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Sat, Feb. 6th, 2016, 05:50 am
A New Web-Site

A fellow Spokane Author and Self-Publisher just constructed a web-site.  I hope you will visit Chuck Lehman and check out his books.  Here are the covers of two of his books.  (More available on the site.)


PS: I'm currently reading The Virgin of the Wind Rose by Glen Craney.  I'm about a quarter of the way through it and am finding it to be a very exciting read!

Sat, Jan. 23rd, 2016, 03:34 am
Mr. Inky: Spider With An Attitude, a Review

A fellow member (and in fact President) of Spokane Authors and Self-Publishers writes children's stories.  I think we exchanged copies of books a couple of years ago, and I've recently read and enjoyed this one.
         Vicky Wyatt’s reaction when she sees a spider in her room is natural.  She’s going to kill it.  However, this spider is unusual and in order to save his live, reveals to Vicky that he can talk.  His gamble pays off and he is spared.  Mr. Inky, as he is later named develops a sometimes cantankerous relationship with Vicky.
         Larger problems result for the fifth grader because no one believes her story about a talking spider.  She eventually has to see the school counselor and in an attempt to calm things down says she made the whole thing up.  But when she takes Mr. Inky to school for a science project, things get out of hand and Mr. Inky is forced to speak in front of the entire class in order to protect Vicky.
         This was a fun read, a book that while written for elementary school age readers, is entertaining for those of any age.  Most notable is the way in which the author captures the feel of being in the fifth grade.  That brought back a number of memories, and in itself recommends this book for all.
         Mr. Inky: Spider with an Attitude is available in several Spokane area bookstores.

I don't think it's available on line, but if you are interested, I can probably put you in touch with Esther.


Sat, Jan. 16th, 2016, 04:45 am
One More of He-Lo

Almost two weeks since He-Lo unexpectedly left us.  I'll post one or two more pics of him and then get back to posting more stuff on writing, etc.

He-Lo wanted to take a "selfie" but needed me to operate the phone/camera!

He-Lo stepping on to the door of his cage.  He'd rattle it from inside when he was ready to get up and come out in the morning.

Mon, Jan. 11th, 2016, 07:37 am
A Week Later

A solid week now since our little feathered friend passed away.  Have to say, we are still missing him.  The house is quiet... to quiet.

Anyway, here are a couple more pics of He-Lo.

He-Lo with Jessica, his favorite human!

A coffee mug makes a nice perch... and gives some indication of size. (This pic taken a year ago today!)

Hope all of you who have pets or "companion animals" cherish them.

Tue, Jan. 5th, 2016, 05:06 pm
And Suddenly He's Gone!

After a quiet celebration of Christmas, the New Year, and the daughter's birthday, (Jessica was a New Year's Baby) we were looking forward to getting back into the usual routine of life.  Sunday afternoon, I'm sleeping, having remained on my overnight work schedule for the weekend.  Eva comes home from work, it's her lunch hour, and wakes me up in a panic, saying, "the bird is gone."
We look around and she finally finds him under the Christmas Tree, listliss, lethargic, and not at all well.  After some calling, trying to find a vet that's open and handles small birds, we set off to Post Falls, Idaho, where the nearest available medical services are.  It's snowing and the roads are not in the best of shape, but we are doing fine, other than a slow down for an accident about half way there.
Folks at the emergency vet clinic are very nice and we figure out that he must have flown into something and crushed or broken bones in his chest, making it difficult to breath.  He wasn't getting enough oxygen, so acted almost as if he was drunk or about ready to pass out.  He needed to be in an incubator, something that would help him breath easier, but the nearest was in Pullman, at the WSU vet school.
Because of my upcoming work shift, I drop Eva and He-Lo and Jessica's and they head to Pullman.  I come home to get a bite to eat at get ready to go to work.
He doesn't make it.  They are about half way there when he gives it up and is no more.

Now, the house seems so empty.  So much of our daily routines involved or revolved around the bird.  I'd come home in the morning and after a few minutes I'd hear him rattling the cage door to be let out for the day.  As I sat and read the paper, had a drink of some kind and a snack, he'd want a taste of what I was eating.

Jessica e-mailed some pics she had of him on her phone, and I'll include a couple here, and quite possibly add some more now and then over the next few weeks.

He no longer has to sing, "Somewhere Over the Rainbow," but can now fly over it any time he wants!

Wed, Dec. 30th, 2015, 08:05 am
A Parrot In (front of) a Xmas Tree

He-Lo the Quaker (Monk) Parrot on Christmas Day!  Hasn't learned to say "Merry Christmas," but at random will wish any and all, "Happy Birthday!" as well as ask for Pizza, say "thank you," and a few other things.  Also attempts to sing "Somewhere Over the Rainbow!"

Fri, Dec. 25th, 2015, 02:45 pm

It doesn't happen every year, but as we celebrate Christmas 2015, the ground is covered in snow!  In the past couple of weeks we've had more snow than we had all last winter.  Fitting, I suppose for the town where Bing Crosby grew up.

(From our porch, looking to the west, at about 2 pm, Christmas Day)

(About 120 degrees to the left. The view to the southeast. Eva shovelled a path for the postman!)

(View from the street)

Except for driving, and primarily because of some of the clowns on the road, I've always liked the snow.  No matter what the thermometer says, there is a certain warmth, a particular peacefulness to a snowy landscape (or cityscape).  And for one born and raised in Fairbanks, Alaska until my sixth year, Christmas just isn't Christmas without it!
Merry Christmas everybody!

Thu, Dec. 24th, 2015, 09:01 am
Merry Christmas! Happy New Year!

Depending upon where you are on the planet, Christmas is here or fast approaching.  I thought I'd include the one celebration of Christmas mentioned in the Stone Island Sea Stories.  Following is an excerpt from Chapter Eleven of Sailing Dangerous Waters: Another Stone Island Sea Story... "A Holiday Interlude."  As they are in the southern hemisphere the day is celebrated as a communal picnic.

             On Saturday the twenty-second of December, Pierce considered not allowing the hands the usual Sunday routine.  Instead, he might push them through that day as well, and get a little more work done on the schooner.  Doing so would not be welcome amongst the crew, and he normally prided himself on being cognizant of the men’s needs.  Even so, the question remained on his mind for a good part of the morning.  Restlessly he checked his watch, nearly six bells in the forenoon watch.  A bit more than an hour remained until noon and dinner for all hands.  He would arrive at a final choice by then.
            Some minutes before the eleven o’clock bells sounded, a young crewman arrived, breathing hard, having run from the quay and the makeshift signal tower there.  “Mr. Spencer’s compliments, sir!” he said, struggling to catch his breath.
            “Yes!  Yes!  What is it?”  Pierce was impatient.
            “I’m to say, sir, that a ship has been sighted, entering the bay.  The lookout on the hill just signaled, sir.”
            “Can you tell me more?”
            Somewhat recovered from his run, but nervous at being face to face with his lately cantankerous captain, the lad thought desperately for a long minute.  Pierce forced himself to be patient.  Finally the crewman recovered his wits enough to say, “the ship flies the White Star.  Doctor ‘R’ is aboard.”
            Doctor Robertson!  God, thought Pierce, it would be good to see that man of medicinal miracles and diplomatic success again.  “Thank you, lad,” he said.  “You may tell Mr. Spencer I have the message.  Have a drink at the scuttlebutt first.  As it is fast becoming very warm, you need not bother running on your return.”
            “Aye, sir!  Thank you, sir!”
            Six bells sounded and Pierce went in search of Lieutenant Hotchkiss.  He found him deep in the bowels of the schooner.  Hotchkiss was soaked through with sweat, having been in the airless hot interior for hours, supervising the installation of added bracing and stiffeners.  There for only a matter of minutes, Pierce felt his clothes rapidly growing damp as well.
            “Mr. Hotchkiss!”
            “Aye, sir?” he replied warily, accustomed by now to the cross-grained temper exhibited of late by his friend and captain.
            “Following the afternoon watch, Mr. Hotchkiss, all hands to be in a liberty status, other than those of the defaulters division!”
            “Aye aye, sir!”
            “Rope yarn or make and mend tomorrow, as well, I think.”
            “Aye, sir.  All hands again come Monday, sir?”
            “No, I think not, Mr. Hotchkiss.  We will go with watch on deck only, through Wednesday, Tuesday being Christmas.  Perhaps some will desire to celebrate.”
            “Aye, sir.”
            “I believe, Isaac, that Mrs. Packingham and other ladies of the colony have a feast in the works.  With nothing but coffee, eggs, toast, and cold suppers, I look forward to it.”
            “As do I,” replied Isaac Hotchkiss, who wondered at this sudden change in Pierce’s temper.
            “And lest I forget, we have just received word of a ship arriving, bearing the estimable Doctor Robertson!”
            “That answers that.”
            “Your pardon, Isaac?” questioned Pierce.  “No, I grasp your meaning.  Perhaps the good Doctor’s pending arrival is already working a cure for my dark state.”

            This was the third Christmas celebrated during Island Expedition’s voyage and the second since their arrival on the island.  For Pierce, it was his first here, having spent the previous year’s feast, amiably detained in Brunswick, New Guernsey.  While he understood perfectly well the effects of being in the Southern Hemisphere, it felt strange to mark the occasion of the Lord’s Birth on a warm and sunny summer’s day.  He held long cherished childhood memories of dampness and cold, perhaps even the fall of snow, and the warmth of family, a roaring fire, and a sumptuous meal inside.
           Continue the Yule CelebrationCollapse )
            “He would stay for the same reasons many of us are so anxious to return home.”  Pierce said, allowing an image of Evangeline to form in his mind.  “I do see the point of our delay.  Yet once we have done our duty to the Joint Council and the Unity Congress, gentlemen, Island Expedition will be England bound.”

Christmas Eve, last year.  White tree, white lights and the huge mirror above the fireplace!
Merry Christmas Everybody!

Sun, Dec. 20th, 2015, 05:34 am
Rudimentary Self-Publishing

At first thought I was going to call this, "Self-Publishing Basics."  That doesn't work as this isn't a "how to" post.  Better, I suppose to go with "Basic Self-Publishing."  But as I begin, I realize that what I'm doing and what I want to talk about is really a rudimentary form of Self-Publishing... hence the title of this post.

Anyway, yesterday I mentioned that I was sharing a Short (Science Fiction) Stone Island Sea Story for any that might want to read it.  I put up a link to my web-site where you can find it, and as well I've e-mailed it to a number of folks on my contact list.  At the same time I'm busy printing out copies to send to those who I do not have electronic contact with... as noted last post I'm sending it in lieu of cards or a family newsgram.

Usually when we think of self-publishing, we realize that at some point, the professionals get involved.  We might sign on with a self-publishing service and assistance company to do the truly complex work for us.  At the very least we go to Kindle, Nook, or other on-line publishing and marketing firms to get out work out to the masses.  We quite often hire professional editors, cover designers, cover artists, pursue ISBNs copyright registration and so on, trying to produce a book that is truly equal to those from the traditional publishers.

In this case I have no intention of producing anything marketable or even of selling it.  It's a gift, something to send to family, friends, and perhaps a few others.  While I could have posted, e-mailed, and printed out copies of it in manuscript format, I wanted something a little different, something that at least imitated a published book.

Okay!  No problem!  Change the orientation from portrait to landscape and give the page two columns.  Change the font and font size to something that resembles a typical printed book while justifying both sides of the text.  Now I'm not real good at headers and footers, so my first thought was to leave fairly wide top and bottom margins and print the text on one pass.  I planned to use a second document with narrower top and bottom margins and just put headers and footers (page numbers) on it.  I'd rerun the already printed pages on the other document to include the page numbers and other stuff.  Now I could probably have used the computer to generate that stuff, even with the fact that I would now have two pages per sheet of paper.  (Four if you count both sides of the page.)  And for the e-mailed and posted copies there wouldn't have been that much of a problem as they stay in numerical order.  But to print it as a pamphlet, one must alter the order of pages so that when it's all done it can be stapled with in the middle of the page and folded over to create a little booklet.  I suppose I was a bit intimidated by the prospect of trying to convince the computer that it should allow page 24 to the left of page 1 on the first sheet, and on the back of the sheet, page 2 and page 23, and so on.

Ended up setting narrow top and bottom margins, spacing down two lines and then putting the header in as a part of the text.  At the bottom I moved the bottom two lines to the next page and then went back and added the page number.  That way, as I created the print version, I could move the entire page and page numbers, headers, etc wouldn't disappear or show up where they weren't wanted.  Then of course I had to figure out the correct sequence for the pages.  (I used to do the Inland Northwest Corvair Club's Rear Engine Review) like that so I had a basic idea of how to do it.  Usually though, I'l draw a little diagram, much like you are looking at a book end on, with the pages tending to fly up or close.  Then I can number the pages in order and see just how the relate and what order they should be in.  Normally the last page will be on the left hand side of the first sheet, and the first to it's right.  As pages count up, 1, 2, 3, etc, they will alternate from left to right.  Meanwhile they'll alternate on each sheet with the last page, next to the last, etc, zig-zagging through the document in descending order.  24, 23, 22, 21, and so on.  Hopefully it will end up with final page meeting in the middle.  With this project, pages 12 and 13 are on the final sheet.  Then it's just a matte of having a long armed stapler, which I do, stapling and folding them.

I'm also using colored paper for the "cover," and I was trying to print a number of copies at one time.  Great, except I'd get the count or sheets wrong and the colored sheet would end up as an internal page.  Ended up doing one copy at at time and loading one sheet of colored paper on top of the white, each time I started a copy.

So in this case I guess I'm the author, the publisher, and the printer.  Maybe even the distributor?  Not going to mention "wholesaler" because I'm not selling... I'm just sharing.

Merry Christmas, (belated) Happy Hanakkuh, Happy New Year.  Happy Holidays!

Sat, Dec. 19th, 2015, 04:30 am
Season's Greetings!

Most years I and the family attempt to send Christmas cards to family and friends.  For the past few years we've also created and sent our version of the dreaded "family newsletter."  Perhaps we are behind this year because of last month's windstorm and the eight days we were without power... hard to tell.

Anyway, I've decided that in place of cards or a family newsletter, I'd share a short story I wrote a year or so ago.  I've posted it here before, but now it's available on my web-site.  Look for "Writing" on the home page.  You should be able to click on the story there, or go to the "writing" page and click on the story.  It's called "Mr. Townsend's Chronometer."

Hope you enjoy it and that you all have a Merry Christmas, a Happy New Year, and/or a very nice Holiday Season.

P. S.  Clock face on the front is "clip-art."

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