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Fri, Feb. 22nd, 2019, 03:54 pm
Story Excerpt

A few weeks ago I finished posting book reviews from the files of Spokane Authors and Self-Publishers, and have been posting excerpts from the Stone Island Sea Stories.  My first idea was to post the first page or so of each chapter.  However I've realized that first page isn't always the most impressionable part of each and I did post a second part from one of the earlier chapters.  Today we've made it to chapter five of Beyond the Ocean's Edge: A Stone Island Sea Story, and I post for your reading, the last couple of pages.  (This is the aftermath of HMS Theadora having captured a French East Indiaman, the Perpignan.

(I know you've seen it before, but here is "Hotchkiss' Paradox," cover art for Beyond the Ocean's Edge.)


“Did you know they were prepared to destroy the ship, rather than see it captured?” asked Pierce.
            “How’s that?”
            “Fuses laid to all the powder stores, sir.  Hopkins smelled burning slow match.  We were able to put it out before....”
            “Before?”
            “Before it reached the junction with the quick match.  The explosion would have destroyed Perpignan and possibly Theadora as well.  There is a great deal of powder on board, sir.”
            “Congratulate Hopkins! Great sense of smell.”
            “I already have, sir, but more recognition surely would be appropriate,” opined Pierce.
            Minister Clion interrupted.  “The ship was to explode and you prevented it?”
            “Yes,” answered Pierce.
            “Alas!  Our lives are spared, but the wrath of First Consul Bonaparte will remain.  I almost would not return to France if I could.”  While despondent over his failed mission, the young man breathed easier.
            “You knew?” Jackson asked incredulously.  “You knew fuses were laid?  Lit?”
            “Oui, I knew.  I ordered them lit when it was apparent you were indeed English.  I had orders that this mission not fail … or else.”
            “Of all the....  Most cold-blooded thing to expect!  Yes, give one’s life for country or a great cause!  But to purposely blow one’s self up!  There’s a limit, Mr. Pierce!  A limit, Minister!  A limit!  Damn you!  Damn Bonaparte!  This goes far beyond that limit!” Jackson was livid.  “Get him away from me!”
            After his rage burned out, Jackson, now joined by Captain Douglas and Commander White, toured the prize vessel.  Acting on previously made plans, Midshipman Andrews was left on board in charge of a prize crew.  Acorn supplied a junior midshipman, six hands, and two marines to augment those from Theadora. Commander White detailed a quartermaster, three hands, and two marines to round out the prize crew.  The three captains believed that would be enough men to sail the ship and guard against any recapture.
            Pierce felt tired and weak as the cutter returned to Theadora.  His heart pounded, and he grasped the tiller tightly to steady his shaking hands.  In spite of the late afternoon coolness, he was damp with sweat.
            “Cool as ice, he was!” said Hopkins to no one in particular.  “Sez, ‘We gotta find that slow match!’  We looked and looked and I thought we was goners.  But he just keeps looking.  Then he finds it and cuts it and stomps it out.  Had this much to spare!  Before the quick match caught!”  Hopkins indicated the quarter inch of remaining slow match between thumb and forefinger.  “Quick match was laid to all the powder aboard.  Woulda been nuthin’ left!  Woulda sunk the Frogs!  Coulda sunk us!”
            Pierce had not been cool as ice.  He had been terrified.  He had feared they would not find the burning fuse in time, and that the next instant would bring injury or death.  He knew how close they all had come to being blown into oblivion.  When they had smelled the burning match and had realized what it implied, the fear had risen in his throat.  A cold numbness had spread throughout his entire body.  It had taken great effort not to run screaming to the upper deck and leap wildly into the sea.  With unimaginable effort he had forced himself to stay calm, to ignore the panic that had threatened to overpower him, and to instigate a systematic search for the burning match.
            Had Hopkins realized the match’s purpose?  If so, had he been as close to panic as Pierce had been?  Now with the danger passed, did prattling on about it allow Hopkins to calm himself?
            “Ease up, mate!” whispered Mitchell, seated on the thwart beside Hopkins.  “Look at ’im.  It was a close one and about to have done ’im in!”  Mitchell pointed aft at Pierce with his chin.
            Hopkins thought a moment. “Aye, it was close at that.”  Then he was silent and left Pierce to recover from the terror on his own.
 

Tue, Feb. 19th, 2019, 01:39 pm
Happy Birthday!

Here's wishing nodbear a very Happy Birthday!  Also wishing many more!  To celebrate, I'm posting a book review I wrote a couple of years ago.
Dave



Reviewed By D. Andrew McChesney

         For decades armchair adventurers and avid readers have followed the exploits of Horatio Hornblower, so carefully crafted by C. S. Forester.  Many readers of these tales know that in his career, Hornblower was assigned aboard HMS Indefatigable.  Forester relates his time aboard this large powerful frigate in Mr. Midshipman Hornblower and allows him to remember those times in volumes covering Hornblower’s later career.
         While the Hornblower may have been based on one or more members of the Royal Navy, he was a fictional character.  Indefatigable was a historical ship and her captain, Sir Edward Pellew a quite well known Royal Navy Officer.  The authors, both admitted Hornblower devotees, undertook to learn more about those who really served aboard HMS Indefatigable.
         When the fictional Hornblower was aboard this large frigate, cut down from a sixty-four gun third rate, he was a midshipman, or an officer in training.  The authors focused on his mess mates, his fellow midshipman, while including others, both senior and junior.  What emerges is a relatively compact and concise package of biographies, the stories of those who really served aboard.  It not only covers their time aboard Indefatigable, but looks at their beginnings, their prior service, and their later careers in the Royal Navy.
         Prior to reading, this reviewer was advised to read Stephen Taylor’s Commander: The Life and Exploits of Britain’s Greatest Frigate Captain.  This recent and authoritative biography of Sir Edward Pellow would set the stage for the stories about the young gentlemen who served with him aboard Indefatigable.  Whether required or not is debatable.  However, the minutely detailed stories of Hornblower’s real-life contemporaries proved fascinating.  As does Taylor’s work, this volume helps the reader gain more insight into the Royal Navy and the men who served during the French Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars.  It is a must read for those interested in those turbulent times.

Mon, Feb. 18th, 2019, 03:44 pm
Writing Progress

Over the last couple of weeks or so, I haven't made much progress when it comes to completing the third Stone Island Sea Story.  As near as I can tell, I have two or three chapters left before I bring it to an end.  I have it to where the finale is about to take place, but haven't done much with it as of late.

I'm not ignoring the story, however.  Especially since I finished reading the last book I had, I've been doing a lot of editing and revisions on my WIP.  I've printed it out and put it in a three ring binder and once or twice a day go through a little bit more of it.  Right now I've just finished going through chapter Eighteen.  I'm basically looking for typos, spelling errors, grammar and punctuation mistakes.  I'm also looking to pare down the word count, trying to say what I want to say with a smaller number of words.  And of course I'm sometimes revising or rewriting passages here and there.

I suspect that in the past I've done some editing on the earlier chapters, those that I wrote several years ago as I didn't seem to mark them up as much as I have the later chapters... the ones I wrote after I got back on track at the start of November.  I also wonder if that might be because in recent months I've concentrated more on getting it written and not on trying to polish it up as I go.

I've also started to incorporate the marked changes into the text on the computer.  So far I've done the first three chapters and have started on the fourth.  On average it looks like I'm eliminating between 200 and 300 words per chapter, and at this point have cut out two pages.  I'm thinking that when I get into the newer material where the editing is more intense, I might eliminate even more words per chapter.

I am, I suppose, an over-writer, as I almost always end up taking words out of a WIP.  But I've also realized that I have a "writing voice" and a "reading" or "editing voice."  I often end up taking words and phrases out that I remember writing and thinking that was the way I wanted it.  The main goal, however, is to end up with something that others can read and enjoy.

One of these days I'll get back to the story itself and finish the thing up.
Dave
P. S.  Here is a photo of the actual cover art for the two published books.

Pictures are in acrylic on 8 X 10 canvas panels, not much bigger than the book covers.  (6 X 9)

Sun, Feb. 17th, 2019, 12:31 pm
Story Excerpts

So here is the first couple of pages from Chapter Four of Beyond the Ocean's Edge: A Stone Island Sea Story.... Enjoy!

Picture is totally unrelated to the story excerpt... This is how I've envisionaged a dragon transport ship as written about by Naomi Novik in the Temeraire/His Majesty's Dragon Series. 


No Rest for the Weary

          Theadora plunged through the storm.  On a port tack, she heeled to starboard and occasionally drove her bows into a larger-than-usual sea.  Cold dark water exploded over her bow, turned white as it whipped full of air, and streamed, black and icy, off the fo’c’sle.  Her decks rose and fell, twisted and lurched as the seas thrashed around and under her.
            Those unfortunate enough to be on watch took shelter the best they could.  Hands not actively engaged sought the lee of the weather rail, which provided a small break from the wind.  Others stood by on the gun deck, where the gangways offered a minimum of shelter from the driving rain and snow.  Two helmsmen stood shivering and numb at the wheel.  From time to time, one departed for the dubious shelter of the rail or gangway and attempted to warm up.  At the same instant, another left that miserable sanctuary and took his place at the helm.  When the one who remained could no longer grasp the wheel, he too sought the meager protection offered and in turn was replaced.  The lookouts operated in similar fashion.  The midshipman of the watch sat huddled against the mizzenmast.
            Pierce paced the deck, trying to stay warm, while wondering if the midshipman of the watch was awake.  Sleeping on duty was a serious offense, but if he needed the young gentleman, he could nudge him.  In spite of the wretched weather, Theadora rode steady and did not fight the helmsmen.  Keeping on the set course was simple enough, so he said nothing about the rotation that had evolved entirely amongst them.  The hands had also devised the rotation and relief of the lookouts.
             He credited the hands because they covered their duties and made provisions for their comfort and well-being.  At the same time, he berated himself for not devising and putting such a plan into effect.  It was his duty to ensure the performance and the well-being of the hands on watch.
            Sollars would have refused any request by the hands to undertake such an arrangement.  Nor would the hands ever have developed such a pattern on their own, had Sollars been on duty.  They would not have dared ask for or initiate such a routine, knowing Sollars as they did.  They also knew Pierce and that he would not object to their attempts at comfort, provided all vital stations and duties were manned.  Like him, they were merely trying to stay warm and awake.
            Pierce timed his movements to Theadora’s.  He heard the wind play amongst the taut straining rigging and drum against the tight stretched canvas.  He sensed the very pulse of Theadora as she reacted like a living creature to the forces of the wind and sea.  He was acutely aware of the sounds, motions, and vibrations of the frigate, even though his mind wandered and was currently on other matters.  Should the tune of the gale singing through her masts change, or should the rhythm of her movements alter, he would know instantly.
         

Wed, Feb. 13th, 2019, 01:55 pm
Friends

First off, I've used a different icon photo for today... this is He-Lo, our first Quaker Parrot, sitting on my arm right after he came to be with us.  He's gone now and yes we miss him.
Anyway, Stormie and Coco both ended up together a bit earlier today.  Once Stormie is on the floor they seem to get along pretty well.  Coco jumps for her if she is flying down or if we pick her up.  Other than that they both seem curious about the other.  At times it seems the bird is the more forward of the two.  She sort of backed Coco into the corner and he actually started to whine.
Here's a pic of them... sorry but the lighting wasn't the best and Coco's coloration tends to hide in the shadows.
Dave

Stormie invading Coco's space.  He likes to lie in front of the heater vent.


Snuggles?  Not quite, but maybe someday...

Since my previous post about the snow, we got a bunch more.  Spent a good bit of time shovelling yesterday.  Enough over the past few days that it's been a work out for sure.  A little more overnight last night, but not nearly as much.  It's also warmed up a bit and how a lot of the last stuff seems to be melting off.  It's nearly all gone off my truck and I haven't done anything to clean it off.  What little I shovelled is heavier, though.  Still waiting to see if they will plow our street.  They were supposed to be doing an "all city plow," but when it snowed a lot during that evolution they went back and started over on the main roads, etc.  Always amazes me that they'll plow the main roads when they have only a couple of inches of snow or even just a thin layer of slush, and to my mind are perfectly drivable, especially if one uses a little patience and common sense, but they'll let the residential streets pile up with snow to the point people are getting stuck because of the snow's depth.  (As a kid in Alaska, I don't remember that people had problems with slick roads, but rather with getting stuck because the snow was too deep)

Snow in the back yard, Tuesday morning!

Should be it for now... more next time, perhaps an update on the writing/editing process/progress.
Dave

Mon, Feb. 11th, 2019, 02:01 pm
A Real Winter

Over the course of the so called winter months, perhaps actually starting in the fall, we here in the Pacific Northwest (of the USA) go through several cycles of autumn, winter, and spring.  It'll get cold, snow, and then warm up.  Then after a bit of non-descript weather, it'll do it all again.  Quite often it will warm up as it snows, so the precipitation changes to rain and the snow is a soggy wet mess.  Of course, if we go more than a week and a half without snow on the ground or the roads, folks need to learn how to drive in it all over again.

And if you watch the news, everytime it snows is like a big area disaster.  Yet, were we farther north, say in Fairbanks, Alaska, the snow and the cold would not be anything newsworthy.  It is expected.  And relying on decades old memory of my time there, those folks don't experience the constant cycling in and out of winter.  Once it starts, it's winter, and when it finally ends, it's spring.  They don't have to put up with several forays each year into the cold and snow as we do.  For them, winter is winter and that's that.

So over the past week end, we here in Spokane have had a bit of a chance at something approaching "real" winter.  It's cold, at least by our standards, probably balmy in the opinions of the average Alaskan.  It's snowing with great regularity, and for once it is not warming up to create a wet and sloppy mess.  Even shoveling is better this way.  The snow is light and powdery, easy to move and clear off of walks, driveways, and the tops of vehicles.  Even so, shoveling is work and I figure I've been getting some good workouts as of late.  I've shoveled at least once a day since the snow began and a couple of times I've shoveled twice in a day.  Twice now our neighbor, Joe, has been out with his snow blower.  He's done the side walk along the entire block as well as our driveway and a path for the mailman between our two houses.

Looks like we will be having some slightly warmer temperatures over the next few days, but I'm hoping it doesn't get too warm.  We have a lot of snow on the ground now so it would be nasty if it all started to melt.

Here are a few pictures.

Looking East across the front of our house.  You can see the path cleared out for the mail man.  We got a few more inches last night after this was taken.

From earlier today, before cleaning snow off the vehicles. (Yeah, Xmas lites are still up, but they've been disconnected.)

Also from this morning... the house as seen from the street.

Hope everyone had a great weekend and that your week is starting of smoothly!
Dave

Sun, Feb. 10th, 2019, 09:31 pm
An Extra Story Excerpt

I know I posted a story excerpt from Beyond the Ocean's Edge earlier today, but I came across something on Twitter that causes me to post another.  Here we jump to the middle portion of Chapter Seven, "Auspicious Meetings" as Pierce arrives at the home of Harold Smythe.  This particular passage recounts his first meeting, not with Smythe, but with the dog, Junior.

             “I am here to see a Mr. Harold Smythe,” said Pierce.  “I was given his name concerning possible employment while we are at peace.”
            “Please come in, won’t you?”  He looked at the dog, black and white, with a touch of tan and gray, one blue eye and one of brown, who watched Pierce guardedly.
            “That’ll do!” he said.  “Junior, that’ll do!”  The dog relaxed and let Pierce enter the house.
            “Whom shall I say is calling?”
            “Edward Pierce, Lieutenant, Royal Navy.”
            “Very well, sir.  You may wait here.”
            The old man led Pierce into a study.  It needed a good tidying, looking comfortably used.  Books were scattered about, and a tray with the remnants of light refreshment sat on a small table.  The table top and other furniture had a slight layer of dust, evidence of days passed since any cleaning.  Another table had maps and charts spread out in haphazard fashion.
            Curious, Pierce glanced at the top map, which was of the Indian Ocean.  It had several positions annotated, and he wondered at their significance.  Did they have anything to do with the voyage being planned?  He spotted a comfortable-looking chair and, being weary, sat down.
            The dog had remained, and now Pierce saw him lying in front of the fire.  Was the dog there to guard him?  The dog was awake and aware, but paid him no attention.
            “Junior?” Pierce said softly.  The dog looked.  “Junior?  How are you, boy?”  Hearing the voice and his name once more, the dog relaxed, wagged his tail tentatively, and approached.  Junior sniffed at Pierce’s proffered hand.  With another beat of his tail, he extended a paw as if to shake hands.
            “How do you do, Junior?” said Pierce, who gently shook the paw.  Junior looked him in the eye and smiled as only a dog can smile, and lay down contentedly under Pierce’s feet.


Tanya (top), and Tiffany, our first "Canine Kids" may have helped inspire Junior in the Stone Island Sea Stories.
Dave

Sun, Feb. 10th, 2019, 02:00 pm
Story Excerpt

A few days ago I posted the first couple of pages from the third Chapter of Beyond the Ocean's Edge: A Stone Island Sea Story.  Here is the last three pages of that chapter. I'm posting them because they might explain why the chapter is titled, "Man Overboard."

Picture here is totally unrelated, but shows Coco playing in the snow the other day!
Dave

         Theadora plunged through the raw stormy night.  On the port tack she ran with triple- reefed topsails, a storm jib, and the barest scrap of a fully reefed spanker.  The heel to starboard was moderate and bearable.  From time to time white water flashed over the starboard bow and cascaded aft.  Soaked to the skin, Pierce checked to see that all tasks were completed.
            On the huge foreyard, fifty feet over his head, three skilled hands rechecked the gaskets securing the furled forecourse.  As they moved inboard, their task completed, a gigantic sea thudded solidly against Theadora’s bows.  The frigate staggered from the impact.  A shudder passed through the frigate that was magnified aloft.  One of the three men on the foreyard slipped, his feet losing traction on the slippery horse.  Pierce heard his shriek of terror, and helplessly watched the hapless man fall into the sea, yards from the ship.
          Read more...Collapse )
            “We’ve seen that before,” said Pierce.  His teeth chattered.  “Tell Mr. Phelps I’ll relieve him shortly.”  He made for the companionway and went below.

Wed, Feb. 6th, 2019, 03:40 pm
Closer To The End

My progress on the third Stone Island Sea Story has slowed somewhat since November, back when I tried to parallel NaNoWriMo and wrote a good portion of the story.  I doubt if I've written as much in December, January, and no February as I did then.  But I am making progress and now am nearing the finish.  Hard to tell for sure, but I'm thinking one or two, maybe three more chapters after I finish the one currently in work. (Chapter Twenty Three)  I getting to the final scenes and I'm having to think a bit to figure out how it is supposed to play out.

As I've done in the past, I've printed/am printing it out and putting it into a three ring binder.  For those who might be curious, it is in standard format, other than the fact that I print double-sided.  This is just to save paper and keep it from being impossibly thick.  More than likely it will end up over 400 pages, so...


Working Copy of Darnahsian Pirates: One More Stone Island Sea Story.  Got a bit of glare so the title above the picture doesn't show up. It's complete up through Chapter Twenty-Two.

Even though I haven't finished the story, I'm starting to edit a bit.  I've been going through a chapter or two each evening before I sleep, using the printed copy.  Most of it is a parring of extra words or slightly rephrasing something that after several months or even years looks a bit awkward.  Also trying to just read through it at more of a reader's pace than a writer's.  I think the slower pace of writing can cause us to include too much information in our work, especially repeated information.  It's because we wrote and included it weeks, months, or even years ago and it feels like we need to mention it again because the reader probably has forgotten it by now.  But the reader might have just passed over that particular passage in the recent past, so including it again is a bit of a waste.  As writers we need to understand the reader is an intelligent person and will remember more details than we give them credit for.

Anyway, reading through it, even while on an initial editing pass lets me see it more as a reader and might help point out pacing and timing problems, as well as the possibility of including too much or repeated information.

Still feeling like I should finish the story itself by the end of this month.
Dave

P. S.  Have finished Lee Child's Killing Floor: A Jack Reacher Novel.  Haven't started anything new as I might use my daily reading time for my editing.

Sat, Feb. 2nd, 2019, 03:10 pm
Another Story Excerpt

Figure it's about time to post the first page of Chapter Three in Beyond the Ocean's Edge: A Stone Island Sea Story.  Actually I'm posting the first two.  I've also decided that on occasion I might delve into certain chapters and post a scene or two from there as well.
Dave

Cover art for my second book a bit farther along than the last time I posted an excerpt from the first.

Chapter Three
Man Overboard

        
            The first dog watch was nearly over.  Pierce was glad for a two-hour rather a four-hour round of duty.  Duties were split in the late afternoon and early evening to allow all hands a chance at supper and other evening activities.  It also allowed an odd number of watches each day and a variance in when each watch was on deck.  Pierce’s duty as officer of the watch came in rotation and its frequency depended upon the number qualified to stand the watch.  Currently, the three ship’s lieutenants and the master shared the duty.  The senior midshipman took a turn when it would not interfere with his duties as midshipman of the watch.  On most King’s ships, the first lieutenant did not stand watch in rotation, but alternated time on deck with the captain.  Aboard Theadora, however, Lieutenant Forrest had a better feel for the ship if he stood watch regularly, and had inserted himself into the rotation.  Captain Jackson had not faulted the idea and occasionally took the duty for a surprised and grateful junior.  He once said he needed to occasionally refresh his memory of being a watch-standing officer.
            Sollars and Andrews arrived to assume their duties as officer and midshipman of the watch.  The turnovers were complete and as Pierce turned to leave, he heard the captain call out, “Mr. Andrews!”
            “Sir?”
             “I shall require Mr. Sollars’ presence below.  You are qualified to have the deck?”
            Taken aback, Andrews stammered, “Y-Yes sir!”
            “Your opinion, Mr. Sollars?” asked the captain.
            “As any of the midshipmen, sir.”  Sollars was noncommittal.
            “Mr. Pierce?”
            “Undoubtedly, sir.  Indeed more than many of the young gentlemen.”
            “Very well then,” said Jackson.  “Mr. Sollars, pass on to Mr. Andrews any instructions you would have for him, and join us below.”
            “Aye aye, sir!”
            “Mr. Andrews,” continued the captain, “You know the standing orders.  I am to be called should you need to alter course or shorten sail.  I do tend to overlook that requirement if you must act hastily to prevent loss or damage to the ship.”
            “Aye aye, sir!” responded Midshipman Andrews.
            “Now gentlemen,” he said to Pierce and Sollars.  “My cabin in ten minutes.”
            “Aye aye, sir!”
            Pierce went below, glad at last to be out of the biting cold wind. He hung up his muffler and pea jacket and ensured his good gloves were safely tucked in the pockets.  He made a final unsuccessful attempt to put his cocked hat in decent form, and left for the captain’s cabin.
            Jackson welcomed and bade him be seated.  Shortly the other officers, as well as Midshipman Small, arrived.  He was the senior midshipman, and for many weeks had been assigned duties and responsibilities more suited to a lieutenant.  He was in all ways, except actual pronouncement of the fact, an acting lieutenant.
           “I hope you do not expect a great feast at the captain’s table tonight,” began Jackson. 

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