions about anything, please e-mail me at


Sunday, June 10, 2007

Big surprise. Being a mommy is time-consuming. I'm certainly not complaining, though. When I look into my daughter's eyes and see that smile, I know I've never seen anything more beautiful. Just thinking about her makes all the stuff that I feel I'm not doing enough of seem not to be so bad. (I'm sure I could've written that sentence in a much better way, but I'm too tired and too busy to worry that much about it!)

Today is marks the first time in a long time that I've actually been able to sit down and do some research on a cemetery project. During some of my lunches during the week I've done work on my website and also worked on a couple of interviews, but that's about it. Today I was able to dig up some information for the gravestone rubbing class I have scheduled for next month. I admit I've been frustrated with scheduling this class. It's something I want to do; it will give me an excuse to get back into Chippiannock Cemetery and also meet some more local taphophiles. The reason for the frustration is that it's difficult to schedule a time when people are available. When I asked for dates people were interested in, I received no response, so I scheduled it for July 14. Of the five people who said they wanted to take the class, I've heard from one. And he works there! I'm hoping to hear from others soon. The deadline for registration is June 18, so we'll see.

Why a June 18 deadline for July 14 class? The gravestone rubbing kits. Unfortunately since my business is just me (oh, and the print version of the magazine essentially went bankrupt), I can't afford crazy extravagances such as having a supply of gravestone rubbing kits on hand. I do wish I could. It would be a good thing to have. But with the print mag problems and my husband being out of work for almost three months (but he had a great job now!), it just hasn't been in the cards. It's frustrating to be running a professional site on half a shoestring budget. Hey, maybe I could write a book about that ....

Speaking of books, I just finished a query letter for a new book idea. There's a publishing company I've been very interested in working with for years, and I finally have a proposal idea for them that fits what they do. Yes, it has to do with cemeteries. I'm pretty excited about it and am hoping for the best. I think it's got a good shot in getting their attention. It's called "Naked Cemeteries." Just kidding!


My friend Tim's favorite words of wisdom for me for years have been, "Just you wait." He said this when I told him I was engaged six years ago (my five-year wedding anniversary is this coming Friday), and he's said it to me repeatedly since I first told him Bill and I were having a baby.

Conversations went something like this:

"Tim, I can't believe how crazy things are. It's so hard trying to get ready for the baby."

"Just you wait. This is nothing."

"Tim, how am I going to do it all? I can't get it all done now!"

"Just you wait."

"Tim, I don't have any time to do anything."

"Just you wait. All the things you keep doing to make other people happy are going to go away. When that baby gets here, your focus will be baby, baby, baby. Because it's got to be. You stop worrying so much about the other things. The baby is your priority, and nothing else seems as big anymore."

He was so right. If the print version of the magazine would have fallen through before the baby, I would have freaked out and done everything I possibly could have to save it. Instead, I have accepted that it had to evolve to keep going. I'm still not happy that I still owe a number of subscribers issues, but I'm getting it all figured out as I'm going along. People have been VERY understanding and supportive about the change from print to online. I would have had a much rougher time with this if it hadn't been for people's support in e-mails and actions. One of my subscribers even told me not to worry about finishing the subscription and to consider it a donation. That was incredibly generous and made my month.

In bits and pieces I've been working on getting the website ready with its new look and launch of the new online version of Epitaphs Magazine. I've also been getting more requests for interviews regarding cemeteries and related topics. And I'm interviewing people as often as I can.

Upcoming interviews for Epitaphs Magazine Online will include:
- photographer Jeffrey Netz
- celebrant Pam Vetter
- photographer John T. Clark

I'm also setting up interviews with some cemetery preservationists. If you have any ideas for interviews or articles, I'd love to hear them. E-mail me at

Well, it's time for me to move on to reading one of the three books I've got going right now. Will it be "Forgotten Faces" (the one book I know of on memorial photo-ceramics), "Your Guide to Cemetery Research" (my bible of cemetery info by Sharon Carmack) or "Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince" (I'm re-reading it in preparation for the last book, which is out next month!). I tell you, it's sure hard to read with a grabby baby in your arms who wants to play with the pages. And these pages are much more tearable than her board and cloth books!

Before I do that, I've got to figure out my Vonage account info. We're switching (after one month) to Mediacom, as they are offering free service for the rest of the year. So far Vonage has been fine, but free is free. Wish me luck!

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Now What?

Okay, so I've written THE book I was supposed to write. And I got it published and all that good stuff. I was planning on writing a book about New Orleans cemeteries before I got pregnant. Well, that would have included lots of traveling to said city, and that didn't happen. Plus, there are actually a lot of books on NOLA cemeteries. Mine was going to focus on post-Katrina things, though. Anyway, at this time that book is a no-go.

Now that the baby is five months old, I feel like I can allow some focus on other things as well as Bella. And now I'm itching to start another project. While still doing the magazine. You'd think that would be enough, but I've got a bunch of books in me. But now what?

I've had some ideas:

- Pet Cemeteries - a new trend on the rise, plus reflecting on the old ones
- Cemetery postcards - I love them!
- What's a Cemetery? - a children's book
- Focus on a single cemetery - not sure which one yet, possibly local

If anyone has any thoughts on this, I'd love to hear them.

I'm also looking into expanding my online store to offer genealogy and scrapbooking items (for cemetery and genealogy related scrapbooking). I'd like feedback on whether people would be interested or not.

Happy Valentine's Day!

Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Awesome article from The Onion, the country's best fake news source

Ah, the bittersweet genius of parody writing. It makes me laugh AND shed a silent tear. I adore New Orleans and lament its state, but at least I still have a sense of humor about it. You have to given what happened and what continues to happen--or not happen.

"FEMA Calls Rebuilding Complete as New Orleans Restored to Former Squallor"

"We've done our best to ensure the city is as well off as it was before Katrina hit," Blanco said. "It's all back—the same abandoned cars, the broken bottles, the spent shotgun shells, the rat colonies, even the used diapers on the front lawns. People of New Orleans, welcome home."

One of my favorite parts is the cutline that goes with this photo: "Crews reconstructed post–Mardi Gras filth and hosed down Bourbon Street with donated urine."

How to Eulogize Someone You Don't Like

Interesting response to a woman who wants to know how to publicly remember a real jerk. From

How to eulogize the dad no one likes?

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Where the Heck Have I Been?

I've been being a mommy! I've also focused more blog time on my mommy blog The Accidental Mom. I've also been working on issue #4 of Epitaphs Magazine--which is now close to being done!!!! I am soooo excited about this, as we are pretty late on it due to babies, new jobs, etc. It's a great issue, though, and well worth the wait. I'm also working on issue #5 and preparing for a cemetery art class I'm teaching each Sunday in February for CommUniversity.

I have some cemetery stuff for you folks right now, though. God bless!

GreenSprings Eco-Cemetery

Highgate Cemetery then and Now

an artsy video with music of cemetery at St. John's Church, Hampstead, London

55 seconds in a cemetery in Codogno, Italy

photo slideshow of Graniteville Cemetery

If you see any good cemetery videos on, let me know so I can share them. Or e-mail them to the Yahoo Group interview_taphophile.