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Mon, Aug. 24th, 2015, 03:34 am
Smoke, SASQUAN, and Vacation

Normally at this exact instant I would be at work and starting to clean the tennis courts.  I took a bit of vacation over this past weekend and won't be going back to work until this evening/tomorrow morning.  Other than just wanting some time off, I scheduled my vacation to correspond with the the Science Fiction/Fantasy World Con or SASQUAN, held this year, right here in Spokane.  My original thought was to sign up ahead of time and go everyday, but I opted to go just once on a one day membership.  I suppose part of it had to do with needing to switch from my night time hours to normal day time hours and then back again.  I arranged the vacation so that when I got off Wednesday morning, I would not have to be back to work until Monday evening.  I go up a little earlier each day and by Saturday I was up at mid morning.  I spent the afternoon down town at the Convention Center at World Con.

Primarily ended up hanging around the dealer area, looking at various products, and eventually buying a few things.  Nice to be able to say I was there.  As I drove downtown I was a bit worried about finding a parking space, but there was no problem.  The lot next to Auntie's Bookstore was wide open as it usually is.  Then I realized that the vast majority of folks attending SASQUAN were from out of town and would have flown in.  Those that drove would probably have parked at their respective hotels, so regular parking wouldn't have been all that much affected.  Anyway, upon arriving, I decided to take a quick tour in Auntie's before heading over to the convention center.  Being the first time I'd been there since it was released in mass market paperback I decided to look for jpsorrow 's Shattering the Ley.  Discovered one copy on the shelf, which is now in my possession.  Also noticed a copy of one of his earlier Throne of Amenkor books there as well.

I believe everyone is aware that a lot of wild fires are burning in North Central, Northeast Washington.  Friday, we couldn't help but notice, as the smoke hung in the air life a fog.  At times,the sun was just a red dot in the sky,and at other times the smoke was thick enough that the sun disappeared.  All one could smell was smoke, and many could tell that it was having an effect on their breathing.  I know I could.  Saturday the wind shifted, clearing the air to a great extent.
Same pic as I posted a few days ago.  Friday the smoke was a lot denser that this.  Trees at the end of the street would have appeared to be in a haze.

I managed to get a few other things done over the course of my extended time off.  Friday, despite the smoke, I hauled a bunch of used engine oil to the local station for disposal.  Based on how much I took that time and how much I have left, I figure it'll take two more trips to get the garage emptied of the stuff.  It dates back to when I did all my own oil changes.  I'd keep bottling the old oil in the containers the new came in, but wouldn't get around to taking it anywhere.  Back then I was running both of my Corvairs, and I probably changed oil a bit more religiously in them that in newer vehicles.  I also used to do oil changes in Eva's car and as well in my newer vehicle... at that time the Suzuki Sidekick.  Thus, it didn't take long to accumulate a great deal of it.  Since Eva got her newer vehicle a few years ago, she'd started taking it to the dealer for changes, and after I discovered how much of a problem it was to change the oil on Jessica's Suzuki SX4, I just started taking mine and hers to the station for changes.  And without the Corvairs around anymore, I just don't do much if any automotive work.

Sunday afternoon I got the yard mowed and trimmed, even though the smoke was back a bit heavier than it had been on Saturday.  Didn't get all the trimming done as the trimmer ran out of string and I was not in the mood to go get more.  I'll pick up some during the week and finish that up next weekend.

Hope everyone had a great weekend, whether it was of normal length or extended length.

Mon, Aug. 24th, 2015, 02:18 am
Alternate Why I Write

I forgot about this.  Over a year ago, members of Spokane Authors and Self-Publishers talked about why they write.  These are the notes I used for my portion of that presentation.  I suppose that here I look at the question from a different point of view.   Also bear in mind that these were written as a guide for me while making an oral presentation and thus may not be all that smooth.

Why I write…
Age of Sail/ Naval Adventure, touched with a slight Science Fiction/Alternate World aspect.

Quasi-Historical, Nautical Fiction has those things I’m interested in… the technology, the history, the people… things I’ve been fascinated with nearly all my life.
Memory serves up two things that may have sparked that interest, or indeed may have come about as a result of that interest.

(ONE) A pen and ink drawing of USS Constitution, “Old Ironsides.”  It was done by a friend of my Grandparents during the 1930s when the famous ship was in Puget Sound during its tour of both coasts.  Grandpa framed it and gave it to me when I was in third or fourth grade.

(TWO) A story entitled “Capture At Sea” that was published in the children’s magazine, Jack and Jill, and which I read (repeatedly) in early grade school.

In high school I discovered the Horatio Hornblower stories by C. S. Forester.  After reading a number of these, I came up with a story idea that has grown to become the Stone Island Sea Stories.

The Science Fiction/Alternate World bit?  It was a solution to a problem I faced.  Originally the island was to have been very small, something one could walk across in less than a day.  As time went on and the story emerged, and as ideas for future stories made their presence known, I had to keep making the island bigger.  Finally it got so large that its absence from the map could no longer be excused because it was small and had never been discovered or charted.  One day while sitting in a squadron space on the 0-3 level of USS Constellation, right below the flight deck, and as far aft as one could go, the thought struck me:  “What if the island isn’t in this world?”  Once I decided to go that route, I realized that I had a great deal more freedom in writing and telling the story.

Sun, Aug. 23rd, 2015, 05:29 am
Why I Write

Why I Write

           Should you ever wonder why writers write and think about it for more than a second and a half, you might realize there is a different answer for every writer that is, was, or ever will be.  Every writer has his or her own unique set of reasons and motivations for writing.  That means I can only answer or attempt to answer for myself.
           If asked why, I would say because I enjoy it.  It’s fun.  I like being creative.  I like the process and the challenge.  Eventually, I usually like the results.  For me and many others, I believe writing is an outgrowth of reading.  Rarely do you find a writer who is not an avid if not voracious reader.  Much of what I write is based on, influenced by, or inspired by what I read.
           Writers also write for reward.  It may be for a sense of self accomplishment, and/or recognition by others.  Position and prestige as a writer certainly enter into the equation.  For me, one of the greatest enjoyments of writing is sharing my work with others.  When I do, my first hope is that people enjoy it and find it entertaining.  If readers learn something, that’s great, and if they are persuaded or convinced of something, that’s an added bonus.  If I primarily wrote something besides fiction, I might revise the order of those effects.
           People also write for material gain… for money.  Some earn a living, or generously supplement other income sources through writing.  But writing for money, especially writing fiction for money is not always that lucrative of a venture.  It’s a good bet that the typical mid-list fiction author has a day job or some other source of steady reliable income.  This comes in handy when book sales aren’t as brisk as hoped, royalty checks are smaller and less frequent than expected, or the advance on a new book doesn’t carry as far to the left of the decimal point as it should.
           We’ve all heard stories of writers who come out of nowhere while their books shoot to the top of the best-seller lists.  Six months or a year ago, these individuals may have been dodging bill collectors, engaging in creative financing, and possibly facing eviction or foreclosure.  Now they can afford to purchase any and everything they could want.  It’s a nice dream and one that has no doubt entertained nearly every writer at some point.  While I admit that this ideal has passed through my brain, I realize it isn’t practical.  The more common sense ideal is to someday break even, to one day get back from writing and publishing efforts, all that I have, and all that I am putting into them.
           And yes, I’m one of those writers with a day job.  (It’s called that even though I currently work a night shift.)  At this time I plan to retire in less than two years and use some of the available time for writing and publishing projects.  Anything earned would supplement my other retirement incomes.  If writing allows me to keep gas in my truck, beer in the fridge, and take my lovely wife to dinner now and then, I’ll pretty much be satisfied.

Talking about creating and developing charactors at the May meeting of Spokane Authors and Self-Publishers

Fri, Aug. 21st, 2015, 03:03 am
Chapter Seven

Mentioned the other day that I'm back into the third Stone Island Sea Story... tentatively titled Darnahsian Pirates.  Anyway, finished up chapter seven and thought I'd share it.  It's still a bit rough, especially the recent part.  I've bolded the beginning of what I've just written.  I can't say for sure, but there just might be some spoilers in here.
BTW, it's about 4300 words.

            The evening passed quietly aboard HMS Island Expedition.  Everyone remained below and out of the rain, except those keeping watch on deck and aloft.  Replacements went up at regular intervals.  Forward, the hands gathered around the galley stove, drying off and warming up.  Aft, the officers crowded the great cabin, made toasty by a small brazier and the several bodies in the small space.
            At the camboose, men talked, joked, and laughed.  One crewman retrieved his fiddle and played a tune.  Some sang along, off-key but spirited.  An extra ration of rum had been issued and coffee simmered on the stove.  Hot water was also available for those preferring tea or chocolate.  All the while, the cook and his mate kept a copper boiling with the oatmeal variation know as burgoo.  On this strangely quiet night, it was available as needed or wanted.
            The officers talked amongst themselves in the great cabin aft.  Those that desired it made the trip forward for coffee or other hot drinks.  Some, wanting something more substantial partook of the hot breakfast cereal, even though morning was at the opposite end of the day.  In the confines of officer domain, stronger drink was not rationed, and a bottle of wine and one of brandy sat open on the table.  Four played at cards to pass the time.
           Deal "em!Collapse )

Sun, Aug. 16th, 2015, 03:07 am
Book Review: Saving Tir Gaeltacht

Saving Tir Gaeltacht

By Kate Poitevin

Reviewed by D. Andrew McChesney

         On a summer camping trip, four children go on a dragon hunt with their grandmother.  When a portal opens, they step through and immediately meet… a dragon.  Thus begins the adventures of Taylor, Jordan, Zach and Zayne in the magical world of Tir Gaeltacht.  That Celtic based world is in great danger and Taylor is expected to save it.  Later joined by their cousin Gabe, they pair up with the dragon, a Gryffin, a flying horse, a giant Wolfe, and a white stag.  With the help of people they meet, they set about rescuing the land from the evil queen’s clutches.
         I remember, as an elementary student, teachers reading stories to the class, a little every day, usually as class resumed after lunch.  This is the ideal story to read in such fashion.  It is long and complex enough to last for an entire semester, if not the entire school year.  Third graders and beyond would find it exciting to visit the world Ms. Poitevin creates each and every day.  Because I read on my lunch break, I digested this tale took in much the same way, a little bit each day.  As I progressed through the story, I found myself not wanting to put it down and anxiously awaiting my next reading session.  Although I was anxious for the plot to be resolved, I did not want the story to end.
         Besides being an exciting story, Ms. Poitevin weaves in a great deal of Celtic/Gaelic culture, customs, and legend.  Saving Tir Gaeltacht is available from amazon.com in hardcopy and on Kindle™.  It is also available in select Spokane area book stores and from the author herself.  

Sun, Aug. 16th, 2015, 12:26 am
Cornfield County

Some of you might remember Buck Owens and Roy Clark and HEE HAW, with the setting in mythical "Cornfield County."
Anyway, my better half, Eva planted a little bit of corn in the back yard this summer.  She's harvested some already, the ears being about half the size of what you'd normally expect.  But as is so often the case, the flavor is excellent... all the nutrients went into taste, rather than size.


Sat, Aug. 15th, 2015, 04:23 am
A Bit of This/A Bit of That

Mentioned in the last post that I'd finished reading Kate Poitevin's Saving Tir Gaeltacht.  Still need to write a review, but figure that will happen this weekend.  Now reading PO'B's The Nutmeg of Consolation, and have noticed an apparent and somewhat consistent error or typo.  It's my understanding, being one from the US, that in the UK a person's, and presumably an animal's weight is referenced in stone.  Or is an animal's weight given as score?  Anyway there are a couple of places within the first quarter of the story in which Stephen has shot a wild pig as food for the stranded crew, and estimates the weight or size of the beast as so many score.  I just wonder if stone wasn't for some reason changed to score, perhaps by someone who wasn't aware of the usage... perhaps if being set up as a US edition?  Or am I incorrect in assuming that stone would reference an animal's weight as well as that of an person?  Anyway, this points out that an editor needs to be familiar with the genre, the jargon, and idioms of what he or she is editing.

I had both of the Stone Island Sea Stories published so far, edited by a professional working with the self-publishing service company I work with.  Overall, the editing was very thorough, but at times changes were recommended to make it technically and grammatically correct which would have been incorrect for the genre.

Locally, we've had a lot of hot dry weather as of late.  Officially we got to 100 degrees F earlier in the week.  Friday it was supposed to have cooled down some with the prospect of some thunderstorms.  I was a bit cooler by comparison, but turned windy.  A lot of dust blowing around in the upper atmosphere.  Here's a shot taken around 4 or 5 in the afternoon.  In real life the sun was much redder than it appears in the photo.

Yeah, I know it's the same view that's been in many other pics I've put on here.  Handy though, to step out the front door and look west.

Finally, most of you might remember that I started working on the third Stone Island Sea Story some time ago.  For a long time now I just haven't been able to do much with it.  While I have often made the excuse that I'm focusing more on marketing the first two books, truth is, the creativity just hasn't been there.  I haven't had the times at work while sweeping tennis courts or vacuuming where my mind wanders to the story... which is when I actually figure out what I want to write.  Instead, I end planning posts, car club and writing group newsletters, possible presentations, and sometimes silently ranting against those things that piss me off.  Anyway, a couple of nights ago, the story, and Edward Pierce, and Evangeline, and all clicked back in to focus.  I don't know if it was because I was in a good mood...Hisashi Iwakuma had just pitched a no-hitter for the Seattle Mariners, and I'd enjoyed my lunch hour reading session, in spite of the apparent discrepancy mentioned above.  Anyway, over the course of the second half of my shift, my mind kept going back to the story/work in progress.  I've got a more indepth idea of how to finish the chapter I've been in the middle of, seemingly forever.  Add to that, I have a much better idea of how to proceed from there.  I'm back to imaging actual scenes, conversations, coincidences, and the like.  So when I got home that morning I actually sat at the computer and wrote a little bit more in that current chapter.  I doubt if it was anything more than a half page or so, but it is so much more than I've done in ages, and it's a start to finally completing the third book.  Now, if I can just keep the creativity flowing.


Sun, Aug. 9th, 2015, 04:21 am
A Social Media Puzzle

I think most of you know that I'm also on Twitter and Facebook.  I enjoy being on those sites and interacting with people... which I suppose is why they refer to it as "social media."  One thing does have me a bit bewildered, and that had to do with Facebook.
Before I get to the meat of the situation, let me explain that at one time I had no use for Facebook.  I thought it was a waste of time, until I published my first book.  I began hearing that an author should be on Facebook in order to connect with readers, and dare I say, "fans."  Not being all that social media/tech savvy, I enlisted my daughter (the household computer genius) to help get me started.  Well, as soon as we established an account we went right ahead and set it up as a Page.  I know one is supposed to have a "profile" before one can do anything else, and I suppose I have one somewhere... but all I really wanted was the Page, and that's all I can readily access.  In reality that's no problem as I wanted to be on Facebook in relationship to my writing and my books.  And in that respect everything is fine.  For the most part I can do with the page what I want to do.

In fact the puzzle has nothing to do with apparently having only a page, but rather with how other's respond to it.  In the time that I have had the page, I have liked (as my Page) many other pages.  These Likes include authors, writers, books, publishers, bookstores, special interest groups, historical and military organizations, and more.  At the same time a small but growing number of individuals (and organizations) have liked my page.  I appreciate each and every like my page has received.  But I am puzzled as to why so many who have Pages, choose to like my Page as their personal profile, rather than as their respective Pages...even those folks who via Twitter invite me to like their Pages.  I do, and in return they like mine as their profile.

There's nothing wrong in that, and one or two have liked my page both as a profile and as a page.  I'm simply curious and would enjoy seeing any answers anyone would care to provide.  You can of course respond here or on Facebook or Twitter, as this will end up crossposted on both.

Last week I finished reading Saving Tir Gaeltacht by Kate Poitevin.  It's an amazing story and I hope to write a review of it soon.  Not sure what I'll read next.


Sun, Aug. 2nd, 2015, 05:32 am
A Wet and Wild Ride

Here's something I wrote a couple of months ago as editor of the Rear Engine Review, the newsletter for the Inland Northwest Corvair Club.  I thought one or two of you might enjoy it if I was to post it here!

(my 1962 Corvair Rampside pick-up... on its way to a new home and owner.)

            This month I’m going to give you a break from constantly lamenting my tardiness in getting the current issue of the Rear Engine Review out.  Instead, I’ll try your patience with a discourse on driver visibility.
          Back in the days when I drove a Corvair on a daily basis, one of the things I appreciated was the excellent visibility I had from the driver’s seat.  Forward vision was great, but I really appreciated the view to the sides and the rear of the vehicle.  A year or so ago when I first bought the Nissan Frontier, I was struck by how much more restrictive the view is, other than out the windshield.

(my 1965 Corvair Monza Coupe... on the tow dolly, also headed for a new home and owner.)
             A part of that reduced visibility is due to the incorporation of numerous safety items.  Door pillars and window posts are thicker.  They are padded, and in the newest vehicles contain side impact air bags.  Perhaps it is the height I sit at, but even the outside rearview mirror blocks my sight line when I’m making a left turn.  My belief is that the mirror could be mounted three or four inches lower and still be just as effective.

          The view out the back window or rear side windows is hampered by the presence of head rests at all main seating positions.  Glancing in the mirror to check the view usually results in a close up inspection of said headrests.

(newly purchased 2014 Nissan Frontier.  '65 Corvair sitting in the garage.)

          When I first bought the Frontier, I felt much like a dog with one of those cones over its head… the ones used to keep the animal from getting to stitches.  Visibility wise, I felt very restricted.  A part of that might also be from the fact that I had always installed one of those four or five section “Wink”™ mirrors in my vehicles.  The extra wide field of view they afford makes overall situational awareness that much easier.  I’ve always felt safer and more aware of what is beside me or behind me when using those mirrors.  To tell the truth, I wonder why they aren’t standard equipment on today’s vehicles.  And yet, I am discovering that they are getting harder to find.  It used to be one could go into a typical parts store and find three section, four section, or five section mirrors, plus alternative mounting kits and accessories.
          As I sold off and cleaned out my Corvairs, I did find a four section unit that I had used in a previous vehicle.  I’m toying with the idea of cleaning it up, finding some mounting hardware and installing it in the Frontier.  Even with the plethora of head rests occupying the cabin, such a mirror should make rearward visibility a bit better.

Sat, Aug. 1st, 2015, 11:48 pm
A Wet and Wild Ride

My cousin sent this video by e-mail.
It depicts two commercial fishing boats crossing the bar at the mouth of the Columbia River... one of the most dangerous river entrances in the world.  These boats are especially equipped to handle these conditions.  The Coast Guard has barred others from attempting the run as several people are killed each year.


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