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Sat, May. 4th, 2019, 06:03 pm
Weekly Book Review

Still trying to catch up on reviews that have recently been added to the SASP files.  I've just finished reading the second one and will be writing a review shortly.

Reviewed by Esther J. Hildahl

         The Sanctamooja and Me is the author’s story of his young life. Brown writes about his adventures in a very humorous way. Often his adventures and ideas were quite dangerous and it’s a wonder he lived through childhood. I enjoyed reading this book and found that it became quite addictive. Most of the chapters are short and action packed and I couldn’t read just one chapter and stop. I had to read more and more to see what crazy thing would happen next. His characters—friends and relatives—were all very interesting and entertaining. The life and times of his childhood reminded me of my own childhood and brought back fond memories. This book was a fun book to read.

Waxing Is Useless

By M.J. Hudon

Reviewed by James B. Parry
         Don’t judge this book by its cover (or by its playful title.)  It is quite a serious (with some humor) fantasy, horror, thriller, murder mystery about a seemingly ordinary family.  Turns out, Mom (Miranda) has a weird recessive gene that causes her to turn into a wolf whenever stressed.  Events gradually reveal this to her, and later to her family, as her lupus and problems at work worsen, not to mention the stress caused by her two teenage children.
         This is a different kind of werewolf book.  These wolf/humans are here to HELP humankind.  (Not to worry:  There is a hideous - and odoriferous - monster lurking at all times in the background.)  Apparently, many people have this hidden wolf gene.  These “werewolves” then become “Guardians” protecting us normal human beings.  Miranda must decide if she wants to become a Guardian (which would greatly lessen her lupus symptoms) or stick with her regular life.
         There are many surprises in this book including a few murders, a kidnapping, and a sort of exorcism.  Exciting and well written.  It was hard to put it down.  Normally, I read a few pages of a book in bed each night before the book puts me to sleep, but Waxing Is Useless kept me reading for hours – until my wife would yell at me to turn out the light. 
         Buy a copy, and you, too, will be glued to this book.

Fri, Apr. 26th, 2019, 02:30 pm
Weekly Book Review

As I mentioned before, since I stopped posting reviews from the Spokane Authors and Self-Publishers web-site, a few more have been posted there.  Here are a few more new ones.  (Some may have been posted here earlier, but now a new review has been added for that particular book.)

Reviewed by Johanna Urquhart
(Historical Novel Society)

                1933.  J. B. Rivard centers part of his novel Illusions of Magic around a true-life and little-known historical incident: an attempted assassination of Franklin D. Roosevelt in Miami in February of 1933.  The assassin, Giuseppe Zangara, had allegedly been trying to shoot Roosevelt when he accidentally shot Chicago Mayor Anton Cermak instead (Cermak later died of his wound). 
         This incident is part of the dramatic backdrop of Rivard’s fast-paced and punchy novel about struggling professional stage magician Nick Zetner.  The backdrop – and the author’s excellent illustrations throughout – furnishes a good deal of the charm of the book.  Nick Zetner’s adventures, part screwball comedy and part Dashiell Hammett, combine with the richly authentic atmosphere of the setting to create a quick and very enjoyable read that smoothly intermingles Nick’s love life with a challenging case he takes on for a corrupt banker.
         The book reads like a breath of fresh air – recommended.

Reviewed by Esther J. Hildahl

         Illusions of Magic tells the story of an unemployed magician in Chicago during the Great Depression in the year 1933. He is eventually hired by a banker to get some compromising photos back after they were taken in a bank robbery. Thus, the adventure begins as he is drawn into the underworld of Chicago, which eventually leads to finding his lost love of twenty years. The setting of the story takes place during the fatal wounding of the city’s mayor who took a bullet meant for Franklin D. Roosevelt.  
         I enjoyed reading this story. The characters are well-defined and interesting.
The story is fast moving and exciting right to the end, which has a surprise ending. I also liked the book cover and the black and white illustrations. It was a good read.

Out of the Sand

By K.M. Carter

Reviewed by Esther J. Hildahl

        Out of the Sand tells the story of Professor Ivan who faces a devastating loss when his wife dies, leaving him to care for their infant son. When he has to go on a long trip into Indian territory for the government, he leaves his son with his late wife’s parents. Thus, Ivan begins his journey, not knowing his life will be changed forever when he meets and falls in love with Running Water, a beautiful young Indian Woman. After they are married, they travel back to Ivan’s home to begin their new life. Everything is different now for Running Water as she learns to navigate the white man’s world.

         Ms. Carter has written a good story. If you like romance books, this book is for you.

Reviewed by Rhonda Cordes (a fan)

        I’ve finished reading Poopie the Fly and Friends. What a clever and creative book! My favorite thing about it is the way the author weaves education and life lessons throughout the story and still keeps it entertaining. I enjoyed reading it very much.

Sun, Apr. 21st, 2019, 05:17 pm
Weekly Book Review

A few days ago I posted a couple of book reviews that had recently been added to the Spokane Authors and Self-Publishers web-site.  After doing so, I discovered that a number of reviews had been posted there since I last posted here on LiveJournal.  Today I provide a couple more for you to investigate, and will try to provide the rest over the next couple of weeks.  As always, these are usually reviews written by SASP members for books by other SASP members.  On occasion they are written by members for books by non members, or they are written by non members for members.  The basic rule is: to be include on the SASP web-site, either the book has to have been written by a current or recently current member or at least one reviewer has to be a current or recently current member.

Some may have been posted here earlier, but a new review has been added for that book.

So anyway, here are a couple more.

A Journey to Independence

By Tiffani Harvey

Reviewed by Esther J. Hildahl

A Journey to Independence was written by the author who was born with many disabilities. It’s the story of her life experiences and the choices she has had to make—often not easy. She has a strong belief in God and herself and sometimes has to prove to others that just because she is disabled doesn’t mean that she isn’t capable of doing many things. I learned from this book that there are things that can make life better and safer for the disabled. One of these things is public transportation. It should be a lot easier to schedule rides on the disability van and the people who ride them should be dropped off and picked up as close to the time the person signed up for as possible. More drivers should be hired. No one likes to have their time wasted, waiting for long periods of time or being dropped off hours before an appointment.

    Ms. Harvey takes us into her world and offers good advice for other disabled people and to those who are interested in what she has to say. She’s also written a workbook (Growing Independent) to go along with this book.
(The book has also been issued in a somewhat revised form and is called Freedom Seeker.  It also has a companion workbook called Freedom Seeking.)

Ghostly Reunion

by Larry Danek

Reviewed by Sue Eller

The Nomadic Ghost returns to take care of some unfinished business from his time as Robbin Simms, and finds himself in the Boise River, swimming desperately for shore.

In this second installment of the Nomadic Ghost series, Danek and his ghost deal with the challenges of a resident mind that is insecure and has some mental issues. The ghost persona must strengthen the body it occupies in order to finish the work begun in the last body as it struggles to find out just what that work had been.

Not your usual ghost story, Ghostly Reunion is more a tale of the living than the dead, as the main character jumps from consciousness to consciousness, and body to body, to right some of society’s wrongs and bring together people who need each other.

Reviewed by Esther J. Hildahl

   Ghostly Reunion: a story of the Nomadic Ghost is the author’s second book in his ghost series. The ghost in these stories inhabits the body of a person who is about to die. His purpose is to go on a journey to help this person complete any unfinished task that needs to be done before the person dies. He does this with the help of other ghosts and some living persons who know he is a ghost.

    This is a unique twist on ghost stories and is well worth the read. It has good dialogue, well-defined characters, and the story moves right along.

Sun, Apr. 21st, 2019, 11:26 am
Story Excerpt

Happy Easter, Everybody!

Here is another excerpt from Beyond the Ocean's Edge: A Stone Island Sea Story.  It's from Chapter Eleven, and is titled, "Commissioning."  I expect there will be another selection from this chapter in a few days.

The fifteenth of August saw Island Expedition fully outfitted and ready to sail for the first time.  The ship’s company, dressed in their finest shore-going rig, was assembled on deck, all looking remarkably similar.  At a time when no uniforms were specified for the hands, Pierce had pressed both the Admiralty and the Organization to provide sufficient, serviceable, and uniform clothing for the hands.  The midshipmen, the warrant officers, and Lieutenant Hotchkiss were in their best or full dress uniforms. The fifteen men of the marine detachment under Sergeant Lincoln added a flash of scarlet to the blue, white, and gold that dominated the assembled ship’s company.
            Officials of the British Island Expeditionary Organization, including the head of the group, Harold Smythe, and his daughter Evangeline were on deck.  She had christened the vessel a month earlier as it slid down the ways.  Captain Jackson and Lieutenant Forrest, lately of His Majesty’s Frigate Theadora, represented the Royal Navy.
            Edward Pierce nervously paced the quayside, warm in his full dress uniform.  He had grown unaccustomed to wearing a sword, and the weapon swung ponderously at his side.  Would he trip over it?  Thankfully he did not need to board from a small boat.  That would lessen his chances of catching some portion of the schooner’s structure.  Today he could simply walk aboard.
            In the distance, a church bell rang.  The forenoon watch was half over, and four bells sounded from Island Expedition’s belfry.  Pierce strode purposefully to the foot of the brow.  He stopped momentarily and then placed one foot on the plank.  At that instant the pipes started and the drums rolled.  With a few measured strides, he gained the deck and stepped aboard.  The side boys knuckled their foreheads with white-gloved right hands.  The bo’sun’s mates saluted with their left, their pipes held in their right.  Lieutenant Hotchkiss, the warrant officers, and the midshipmen doffed hats.  Pierce raised his in return and was mirrored by Jackson and Forrest.  The squeal of pipes and the roar of the drums ceased.
            “I will now read my orders,” said Pierce in a loud and firm voice.
            “Off hats!” shouted Hotchkiss.  The assembled crew uncovered, as did other male guests and dignitaries.
            Pierce unfolded the paper he had pulled from his breast pocket and began:
            “From the Lords of the Admiralty, Whitehall, London, to Master and Commander Edward Pierce, at, in, or near His Majesty’s Auxiliary Schooner Island Expedition, currently quayside in Cowes, upon the Isle of Wight.
            “You are hereby directed, requested, and required to report your person in aforesaid vessel at the earliest instant.  Upon reporting aboard you will place yourself in command of said vessel, take charge of said vessel and all persons assigned to or employed in said vessel.  You will take it upon yourself to ensure that aforesaid vessel is serviceable, seaworthy, prepared, and equipped for extended periods at sea.  Upon determination that these requirements are met, you will soonest, report such fact to Sir Joseph Tompkins, Knight of the Bath, Rear Admiral of the Blue, Commanding His Majesty’s Ships and Vessels embarked and deployed upon Special Duties and Assignments.
            “You are hereby directed, requested, and required to take into the above named vessel, one Harold Smythe of the British Island Expedition Organization, any other such persons of that Organization that he may require to have in the said vessel, and those persons required by Harold Smythe, or others of the Organization as members their respective staffs.  You are further hereby directed, requested, and required to take into said vessel any other person or persons that he or other members of the Organization may elect to bring into the vessel under your command.  You are hereby directed, requested, and required to place yourself and the vessel under your command and charge into the services of Harold Smythe and the British Island Expedition Organization, and provide to Harold Smythe and the British Island Expedition Organization such service and perform such duties as they may direct, request, and require.
            “You are hereby notified and informed that as a King’s Officer commanding a vessel commissioned in service to the Crown, that you and all persons assigned in or employed aboard said vessel are governed by all the rules, regulations, and laws that exist for His Majesty’s Ships and Vessels while in said service.  You are hereby notified and informed that you and all others serving in the Royal Navy and in the vessel under your command are fully subject to the Articles of War.  You are hereby directed, requested, and required to ensure, under pain of the severest penalties, that you and all other persons in aforesaid vessel and in service to the Royal Navy and under your command, do hereby subscribe to, follow, and obey the Articles of War.
            “(Signed) Sir John Humphries, Knight Commander, Vice Admiral of the Red, at the direction of Lord St. Vincent, First Lord of the Admiralty.  Given under my hand this eighth day of August, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and two.”
            He put his orders in his pocket. As he did so, a ball of cloth sailed up the halyards and broke out at the tip of the main gaff.  Fluttering in the breeze, the Blue Ensign indicated that the schooner served under an admiral of the Blue Squadron.  He turned, faced the ensign, and saluted.  The other officers did the same.  The little band assembled on the quay struck up a passable rendition of “God Save the King.”  When it was done, Pierce replaced his hat, the other officers following his lead.
            “On hats!” bellowed Hotchkiss.
            “Mr. Hotchkiss!” said Pierce.  “Dismiss the hands and carry out the routine of the day!”
            “Aye aye, sir!” replied Lieutenant Hotchkiss.
            “Mr. Hotchkiss!”
            “At your convenience let those deserving go ashore for festivities at the Inn of the Isle.”

HMS/OGS Island Expediion

Tue, Apr. 16th, 2019, 03:16 pm
Weekly Book Review

Actually haven't been posting book reviews for a while, but in my alternative disguse as web-master for Spokane Authors and Self-Publishers, I've recently posted two new ones to their web-site.  I'll include them here for you to check out.

Reviewed by Joyce Caudel

           E.T. Investigations, some think the E.T. stands for Extra Terrestrial, therefore Emily Trace’s client list consist of some strange creatures from outer space and some strange creatures from right here on earth.
           Emily, high on caffeine, is told she has two days to vacate her office.  The new owner wants to make the building into condos.  That alone is enough to keep her whole staff and all her friends busy.
           Control freak bully, Charley Russell, wants Emily to close her agency and marry him.  Emily’s house erupts in flames while she is sleeping, she escapes with her life.  Later her car is totaled by a runaway driverless semi-truck. Detective Burton decides Emily needs protecting.  Of course, there are all those drones!
           Emily finds the key to unlock the mystery of who killed her husband.  I hope she can relax for a while, but I’m sure Sue is busy writing the next book in the Emily Trace Mystery series.  I thoroughly enjoyed this story as I did the first two in the series.  Sue’s characters are very believable, in an out of this world sort of way.   If you enjoy a good mystery with a Sci-Fi edge to it, you will enjoy Send in the Drones by Sue Eller.

Mountain Secrets
(Sorry, no cover image available)
By Joyce Nowacki

Reviewed by Bob Weldin

        The setting for Mountain Secrets is Rathdrum, Idaho and vicinity, prior to and during the early days of Prohibition, 1919 and 1920.  A young woman is on the run from cops and Chicago mobsters, carrying secrets and a satchel of money.  She rides the trains, changing her name and destination frequently, until she ends up at Rathdrum.  She meets Ralph, the bartender, and becomes a popular singer at his bar until she is recognized by a mysterious stranger.  Ralph hooks her up with moonshiners who take her to their mountain hide away.  The locals conspire against the laws of Federal Prohibition.  There is a mysterious murder and the young woman’s secrets are found out.
         The author does a good job of describing the characters and the physical surroundings.  Likewise, she does a good job of distinguishing the hickish drawls of moonshiners from the slicksters from Spokane, Seattle, and Chicago.  The story is a quick enjoyable read, but my wife and I agree that the sudden conclusion left us with many unanswered questions.  However, that seems to be the modern trend for novels… maybe that’s the setup for a sequel.
          Mountain Secrets is Joyce Nowacki’s third novel.  She writes historical fiction, combining historical periods with places where she grew up in North Idaho.  I look forward to reading her first two novels:  The Other Side of the Fence, 2010, which is an historical novel about Chinese immigrants, and The Magic of Ordinary Times, 2012, which is about growing up in North Idaho during the 1950s,
         From Write Offsite Publishing, 2018, 211 pages

Fri, Apr. 12th, 2019, 02:26 pm
Story Excerpt

Time I guess to post something from Chapter Nine of Beyond the Ocean's Edge.  This scene occurs near the end of the chapter, but reflects the reason why it is called "Her Unique Skill."

Pierce looked at Evangeline, and she at him.  They nodded resignedly and stepped to the ground.  The brigand with two pistols stepped close.  “Now you, here’s one last chance.  Where’s the rest of it?  Tell us an’ we won’t let no harm come your way!”  When neither of them responded, he raised a pistol high in the air, intending to bring it down on Evangeline’s head.
            His arm dropped.  Pierce moved to intercept and deflect the blow.  He could not bear to see her so cruelly treated.  Even as he moved, and as quick as he was, he was astounded by her sudden transformation.  Instantly she was on her toes.  Her right arm swung in a vertical arc across her body.  As her forearm rose over her head, it collided with the descending pistol.  The gun’s trajectory was deflected and missed her head completely.     
            Then her fists set to work in an alternating rhythm.  One lashed at her attacker while the other was drawn back, tight against her ribs, ready to strike in its turn.  The first blow landed square on the thief’s mask.  Blood soaked through the cloth.  The second caught him in the chest, and the third landed between his legs.  He doubled over with a howl of pain and surprise.  As he reached the lowest point of his “bow,” Evangeline’s foot moved in a blurry circle and caught him full on the chin.  He grunted and staggered back.  She followed and aimed a second kick lower on his anatomy and caught his right knee.  He collapsed on the ground.  She kicked again, and once more aimed for his head.  On his knees, his head was within easy reach of her kicks.  Twice, more rapidly than Pierce would have thought possible, her foot struck out.  Each time there was a solid crunch and pop.  The villain sank closer to the ground and complete incapacitation.
            Evangeline’s sudden explosion of violence had startled them all, including Pierce.  He recovered quickly and reached madly for the cutlass-wielding fiend.  He took hold of the man’s wrist and immobilized the cutlass.  He drove his knee into the man’s midsection, and the wind exploded from him.  The thief swung his free hand at Pierce, who sidestepped and swung a momentarily free fist himself.  His blow connected.
            The other two assailants were not idle.  The horseman rode down on Evangeline and attempted to strike her with his quirt.  Amazingly, she seized it and held on.  The sudden pull upset the rider and he tumbled to the ground.  “Damn my soul!” he snarled.  “Wench fights like a demon.  What a time in the hay!”
             With a raging scream, he charged at her, his drawn cutlass waving menacingly over his head.  She stepped aside at the last moment and stuck out her foot.  He tripped and sprawled to the ground.  She kicked at the base of his head, but he rolled away.   Having missed her kick, Evangeline was off balance.  The rogue caught hold of her ankle, and she tumbled to the ground.  However, he did not account for her other leg.  Before he could take advantage of her position, her free foot lashed out and caught him in the gut.  That was enough.  He let go of her ankle.  That foot followed with a kick aimed slightly lower than the first.  Like a ship caught in stays, the man staggered and gave her time to roll away and spring quickly to her feet.
            Pierce grabbed his opponent’s sword hand in both of his and brought it down across the edge of the buggy.  The brigand howled and dropped the cutlass.  Pierce stomped mightily on the fellow’s foot, then bent and snatched up the cutlass.  He brought it down, hilt first, on the man’s head, and the villain crumpled to the ground.
            He turned to find Evangeline set upon by the remaining two.  Amazingly, she appeared to have the upper hand.  The dismounted rider had felt the fury of her blows and was extremely wary of any foolhardy attempts to subdue her.  The other, who had been holding the horses, also circled warily about her.  He was determined not to receive the vicious treatment already meted out to his companions.  At a loss over what to do with the young lady who had bested one companion and had nearly beaten a second, the rogue drew his horse pistol.  He drew it to full cock and aimed at the girl.
            Pierce flung the cutlass with all his strength.  The honed edge struck the robber’s forearm and sliced through to the bone.  Blood exploded from the wound.   In pain and surprise, he dropped the pistol.  It discharged as it hit the ground, and the ball struck Pierce a glancing blow on his left forehead.  Hurting and full of fighting rage, Pierce bounded at the wounded man.  He grabbed the fallen pistol by the muzzle, swung it like a hammer, and nailed the grip into man’s face.  He delivered a second blow and the man no longer posed a threat.
            “Damn bitch!” growled the one fiend that remained.  He made a final lunge at her, and that was his downfall.  Again she stepped aside.  This time she did not trip him.  As he went past, she grabbed his nearer arm and twisted it behind his back.  Then she pulled and he spun dizzily around to face her.  Her fists moved blurringly in rapid succession, striking repeatedly at his face, his torso, and occasionally, his groin.  She interspaced the quick short powerful punches with kicks that seemed to circle around and catch him from all directions.
            A kick landed against one knee.  Another exploded on the other knee.  A third caught him full between the legs.  Before he could double over because of the intense pain of his most personal parts, she delivered a blow to his exposed throat.  She didn’t use her fist for this attack.  Her hand was open, the fingers straight and tight together.  At the last instant she turned her hand outward and the joint of her thumb struck his larynx with devastating impact.  He gasped noisily and painfully for breath and collapsed.
            Breathing heavily, Pierce looked about.  The four would-be robbers were on the ground.  They were unconscious but would not long remain that way. 
            Evangeline also gasped for air.  She was disheveled, her hair partly undone, and dirt and sweat streaked across her face.  There was a bruise on one cheek and the beginnings of a black eye.  She also looked warily at the unconscious assailants.
            Pierce looked at her with awe.  What an amazing lady!
            “Are you hurt, my dear?” he asked concernedly.
            “I think not.  Some bruises.  Some scrapes.  I’ll be sore, perhaps black and blue tomorrow.” She smiled.  “But you, dear sir, are wounded!  Your head is bleeding!  Here!”
            “Yes,” he answered and reached a weary hand to his forehead.  “I don’t think it is of any consequence.  We need secure these rascals before they recover, and decide what to do with them.”
            “Let’s be quick, and I’ll tend your injury.”
            Pierce found some line under the seat.  They used the cordage to tie each of the brigands’ hands together behind their backs.  At the same time, eight or so feet connected one individual to the next.  He tied the remainder to the horse’s saddle and then tied the horse to the buggy. 
            Evangeline removed any remaining weapons from the assailants and placed them in the buggy.  She tightly bound the sliced arm of the one who had tried to shoot her minutes earlier.  Was it from the goodness of her heart that she could not stand to see anyone pour out his life’s blood?  Or was she a bit more practical, bandaging the wound to allow the man to survive and answer for his misdeeds?
            Then, with water from the rivulet, she washed the bullet wound on Pierce’s head, and wound a bit of cloth about it.
            One of the robbers stirred.  “Up and at ’em now, lads!” shouted Pierce.  “There’s a long walk ahead of you!”
            Pierce and Miss Smythe resumed their journey homeward.  The team hauled the rig out of the gully.  Tied to the buggy, the riderless horse followed.  Being tied to that horse and each other, the criminals followed as well.
            Prior to the attack, Pierce had been in no hurry to reach the Smythe residence.  Now he was in a great rush, and he urged the old team to pick up the pace.  He did not have any sympathy for those who followed and did not give them the comfort of a slower pace.  The quicker pace gave the brigands even less opportunity to free themselves.

Fri, Apr. 5th, 2019, 05:38 pm
Story Excerpts

On Monday I posted the opening couple of pages from Chapter eight of Beyond the Ocean's Edge: A Stone Island Sea Story.  Today, I provide the closing bits of that chapter.  If this or any of the other story excerpts stir up your interest, the book is available on-line at amzn.com/dp/B008TXC332 (Kindle) or amzn.com/dp/1432780379 (paperback) If you are outside of the US, the Amazon store address will be different, but the ten digit ASINs will be the same.  It's also available on Barnes and Noble On-Line, (Nook and paperback) Sorry, don't have the URLs at the moment, at at the bookstore at www.outskirtspress.com

My painting of a light house at sunset.  Doesn't have anything to do with the post, but thought you'd might like to see it.

             “You asked how this ties in with finding the island.  It is Papa’s dream to find it so that people who are unjustly accused or imprisoned can have a new, free life.
            “You see, Papa has realized that in most places, justice is not so blind.  The poor, the followers of a different faith, those of another race or nationality are often accused and convicted, not on the evidence, but on their difference.  Even in England, it can be said that appearance and money talk.  If you or a common seaman were charged with identical crimes under identical circumstances, I think that you would more easily be acquitted.  Guilty or not, it doesn’t matter.  It is your status as an officer.  The seaman, being of a lower standing, would more likely be convicted, whether or not he was really guilty.”
            “I have noticed the same.”
            “Most people don’t.  But Papa does.  And he knows that sometimes a crime is committed out of necessity.  A pauper steals in order to feed his family.  A person kills another in self-defense.  There are often special circumstances surrounding the facts of guilt.
            “Papa has made arrangements to screen convicts sentenced to transportation.  Those he can determine to be innocent or victims of circumstance will be offered an opportunity to settle on the island.  They will be pardoned and asked to work, both for a wage and to help build the community.  When a short contract time is up, they will be free to leave.”
            “And return to England?”  Pierce asked.
            “Sadly, no,” she stated.  “That was a point that Papa lost. They will be allowed to go to the island, and will be considered pardoned, as long as they never return to England.  However, in any English colony or territory they would be considered free men.”
            “In effect, they are still being transported.”
            “But not to a prison colony.  They are being transported to a freedom colony.”
            “I find myself suspect of that idea,” he said.  “There might be some who would undermine those efforts, or contrive some personal profit.  Some may betray what he hopes to accomplish.”
            “That is precisely why we don’t make it common knowledge.  Those chosen won’t be told until underway.  Until we depart England, they will think they are being transported as sentenced.  Should they refuse the offer, they will be liable for later transportation to an actual penal colony.”
            “That is a little harsh, considering the compassion that seems to guide these efforts.”
            “Perhaps,” she responded.  “But we have the whole group to protect.  We are not only in England, but throughout Europe and America.  Even France!  Some of us face different circumstances, and efforts cannot be known by the respective governments.”
            “There will be more than one expedition?”
            “If the first is successful, it will return and enable other voyages.”
            “For my part, should I command this first expedition,” Pierce queried.  “I sail, find the island, report the venture’s success, and then I am done with it?”
            “As you would, or make another voyage.”
            “Intriguing!” said Pierce, as free of possible commitment as he could be.
            “But you mustn’t speak about this aspect of it to anyone,” she said quietly.  “Now, if you’ll turn between those posts, we’ll be at Sir Ronald’s.”

Mon, Apr. 1st, 2019, 01:38 pm
Story Excerpts

Trying to get back to posting story excerpts at a regular pace.  Here's one from chapter eight of Beyond the Ocean's Edge.
Chapter Eight
A Most Remarkable Lady
            As Pierce awoke, he remembered bits of conversation from the night before.  A great deal of what Smythe had told him was beyond belief.  Still, the man was sincere and had a unique sense of hospitality that intrigued him.  And, he had a daughter who had played delightfully on Pierce’s mind as he had tried to fall asleep.
            A knock sounded against the door. “Yes!” he said, loudly enough to be heard.
            “Don’t mean to wake you, sir.”  It was the old man who had answered the door yesterday.  “Just me, sir, Hiram.  Wondering if you’d like a bath to start the day, sir?”
            “A bath?”  Pierce struggled to comprehend.  He had had a bath at home before he and Isaac had set out for Portsmouth. That had been less than a week earlier.  Surely he did not need one so soon.
            “Yes, sir.  Mister Smythe is right peculiar with baths, sir.  Says that it’s good to have one every day, he does.  And he does, too!  May I come in, sir?”
            “Certainly, yes.”
            The door opened and the old man entered the room.  He opened the curtains and let some light into the room.  “A nice day today, sir.  Plenty of sun and only a little bit o’ cloud in the sky.  If the wind doesn’t come up, that is.”
            “Very likely, I’d say,” said Pierce.  “What were you saying about a bath?”
            “Wondering if you’d like one, sir?  Might get you ready for a new day.  Mr. Smythe has one nearly every day.  Miss Smythe as well.  And he’s got me and the missus, Gertie, doing so nearly as often.  Does feel good, sir!”  Hiram paused to allow Pierce a bit of time to think upon the offer.  “Never realized sir, until I started, just how dirty a person could get.”
            Pierce had always thought he was a clean fellow.  He bathed when he had to, bathed when facilities were available.  Still, the idea of a bath every day startled him.  Surely it was unhealthy.  Yet, according Hiram, Harold Smythe bathed every day, and he seemed healthy enough.  “I suppose I could try it,” he said. “Do you need help rigging it?”
            “Oh, no, sir, I don’t.”  The old man pointed.  “Robe and slippers there, sir.  All you need do is to change and follow me.  While you’re in the bath, I’ll lay out some fresh things for you, sir, and we’ll have your trappings cleaned and freshened up for you, sir.”
            By now, Pierce was sitting at the edge of the bed.  He stood and struggled out of the night shirt and cap that he had borrowed the evening before.  He slipped into the robe and belted it snugly about him.
            “This way, sir,” said Hiram as he led the way down the hall.
            “Mr. Smythe had this room outfitted special, sir, just for baths.  He’s a bit of a tinkerer, as well, sir, and this is what he’s come up with.”  He pointed out a small chamber, just big enough for one person to stand in.  There was a fine metal grate in the floor, and overhead, near the ceiling, a brass pipe that ended with many fine holes.  Farther back on the pipe was a pull chain, evidently with which to activate the system.  “You can turn it on or off with the chain and toggle valve, there, sir.  Water’s hot, so check it first.  The handle on the wall controls cold water if you need to cool it down some, sir.”
            “Where does the water come from?” asked Pierce intrigued with the set up
            “We pump water into two tanks in the attic.  One is the cold water and it just sits there.  The other has a small fire under it.  We have had lots of practice now in keeping it perfectly warm.”
            “Looks interesting.  I’ll have a go.”
            “Very good, sir, “said Hiram.  “There’s soap an’ a flannel there.  The jar is for your hair, if you want.  Mr. Smythe made it, and says it does better than anything that can be found.  Towels are right outside, sir. Just come on back to your room, sir, when you’re done.  I’ll have things ready for you.”
            “Thank you, Hiram,” said Pierce.  He untied the robe, hung it on a convenient hook, and stepped into the small room within a room.  He stood to one side and pulled the chain.  A soft spray of water burst forth from the end of the pipe.  It was a little too hot and he reached for the knob on the wall.  He got some movement out of it and pulled the chain again.  That was better.  He stepped under the falling spray of water.  Within minutes, he felt cold. He nudged the cold water adjustment and slightly lessened its effect.  Then he washed himself thoroughly and luxuriously.  He tried a little of the substance in the jar and washed his hair as well.  Then he turned and allowed the fine falling drops of water to rinse the soap and soil away.
            It felt heavenly to stand under the hot water and let it cascade over him.  Surely doctors were wrong to insist that a person not bathe often.  It was too bad that fresh water was so precious aboard ship, as a bath on a regular basis would be refreshing.  Perhaps it could be done with sea water, although no one would stay under such cold water any longer than necessary.  But at present he did not want to end the bath.  It was warm and comfortable, and for the first time in his life, he felt really, really clean.  He liked that.
            Pierce stopped the water and stepped out.  He shivered as the cooler air of the outer room contacted his skin.  Point of reference, he thought, grabbing a large soft towel.  The room had seemed warm before, but with his body warmed by the water, it seemed cool.  He toweled off, and the exertion and the friction of the cloth warmed him.  He put on the robe and the slippers, and returned to his room.
            As he stepped into the hallway, Evangeline approached from the opposite end.  She too was in robe and slippers and obviously on her way to a bath as well.  She smiled.  “Good morning, Lieutenant!” she said.  “I trust that you slept well?  Did you find the bath refreshing?”
            “Very much so.  Hard to believe they say bathing can be harmful.”  Pierce realized he was in nothing more that a borrowed robe, and the young lady was also similarly attired.  “Excuse me! I’m not properly dressed.” His face reddened slightly.
            “Neither am I, Lieutenant.”  She smiled again.  “But neither of us is indecent.  It’s a matter of practicality.  We are used to one or another being thusly garbed and pay it no mind.  But if it bothers you, please continue and make yourself presentable.”  She moved past him into the bathing room.  “I’ll join you for coffee when I finish.”
            “Yes!  Coffee would be fine.”  Pierce still felt a little flushed.

Painting called "Coming Ashore"  Doesn't have anything to do with the post but wanted to include something!

Tue, Mar. 26th, 2019, 01:01 pm
Time Flies

Just realized it's been nearly two weeks since I've posted anything.

Still progressing with edits on Darnahsian Pirates, the third Stone Island Sea Story.  Actually I'm workin on updating the computer version, installing the changes I made with pen on paper.  A few days ago I began updating Chapter Eighteen.  In the original version that started on page 285, but with all the changes made prior to that it now starts on page 255, so I've weeded out fifty pages worth of material.  Upon finishing that chapter I'll have four more to update, and then it'll be back to the writing.  I'm midway through Chapter Twenty-Three and I figure a couple more after that will see the end of the story.  Then of course, more editing and hopefully I'll find a few folks to take a look and offer opinions, etc.

The pen and paper phase of editing... I don't necessarily use red pen...

Reading as of late has been kind of hit and miss.  I'm currently reading Sea of Grey by Dewey Lambdin, but for some reason I'm not taking time to sit and read as I usually do.  Might be there's other things going on to keep my mind busy... not big or important things, but enough to interupt my regular routine.

Over the course of about a week we went from "winter" conditions to more spring like days.  About the time I last posted here we got our last snow fall, meaning my last go at shoveling.  By the first day of spring, however, temps were up and in the late afternoon it was possible to be out and about without a jacket.  (provided the sun was out to provide some radiant heat)  Coco seems to like the warmer weather and will go for longer walks now.  Actually I think he likes the snow, but he just wants to go back and forth on our block.  Hard to get him to go beyond certain points, especially in the colder weather.

Beginning of the month we had this one giant icicle on the corner of the house.  It eventually connected with the ground.  Melted a couple days later.

Super moon on the first evening of Spring.  Snow is disappearing, especially where the sun can get to it during the day.

Joined a fellow member of Spokane Authors and Self-Publishers at a high school arts and craft fair on Sunday.  Ended up selling a total of five books there, two sets of both and someone bought the second as a stand alone.  Gave me enough to pay my share of the boot rental and have a bit of cash left over.

In the next day or two I'll try to resume posting excerpts from the Stone Island Sea Stories.

Thu, Mar. 14th, 2019, 01:10 pm
Story Excerpts

Here's another small portion of Chapter Seven of Beyond the Ocean's Edge: A Stone Island Sea Story.  This might be one of the most auspicious meetings of Edward Pierce's life.

A portion of one of the few still lifes I've done over the years.  Has nothing to do with the excerpt below, but I wanted to include a picture of some sort.

            “Papa!”  The voice came from the doorway, quiet, strong, and melodious, the tones rich and full.  “I’m retiring now, and you should let our guest do the same.  He is likely fatigued from his journey.  Pray, continue in the morning!”
            Pierce stood and turned.  A young woman stood in the doorway, simply and plainly dressed.  She stepped further into the study and he noticed the graceful sensuality of her movements.  The everyday dress she wore did not hide a lithe and slightly voluptuous form.  Her hair was dark, almost black, but in the candlelight, highlights shone with a rich auburn hue.  Her well-formed face was clear and unmarked by scar or blemish, and skin’s tone was not unlike Smythe’s.
            She had called him “Papa.”  His daughter?
            “My goodness!” said Smythe.  “I am so driven to complete my quest that I forget my civilities.  I’ve kept you discussing a legendary island and have not introduced my family.  Please, forgive me.”
            Pierce looked at the young woman.  She smiled as he said, “I understand the fervor of your quest, sir.   It poses no offense to me.”
            She scowled mockingly at Smythe. “But indeed, it might for me, Papa!”
            “Oh, dear child!” said Smythe contritely.  “You know as I grow older, my mind doesn’t function as it once did.  Evangeline, my only child, this is Lieutenant Edward Pierce of His Majesty’s Navy.”
            “Enchanted!” said Pierce, bowing formally.
            “As am I,” she said and extended her hand. 
            Pierce had always thought a lady waited for a gentleman to offer his hand, and only then did she reach out so that he might take hers.  Nonetheless, he responded and grasped her outstretched hand firmly, yet gently in his.  He noticed the strength of the slender fingers; the short-cut nails, and even the slight dryness and roughness of her skin.  He did not find the touch at all unpleasant.  It was refreshingly normal that a woman used her hands for everyday tasks.  He thought to kiss her fingers in the manner of society, but decided against it.  He was not of the upper classes, and as far as he knew, neither was she.  “I am very pleased to meet you, Evangeline,” he murmured, suddenly feeling a little warm.
            “I am pleased to meet you, Edward.”  She squeezed his hand slightly and relaxed her grip.  Slowly they relinquished the hand to hand contact.  She smiled warmly.
            “My dear, you are right.”  Smythe’s voice broke the mood as Pierce stood transfixed.  “It is late and he has had a tiring day, I’m sure.  We can continue on the morrow.”
            “I am tired, sir.  Would there be a decent inn nearby?”
            “An inn?  What sort of host does not provide a bed for his guest?”
            “I would not want to trouble you, sir,” begged Pierce.
            “Nonsense!  We are always ready for visitors.  The nearest inn charges twice what it’s worth, and the others are full of vermin.  You’ll stay here, if I may insist!”
            “That being the case, I believe I would sleep very soon and very well.”
            Later Pierce tossed restlessly.  Try as he might, he could not fall asleep.  His mind flew from one detail to another and would not stay where he wanted it to.  Images of the young lady he had just met continuously crowded in.
            She was attractive, if not beautiful in the classic sense.  She had a little too much nose and her mouth was a little wider than perfect.  But her complexion was clear, her figure beguiling, and her manner self-assured and pleasant.  He could easily alter his concept of the perfect woman to fit the reality that was she.

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