Dashiell Hammett is not writing or publishing anything new.

Many people are afraid of death. I would guess that the main reason for religion is because of that fear. People want to think there is more to life than just the life we have here on earth. They invent religions to fool themselves into thinking there will be something more. Life after death. As an editorial researcher at National Geographic, I came across belief after belief of life, or whatever, after death. At one point, one of our contract photographers hired me as a freelancer to do advance research on the Ways of Death. We even got a grant from a west coast woo-woo group to help pay for my research. It was going to be a big coffee table book on how people around the world celebrated, observed, or believed in death, or life after death, or whatever you will.

David is just sleeping photo by Gurganious-3109 Dave 2 copy 2

I’m just sleeping. Photo by Jim Gurganious

Occasionally, when I’m passing through a cemetery, I lie down and check out the view. Not that I want to be buried in the cold cold ground. No worms crawling in and out for me, no sir. Cremation, and then my ashes can be buried up there on the Wooddell Farm in the corner of the old family cemetery. But I do recommend checking out the view in a cemetery sometime. The people there don’t mind. They are dead.

As a writer who is aging, I worry a lot about the many book projects I have started that are not yet finished. Those will be my legacy – if I finish them, and get them published. As I realized the other day, Dashiell Hammett is not writing or publishing anything new. One can read his entire body of work in a week. And then read them again, and again. That is a legacy. My work is cut out for me. I have to stop taking so many naps, no matter the location.

As for my beliefs? I believe in gravity. It really works. And fairies and unicorns, because fantasy!

David and a unicorn June 10, 2017

Me and the unicorn. Photo by Kat Forder

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Steam Locomotives of the Nineteenth Century

 

This week, I published a visual history of steam locomotives of the nineteenth century:

Steam Locomotives Cover front and back

Steam Locomotives: Nineteenth Century Engineering, illustrated with more than 150 images of steam engines drawn by the top engineering illustrators of the 19th century.

Already, Amazon is calling it the #1 New Release in Railroading Pictorials. 

As one of my friends pointed out, in addition to being of interest to railroad and locomotive enthusiasts, it would make a great coloring book for those children and adults who love trains.

Why did I decide to write and fill this book with images of locomotives? I love trains, especially the locomotives. My family has a deep connection to railroads, since both of my grandfathers worked nearly all their lives for the B&O. My father hired on to the B&O before he went off to the Army during WWII, working as a fireman on large steam locomotives that hauled coal trains through West Virginia. My mother’s side of the family lived in Grafton, WV, one of the first major railroad towns west of the Allegheny mountains. It was an important nexus of rail transportation with a vital history during the American Civil War. When my family moved to Ohio, we lived in a town with rail lines through it with a bridge that had stood when Lincoln’s funeral train passed under it in 1865. Just up the road was Willard, one of the great rail nexus in the state. Many a time, we drove up there to pick up my grandparents who’d ridden the train from Baltimore to visit us. I can almost taste the smell of being next to a locomotive waiting to move onward as it dropped off passengers, and took on new riders going westward.

I also love illustration. I was a picture editor in my younger years, and later a professional photographer for magazines. In the later 1980s, I was an art researcher for seven years, on staff at National Geographic magazine, working with top artists. I fed them concepts, research reference, and served as the intermediary with experts in all kinds of fields, from showing the inside of the nuclear reactor at Chernobyl after it melted down, to a cutaway of the USS Macon airship, to what it looked like on the deck of CSS Alabama during its fatal battle during the American Civil War. After that, I served as a researcher for the top editors of the magazine, working on advance concepts, sussing out possibilities for the magazine thorough coverage.

I hope my readers enjoy my new locomotive book as much as I enjoyed working on it. It was a labor of love, and as I say in my book, it acknowledges the importance of the illustrators who created most of the images that appear in the book. – David W. Wooddell, Baltimore, Maryland