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Tue, Jun. 25th, 2019, 04:04 pm

I keep telling myself I'm going to post regularly here.  Yet I look and discover it's been, basically a month since I last did so.  Can't say I've been all that busy.  Just not getting to it.  Hoping to do better as the summer progresses.

And since I'm here, how about some thoughts on lawn and yard work?  Anyway, I did the front yard to day.  Mowed, edged, trimmed a bit and picked it all up.  Anyway, I try to mow about every six days.  That way I'm only taking a very little bit off the top of the grass.  Plus that, with the mower I've got, everything gets thrown forward to be recut, and it it's too much it clogs up and is hard to push.  It'll lock up and let the wheels skid instead of turning the blades to cut.

Bought this Fiskars hand mower two summers ago.  Still doing a great job.

From about a year ago... most recent pic in the files showing the yard.  I've trimmed up most of the visible bushes since then.

Usually when spring arrives and the grass starts growing again, we hire someone to power rake the yard, digging up all the dead stuff that's accumulated since the past year.  Somehow we didn't get to it this year, so I just started mowing sometime in April and have kept going.  I've also water regularly and it seems to have greened up and seems to be staying nice and green.  I also usually do a few applications of weed and feed, but haven't yet done so this year.  Partially because I like a nice calm day so the stuff doesn't get on broad-leafed plants I don't want to get rid of.  To me it's always been a smidgeon to windy so I've not bother to do it.  Thinking I might have to as there are a few undesirable things starting to show up.  I'm using a mechanical weeder to take care of dandelions, but some of the other stuff isn't as succeptable to my efforts.  I'd also decided the regular white clover was okay, but looks like I might have to kill it off in order to get to the other stuff.  Now it's sort of a race to let it sit a day or two after mowing and then try to find a day with little chance of rain and little or no wind.  Weather guessers are talking about rain and thunderstorms later today and possibly for the next couple of days, so hopefully I'll get a chance at it later this week.

Always interesting to watch how other folks take care of their yards.  Notice a lot when taking Coco for walks.  Some places are basically weed patches, rarely mowed or watered, while other's are kept up fairly well.  Biggest thing I notice is many people don't edge and let their grass encroach on the walks.  In some places the sidewalk appears as much as a foot narrower than it really is.  I got a different string trimmer last year that does it really easy.  It has wheels so it can be done with little effort, and it looks so much better, at least in my opinion.

Reading wise... a couple of weeks ago I finished something called Gray Swallow by fellow SASP member Joan D. Carter.

Now I'm reading Turn Red Tomorrow, by SASP Member Michael Zargona.  Basically it's the story of what might happen if society, government, civilization break down.

It's a thick one so might take me a while to get through it.  So far seems to be well written and holds my interest.

Ideally I'll get more posted sooner than later.  Possibly I'll get back to putting up excerpts from the Stone Island Sea Stories.


Sun, May. 26th, 2019, 12:23 pm
Story Excerpts

Here's a fairly brief excerpt from Chapter Eleven of Beyond the Ocean's Edge: A Stone Island Sea Story.  If this excerpt piques your interest and you would care to read the entire story, it's available on Amazon, both in Kindle format and as a paperback.  It's also on Barnes and Noble Online, again in e-book and paperback.  You can also find it in the bookstore at Outskirts Press, the self-publishing service company I published with.  Currently the only actual bookstore it's in is The Well-Read Moose in Coeur d' Alene, Idaho.

              Island Expedition sailed easily through the middle Atlantic.  On a starboard reach she cut across the light westerly wind of a pleasant October day.  In another day or two, she would point closer into the wind and sail close-hauled to the southwest.  Once she neared the bulge of Brazil, she could reach, head south again, and eventually back to the East.
            Near the foremast, Jonas Gibbons, schoolmaster, sat with a group of children working their sums on slates or scraps of paper.  Two crewmen sat along with them.  One, a veteran of decades at sea, had determined it was never too late to learn.  The other was not many years beyond those in the class.  He understood that his chances for success were better if he could work his sums and read and write on his own.
            Harold Smythe had insisted on having a schoolmaster.  He wanted the people of this extraordinary expedition to be educated, knowing it was a valuable requirement for anyone attempting to lead a better life.  Jonas Gibbons had run a day school near London, but had been unable to support himself doing so.  Now he was at sea, teaching a ragtag group of urchins and a varying band of seamen.
            Amidships, seamen caulked deck seams.  It had been done during construction, but this section had rejected that initial attempt.  Or did the quality of the original work not meet the first lieutenant’s approval?  With the voyage going smoothly so far, Hotchkiss needed to keep the hands occupied.  Opposite the caulking party, the bo’sun instructed several landsmen in the art of long splicing.  Some of the attentive students were younger, less-experienced crewmembers.  Others were passengers, eager to learn and assist in the daily operation of the ship.
            Near the wheel, Commander Edward Pierce strode the deck easily.  The windward side was deserted, allowing him the captain’s hallowed sanctuary.  He glanced about, seemingly without interest, comprehension, or notice.  But he did notice.  He saw the various activities and work on deck.  He noticed the work aloft, as topmen made routine repairs and upgraded the rigging.  He noted the direction and force of the wind and, without a glance at the binnacle, calculated the ship’s course by instinct.  Pierce crossed to the helm, looked at the compass, and was gratified to see he had guessed correctly.
            “Keep her at that, Mr. Spencer!” he said to the young master’s mate serving as officer of the watch.
            “Aye aye, sir!” he replied.
            Spencer repeated to the helmsman, “Keep her at that!”
            “Aye aye, sir!”
            Pierce moved to the taffrail and looked at the wake left by the vessel’s passage through the water.  It was straight as an arrow, the way it should be.  A steady light wind and an experienced crew would do that.  A good hand at the wheel and Island Expedition would sail just as he wanted her to, just as he willed her to.  Pierce watched the ripple of the wake as it receded astern.  He observed it to gauge the helmsman’s skill, but now he was in his own world, his thoughts many miles and many days away.

This was my first attempt at cover art for this book.  Wasn't quite what I wanted, so I went on to try two more times before coming up one that met my need.

Fri, May. 17th, 2019, 11:50 am
What's Up! Update!

It's been a while since I've posted anything here, whether excerpts from Beyond the Ocean's Edge: A Stone Island Sea Story, or book reviews... either from the files of Spokane Authors and Self-Publishers, or one's I've written myself.  And it's been even longer since I've mentioned anything about writing progress, what I'm reading, etc.

As it is, I've been on a binge of sorts, reading works by fellow members of SASP.  First up was Waxing Is Useless by M. J. Hudon.  Despite it's title and the cover art, it is not meant to be a humorous story.  It deals with a housewife and mother dealing with Lupus and in a fantasy aspect, learning she is part of an extended family of werewolves... creatures that serve and protect.  Very well written and believable.

  Next, I read the third Emily Trace Mystery by Sue Eller.  It's called Send in the Drones, and can best be described as a cozy mystery with Science Fiction aspects.  As in the first two, it's easy reading and very entertaining.

Lastly, I've just started Gray Swallow by Joan D. Carter.  Seems to flow nicely, but I'm not far enough along to have developed an opinion on it yet.

And I have one more book by a SASP member to read.  It's called Turn Red Tommorow and is by Michael Zargona, who recently joined the group.

With regards to the third Stone Island Sea Story... I recently finished inputting edits on the computer for the first twenty-two chapters, the one's that are completed.  They are all noted as having been revised for the first time.  Now I suppose it's time to get back to the creative aspects and finish the thing up.  I'm close to the end of chapter twenty-three and figure it'll take a few more, three, four, five, or so to finish.  With weather as it is (rainy) this weekend might be the time to get back to it.

Until recently, weather has been nice, clear for the most part, no rain, and a couple of days into the low eighties.  I've been mowing regularly, and Tuesday mowed for the sixth time this year.  Or another way of looking at it, I started the second go around of mowing routes. I go around and around one time.  Then I go diagonally one way and then the other way.  Finally I go back and forth (east and west) and then back and forth (north and south).  That prevents any patterns becoming fixed into the yard.  So far it looks like I've been mowing about every six days.  I could probably let it go for a longer period of time, but I use a push mower and it gets too tall it just pushes over and doesn't cut.  Also, I can set the mower to send the clippings forward so they are recut.  If it gets too long it piles up and makes it nearly impossible to push and cut.  So I end up taking just a little bit off but doing it more often than folks with the gas and electric powered mowers.  I end up trimming along the walks and up against the buildings, etc. every second or third time I mow.  Have a battery powered string trimmer that has a couple of small wheels on it that makes it easy to trim or edge along the walks.  I've noticed that in place in the neighborhood where folks don't trim, that the apparent sidewalk is as much as a foot narrower than it really is.

I've also been thinking to spray a bit of weed and feed on the yard, hoping to get rid of the majority of the weeds and get it to grow a bit more.  But that is a task I like to save for a perfectly calm day, and so far I haven't found one that meets my criteria for "calm."  I did dig out a gadget Eva bought a few years ago called a "weed hound," and have used it to remove as many dandelions as I could.  You push it down over the weed, turn it and lift the weed out.  Of course as soon as I think I've got them all I notice another, but I seem to be staying even with them.  In addition it leaves little holes in the yard, almost like having it aerated, and I'm sure that helps.  Have been watering for the past couple of weeks so it's staying fairly green.  After our deluge last night and what appears to be a steady rain today, doubt I'll need to do any sprinkling for awhile.

Hopefully I'm back on track as far as posting goes and will get something else up in the next couple of days.  Maybe another excerpt from the Stone Island Sea Stories, another book review... I have several I need to write, or perhaps more on what's going on with me.

Sun, May. 5th, 2019, 03:45 pm
Story Excerpt

Been a while since I've put up an excerpt from Beyond the Ocean's Edge.  This is the last scene, if you will, from Chapter Ten, "Commissioning."  (I goofed the last time and said the previous excerpt was from Chapter Eleven.  Both the last one and the one here are from Ten.)

(Jessica, my daughter photo-shopped this from a sketch I made to use as a business card logo...

             Harold Smythe and Evangeline had rooms in the inn, to be closer during the final preparations. Evangeline often took an active role.  She acted as messenger between her father, others of the Organization, Pierce, and various merchants and suppliers.  Aboard Island Expedition she willingly tailed onto lines and helped sway casks and bales of cargo with the crew.  She was handy with tools and with a little help, soon mastered many of the knots, hitches, and splices used in the work at hand.
            When he had the time, Pierce accompanied her as she made journeys as messenger.  He also watched with admiration or amazement as she pulled her weight and helped with the ongoing stowage of equipment and stores.
            Unless duties demanded he be aboard in the evening, Pierce generally joined Smythe and his daughter for supper.  One evening, following the after-dinner Madeira, Pierce found himself sitting alone with Evangeline.
            “You would make a fine seaman, my dear,” he observed.  “That is, should members of the fairer sex ever be welcomed as fellow crew.”
            “Not in our lifetime, I would guess.  Still, I do what I do to stay busy.”
            “And you do what you do so well.”  Pierce paused for a moment, took a sip from his glass, and went on.  “Too bad you are not going.”
            “Yes.  Papa has arranged for Henry Dawes to take charge.  He trusts him, but….”
            “He trusts you more?”
            “Yes!”  She was silent for a while, perhaps feeling her next words.  “I try so hard every day to stay busy!  I try not to think!  How lonely it will be when Papa sails!  I’ll miss him!  And Edward Pierce, I will miss you!”
            “I will miss you.  I’m not sure how it would be, not spending a little of each day in your company.”
            “I must see to the rooms.”  She rose from her chair, and Pierce did as well.
             She stepped closer to him. “I’ll miss you.  I’ll miss you so much!”  She moved nearer and he could see the tears flooding her eyes.
            Her eyes searched out his and locked upon them.  He returned the longing look, as tenderness, desire, affection, and caring all welled up within.  Then, without effort by either, she was in his arms, and he in hers. Their lips met.
            Pierce luxuriated in the embrace and kiss.  He was aware of her closeness, the heat of her body so close to his, and the scent of her hair, her skin, and the lingering taste of Madeira upon her lips.  He was aware too, of her eagerness, her hunger, and her desire.  He was aware of his own desire, and in the throes of their first embrace, he did not worry that she might notice.
            In this white-hot blaze of mutual passion, Pierce’s mind functioned as if separate from his fevered and demanding body.   She was his, and he could have her, but she was more to him than a simple outlet for his masculine needs.  She was not one of the harbor’s easy women, one he would forget after a week at sea, or one whose personal happiness did not matter.
            While he ached painfully to have her, he wanted her in a higher, even a more spiritual way.
            They parted slightly.  Still he could feel the rise and fall of her breast.  “When you return, my love, I’ll be here!”
            “My darling Vangie,” he said softly, “I shall return to you, as quickly as can be done!”
            It was with great joy and nearly unbearable sadness that Pierce returned that evening to HMS Island Expedition.  Regulation and custom required the captain to sleep aboard.  Even had they followed their desires, Pierce would have had to steal away in the night, and to have left Evangeline alone then would not have been at all proper.

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.

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