Log in

No account? Create an account

Fri, Mar. 1st, 2019, 04:38 pm
Editing Progress

At one time I thought I would have finished the first draft of the third Stone Island Sea Story by the end of February.  Based on how much of the story I have left to write/create, it is entirely possible I would have done so.  But as the last month began, I got into an editing mode and have been doing that for the past few weeks.

I've gone through all the material I have printed out so far, all completed twenty two chapters.  (I'm about 2/3 done with chapter 23.)  And I've been inputing corrections and changes into the material on the computer, completing chapter ten last night.  I haven't made any big sweeping changes to the story.... yet, and honestly I don't expect to.  For the most part I've been eliminating excess wordage and at times simplifying how things are said.  Hopefully I'm making it more readable and to the point.  In the process of updating the computer text, I've so far shortened it by about 15 pages.  In the original text I'm near the bottom of page 167, while in the new version/revision I'm at the top of page 152.  Looks like I'm shortening it by about one page in 10.  I find that I'm not only incorporating the changes I've marked while reading through the printed chapters, but I'm also making changes I notice while in the process of updating.  And now and then I decide I don't want to make a specific change and so I leave it as is.

In case you like to see what sort of changes I'm making, here is a before and after version of a paragraph from chapter 10.  I think it gets shortened by about 16 words and hopefully is a little easier to read, follow and understand.
                Now under mainsail and jib alone, the schooner completed her leisurely turn to starboard and headed south, down the bay.  In the lee of the protective peninsula, the wind was light and sometimes variable.  They coasted along easily, their passage through the water hardly raising a bow wave and leaving only the slightest of wakes.  As anxious as Pierce was, and as anxious as he realized everyone else was to complete their long journey, he did not wish to rush this last part of it.  From extensive soundings taken while on the earlier voyage, he knew the bay was calm and deep.  He need not worry about shoals or hidden reefs rising up to hole the hull and put them in peril.  Yet they were in confined waters, and here any mistake would be magnified and the time required to correct it reduced.

           Under mainsail and jib alone, the schooner completed her leisurely turn to starboard and headed south, down the bay.  In the peninsula’s lee the wind was light and sometimes variable.  They coasted along, their passage barely raising a bow wave and leaving only a slight wake.  As anxious as Pierce was, and as anxious as everyone was to complete the journey, he didn’t want to rush this last portion.  Extensive soundings had been taken on the earlier voyage, so he knew the bay was calm and deep.  He need not worry about shoals or hidden reefs rising up to hole the hull and put them in peril.  Yet they were in confined waters where any mistake would be magnified and the time allowed correcting it, reduced.

On a completely unrelated note...

When we went to Fairbanks, Alaska a couple of summes ago, I bought this "Alaska Gear" winter hat at a small shop not far from where our family homestead had been.  It's been cold enough to wear at times here in Spokane.  If I can get it fastened under my chin it keeps ears and head toasty warm.

Wed, Feb. 27th, 2019, 03:05 pm
More This and That

Saturday night I went to the premier car club event in our area... the Inland Northwest Car Club Council's Show No Shine.  It's an awards banquet sort of event where folks from all the local car clubs get together, usually with a theme.  This year it was "Rockabilly" and Elvis in the building.  Multiple times.
One of the things they do is raffle off various prize packages, usually sponsored by the various clubs, or by individuals.  So I put together a small package consisting of a copy of each of my books and a framed print of each of the cover art images.  Got some frames for them at Wal-Mart and donated the entire package.

I know the individual who won it and hope he enjoys them.
Had a band there playing a lot of Rockabilly tunes, and doing a pretty good job of it.  Folks even got up and danced now and then.

I remembered my phone this year so I could take some pics.... forgot it last year.

The real surprise for me came when they announced the Newsletter of the Year for 2018.  Turned out to be the Inland Northwest Corvair Club's REAR ENGINE REVIEW, which I just happen to edit.

Nice plaque, even if they messed up a bit on the newsletter name.  It's Rear ENGINE Review, not the Rear Review.   That might be an entirely different sort of publication.
Anyway, if anyone want to see said Rear Engine Review, you can visit the INCC's web-site.  Our web-master has had some health concerns of late and probably doesn't have the most recent issues posted, but there should be one up from a couple months ago.

Next time, another story excerpt from Beyond the Ocean's Edge, and one of these days, a "before and after" example of what I'm trying to do in editing the third Stone Island Sea Story.

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 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.

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.
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

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.

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.

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!

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.

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!

         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.

skipped back 10