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Mon, Aug. 20th, 2018, 11:50 am
Another Smokey Day

So yesterday the smoke did not clear up as the afternoon wore on.  According to the television news our air quality entered the hazardous region and we have been advised to remain indoors as much as possible.  Earlier this morning I found the latest reading via my phone and the number shown was considerably higher than what was quoted last evening.  When I checked a little while ago it had come down quite a bit and was comparable to yesterday's numbers.  We have a bit of a wind now and should have it into the evening.  Hopefully that will stir stuff up and move some of the smoke out of here.

Theoretically we have clear skies, but because of the smoke it's more like one of those high clouds/overcast days.  Biggest difference is that if we can make out the sun it has a reddish tint whereas if it were just water droplets in the air, it would be a light yellow or even a whitish appearing light.

Took this last evening around 6 pm, looking west from the porch.  Yes, that's the sun you can barely see in the center.  In real life it was really red.

Odd, though that will all the free time I seem to have... not wanting to be out in the smoke, and with all the time available for the computer, I don't seem to have much if any ambition for a lot of the stuff I could be doing.  I'm pretty much into a "check e-mail, check social media stuff" mode.  Have some stuff to post to the SASP web-site, and should make a bit of progress on the WIP, but...

So if the wind keeps up and clears a good portion of the smoke out of here, I might try to take Coco for his walk later today.  We didn't go this morning because of the poor air quality.  Also it should stay fairly cool today so if the air clears I might get a chance to mow the yard.  It just depends.  If not today, hopefully would be able to do so in the morning.  Again, as long as the smoke has cleared and remains clear.

That's it for now.

Sun, Aug. 19th, 2018, 11:55 am
Rambling on... and on!

Yesterday I had it planned that after Coco and I went for a walk, I'd mow the front yard and then do the hand watering.  But our layer of smoke has returned with such a vengance that I don't want to be out in it for anything more than necessary.  Even our walk this morning was a lot shorter than it usually is.  Our house is in the middle of the block and so we walked up to one corner, came back, snooped around our yard and a bit later went up to the other corner and back.  He was ready to come in, so we did.  Usually we try to go around the block... actually around two or three blocks and get a good walk in.  Just no way we were going to do that today.

This is from a few evenings ago, but basically the same effect as this morning.  This is the 2nd house to our west.

Earlier this morning, around 8 am, there was so much smoke in the air the sun was just a big orange ball.  And now as one looks off in the distance, trees more than a couple blocks away look like they are in a light mist or haze.  Even more telling, as soon as one steps outside,  he or she can instantly smell smoke.  And they say it will be with us for a few days more.

Have been working fairly steadily on the third Stone Island Sea Story.  Finished Chapter Eight and have started on Chapter Nine.  If I stay on track, should have a good portion of "Nine" done by this time next week.  If I'm really "good," I should have it finished.

Finished reading Ed Des Autel's III Minutes To XII a few days ago.  Have a new read picked out which I  have barely started.  It's called The Spy Who Jumped Off The Screen by Thomas Caplan... with an introduction by President Clinton.  (I thought the intro was very well written... whatever one's opinion of Clinton as President, as a Statesman, as a politician, he is articulate and writes with a flow and grace of words not always seen today.)

Right now I'm in a time-killing mode... the Mariner's baseball game comes on in an hour or so and I'll watch that this afternoon.  Later, perhaps I'll end up back here on the computer... maybe another post, maybe a bit more on the WIP, or...  If it's reasonably cool this evening, and if the smoke isn't all that bad, maybe, repeat maybe, I'll do some of what I'd originally planned to be doing about now.
More Next Time.

Mon, Aug. 13th, 2018, 03:13 pm
A Touch of Ambition (Maybe?)

So a little over a month ago I posted about it being nearly a year since retiring, and how it seemed I was still trying to find a routine and get back to all those things I wanted to do upon no longer having to go to work everyday.   Primarily I haven't gotten into writing on a regular basis like I'd hoped to do.  A lot of folks are looking for the third Stone Island Sea Story and it just isn't motivating along like it should be.  I don't know if it is a case of writers block, or if it is because I manage to keep busy with other stuff.  I do two monthly newsletters and try to keep up two web-sites, and I deal a bit with trying to market the two books I have written and published, so I tell myself that I just don't get to the writing like I'd like.  But a lot of that is a bunch of crap... I end up spending two much time watching TV or on Social Media, or just plain surfing the web...

The "Office!"  Messy enough, I suppose that I can claim to be at least a little creative.
As I wrote that last post about being retired for nearly a year, my thought was to consider the past year as an adjustment period and as I enter the second year of not working, to get back to work on the writing.  So I am once again writing, at least a little bit.  I've sat down with the material several times in the past week or so.... once just skimmed through the latest completed chapter and then into the current in-work chapter.  Actually added a couple pages to that a day or so later, and once after that added a few more lines.  Not a lot of productivity, but certainly more than I've done in quite a while.  I checked the data regarding the chapter currently in work and it seems I originated it nearly three years ago.  And I've noticed that as of late I'm thinking of the story... the next scenes, the continuation of the one currently being written, or scenes, conversations, events that will occur later on.  And I am having flashes of scenes and ideas for other stories farther down the line.  A good sign, I hope.  (I used to do a lot of this "dreaming" process at work, particularly while cleaning tennis courts in the early morning.  That was a task much like mowing a lawn, pushing the sweeper unit around and around, a job that didn't require a great deal of mental effort.  Therefore I could keep a small portion of my mind on the job and let the rest visualize upcoming scenes in the story.

I hope I will be able to keep this going and not experience a false start as I have in the more recent past.  Over the years I've had times where I seem to have gotten back on track, only to find myself de-railed again.  And while they say one should write everyday, my directive to myself is to do something with the story every time I'm on the computer.  Get the junk stuff out of the way, go into the files for the story and do something with it.

I'll let you know how it all works out.

P. S. Still reading III Minutes To XII by SASP Member Ed Des Autel

Mon, Aug. 13th, 2018, 02:34 pm
Weekly Book Review

Probably a bit more than a week since I've posted any kind of book review here, so I'll play a bit of catch up.  This review is next in the files of Spokane Authors and Self-Publishers.  (You can also find it and other's on the organization's web-site.)

Meadowlark Madness: An Emily Trace Mystery

By Sue Eller

Reviewed by D. Andrew McChesney
        Naturally one would assume that E. T. Investigations was formed to look into encounters with UFOs and aliens from beyond this world.  In fact, Emily Trace opened this detective agency to find out why her husband had been murdered.  To fund her personal investigation she takes on a client who, like us, mistakes the significance of the initials “E. T.”  Assigned to look into the apparent disappearance of the region’s meadowlarks, Emily and her friends are drawn into a bigger mystery, one that does involve aliens and other worlds.
        This book is very hard to place into a specific genre.  It is a mystery, a science-fiction novel, perhaps a police procedural, and may even qualify as a “cozy.”  Regardless of where it fits, it is a most entertaining and enjoyable read.  Set in and around Spokane, Washington, and told as if by Emily herself, the pages turn at a rapid rate.  Uniquely, Emily sometimes stops to admonish the reader or to remind them of bits of popular culture from days gone by, which adds to the direct conversational tone of the story.
        Meadowlark Madness is a very enjoyable book, created by a writer with a clever and unusual view of the world.  This reviewer looks forward to reading more of the Emily Trace Mysteries as they become available.
        Meadowlark Madness: an Emily Trace Mystery, ISBN 9781479181711 is available in paperback at a number of Spokane area bookstores, as well as on Amazon in both paperback and Kindle™ formats.
Reviewed by Esther J. Hildahl

        Emily Trace's husband, Jared, has been murdered, and the police can't figure out who did it, so Emily opens up her own detective agency to solve the crime herself. However, business is slow--no customers. Without customers she has no money to pay her bills and rent, and soon she'll be forced to close her office and move out. If only she had one paying client...
        Then the office door opens and in walks a birdlike little character named Mr. Archibald Wren. He has a case for her to solve. A very strange case, for you see, he wants her to solve the mystery as to where all the world's meadowlark birds have disappeared to. And thus, the strange, sometimes out-of-this-world adventure begins.
        Meadowlark Madness is Eller's first Emily Trace Mystery. It's well-written and her characters are well-defined, clever, and interesting. The story is fast-paced and exciting. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book, and I recommend it to all who love a good mystery.
        Available at local Spokane bookstores, as well as on Amazon, and Kindle.
Reviewed by Kate Poitevin

        Ms. Eller has woven an interesting tale, full of quirky characters and surprising twists and turns. Her ability to break the forth wall at regular intervals gives us the feeling that Emily is sitting with us as she tells her story. She keeps it moving right along so that you don’t even want to stop to get a fresh cup of coffee. But, you must, because she has subliminally made you need one.
        I have heard that there is a second book in the works and I will be first in line to get it. I must know if Emily will find Jared’s killer. In the meantime, I must put on a fresh pot of coffee and wait.
Reviewed by Beth Camp

        This 5-star cozy mystery is sure to delight!
        Just when overdue rent threatens to close the doors of Emily Trace’s E.T. Investigations, a new client arrives with an unusual concern (and a bundle of cash): The meadowlarks are missing!
        Willing to accept nearly any commission to keep the doors of her private eye business open, recently widowed Emily Trace is determined to prove that her husband’s death was not accidental.
        What ensues is a riotous and eventually overlapping series of events, engaging characters that come to life, and a plot that mixes a cozy mystery with science fiction flair. Within a very few sentences, I was hooked by Sue Eller’s witty and entertaining voice and imaginative storytelling. She brings to life the pleasures of living in a city with a small town heart, where people know each other and are willing to help when needed. Bird lovers and Star Trek fans will appreciate the allusions sprinkled throughout, and I thoroughly enjoyed Sue Eller’s ability to characters so fully that I felt I knew them – even Mr. Wren and Mr. Finch.
Reviewed by Joyce Caudel

            Emily Trace opens her own detective agency after her husband is murdered. While she looks for clues a relative of her late husband turns up, a guy she didn’t know existed and is the spitting image of her late husband. Darla, an office temp, becomes a valuable part of E. T. Investigations.
          Emily’s first client thinks aliens have abducted all the Meadowlarks, a species of bird. Deputy Clyde Burton seems intent on watching over Emily in the hunt for the Meadowlarks. Strange folks keep popping up in this story to make a fun and enjoyable read. If you’re a fan of mysteries and science fiction you will love Meadowlark Madness.

Wed, Aug. 8th, 2018, 08:27 pm
Heat Wave

As we move into August, the Inland Northwest is experiencing its annual heat wave.  Nice thing, though, is that it never lasts all that long.  We'll have three, four, or five days of really hot weather and then it'll cool off a bit for a few.  According to the weather guessers on TV, we got to 97 degrees F today and tomorrow they expect local highs to be in the 100s.  Saturday however it should be back into the lower eighties before starting a trend upwards again.

I don't mind it all that much... the house is airconditioned and most of the time it's not that bad.  But, the dining room and the front from, where I spend time to watch TV is on the west and south sides of the house.  That's where the hot afternoon sun beats down and they can get a bit warm.  Temp seems to go up in that location, even with the air cond running.  Would be nice to have a big shade tree in the front yard or perhaps in the neighbor's front yard.

As has happened the last few years, there are a number of fires burning in the region.  Therefore the skies are filled with smoke.  It isn't that bad, so far, I mean you can't really smell it.  But I can sense it and perhaps as I get older it seems to bother me more than it used to.  Anyway here's a picture I took a couple of evenings ago, not long before actual sunset.  You can see the brown tint of smoke in the sky.  A while later as the sun disappeared behind the trees and buildings, it was a red as can be.  I couldn't find a vantage point high enough to allow me a shot so I didn't get one.  And I've found that when photographed, the red doesn't show up in the pic like it is in real life.

Sunday the Inland Northwest Corvair Club took a drive around Lake Coeur d'Alene in north Idaho.  It was a little cooler than today and we all had a nice trip.  Four Corvairs participated and I went along in my Nissan Frontier pick-up.  A lot of the road down the east side is a maze of corners, making it impossible to drive more than thirty-five miles per hour or so.  But it's exactly the kind of road the Corvair excells at and I found myself wishing I still had mine.  And there were times I wished for some sort of camera mount that I could operate with the push of a button... to grab a picture of the Corvairs ahead of me going around yet another turn.  Or if I would have had someone riding with me... or if I'd opted to ride with someone else.  Anyway, by the time I got back I determined that I'd driven around 180 miles for the day... including about forty miles to our starting point.  I ended up in a few areas I had not been in since I was a kid.

A couple of the Corvairs at the park in Harrison, Idaho.

The four Corvairs in the parking lot at the little diner in St. Maries, Idaho, where we stopped for lunch.  All were "late" models, that is, 1965 through 1969 vintage.  Two sports coupes and two convertibles.  No sports sedans, no early (1960 -1964) models of anykind, and no forward control vehicles (Greenbriers, Corvans, Rampsides or Loadsides) participated.  Photo system on my phone converted this pic to black and white automatically.
After reading The Master Butchers Singing Club I read How to Write Science Fiction and Fantasy by Orson Scott Card.  It is a relatively short work and has some good information and advice in it.  I did think he was a bit disrespectful and dismissive of the Star Trek concept of Warp Speed and Warp Factor.  And when he talked getting published, it seems his advice about agents and publishing contracts was backwards from what I've learned over the years.  But then the book was written in the late 1980s and published in 1990.  Quite possibly the publishing world has changed since then.  One of these days I'll write a proper review and get it posted here.  Now I'm reading something called III Minutes To XII: The Last Secrets of The Bible.  It's by Ed Des Autel, a member of Spokane Authors and Self-Publishers, and I'd classify it as an "Ancient Aliens" type of work.  I like to think I have an open mind and I've always found things like this to be interesting... and in a way that sort of thing plays into the Stone Island Sea Stories, or at least into some of what I have planned for future works.  If I have one complaint about the book I'm now reading, it is that he could have done a bit more editing... cleaned it up a bit, and eliminated a lot of the duplication.  Still I find the basic concept of what he is trying to convey to be interesting and perhaps enlightening.

About time to wrap this up.  Have to go move the sprinkler in a few minutes, and later I want to watch and episode of NOVA on PBS.

Mon, Jul. 30th, 2018, 03:38 pm
Another Book Review

Finished reading The Master Butchers Singing Club by Louise Erdrich earlier today.  I thought it was a great read and unlike my normal way of doing things have already written a review.  I present it below.

Reviewed by D. Andrew McChesney

         This complex and riveting story takes place, largely between the World Wars.  A former German soldier migrates to North Dakota, opens a butcher shop and establishes a family.  He also organizes men of the little town into a singing club.  A young woman who had grown up in the town returns, first as a partner and companion to a former doughboy and sideshow entertainer, and eventually as an employee and more at the butcher shop.  Her father is the town drunk, drinking he says, for his lost love, her mother.  But not everyone is who we think they are, and while a few hints are scattered throughout the pages, things are not made clear until the very end.
         This is an engrossing tale, very well written, that holds the reader in suspense until the very end.  We explore the confusion often experienced by immigrants to a new land as they try to retain a hold on the old and yet open up to the new.  We learn of and sympathize with those who have been here for a very long time, and yet who have been marginalized and set on the wayside.  Along the way we experience the tragic death of a family accidentally locked in a root cellar and the death of the local sheriff at the hands of the woman he is madly in love with.  It is a very thorough and compelling examination of the human condition.  It is one of those stories that when finished will cause the reader to simply sit and reflect for a while.  Regardless of what genres one normally reads, this one is a must.           

Sun, Jul. 29th, 2018, 12:26 pm
Weekly Book Review

A week or so ago I posted the newly written review of Lost by Harland Eastwood.  Just noticed that it fell into place alphabetically with the reviews I've been posting from the files of Spokane Authors and Self-Publishers.  So now I'll move on to the next couple of books reviewed there. (Sorry, I don't have a cover shot for the first one.) As the first review was written and posted several years ago, it is possible that any information concerning price, availability, or author contact information may no longer be valid.

The Man in the Closet

By Michael Andrew Marsden

Reviewed by D. Andrew McChesney

         When Kyle Carraher’s family moves from Washington, D. C. to Wallace, Idaho, his fear of large rodents gnawing through the wall is replaced by dread of the man in the closet.  Over the subsequent years, the supposed presence in the upper floor storage room exerts unusual influences over members of his extended family.  Eighteen years later Kyle returns to the house to determine if there really is a man in the closet.

         As it begins, this book reads like one intended for a younger reader.  The straight forward writing clearly depicts extraordinary events in what were quite ordinary lives.  As the story progresses, darker, more sinister, more adult themes are introduced, taking the tale to a level meant for a more mature audience.  When one reaches the final page, murder, arson, sex for sale, sex as a means of coercion, and criminal insanity have all made their presence known.  Each chapter takes the reader to greater heights of suspense and increases the “can’t put it down” factor.

         The Man in the Closet is the author’s second ghost story set in north Idaho, and is pleasantly devoid of many of the faults associated with self-published work.  In all aspects it is a well-written, well-edited, and professionally produced book.

         The Man in the Closet, from Marsden Publishing, ISBN 1-59975-485-1, is priced at $16.00 and is available at local Spokane, and Coeur d’Alenebook stores and at www.amazon.com   Check out the author’s web-site at: www.michaelmarsden.com


Spokane Authors



Page updated 09/12/2010 DAM

© 2010 www.spokaneauthors.org

Reviewed by Joyce Caudel

         Marie’s Marvelous Tomato is a delightful story of a young girl’s summer project. Marie and her best friend, Ginger, have planned a summer full of excitement. When Ginger announced her parents were getting a divorce and she must move to Seattle to live with her grandparents, Marie’s summer plans all vanished.  Marie felt very sad for Ginger because her own parents divorced years ago and she lost touch with her father.
         Marie is a girl that loves to eat tomatoes and suddenly she comes up with a plan for her summer project, she will grow a tomato plant. She plants it with care and tends to it daily. Finally, a small green tomato appears on her plant.  It is the only tomato on the plant, but it grows and grows into a giant tomato! Marie’s family encourages her to enter her tomato in the fair.
         The judges agreed, Marie’s tomato was the largest tomato entered in the fair but it had the best shape and color.  Marie was given a blue ribbon for her successful summer project.
         The story ends very happy when Ginger announces her parents are getting back together and she won’t have to move to Seattle. Marie receives a letter from her father saying he missed her and her brother and would like to come to visit them if it would be alright with her mother. Marie was very happy, she had her best friend back and was going to get to know her father.
Reviewed by Kate Poitevin

         This is a delightful story about Marie who is faced with a lonely summer. Her best friend, Ginger, is gone, Mom is busy with her work, and stinky brother, Mel, is no help at all. Marie decides to grow a tomato plant to fill her lonely time. Through the ups and downs of horticulture, Marie stays focused on her task and loyal to the helpless plant she has vowed to tend while also keeping in touch with Ginger. Ms. Hildahl has created great characters (I was especially fond of the grandmother…) and a sweet story that will charm any age. It has a satisfyingly happy ending, as all children’s books should, with an added surprise.

Tue, Jul. 24th, 2018, 03:05 pm
Still Another Book Review

So I'm pretty much caught up in writing reviews for what I've recently read.  Below is my review (just completed) of Booth by Timothy David Jones.  You may recall that we shared a Northwest Author's Night at the Well-Read Moose in Coeur d'Alene a month or so ago.  Turns out we each bought a copy of the other's book.  (I am about three-quarters of the way through The Master Butchers Singing Club by Louise Erdrich.  When I finish that I'll get a review written and posted as well.  And yes I'm finding it to be an enjoyable and intriguing read.)

By Timothy David Jones

Reviewed by D. Andrew McChesney

         Those of age during the Viet Nam War may have known someone like Wesley Booth.  Some may even have been like Wesley Booth.  He’s a veteran trying to get his life back after being discharged, but he follows a different and unexpected path.  Wesley is a bit of a con-artist, wants to be a writer, and is a superb rock guitar player.  He’s always looking for the next big deal, the next chance to hit it big.  He is that person we’ve all known, the one we wanted to smack alongside the head and yell at to get his stuff together.
         As frustrated as we are with Wesley and his shenanigans, we can’t help but root for him.  We hope he does what he needs to do in order to live a worthwhile and productive life.  We turn to the next page wondering if finally he’s gotten himself straightened out. The story is entertaining, full of humor and compassion, countered now and then by moments of chaos.  The author is well versed in the rules of writing, for he breaks them effectively.  Unexpected transitions in point of view and tense occur so smoothly we do not notice.  Yet it is those very changes that add depth and intensity to the story.   This needs to be on everyone’s “to be read” list, and then on everyone’s “what I’ve read” list.

Fri, Jul. 20th, 2018, 02:54 pm
Another Book Review

I'm trying to catch up in writing reviews of books I've recently written.  Got another one done yesterday, so here it is.  Harland Eastwood is a fellow member of SASP.  You can learn more about him and his many books on the SASP web-site.  Once there, visit the "Members" page and click on his name to reach his member web-page.

Reviewed by D. Andrew McChesney

         In this slim volume, the author recounts his life, pivoting on the moment when he thought to end it.  It was his discovery of Faith in Jesus Christ that stopped him from pulling the trigger, led him to a life of Truth, and allowed him the Grace to share his story.
         Harland tells his very personal story in a straight forward honest way.  He describes his earliest years and does not omit the details of parental neglect that led to self-doubt and a lack of self-respect.  He is also sincere when describing the moment he found Faith and in the doubts he had, and the trials he faced afterwards.
         Besides a declaration and testimonial of Faith, this is also an auto-biography.  From it the reader gains a picture of Harland’s life, from the earliest days of his existence, to the near present.  One also learns how he developed a passion for collecting old bottles and other antiques, and came to write several historical works about Washington’s Adams County.  This is a very personal work and the author is to be commended for his willingness to share both the good and the bad details with the reader.

Thu, Jul. 19th, 2018, 04:29 pm
On-Line Shopping, etc.

So we have Amazon and a bunch of other on-line retailers out there, where we can sit at home in front of our computer, or on our phone or tablet and buy (and pay for) just about anything we could want.  Convenient? Why yes!  Conducive to interpersonal interactions and being a participating member of society?  Definitely, NO.

And with more products available via on-line shopping, more and more actual stores, the so-called "brick and mortar" retail outlets are going out of business and closing their doors for good.  I do order stuff from time to time via the Internet, but quite often that is after I've been unable to find the items desired/needed in the local area.  Generally I would prefer to drive a reasonable distance to buy what I want and have it with me when I return to the house.  At the very least, and providing I think I it, I will attempt to have the store order the item.  Just a part of trying to keep my purchasing local and providing business to local establishments.

There is another side to this as well.  I get to be out and about, to see and speak to other people.  Especially now that I'm retired, I don't always get away from the house on a regular basis.  My truck might sit for several days between jaunts to the store, trips to Coco's puppy training class, etc.  If I did most of my shopping on-line, I would get out and amongst other folks even less frequently.  I do admit that at times I think of going after something only to decide that it can wait until the next day, and so I might sit at home even longer.  So, while shopping on line might be easy it doesn't do much for one's chance to see and be involved with others.  I read somewhere that this could be a real problem for those who may not be able to get out and about.

Likewise, when I am at the store or at the bank, I enjoy, perhaps even crave the interaction with the staff.  Rather than drawing cash from an ATM, I go in and deal with a teller.  In the store I rarely if ever use the self-check-out lines.  I want that moment of connection with the person ringing up my purchase, collecting my payment and passing back my change.  Oh, in some cases it might be that I'm not sure about how to use the ATM or the self-check-out set up, but the truth is, I want the human connection.

Full moon above a house across the street.  Taken late June of this year.

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