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Tue, Oct. 15th, 2019, 11:40 am
Yes My Brain Works in Strange Ways!

So last Wednesday I posted about the 9th of October being Edward Pierce's Birthday, and offered some explanation of how arrived at that date for my main character's date of birth.  Only dawned on me later that I could have included the below excerpt from Beyond the Ocean's Edge in which his friends and shipmate's celebrate his Birthday.  So here I am posting it nearly a week after, proof that my brain does indeed work (if it does) in some odd ways.  (This is the final scene of Chapter Eleven.)

When I was still working, one co-worker made this B'Day cake for another...

             A fortnight later, after they had finished their evening meal of boiled beef, potatoes, and peas, Lieutenant Hotchkiss proposed a toast.  “A glass be raised by all.  Today is the ninth of October, and it marks the birth of our esteemed captain, and my long-time friend, Edward Pierce!”  Glasses were raised, and Hotchkiss continued.  “To your health and happiness, sir,” he said.  He drank, as did the others.
            “The captain’s health and happiness,” various voices intoned.
            Pierce sat slightly embarrassed.  He had noted earlier the date’s significance and had hoped it would pass without any notice.  Only his old and dear childhood friend knew or would have brought it to the other’s attention.  Hotchkiss was of a sentimental nature and took sharp notice of birthdays and other anniversaries.  Even as he wished nothing had been said about his birthday, had his friend not brought it up, he would have felt slighted.
            In turn, Pierce raised his glass and said, “The health and happiness of all at this table!  To Island Expedition and all who sail in her!  Their health and happiness!”
            “To us and this schooner!” the assembled group said as all took another sip from their cups.
            At a discreet nod from Hotchkiss, Mr. Midshipman Hadley intoned, “Gentlemen, the King!  God bless our Sovereign, King George the Third!”
            “The King!  God bless him!” they replied, toasting the Royal Health.
            Later, sleep did not come for Pierce.  He had enjoyed the fuss made over his birthday and the cabin’s friendly warmth that evening.  But something was missing, and he searched for what it was.  He lay dead tired, and yet he was wide awake.  It would have been a most complete evening, had she been present!
            With his thoughts again of Evangeline, Pierce was reminded of his loneliness.  That loneliness kept him awake all night.

Mon, Oct. 14th, 2019, 12:44 pm
Another Short Story

I wrote The Unseen Visitors as my contribution to  Celebrating Spokane Authors, a collection of poems, essays, and short stories by members of Spokane Authors and Self-Publishers.  It's now on my web-site for anyone who might want to read it, and I'm posting it hear as well.

Here's the volume it was originally published in.
The Unseen Visitors
By D. Andrew McChesney

           The exploration ship flashed out of the clouds, making a large s-turn as it slowed.  Landing legs deployed, it settled gently on the mesa.  The crew breathed a collective sigh of relief.  Landing on strange worlds was never easy, and this was one of the strangest they’d come upon.
           Cap sighed and unbuckled his harness.  “All right people!” He said.  “All seals remain in place until we’ve done a full check.  Aerial scans can’t always be trusted.”
           Knowon added, “It is imperative we not lose anyone, cause damage to the ship, or cause harm to anything or anyone here.  Understood?”
           Sigh, nods, and muttered responses indicated compliance. Noak breathed deeply and punched his harness release.  The youngest of the crew, he was restless and sure the caution dictated by the leaders was wasted.  He’d spend as much time as anyone aboard the large ship, high above this world’s atmosphere, analyzing sensor reports and studying the findings sent back by unmanned probes.
           It was a huge world when compared to their own, but surprisingly its gravity was not much more than they were used to.  And according to the instruments, the air was breathable and even contained more life-giving oxygen than home.
         Read more...Collapse )
           “As to the scheduling problems, I’ll speak to Cap.  I’m sure he will have something to say, perhaps some extra work for those habitually not available.”  He turned back to his duties.
           As the two walked away, Reddschurt said, “I sure hope he’s right… at least about them seeing us.”
           But Scyophf was wrong.

           Andy, possessing a rather primitive flip phone at the time, and sure the image he saw was merely the result of a dirty lens, snapped a picture of the monitor’s screen one night and saved it to his desk top computer.

The picture Andy took that night!

Wed, Oct. 9th, 2019, 12:26 pm
Birthday Celebration

A couple days ago, a writer on Twitter asked if any other writers created or specified Birthdays for their characters.  Good thing I saw that because I realized my main character, Edward Pierce, was fast approaching his birth date anniversary.  Today!  He'd be 243 years old today, presuming that as a normal human being he would have passed on  well over a century ago, probably more than a century and a half ago.

While we think of cake when celebrating Birthdays, I'm sure Pierce would have enjoyed a generous slice of pie!

As a character, Edward Pierce has existed in my mind for over half a century.  I became aware of him while still in high school, and last month my class and I celebrated our 50th reunion, so he has been a part of my imagination for a very long time.  So, how did I decide he had been born on 9 October 1776?

The year came about because fo the era I wanted to write about, and the fact I wanted him to be a close contemporary of C. S. Forester's Horatio Hornblower.  Hornblower it seems was born on July 4, 1776.  I selected October 9 as it is John Lennon's Birthday, and at the time the Beatles were the biggest thing in music and in the lives of nearly every teenager in America (the World?).  Additionally in the very first drafts of what would later become the Stone Island Sea Stories, I managed to incorporate characters with names similar to or derived from the Beatles' last names.  In the current version of the stories, there are two, whose names are thusly derived, both warrant officers aboard Island Expedition. Those individuals would be, Stephen Cartney, Bo'sun, and William Harris, Gunner.  (And if I remember correctly, my Boot Camp Company Commander was a Senior Chief Bo'sun's Mate coincidentally named William Harris.)

So I'm hoping that Edward Pierce ended up living a long, healthy and productive life.  I'm not far enough along in the story to know for sure.  And as he is/was a normal human being of that era, I would suspect he is no longer with us.  However, he exists/existed in a world with a hint of science fiction or even fantasy, so who knows.  Evidently his good friend William Townsend ended up in some sort of time portal and emerged in recent times.  (This is depicted in the short story, Mr. Townsend's Chronometer, which you can find at the Stone Island web-site )

Enough rambling for today, I guess.  Just wanted to share that it is my main character's birthday and a bit about how it came o be on this day.  And now I can say I haven't gone quite as long with out posting as I have in the recent past.


Sat, Sep. 28th, 2019, 12:01 pm
Thoughts on Self-Publishing

I keep promising myself (and you) that I will get back to posting here on a regular basis.  Contrary to that, I seem to have become more delinquent.  And so to get back on track (I hope) I offer these thoughts, originally gathered over seven years ago, not long after I published my first book.

When a writer is looking to get his or her book published, he doesn’t think much about the myriad decisions that must be made before it is released.  Who decides if it will be issued in hardcopy, trade paper, mass market paperback, or a combination of the three?  Who determines the trim size, or the physical dimensions of the book?  How about the interior design, the font used, its size, and the color and type of paper the book is printed on?  Someone has to design the exterior and figure out appropriate cover art.  Which entity decides what the title of the book will be upon publication?
           The answer to all the above is the publisher.  If one gets published in the traditional way, the publisher makes these decisions, and quite possibly the author isn’t even consulted.  Many of the choices are made with regards to marketing.  What is going to help this book sell a little better?  Yes, the publisher can and often does change the title of a book before it comes out.  They might also advocate different titles for different markets.  Thus C. S. Forester’s first Hornblower novel is known as Beat to Quarters in the United States and The Happy Return in The United Kingdom.  Beyond that, publishers can pretty well insist upon editing and revisions that an author may not wish to make.  Having signed a publishing contract, the writer is basically obligated to do so.  Various rights regarding the book also enter into this discussion.  Depending upon how the contract was negotiated, certain rights nearly always remain with the author, while others generally go to the publisher.  Thus a writer may be restricted or prohibited from doing various things with his or her book, unless he has the rights or reclaims them from the publisher.
           When self-publishing, the author is also the publisher and is the one to make all the choices mentioned above.  Depending upon who one works with, a writer may find that he retains all rights and creative control, while with others he may not.
           With the company I chose to help me self-publish, I was fortunate to work with one that lets the author retain all rights and control.  All choices regarding the appearance and format of Beyond the Ocean’s Edge are mine, although in many cases I went with what I was told was standard.  Such choices would include the trim size and the choice of interior font.  I provided the cover art and had the company design a custom cover around that.  At this point it was matter of having something compatible with the printing process.  Rather than investing in specialized software and taking the chance that I still might get it wrong, I simply let them do it.
           With this particular company I was also able to help determine the final price of the book.  I had a choice of various pricing plans, and once the book was formatted and the production price determined, I was able to vary the cover price a bit to balance customer appeal and my profit or royalty per book.
           To me, it would seem that the self-publishing author has a great deal more creative and marketing control with regards to his or her book.

"Hotchkiss' Paradox" cover art for Beyond the Ocean's Edge: A Stone Island Sea Story

Current read: Willow by the late Al-Jack Dymand a one time member of SASP.

Sat, Aug. 17th, 2019, 05:48 pm
Story Excerpt

I started posting these with the idea of doing one or two a week.  Now it seems I'm lucky to get one a month or so.  Anyway the last time I posted something from Beyond the Ocean's Edge: A Stone Island Sea Story, it was from Chapter Twelve and dealt with the ceremonies of crossing the Equator.  In today's post I present the remainder of that scene (and the chapter.)  Hope you enjoy it.  (For continuity, I've repeated the last paragraph posted last time,)

             Four hands, two warrant officers, and three passengers stepped forward.  Neptune called each by name and heaped praise and good wishes on them.  Still, he was offended that they were aboard a vessel infested with so many detestable, slimy polliwogs.  He was particularly insulted that they had dared sail with a captain never before found worthy.  Neptune offered that they could redeem themselves by assisting in the Royal Court’s inspection and examination.
            Those individuals took up their stations, and Neptune ordered everyone else to kneel and crawl about on all fours.  Pierce refused, but when a Royal Princess and a Loyal Shellback approached menacingly, he humbled himself and dropped to the deck.
            “Captain Pierce, ye shall be the first examined.  A true and loyal crusty Shellback must know the art of kissing.  He must know how to joyfully terrorize the young with his stubbly chin to their bellies.  Kiss the Royal Baby’s Royal Belly!” Neptune roared.
            Pierce sought to protest, but with the approach of the enforcing Princess and Shellback, he acquiesced and crawled to the foot of the Baby’s chair. “Oh good!” squealed the giant toddler in a deep and booming voice.  He suddenly clasped his hands behind Pierce’s head and pulled the captain’s face into his greased and tarred midsection. He rolled Pierce’s face about in the grease and fat for a moment and let go.
            Pierce straightened, spat out a chunk of pork grizzle, and waited.
            Neptune spoke again.  “Members of the Ancient Order of the Deep are well-groomed and clean-shaven.  Proceed!”
            The two enforcers escorted him to a stool aft of the foremast.  When he sat, the first of two stationed there quickly lathered his face and head with the ill-smelling concoction.  The second Shellback honed his mock wooden razor and with a few quick and deft movements scraped away most of the vile mess.
            “My loyal subjects are clean!  You, captain, need a bath!”  With that, the two escorts, the Royal Barber, and the assistant bodily lifted Pierce from the deck and deposited him in the port side vat.
            He climbed out the forward end, covered from head to toe in the most awful and obnoxious substances.  Was he permitted to remain standing?
            Soon he heard the pumps being put in operation.  A trickle of water, and then a steady stream blasted against him.  The coolness of the seawater refreshed him and removed most of the odious materials.  He rotated under the jet of water and delighted in the cleansing spray.
            “Captain, ye may join the Royal Party.  Ye have passed thy examination.  Now bear witness to the testing of these scurvy, slimy polliwogs.  Come and sit!”
            “I am most grateful, Your Majesty!” said Pierce.
            He took the chair vacated by the Royal Princess.  He watched as the crew and passengers were inspected and found worthy to venture into King Neptune’s realm.
            Rather than escorting each individual through to the bath before starting with another, the Crusty Shellbacks and Royal Party members drove one after another forward and through the examination.  As soon as one had kissed the Royal Baby’s belly, another was having his face and head rolled about in the grease and fat covering the infant’s ample gut.  The Royal Barbers worked unceasingly and without pause, lathering and quickly shaving each individual that passed into their hands.
            As fast as one individual stepped out of one of the large vats, another was placed in it. The pumps worked unceasingly now, and two constant streams of water played over the ever- changing party of new Shellbacks on the foredeck.
            It should not be said that Neptunus Rex did not respect the delicacy and dignity of the fairer sex.  For those who objected to being so rudely treated, he allowed they need only kiss his hand as a sign of fealty, and plunge one arm up to the elbow in the bath’s dubious mixture.
            He extended the same leniency to smaller children, and those that were particularly frightened, he passed on the word of parents or other adults.
            When everyone on board had been examined, found worthy, and stood soggy and unkempt about the deck, Neptune stood.  He rapped his trident against the deck and said, “Captain Pierce!  In Our Royal pleasure we have examined this vessel and company.  All are deigned worthy, and ye have our leave to continue thy voyage.  In honor of all now being Loyal Shellbacks, we insist ye splice the main brace!”

Sat, Aug. 10th, 2019, 01:46 pm
More Ambition

Well, a teeny bit more today!  Rained some yesterday and it's cooler than it was.  The flower beds between the house and driveway which I had cleared out a month or so ago had begun to sprout all manner of vegetation, primarily weeds and a rehash of what had been there, so today I began clearing them out again.  Got most of the actuall grow pulled or chopped down and did a little over half with hoe and rake, trying to get rid of as many roots and bulbs as i could.  Some were huge masses and others were very small onion like bits, some no more than the size of a pea.  Can't claim to have gotten them all, and I'm sure some of them will eventually grow and sprout, but hopefully there should be less the next time.  Also have the smaller half to go over with the hoe and rake in order to get as much out as I can.  Eva mentioned she'd like to plant roses there, and I'm thinking to just have some ground cover of some kind.  I also want to build a border around the one basement window and possibly around the gas meter as well.

From what I've seen on social media, this is #IndieAugust a celebration or promotion for #IndieAuthors (independent and or self-published authors.  Yesterday I started posting on Twitter about members of Spokane Authors and Self-Publishers and their books.  Think I've done about ten indviduals so far, and will do a few more today.  Hopefully I'll get through the entire list by the end of the month.  If I stay on track I might even be able to go through the list again.  Basically I'm doing a single tweet per SASP member, listing links to their book(s) on Amazon and including cover pics if I have them.  And of course I include mine from time to time.  (BTW my Twitter handle is @stoneisland1803)

Since LJ doesn't seem to get as much use as it once did, I commonly but a link to posts here on my Facebook Page, and my LJ posts automatically link to twitter..... just in case anyone is wondering.

Yesterday I started reading The Hat Pin Murders by fellow SASP member Joyce Caudel.  I'd won a copy of it as a door prize at a SASP meeting a couple of months ago.  I'm far enough into it that the first murder has just taken place.

Wow, I'm posting two days in a row.  Perhaps I should slow down a little so as not to wear myself out or shock anyone with the frequency.  Anyway, more next time.

Fri, Aug. 9th, 2019, 10:42 am
Summertime Laziness

Well, that's about the only way I can describe it.  Whatever ambition I may have had has disappeared.  I'm hoping (blaming it) on the warm summer weather we've had as of late, as well as the smoky skies caused by wild fires in the region.  (Yesterday our air was rated worst in the nation.)  And as you may have noticed, I just haven't been posting here as often as I usually do.  If it was because I was simply super busy, it would be different, but I'm not busy... just no gumption at the time.
Oh, I'm sure I'll get over it, perhaps after this weekend of rain and thunderstorms.  They might clear the air and also the fog within my brain.

So the last time I posted, I showed the results of having the house painted.  Also mentioned that we were a bit dissatisfied with the final results, specifically the  accent color.  Primarily it was to close to the original color and looked like those areas hadn't been painted.  We chose a different color, a darker blue, and one of the crew came back the next week and repainted the areas of concern.  Also painted the front door and the side door into the garage in that same dark blue.  Because the  paint we bought was almost gone we had the back door painted the same as the overall house.  Works good with the white trim and is hidden behind the side fence and gate.

The final results

Finally finished reading Turn Red Tomorrow by Michael Zargona.  Hope to have a review written for it in the near future.  Have reviews pending on a number of books, but there's the situation mentioned at the top of this post.  If and when I do get them written, I'll post them here.

Sat, Jul. 20th, 2019, 01:59 pm
Home Improvement, part II.

The painting crew finished most of the prep work on Monday, the day before the last post.  They didn't work Tuesday because of rain, but were back at it on Wednesday.  Once they got started painting, it went fast.  They were done, cleaned up, and gone by mid afternoon on Thursday.  We are well pleased with the quality of work and the overall look.  We don't particularly like the accent color on the front peaks or facades of either the house or the garage.  (We got it, as it was a part of the scheme suggested in the pamphlet we got from the paint store.  For one thing, it's really close to the old main/body color, so it looks like we just didn't paint that part.  We are in the process of choosing a different color, probably a darker blue for those areas.  We'll also do the doors in that as well, and if we replace the shutters that used to be by the front door and add them to most of the windows, they'll likely be the darker blue as well.  So here are some pics.

Progress as of the middle of Wednesday afternoon.

Thursday afternoon... just about done.  Just a bit of touch up left to go.

About done on this side as well.

Just thought you'd like to see.

Tue, Jul. 16th, 2019, 11:20 am
Home Improvement

No, not the TV show from years ago with Tim Allen.
Anyway, now that I'm retired, I'm trying/we are trying to improve the appearance of our house a little.  So far, nothing really drastic.... other than the current in progress project...
Over the past few weeks I've pulled or dug up most of the plants, bushes, flowers in the flower bed alongside the house, the narrow bed that separates the house from the drive way and curls around to the front step.  We had a stack of red scalloped bricks (actually concrete) that Eva had bought a few years ago.  Installed them along the drive way but ended up being about two or three short to finish the job.  Realized we had a bunch of lava rock in various sizes half buried in the back, so I used that to finish up.  Got some of it to stick up too high so occasionally trip over it.  Guess I'll have to rearrange and reinstall sometime.  Als started a similar border along the drive way to the street side side walk.  So far, just a few of the lava rocks as we'll need to go get some more of the scalloped bricks.

Ran out of scalloped brick so finished up with the lava rock.

To the right you can see where I started another border with the lava rock.  Plan to finish with the scalloped brick sometime.

Current, ongoing project is having the house exterior painted.  Hired a local contractor who gave us a decent price.  They started prep work last week, but because of another job they had, they could only put one person on it.  Yesterday they had a fairly full crew and got a lot done.  Raining this morning so they have delayed/postponed doing anything today so far.  They got a lot of scraping/priming, and replacing delapidated shingles done yesterday.

This is what the house looked like yesterday in the early afternoon.

If you are wondering, we are changing the color scheme.  The main color is called "Storm Cloud" and is a medium grayish blue.  Trim will be "Alabaster", an off white, and will replace the trim that is now medium blue and salmon.  There's a third "accent" color with the scheme as well.  It's called "Ramie" and is almost the same as the yellow the house is now.  We are going to do the vertical paneling at the peak, over the front window in that, plus maybe the front door and under the eaves.  The garage also has that same vertical paneling so it too will be in the accent color.  Thinking that we will paint all the regular doors, front, back and garage entry in the accent color, but we'll probably leave the actual garage door, the one for car entry as it is.  It's a fairly new door and is basic white.  (I might get ambitious and do some with it later on, but we aren't going to have the contractor/painters do anything with it.

By the way, we found the color scheme in one of the brochures we got at the paint store.

Another view, this time showing the vertical paneling on the garage.  Backboard and hoop are coming down as no one uses them anymore.

Will post pics when the painting is completed.

Sat, Jul. 13th, 2019, 01:48 pm
Story Excerpt

I'm trying (and so far not succeeding) to get back to posting on a regular basis.  Noticed it has been well over a month since positing an excerpt from the Stone Island Sea Stories, so here's a bit from Chapter Twelve of Beyond the Ocean's Edge.  This was a fun chapter to write as it deals with the ceremonies of crossing the equator.

My second attempt at a cover image for Beyond the Ocean's Edge: A Stone Island Sea Story
          A battered and tarnished crown appeared even with the deck.  The pipes started caterwauling and the crown was followed by King Neptune himself.  His hair was long, matted, and the color and texture of oakum.  His beard, much the same in appearance, covered the Royal face and fell in dripping masses to his waist.  His garments clung damply about him, and whereas they were purported to be of the finest cloth available, they appeared to be old sailcloth draped haphazardly about him.  Neptune clutched a makeshift trident in his right hand.  It had once been a boarding pike, but had two extra tines riveted to it.
            He struck the trident’s haft sharply against the deck. “Avast there, mate!  Belay that damned screeching!  Hoist my flag!”
            At the Royal command the pipes fell silent.  Hopkins hoisted a black balled bit of cloth to the peak.  A sharp tug on the halyard broke the flag out into the wind and the Jolly Roger flew alongside the Blue Ensign.
            Others of the Royal Party began to climb the side of the Island Expedition.  First was Davy Jones, the Royal Scribe and Emissary.  After him came the Royal Princesses.  Surely no king had ever sired such ugly and undesirable females as had Neptunus Rex.  Their long unkempt hair was the same color and texture as his.  They were dressed in old linens wrapped about their persons and secured about their ample waists with lengths of cord.  They giggled bashfully, and hid their countenances behind their hands or their fans.  At least two of the princesses could have shaved better that morning.
            The last on deck was the Royal Baby, an infant fully the size of a grown man.  His diapers were of stout sail cloth, stained, dirty, and reeking.  For a child of such tender years he had an extensive growth of hair over his upper body, matted and curly on his chest, back, and upper arms.  Like his sisters, the youngster had forgotten to shave, and a dark shadow manifested itself on his face.  His bald baby head showed signs of stiff and bristly stubble.  A mixture of slush, tar, paint, and varnish adhered to his ample midsection.
            “Welcome aboard, Your Majesty!” Pierce said and bowed low and elaborately.  “We have seats for you and the Royal Party.”  He indicated the chairs placed on deck, one of which was raised slightly higher than the others.
            “Very well, Captain Pierce!” Neptune replied with a slight impatience.  We shall be seated, and then to business.”
            “As you desire, Your Majesty.”
            Neptune and his party sat.  “Is everyone on board topside?” he queried.
            “Yes, Your Majesty,” answered Pierce.
            “Now see here, Captain!  Ye seek passage into my realm with this scumbucket garbage scow and these scurvy dogs of crew and passengers?”
            “Yes, Your Majesty!  But I would hesitate to describe this vessel or her company in such terms,”  Pierce responded.
            “Silence thy tongue, ye lubberly polliwog!  Ye are as I say!  Until inspected and found worthy, ye shall not enter my realm.”  The Ruler of the Raging Main stood and rapped solidly on deck with the haft of his trident.  “Let all that have previously been tried and found acceptable come forward!”
            Four hands, two warrant officers, and three passengers stepped forward.  Neptune called each by name and heaped praise and good wishes on them.  Still, he was offended that they were aboard a vessel infested with so many detestable, slimy polliwogs.  He was particularly insulted that they had dared sail with a captain never before found worthy.  Neptune offered that they could redeem themselves by assisting in the Royal Court’s inspection and examination.

I might post more of this in a few days!

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