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Sun, Aug. 31st, 2014, 06:42 pm
SASP Meeting coming up!

The next meeting of Spokane Authors and Self-Publishers will be this Thursday, with our speaker being introduced at 2:30.  As usual, we'll be at the Golden corral on North Division Street, here in Spokane.  The new edition of SASP NEWS is out and can be found on our web-site.  (Click on the "Newsletter" tab along the left hand side and then select the month.)

Tue, Aug. 26th, 2014, 11:06 am
On the Job Scene

So I've been doing the same job for over a decade, getting up and going to work at roughly the same time, day after day, week after week... you get the picture, I'm sure.  Well today, that all changes.  Instead of starting my work day at 4 am and working until 1230, I'll go in at 9 tonight and be there until 5 am.  Powers that be decided they wanted a bit more done when no members, guests, or other employees are there and in the way.  I was asked if I wanted the position and decided to take it.  It'll be a break from the early morning routine, and I see it as a bit of a challenge to try and get the things accomplished that management wants.  It's probably going to play havoc with my sleep, but the current routine has been messing my sleep for years.  Plus that, I've gotten a nice little boost in pay and that is always welcome.  Depending upon what sort of a routine I fall into with regards to my home time, I might even get ambitious and get more done with the third Stone Island Sea Story.

P.S. Finished Patrick O'Brian's The Ionian Mission last week.  Still haven't decided what I'm going to read next.

Mon, Aug. 25th, 2014, 02:55 pm
One Up, One Down!

Brent Sampson, CEO of Outskirts Press has posted the winners of the CIPA EVVY Awards.  Contrary to what was implied in the listing of finalists, all finalists did not necessarily win an award of some kind... and it looks like being listed as a finalist was as far as I got.
A bit disappointing on one hand, and still exciting to have made it that far.
On another note, a friend has started a blog featuring local authors and artists.  I'm honored to be her second featured subject.  You can see her blog here.

Wed, Aug. 20th, 2014, 03:47 pm
Exciting News!

Early this year, Outskirts Press, the fine folks I work to publish the Stone Island Sea Stories nominated Sailing Dangerous Waters: Another Stone Island Sea Story for a Colorado Independent Publishers Association (CIPA) EVVY Award.  We submitted and it has made it to the finalist stage.  If the link works correctly, scroll down and keep an eye on the center column of book covers!

It would be great to win something, but I'm excited to just get this far!

Thu, Aug. 14th, 2014, 02:13 pm
Flying Colours...Review!

As of late I've posted a couple of reviews on books outside the Age of Sail genre, and I hope they've  triggered interest in the stories and the authors.  While I'm in the mood to post, here's the next in the Hornblower series.

Flying Colours
By C. S. Forester
Reviewed by D. Andrew McChesney

            C. S. Forester ends the Captain Horatio Hornblower trilogy with Flying Colours.  Now Napoleon’s captive, Hornblower is transported from Spain’s Rosas Bay to Paris so he might be tried and executed for supposedly violating the rules of war.  Accompanied by the severely wounded Lieutenant Bush and Brown, his coxswain, a chance to escape down the river Loire arises during a cold snowy night.  When the river makes kindling of their stolen boat and spills them into the freezing water, immediate self-preservation demands they seek shelter at the nearest inhabited dwelling.  Will such action mean the loss of their new-found freedom?  Will they be forced to resume the journey to Paris and their inevitable death?
           Read more...Collapse )

Mon, Aug. 11th, 2014, 03:50 pm
Return From Armageddon: a review

Here is a short review of a short but very exciting and well-written book that I read earlier this year.
Return from Armageddon
By Sue Eller
Reviewed by D. Andrew McChesney

           In the not too distant future, all of Earth is united as the Federation of United Countries and United Peoples.  Realizing the possibility of invasion from space, Becky Johnson designs a defense system to protect the planet.  On her way to the initial activation of the system, Becky disappears and earth-changing events begin to occur.
           This small book, which can be read in a fraction of the time required for most, packs an amazing story into a relatively small package.  There is an understated but noted parallel with Biblical history and prophecy.  Many characters appear to be modern versions of those from Scripture, identified in the story by more modern contemporary names.
           The author does a marvelous job of combining Science Fiction with Biblical history and prophecy, while stirring in a bit of sarcastic humor and irony.  The final result is certainly plausible, although not what we are led to expect by traditional interpretations.
           Return to Armageddon, ISBN 9781477655726 carries a cover price of $9.00 and is available on Amazon, both in paperback and Kindle formats.

Sue is a fellow member of Spokane Authors and Self-Publishers

Fri, Aug. 8th, 2014, 02:01 pm
Necromancer Awakening, a Review

This is the first book review I've managed to write in sometime.  It's not age of sail, but I found it to be a very interesting read.  Hopefully it is short enough that I can post it without the need for a Live Journal Cut.
Necromancer Awakening
By Nat Russo
Reviewed by D. Andrew McChesney

           One would suspect a book with such a name would have a dark and foreboding tone to it, that it is a story filled with macabre death rituals and demonic sacrifices.  Death plays a part, but along the way we also glimpse celebrations of life and come to understand both life and death as part of the overall plan of existence.
           Archaeology student Nicolas Murray has strange visceral reactions whenever he is around the dead.  At funeral services for his adoptive father, the feelings become too strong, and he is transported to another world.  There his odd reactions to death translate in to abilities that he struggles to control.  As he learns to use his inherent powers, he becomes the key to that world’s ongoing political and religious conflicts.  Nicolas begins to discover who he really is and becomes aware of his true heritage.
           Through the story the reader has the privilege of accompanying Nicolas has he learns about this strange world.  Discovering a new place is easier and more effective when the main character has a background and memory closely related to those reading the tale.  Together, the reader and Nicolas meet other humans, intelligent fish-like beings, and collective colonies of predators. The reader is there with Nicolas as he learns how to raise the dead and set souls at ease: A practice that has been forbidden by those that rule.
           This was a thoroughly enjoyable and satisfying read.  Completion of this, Book One of the Mukhtaar Chronicles leaves the reader looking forward to the next installment. Necromancer Awakening by Nat Russo, ISBN 9780996005906 from Erindor Press is available on Amazon in paperback and Kindle editions, as well as at select book stores.

Sun, Aug. 3rd, 2014, 05:50 pm
Ship of the Line

As I continue through the Hornblower Saga, here is a review of the next book in line.  (I'll try to remember to put the majority of it behind an LJ cut, as with my last posted review, someone thought it was a bit too long to be posted without a cut.
Ship of the Line
By C. S. Forester
Reviewed by D. Andrew McChesney

            This is early classic Hornblower, the second novel written, and the second part of the larger Captain Horatio Hornblower trilogy.  Having salvaged some success from his recent secret mission to the Pacific, Horatio Hornblower now commands a ship of the line, HMS Sutherland (74).  His wife Maria is expecting, but Hornblower’s heart lies with his recent passenger, Lady Barbara Wellesley.  She in turn has married Rear Admiral Leighton under whose command he will soon sail.  Beyond the complications of his personal life, Hornblower’s career depends upon fully manning his ship.
           Read more...Collapse )

Sun, Jul. 27th, 2014, 05:37 pm
Continuing with the Reviews

It's been a few days since I've posted any reviews of the Hornblower books, so I suppose it is about time I did so.  Here is my take on the first Hornblower book written and published.
Beat to Quarters/The Happy Return
By C. S. Forester
Reviewed by D. Andrew McChesney

            In the early nineteenth century, Captain Horatio Hornblower voyages from England, avoiding all contact with land or other ships, and makes a perfect landfall along the Pacific coast of Central America.  His secret mission is to support a rebellion against Spain and further England’s efforts against France’s ally.  But when he arrives, he finds the rebel leader mad, and that Spain has changed sides.  These events counter the original intent of Hornblower’s orders.  Having already captured a ship larger than his thirty-six gun frigate, Lydia, he is now forced to pursue and defeat Natividad again.  His life is further complicated by the presence of Lady Barbara Wellesley and the cavalier attitude of Spanish authorities in Panama.
            This story takes place a good way into Hornblower’s career, but it was the first of the series written by Forester.  Many back story details do not match those in later books covering the earlier portions of Hornblower’s life.  Beat to Quarters reads as if William Bush is serving with Hornblower for the first time.  No mention is made of them having been lieutenants in Renown, or captain and first lieutenant aboard Hotspur.  In this accounting, Hornblower had been a lieutenant, rather than a post captain during the capture of the Castilla, as later described in Hornblower and the Atropos.
            Hornblower’s age does not add up either.  He is mentioned as being thirty-seven years old, and if he was indeed born on July 4, 1776, this story would have taken place in 1813.  Yet C. S. Forester’s Hornblower Companion shows the majority of this adventure occurring in July of 1808.  This book mentions six years have passed since capturing Castilla, while more recent writings suggest that Hornblower went directly from commanding Atropos to captaining Lydia.
            These discrepancies can be attributed to Forester writing the Hornblower books in non chronological order.  They were not written in order of his career, but were penned at various times to fill gaps existing in the over all story.  The author appears to have been developing the story over the entire time it was being written.
            These are minor complaints regarding an excellent story.  As always, Forester’s writing is clear, precise, and a pleasure to read.  Written in the 1930s, it reflects the style and sentiment of an earlier time.  Profanity and graphic detail are nearly non-existent, and much of the narration is from a greater distance than is currently acceptable.  While some readers might be offended by national and racial stereotyping, it is relatively mild and simply reflects the time in which the story was written.  Perhaps it also is indicative of the time in which it is set.
            It is the creation of the complex character known as Horatio Hornblower in which Forester excels.  Here is an individual who comes across, not as a hero, sure of his abilities, but as one with perhaps more than his share of human frailties.  Despite his intelligence and bravery, Hornblower cannot see himself as others do.  It is his fear of failure, his feeling that he is unworthy, that drives him to achieve the impossible.  Even then, success is not a mark of accomplishment, but a sign of survival.  Hornblower’s inability to see his true worth makes him that much more human.  Therefore he does not come across as a larger than life character, but as one whom nearly everyone can identify with.
            Beat to Quarters/The Happy Return is the first part of a three part series, usually referred to as Captain Horatio Hornblower.  It was soon followed by Ship of the Line and Flying Colours.  Those three stories were combined in the early 1950s movie Captain Horatio Hornblower, starring Gregory Peck and Virginia Mayo.  As it usually happens, many details of the story were changed in producing the movie.  A few characters exist in the film that did not appear in print, even though scenes can often be identified and crossed from one version to the next.  A notable characteristic of the film is that about three-quarters of it deal with events from the first of the three books.  These events are covered in great if not always exacting detail.  The last portion of the movie basically provides a visual synopsis of the remainder of the overall story.  Ship of the Line and Flying Colours are pretty much glossed over as the film winds its way to a conclusion.
            Unlike past reviews of C. S. Forester’s Hornblower books, this reviewer did not note any technical problems regarding the author’s descriptions of vessels or weaponry.  If any existed, it may have escaped attention due to a more concentrated search for inconsistencies between this and other stories of the Hornblower saga.
            As the United States of America prepares to celebrate its 235th Anniversary, let all those who appreciate the character of Horatio Hornblower prepare to celebrate his Birthday as well.  We might all wonder at C. S. Forester’s motivation in designating July 4, 1776 as the date of birth for his most famous character, but regardless of his reasons, Happy Birthday USA, and Happy Birthday Horatio Hornblower!
           This reviewer considers himself to be quite fortunate in having copies of the three earliest Hornblower books dating from the time of first publication.  They can not with certainty be said to be first editions, and their physical condition is such that they are probably not of any great value.  Yet they are old enough to give Copyright dates of 1938 and 1939.  Nor do they list any ISBN or Library of Congress information.
(Note: This review was originally written just before Independence Day (US) a couple of years ago.)

FYI...finished reading Sue Eller's Meadowlark Madness last week.  Now reading (again) Patrick O'Brian's The Ionian Mission.

Sun, Jul. 20th, 2014, 07:59 am
Signing Success!

Held the first of several book signings yesterday at a local Hastings Entertainment store.  And I do mean local.  It's within (long) walking distance of home.  I was glad that our weather had cooled off a bit as the building's air conditioning system had gone out.  Inside it was at the edge of being uncomfortably warm, and I was anxious to finish up and get into the new vehicle and crank up the air!

I spent the first half of my stint watching people walk in and for the most part, head to the video section of the store.  A few would nod or say, "hi." and that was about it.   One lady took note of and comment favorably regarding the two original paintings on display... the original cover art for both books.  Then another woman stopped by, asked some questions and borrowed a copy of Beyond the Ocean's Edge to show to a relative elsewhere in the store.  She returned a few minutes later and had me sign it.  Success!  Here one concern seemed to be finding a book that was relatively "clean" in terms of language and themes.  I told her it did contain certain elements and a few words that some might find objectionable, but that it certainly wasn't loaded with them, and that I wouldn't have been able to tell the story I wanted to tell without delving into those themes or using the words in question.

After another spell of people watching, a gentleman came by and purchased a copy of Beyond the Ocean's Edge as well.  He had stopped by earlier to ask what I was doing there, evidently unfamiliar with the idea of an author being in the store to sign copies of his books.  By then my usual stay was about up but I decided to remain for an extra half hour.  That nearly passed before another individual came by and had me sign copies of both books.  Turned out that he is a big Hornblower and Master and Commander fan.  That should certainly put him in the group of folks that my work is intended for.

Signing and selling four books may not seem like a big deal to some, especially when we hear of authors with lines formed so people can buy and have copies signed... when we hear of the entire on hand stock being sold out in a matter of minutes.  But for me, four books is a personal best, and for this particular signing I had not done much in the way of publicity or advertising.  I think I'd mentioned it here a couple days ago, and I did put it on Facebook and directly on Twitter.  Locally the most I'd done was to make up flyers that the store in question posted and that I posted at work.  For the next events I'll have to see about getting them listed in the local paper and other event listings.  It does seem that doing so doesn't always make that big a difference.  I've done it before and on one or two occasions had absolutely no success.  My thought is that it really depends on who happens to come it the store while one is there doing a signing, more so than it does on how much publicity is generated for the event.

There is also the possibility that an event like I had yesterday will generate sales in other areas... passing out business cards with a link to my web-site might get someone to by on Kindle or Nook.

Anyway, after sitting in the hot and stuffy store for two and a half hours, I packed up and went home, having first brought in replacement copies for those that had sold, and having collected the payout for those that did.  All in all a profitable two and a half hours.

P. S. Finished reading Sue Eller's Meadowlark Madness last week. It's a really neat book, combining elements of "who done it" with science fiction, and a very unique and easy to read voice.  Sue is a local Spokane author and fellow member of Spokane Authors and Self-Publishers.  The book is available on Amazon if anyone is interested or curious about it.  Hopefully I'll get a review written and posted one of these days... but I say that about a number of books I've read recently, and it seems I just don't get to that point.

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