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Thu, Jan. 31st, 2019, 03:48 pm
On the Subject of Health...

Speaking of health, I recent got what should be considered as good news.  If you happen to follow along here and have done so for awhile, you may remember that just before Thanksgiving of 2017 (November for you not in the US) I had some surgery.  Specifically I had a bowel resection because a recent prior colonoscopy had found cancer.  Last Friday I got back in for a follow up exam (colonoscopy) and they didn't discover anything.  The site of the surgery looked good and so did everything else they looked at.  Now I don't have to go back for another "borescope inspection" for three years.

Now, a little bit of preaching.... if you've been putting off have an initial or a follow up colonoscopy, don't put it off any longer.  If I would have went back a year after my very first one, I may not have needed to go through the surgery process.  I'd been told to come back in a year but this and that came along and it was five, six, or seven years before I went through it again.  And while the exam is not the most pleasant of experiences, it is a darn sight more comfortable than the surgery.  Of course, the prep is a pain in the butt.... literally, and to me the most uncomfortable part is them hooking up the IV before hand.  (And I had to do basically the same prep prior to the surgery, so...)  At least once the anesthesia wears off and you're into the next day, everything is fine.  Not so with the surgery..... there's a month, maybe two months where you are restricted in what you can do.  And as great as modern medicine is, there is always the chance of complications.  So, if I had it to do over again, I'd have gone back a year after my first colonoscopy and would have gone back for the next as the doctors ordered.

Regardless, I'm happy with the way things are now.

Sun, Jan. 27th, 2019, 06:54 pm
Another Story Excerpt

Here is the first page of Chapter two of Beyond the Ocean's Edge: A Stone Island Sea Story!

Chapter Two
To Our Advantage
            Pierce was wet, miserable, and chilled through.  An after-midnight mist sifted through the rigging, condensed on the top hamper, and fell in large cold drops to the deck.  He could not escape the stinging drops of ice-cold water.  His body ached from the exertions of boarding and capturing the French barkentine the evening before.  His wound had been stitched and bandaged, but now his arm ached and throbbed.
            Upon his return to Theadora, he had found secure quarters for the French officers and reported to the captain.  When he finished those tasks and managed a bite to eat, he had fallen asleep in a wardroom chair.  The nap had lasted only minutes before he was awakened to assume duty as officer of the watch.
            He shifted the glass, strode to the helm, and glanced at the binnacle.  The course shown on the compass was the same as Captain Jackson had ordered the evening before.  Pierce felt the cold wind against his face.  It had not veered, backed, nor varied in strength during his duty stint.
           The midshipman of the watch stood by, ready to turn the glass.  The last grains of sand fell through and he turned it over.  Now in the upper compartment, the sand began another half hour’s descent to the lower chamber.  The young gentleman nodded, and forward a marine gently rang the ship’s bell.  Seven bells, three double “dings” and a lone final “ding” told all that the current watch was nearly over.

HMS Theadora 28, in which Edward Pierce is serving as Third Lieutenant at the beginning of the Stone Island Sea Stories.

Wed, Jan. 23rd, 2019, 03:53 pm
Story Excerpts

I know I've posted odds and ends, sometimes complete chapters from the Stone Island Sea Stories before.  Those postings have been at random over the years.  Now I intend to post the first page of the first chapter of both published books, and eventually those of the current WIP. (These posts will be the first page as it exists in standard manuscript format.) Up first, of course, the very first page of Beyond the Ocean's Edge: A Stone Island Sea Story.

             In February 1801, off the French coast, His Britannic Majesty’s Frigate Theadora intercepted four French merchantmen attempting to evade the British blockade.  After a short chase, and as she prepared to fire a warning shot, the four came about and hove to.  The frigate lowered boats and sent one to seize each of the enemy vessels.
            The launch, Theadora’s largest boat, crept steadily toward the waiting barkentine.  Edward Pierce, the third lieutenant, nudged the tiller to keep the boat on course, making the slight changes in heading without conscious thought or effort.
            “A routine operation, do you think, sir?” asked Midshipman Thomas Morgan.  His oldest uniform, purchased before a final growth spurt, fit snugly.  The midshipman’s white collar patches were stained and dirty.
            “One would think,” answered Pierce.  “Still, something about it doesn’t set well.”
            The launch topped a crest and the Frenchman appeared to be noticeably closer.  The forty British seamen in the launch would board the apparently surrendered merchantman, place the crew under guard, and search the ship.  Once certain that none of the crew was hiding and that the cargo posed no risk to a prize crew, the majority would return to Theadora.  Morgan and eight hands would remain onboard, with orders to sail to any English port.

Mon, Jan. 21st, 2019, 12:54 pm
Another Monday

Since I'm retired, Mondays are not the dreaded first day of the work week as they once were.  And to be honest, I never hated them that much.  As much as anything, I played along with the idea of Monday being such an awful day... something to jokingly complain about at work.  And of course this particular Monday is a Holiday here in the US, celebrating the live and achievements, and the memory of Dr. Martin Luthor King.

Yesterday was a lazy day for me.  I didn't even turn the computer on, although I did occasionally check e-mail via my phone or tablet, and I messed with Twitter a bit on the tablet.  Watched both NFL Championship games and pretty much lived in front of the TV for the day.  Both games were exciting and both ended up going into over time, and there were a couple controversial calls or non-calls.  As it ended up I was 0 for 2 for the day with both teams I was rooting for loosing.

As mentioned in Friday's post, I finished reading the Hornblower stories earlier that day.  I'd thought about going into the Master and Commander series again but want to wait awhile before reading an entire series.  So I found the book I won at one of the last SASP meetings and started it.  It's called Killing Floor: A Jack Reacher Novel and is by Lee Child.  Modern day police, crime, thriller, I guess you'd call it.  A completely different type of story from the Hornblower books.  So far it's a fast paced read and I'm enjoying it.

If you've paid attention over the years to what I've been reading, you've probably noticed I try to read a variety of genres and types of books, both fiction and non-fiction.  While I prefer certain kinds of stories, I often find great reads in those categories I don't normally read or prefer.  As a writer, I sometimes find ideas for my stories in books that are totally unrelated to what I write.  Just saying because it kind of urks me to see people say they only read one specific genre and sometimes won't read anything in even a closely related genre.

Finally I hope everyone got to see and experience last night's lunar eclipse/blood moon, etc.  We didn't have a completely clear sky for it, but the clouds thinned out enough where we could see it.  Here the pic I got of it.  In the original it was just a small point of light but I cropped it to make it (the moon) bigger.  Of course when doing so, the picture becomes more coarse and less focused.  Still, not all that bad for a cell phone camera.  I've seen a telephoto lense attachment that you can get for a cell phone so maybe one of these days I'll see if I can find one.

When I took the pic, the eclipse was not quite into totality, just a touch not in shadow showing at about 11 o'clock.  I tried to get a pic later when it was about half out of the shadow but the lit up portion was too bright and all I got was a big bright blur.  Tried twice and decided it wasn't going to work.

Saturday evening got a start on Chapter Twenty-Two of Darnahsian Pirates, and got about four to four and a half pages into it.
Hope everyone has a great week!

Fri, Jan. 18th, 2019, 03:10 pm
Another Hornblower Book Review

I finished reading Admiral Hornblower in the West Indies earlier today.  Below you will find my review of this, the final book in the series... in terms of Hornblower's life and career, not necessarily in terms of the order in which Forester wrote them.

Currently I have no idea what I'm going to read next, but I'm sure I'll come up with something in the next day or so.
Admiral Hornblower in the West Indies
C. S. Forester
Reviewed by D. Andrew McChesney

            Having gained promotion to flag rank, and with England and the world finally at peace, Horatio Hornblower takes up duty as commander in chief of the West Indies Squadron.  While his command is quite diminished from its war time strength, other considerations give the vaunted sea officer plenty to do.
            In terms of Hornblower’s life and career, this is the final novel, although it is not the last to be written.  Forester deviates from what has come to be the standard layout for the Hornblower novels.  Admiral Hornblower in the West Indies is more a collection of short stories or novellas.  Beginning with the Admiral’s visit to New Orleans and ending with his reunion and journey home with Lady Barbara, five nearly separate stories chronicle his time in the Caribbean.  While the stories are interrelated, it is possible to read each as an individual work.  Reference from one to another is minimal.
            During his visit to New Orleans, Hornblower uncovers evidence of a plot to free the imprisoned Napoleon from St. Helena.  In a last ditch effort to prevent that from happening, he willingly compromises his sacred honor, prepares to submit his resignation, only to find the event he invented had actually occurred.
            Other challenges for Hornblower include capturing a slave ship, eliminating nest of pirates, pursuit of an English adventurer siding with rebels in Spanish South America.  Just prior to his replacement’s arrival, Hornblower is faced with the distasteful task of bringing a marine bandsman up on charges.  Once ceremoniously relieved of his duties, the journey home is fraught with danger, when the packet in which he and Lady Barbara journey is all but sunk by a powerful hurricane.
            Forester does an excellent job of portraying and older, more mature, and somewhat mellower Horatio Hornblower.  His diplomatic skills are at their highest, whether he is dealing with foreign nations or individuals in his command.  In all, Admiral Hornblower in the West Indies marks a fitting end to the stories and the career of Horatio Hornblower.  According to the copy read for this review, the book was originally published in the mid to late 1950s.  This edition (ISBN 0-316-28941-8 (pb)) is a reissue by Back Bay Books from 2000.  Cover price is $13.00 US.

As usual, I don't have any actual cover art for the Hornblower books, including this one.  Therefore I'm substituting something of mine.

this painting of a lighthouse at sunset might be appropriate... 

Thu, Jan. 17th, 2019, 12:52 pm
"Helm, Steer Between Them"

Yesterday I posted the "back cover blurb" from the first Stone Island Sea Story.  Today I thought I'd do the same for the second book, Sailing Dangerous Waters: Another Stone Island Sea Story.  By the way, it only took one try to get the painting, titled "Helm, Steer Between Them," done.  (Once again, the story excerpt on the back cover is of the scene, the moment I've tried to depict in the cover art.)

The Gallician frigate had come out of the fog from windward, and had fired its first devastating broadside into the Tritonish frigate from near point-blank range.  They paralleled each other, mere yards apart, and made no effort to alter course or maneuver for an advantage.  With more sail set now, the schooner forged ahead and rapidly closed with the frigates.  “Ready the port battery!”
           “Aye aye, sir!”
           “Helm, steer as to pass between them!”
           “Aye aye, sir!”
           “Sure madness, Edward!” warned Hotchkiss.
           “But a method to it, Isaac!  When I give word, we must put into the wind, and as our guns bear, concentrate fire on the Toad’s starboard quarter.  Let us then fall off the wind and repeat with the starboard battery.”
           “Aye!”  Hotchkiss nodded with understanding.
           Fully awake and alert, his senses at their sharpest, Pierce watched the battling frigates grow larger.  The damp night air whipped past, mingled with spray thrown up by Island Expedition’s hurried dash through the sea.  Despite the apprehension in his gut, Pierce felt alive.
Sailing Home from Another World

           Master and Commander Edward Pierce, captain of HMS Island Expedition, languishes with his vessel and crew in a world both very like and unlike his own.  A voyage of exploration has led him further afield than he would ever have imagined possible.  As he works to convince the Tritonish Government that he is not a rebel pirate, Pierce is offered a unique opportunity to claim citizenship in this parallel world…but in doing so; will he breach his loyalty to King George III? Not knowing whether he will be able to sail back to England, Pierce navigates the uncertain course of diplomacy that allows Stone Island to become an official Land of Vespica… and allows him to be released to sail for home.  But the voyage there is fraught with peril, and his welcome is uncertain.  What will the Admiralty make of his incredible tale?  And will Evangeline, his heart’s joy, still be waiting for him?  Richly characterized and deftly plotted, Sailing Dangerous Waters is a thrilling sequel to Beyond the Ocean’s Edge, offering the same meticulously researched nautical lore, and exquisite attention to details of period language and society. Readers will be enchanted, and eager for the forthcoming third book in the Stone Island Sea Story series.

            And yes, the third book has been some time in coming.  I finished chapter 21 last night and figure another 4, 5, or possibly 6 will see it at an end.  Then of course it will be time for revision, editing, rewriting to get it polished enough that you would want to read it.


Here's the painting we're talking about.

A rough preliminary sketch I made, trying to figure out positions, etc of the ships and vessels involved.

Wed, Jan. 16th, 2019, 01:34 pm
Hotchkiss' Paradox

That's what I titled the painting that is the cover art for Beyond the Ocean's Edge: A Stone Island Sea Story.  Below is the back cover blurb from the book... the first part an excerpt from the story the painting attempts to depict.

I'm also attempting something in cross posting to other social media platforms, so hopefully @JeffaryWrites will see this via twitter.

            “No, sir!  Not that, sir!”  Hotchkiss was nearly beside himself in his fright, and it fast approached a full panic.  Odd, that such a slight distraction could affect Pierce’s friend that way.  Isaac had always been the cooler of them.
            Hotchkiss continued on.  “Ed! You didn’t see it?”  The use of his captain’s first name on deck attested to the first lieutenant’s growing apprehension and maddening confusion.
            “See what, Isaac, my old friend?”  Pierce recognized his shipmate’s state of mind and did not correct his lapse of quarterdeck etiquette.  Clearly, a more personal and comfortable approach was needed.
            “The stars!  The stars, Ed!  We weren’t just looking up at ’em.  We were amongst them.  There was the sea, and then there wasn’t.  An’ the stars were below us as well!  And we were there, right among them, like we were the stars themselves, or the moon, or….”
            “I’m sure you saw what you’ve described.  Unfortunately, I chanced not to see it, although I have had a strange feeling of timelessness.”
            In 1802 Royal Navy Lieutenant Edward Pierce is on half pay during the Peace of Amiens.  He gains command of a vessel searching for a lost, legendary island.  When found, Pierce and crew discover the island exists in an entirely different world.  Exploring around Stone Island, HMS Island Expedition sails headlong into mistaken identities, naval battles, strange truces, dangerous liaisons, international intrigue, superstition, and ancient prophecies.  Detained by the equivalent of Great Britain, Pierce struggles to free ship and crew.  Despondent over surrendering and possibly never seeing Evangeline again, Pierce’s discovers new friends working to liberate him and his crew.

And here's the painting in question once again.

Tue, Jan. 15th, 2019, 02:29 pm
Birthday Wishes

Happy Birthday to eglantine_br
Here is a painting I tried to do of Natividad vs. HMS Lydia (from Captain Horatio Hornblower: Beat to Quarters)  I thought the Spanish ship came out great but I messed up on the frigate and never finished it.  Hope you like seeing the attempt anyway.

Sun, Jan. 13th, 2019, 12:48 pm
Another Hornblower Book Review

I finished reading Lord Hornblower by C. S. Forester a few days ago.  (As I may have mentioned I've been reading the series once again, probably for the tenth time or so during my lifetime.)  Anyway, below is the review I wrote of this, the next to last story in terms of Hornblower's life and career.  Currently reading Admiral Hornblower in the West Indies, which marks the end of his career as far as the books go.  (There is a short story, The Final Encounter which takes place later in his life.)  Once again I have no cover art to display for the book so I'm substituting one of my paintings.

"All Plain Sail"

Lord Hornblower
By C. S. Forester
Reviewed by D. Andrew McChesney

           Home for nearly a year and recuperating from his Baltic ordeal, Hornblower is tasked with retrieving a Royal Navy brig taken over by mutineers.  As he proceeds, an opportunity to hasten the end of the war presents itself.  Under Hornblower’s guidance, La Havre declares against Napoleon and within a short time the French Empire is at an end.  Later, while visiting the Comte de Gracey, Napoleon returns causing Hornblower and his friend to lead a band of irregulars in fighting a losing battle against the reconstituted Empire.  Captured and about to be executed, Hornblower is spared when news of Napoleon’s final defeat at Waterloo arrives.
            As much as he does in any of the Hornblower books, C. S. Forester swings between triumph and tragedy in Lord Hornblower.  In the beginning, Hornblower is at a pinnacle of personal success, attending a special ceremony as a Knight of the Bath.  Later he is Military Governor of La Havre, leads a triumphant expedition up the Seine, through Rouen, to Paris, and is elevated to the Peerage.
            Hornblower finds himself in personal conflict regarding the mutineers he has been sent to bring to justice.  As a naval officer, he deplores the act and realizes that the taint of it must be stamped out, lest it infect the rest of the fleet.  Still, his humanity sympathizes with those who endured a captain’s brutality to the point they rebelled.  He unsuccessfully hints to the Duc d’Angoulême that he would spare the condemned mutineers if requested.
            His personal life also takes a wild journey between great joy and overwhelming sadness.   William Bush dies, leading an expedition to counter Napoleon’s attempt to retake La Havre.  With the Empire defeated and Lady Barbara acting as hostess for her brother the Duke of Wellington, Hornblower feels out of place and returns to England.  Bored and lonely he journeys to France, visits the Comte de Gracey and resumes his affair with Marie.  The joy of that relationship is shattered with her death at the hands of Imperial forces.
            Once again Forester has written a quite complex tale in a very simple fashion.  He continues to portray Horatio Hornblower as a very human individual, one whom the reader is quite often frustrated with, and yet one whom the reader can readily identity and sympathize with.  He also skillfully weaves the story of Hornblower into the events of history, even if his accounting doesn’t exactly match what is recorded in the history books.
            C. S. Forester does allow small technical errors to creep into the story.  The Porta Coeli is at one point referred to as an eighteen gun brig.  If so, it would be considered a brig-sloop, captained by a master and commander.  Instead, it is commanded by Lieutenant Freeman.  The mutinous Flame, a sister vessel, had been under the command of a Lieutenant Chadwick.  One of the biggest technical faults of the edition read for this review lies not with the author but with the cover design.  The illustration shows what is supposed to be a brig, yet the vessel pictured clearly has three masts and thus is a ship or possibly a bark, but not a brig.
            Lord Hornblower is a must read for those wishing to understand the life and career of Horatio Hornblower.  The story was originally copyrighted in 1946 and renewed in 1974.  The paperback edition read for this review was printed sometime in the 1990s, has an ISBN of 0-316-28943-4, and a suggested price of $14.95 US.  (Luckily for this reviewer, the copy purchased was on sale, as a sticker for $13.00 had been placed over the printed price mentioned earlier.)

Sat, Jan. 12th, 2019, 03:55 pm
Weekly Book Reviews

The other day we reached the end of the book reviews available on the Spokane Authors and Self-Publishers web-site.  Over time, however more have been added.  Here are a couple of books that have been recently reviewed by members of the group.  The first has been up for some time, but a second review has been added.  The second book is not by a SASP member but was reviewed by one.
As always, if you are looking for books to read, please consider books by local and or independent authors.
Angels Three Six
Confessions of a Cold War Fighter Pilot

By Col. Chuck Lehman

Reviewed By D. Andrew McChesney

           I grew up during the Cold War, aware of, but probably not fully cognizant of the dangers we all faced.  As a grade school student I knew that the United States Air Force stood by, ready to defend this Nation and its people from Soviet aggression.  My uncle was a SAC (Strategic Air Command) bomber pilot, and I could name and recognize many of the fighters that stood ready to meet any incoming threat.  It was a time I thought, of unlimited numbers of aircraft, all with amazing performance and abilities, piloted by steely-eyed warriors, itching to be at any intruder.
           In Angels Three Six, Col. Lehman, an ADC (Air Defense Command) fighter pilot, relates his adventures while serving in defense of the nation.  Most of the stories do not deal with the horrors of possible nuclear war, but with the daily routine, the ever-present danger, and the sometimes humorous incidents of high performance military aviation.  Reading his book causes one to realize that the pilots we look up to aren’t supermen, but human beings with the same failings and fears as the rest of us.  Many of his tales are humbling, and he should be lauded for passing them on.
           Having spent over two decades in Naval Aviation maintenance, I connected closely with many of the detailed accounts mentioned in the book.  While there is always that inter service rivalry, Angels Three Six superbly shows us all what military aviation was all about.  It is a must read for anyone who wants to experience and understand the Cold War era.
           Angels Three Six, ISBN 0-9788507-9-3 was published in Spokane, Washington, by The Write Place.  It is available for $19.95 + $3.00 S&H from CALCO, 13811 S. Finney St., Medical Lake, WA 99022.
           Col. Lehman is also the author of Emergency Survival for $9.95 and Desert Survival Handbook for $7.95, both available from CALCO, each with an added $3.00 shipping and handling charge.  He has also written a novel based on the exploits of his ancestors during the American Civil War.
         (Since reading the book and writing this review, the author has issued a newer revised edition, which I believe is from Spokane’s own Gray Dog Press.  Col. Lehman has also written a published several historical novels centered around events in the early Christian Era.)
Reviewed by James B. Parry (New)

         In the late 50’s and early ‘60s, while I was hiding under my school desk, Colonel Lehman was practicing shooting down Russian planes so that they would not drop atomic bombs on me.  Now he has written a book about his exploits piloting jet planes, primarily F-102s and F-106s.  And what a book it is!  One harrowing experience after another (mostly at 600 miles an hour); near misses, forgetting he had a pistol in his pocket as he stood next to President Kennedy, icing up so severely that the plane was nearly uncontrollable.  A brief book that you can’t put down because you’re always anxious to get to the next adventure.  Just wish it was longer.
         Whether it’s the Cuban Missile Crisis or bringing lobsters back to the base in a missile pod, there’s never a dull moment in Colonel Lehman’s “Cold War” fighter pilot career.
         In addition to being a highly skilled pilot, turns out Lehman is also a highly skilled writer, relating these exploits in a You-Are-There style that will keep you engrossed right up to the end of his Cold War career.
         Thank you Chuck for your service in protecting all of us U.S. citizens, and thank you Chuck for writing this wonderful book.
Haunted Murder

By DJ Jewett

Reviewed (four stars) by Larry Danek

         I normally don't read ghost stories although I wrote some.  This story by Mr. Jewett contained a lot of the usual lines associated with this genre, but I found the plot to be quite interesting
         I had trouble putting the book down although I had a heavy schedule

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