Saturday, December 15, 2018

The Year in Review and Future Plans

2018 is rapidly coming to a close and I thought I would take a moment to review some of the bigger events of the past year and give you all of you an idea of what my plans are in 2019.  

The past year has been a really good one for me in many ways. The biggest event was the publishing of my book on the black panther phenomenon, Shadow Cats: The Black Panthers of North America by Anomalist Books. The publication of the book was the fulfillment of a lifelong dream for me as I have always wanted to write a book. While I did self-publish a children’s book titled Patty: A Sasquatch Story several years back, this was different. Anomalist Books is a traditional and respected publishing house specializing in non-fiction tomes on cryptozoology, the paranormal, and other esoteric topics. To go through the submission process, have the work accepted, and then published was a lot of fun for me and extremely educational. To add to my excitement, the book was well received and has done very well. Because of the success of Shadow Cats, I have had the opportunity to speak at author’s gatherings, library fund-raisers, book stores, numerous podcasts, and radio programs including the massively popular Coast-to-Coast A.M. with host George Noory. The year ended with Loren Coleman choosing Shadow Cats as one of his top ten cryptozoology books of the year. It has all been pretty heady stuff to this rookie author.


Another highlight of my year was my participation in the NAWAC’s long-term field study in the area of interest we have dubbed “Area X.” This year’s operation was dubbed “Operation Intrepid” and ran from May 19th– September 23rd. I served as the team leader for Team India and was in the bush with two fellow members from July 14th– July 21st. While there were no visuals of our wood ape quarry that week, the three of us managed to record the clearest “whoop” vocalization I have ever heard in person. The vocalization emanated on a hillside no more than forty yards from our location in camp. The call was heard multiple times on two separate nights from approximately the same spot on the hill. The thick brush prevented us from getting a look at the caller – even with high-end night vision equipment -  and the steep incline kept us from being able to effectively investigate during nighttime hours. Even so, the vocalization alone was enough to cement in my mind that the target species is indeed in the area and we are conducting operations in the right place. 

I had another fun experience just last month. I was contacted by Prometheus Productions about helping with an upcoming television program (Prometheus produces the hit series The Curse of Oak Island and many other popular shows). Initially, I was going to be a sort of consultant on an episode that was going to be looking into a cryptid very well known in the Ozark Mountains; however, after learning that I had actually seen one of the odd, hairless canines that the media has dubbed the chupacabras, plans changed. Instead, I will appear as a witness on an episode featuring that cryptid. This was the second time I have had the privilege of being involved in a television shoot of this sort (My first experience was on the A&E Network’s Lowe Files). It is always interesting and fun to see how these shows are shot and the interactions that go on behind the scenes. It was good fun and I will keep everyone posted on when the series and, more specifically, when the chupacabras episode will air.

The year was not without its frustrations. Teaching and coaching full-time left precious little time for the blog and I have accumulated a large back log of black panther sightings that need to be vetted and mapped. Also, I started work on a new book detailing the investigations and experiences of the NAWAC this past summer, but have been unable to make any progress on it due to the time demands of my job. I am not looking for any sympathy here, but the little free time I have had through a very good football season and, at least thus far, a very bad basketball season has been spent trying to catch up on sleep or family responsibilities. It has left little time for me to tap away on a keyboard. This situation is nothing new. Longtime followers of the blog know I have lamented my lack of time to write in the past. I have given the matter a lot of thought and decided that I will be hanging up my whistle at the end of the 2018-2019 school year. While I need to continue teaching (those pesky bills continue to roll in monthly), I do not plan on coaching in the future. This decision was really not that difficult to reach. The coaching part of my life has become extremely stressful as the athletes have become increasingly self-centered and uncoachable. It is a constant battle to get them to act right in class, pass their classes, and practice hard. Dealing with the parents has been even worse. These factors in combination with the fact that I want to write more have led me to the decision to retire from my coaching duties. While I will not get any immediate relief from the time demands of coaching, as I must finish the school year, the light is at the end of the tunnel. No later than the end of May 2019 I should see an exponential jump in my free time. That will allow me to get back to investigating mysteries of the cryptid kind and continue my efforts to write.

So, there you have it. I will be getting back to writing and blogging very soon as long as the good Lord is willing and the creeks don’t rise. I thank all of you who have patiently hung in there with me and the blog despite my lack of activity. I hope to reward that patience with new posts and a new book soon. 

My best,

Mike

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