Ever Interview a Ghost?

Describe the research process for your book. Did you interview people? Travel? How prominent a role did the Internet play? If you didn’t do new research, how did you learn what you needed to know to write your book?

Disclosed yesterday was the massive amount of time involved in searching the internet for names, places, and details noted in my grandfather’s manuscripts. So obviously, the internet played a major role as it confirmed that of which he wrote, but beyond that pointed in directions that would include interesting contacts–or locations worthy of physical inspection.

Yesterday I mentioned travel for scouting locations that would have interest in these particular historical narratives or mining exploits and locations–some still functioning towns–some merely ghost towns. Goldfield Hotel

One of the interviews that stands out in my mind was the accidental interview we did with the owner of a vintage shop directly across from the Goldfield Hotel and next door to the Goldfield Consolidated Mining Company. She was retelling the story of Elizabeth, the favorite prostitute of George Wingfield and the modern day encounter of an accountant’s unfortunate meeting with her ghost who warned that she “was in danger and to leave immediately.”

Elizabeth was said to become pregnant by Wingfield who for a time paid her to stay away. He later lured her into room 109 where he chained her to a radiator, kept her in food and water, until she (according to one account) died in childbirth. The baby was then thrown into an old mining shaft. Rumors abound that Elizabeth can still be heard in the halls crying for her baby and that the sounds of a crying child can sometimes be heard from the “depths” of the hotel.

There have been so many sightings and other unexplained phenomena at the hotel that it has gained wide media attention and has been featured on Fox Family TV’s World’s Scariest Places. In addition, it has also been the subject of a couple of paranormal investigation television series, including Ghost Adventures in 2004, 2011 and 2013, and Ghost Hunters in 2008.

Interviews with people associated with venues cited in his manuscripts have both been rewarding and eye-opening and certainly the greatest impetus in the development of the manuscripts.

Virginia Williams

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What Was The Research Process?

Day 10 of the Author Blog Challenge: What was your research process?

More than likely, even the most prosaic of fiction books will require at least a modicum of research. Historical fiction probably requires scads of investigation.

Sailing into “Cocos Island Treasure,” the first manuscript chosen for publication, I spent a LOT of time researching the internet, first discovering there really was such a place!

The journey has been fascinating because unfortunately he passed away before I could ever pick his brain about his youth; his sailing adventures, his mining or exploration adventures, or his actual birth location for that matter.

I would have benefited hearing about all these exciting tropical locales wherein he apparently enjoyed some pearl diving as well as hunting for pirate treasures. As I recently posted regarding pirate treasures on Cocos Island, William Thompson purportedly loaded one of the largest pirate treasure troves aboard the Mary Dear in Peru in 1820. He and his crew killed the Spanish guards and buried the treasure said to be worth well over $160,000,000 (now known as “The Loot of Lima”).Goldfield Consolidated

Each book after that, because they are classified as historical fiction, mandated many, many hours of research, either because of the location of adventures, the names contained in the plots, or the procedures or practices of his day–especially with his narration of the capture and rendering of whales.

Probably the most time spent researching was the fourth book, “Hot Air Promotions,” which involved the penny mining stocks of the twenties and thirties. It was HUGE! The language of the stock market, the mines, the business practices and papers, and the people–how could you ever win? And I quote, “When you win, you lose.”

The most fun, however, in the examination of the chronicles of the mines was chasing down the locations–many now ghost towns–some still thriving with history reading stranger than fiction. You can’t make this stuff up! I discovered that the University of Nevada, Reno, maintains a massive library containing the history of gold, silver, and mineral mines of the west–where they gladly accepted a copy of the book. Goldfield, (NV) a former mining town, enjoys many a chilling ghost story that contains notorious names included in the book as well. Belmont Metals

The odyssey has been a lesson in history: Of places, people, and practices. As the saying goes, “The more things change, the more they stay the same.”

Virginia Williams

Silly Grammar Debates

Great point, well taken, and my feelings exactly! Thank you!

Phoenix Publishing & Book Promotion

Silly Grammar Debates

by Jake Poinier

I’m a member of a group of editors on Facebook, and it never fails to surprise me how heated and opinionated people can become about the smallest points of grammar. (As I wrote earlier this year, I’m pretty agnostic when it comes to style manuals.)

The latest brawl was over email salutations and punctuation, and whether the correct way to address someone was:

email sillinessThe string exploded to several dozen comments, with everyone putting in their explanation of why their way was grammatically correct, or why others’ were incorrect or too formal or too casual. In a way, it was fascinating to see how much passion and thought people put into a discussion that boiled down to the arrangement of one or two words and a few punctuation marks.

My Take? Nobody Cares

Other than someone who has a ridiculously strong opinion about grammar…

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Popular Pirate Lore

Popular Pirate Lore   

The subject of many a tall tale, pirates, privateers, or buccaneers, gained in folklore with their expertise in capturing vessels off the main shipping lanes as well as the Caribbean as early as the sixteenth century.  Whether they plundered, stole, killed, or executed missions on orders, most came to an ignominious end.

     Sir Francis Drake (English, 1540). One of the earliest and most celebrated privateer of his time, Captain Drake sacked the Spanish army many times with the blessing of Queen Elizabeth I. Spain was repeatedly sacked and plundered at Spanish cities off the coast of Florida. Before his death of dysentery, he become the first Englishman to circumnavigate the globe and he rescued the unsuccessful English colonists of Roanoke Island off the coast of the Carolinas.Edward Teach

     Captain William Kidd, a Scotsman (1645), began his career some said as a privateer originally commissioned to rid the seas of pirates. He was reluctantly elected captain by his crew. After learning that he was being hunted, he buried some of his treasure on Gardiners Island, but he was eventually captured, sent to England for trial and sentenced to death.

 Edward Teach “Blackbeard” (English, 1680). Blackbeard is one of the best-known and probably most widely-feared of his time. At the height of his career he commanded four ships and had a pirate army of 300. He captured over forty merchant ships in the Caribbean and killed many a prisoner. He was eventually overtaken by the Royal Navy and beheaded. Continue reading “Popular Pirate Lore”

The Giants of the Bering Sea

The Giants of the Bering Sea

The Bering Sea tops the Pacific Ocean and is framed by Russia on the west and Alaska on the east. There is a point at which the two land masses almost meet, and, indeed, is widely thought at one point that sea level was so low as to allow the first of the human migration on what is now called the “Bering Land Bridge”. Bering Sea

The population of whales in the Bering Sea during the turn of the 20th Century is unknown, but probably the most common among them included right whales and bowhead whales. My grandfather recounted his being shanghaied on the barque the “Northern Light” and whale hunting experience in his book, “Lucky Joe”. Shanghai was a common practice as it was extremely difficult to recruit seamen willing to board a whaler for upwards of a year. The work was nasty, extremely dangerous, and often resulted in the lack of any pay as the sailor often owed the ship’s “slop chest” for materials (such as boots and coats) necessary to survive the frigid Alaskan waters.

Taking the Whale     The three-block area of San Francisco known as the Barbary Coast, so named after the Barbary Coast of North Africa, mirrored all that was evil. Well known for gambling halls, prostitution, and saloons, the population swelled with ex-convicts, thugs, and despots following the discovery of gold. Miners and sailors looking for female companionship and entertainment became the primary clientele during its heyday in the 1850’s and 1860’s and hit its peak in alcoholic consumption by the 1890’s. Sailors were an obvious and easy target and quite lucrative for the crimps. (Shanghaiing or crimping refers to the practice of kidnapping men for labor aboard ships  and those persons were known as crimps. This often violent practice was heavily performed in San Francisco, Portland (OR), and Seattle (WA). The Seaman’s Act of 1915 finally made crimping a federal crime.)

“A whaler’s life is hell, me lads,

Blow boys, bully boys, blow!

We caught a rotten whale, me lads,

Blow boys, bully boys, blow!

The captain’s drunk and so am I,

All hands are sick and ‘bout to die,

But we don’t care a hang, but cry,

Blow boys, bully boys, blow!”

Virginia Williams

Writer’s Block? Not Again?!

DAY 7 PROMPT: Do you ever experience writer’s block? What do you recommend to help overcome writer’s block? Any foolproof tricks that always work for you?

     Oh man, nothing like a prompt that totally smacks you up side the head! Writer’s block? Who doesn’t get writer’s block? Just this prompt gave me a serious pause–or maybe writer’s block. Ah, so the definition of writer’s block then would be the lack of ideas, put to paper, for one hour? One day? A week? Serious writer’s block set in with the anthology–it was eventually solved in two ways: Writer's Block

  • I took a page from NaNoWriMo which holds to an interesting concept–50,000 words in 30 days. That translates roughly into 1,667 words per day. NaNo doesn’t read, doesn’t edit, doesn’t critique. It’s a count of words. The whole idea is to GET THE WORDS ON THE PAPER. Doesn’t really matter how many typos or whether it good prose. But getting it down, even bad sketches, can sometimes, later, be the forerunner of a brainstorm. THEN you can refine, edit, critique.
  • AND, you can take another credit from NaNo, in that a specific deadline (in their case 30 days) usually works wonders for me. If you’ve set yourself a deadline for the debut great–but even self-imposed you have to use that aforementioned discipline. It’s a deadline–it has to be finished; ready to submit. Or perhaps the deadline is for a chapter–doesn’t matter. A time line can work.

     Sometimes something as simple as getting away from it for a period of time will help–and don’t think of it! When I still had my motorcycle, a good ride always cleared the air. There is something about riding that pastes a grin on the face, lowers the blood pressure, and goes about gently resetting the attitude. The wind in the face (or in the hair for states that allow choice), the feel of the power of the bike, the smells (you can’t get those in a cage); guaranteed you won’t be thinking of the novel. If you don’t ride, see the two suggestions posted above. Sorry.

Virginia Williams

The Writing Process Begins With Discipline

Take us through your writing process. Do you keep a regular writing schedule? Do you write on your laptop or longhand? Are you most inspired in the morning, afternoon, evening, or middle of the night?

     Yes, there really is a writing process, although it took me some time to figure out that there really was a process. But I’m still working that out, tweaking as I go along. I’ve always loved games where you can change the rules on any given day to suit you–fortunately in my family I was the oldest and it was just too easy!

So the process isn’t just one of writing. Discipline actually has to be employed; not my favorite thing, but if there is going to be progress, discipline is necessary:Morning Me

  1. Writing means education never ends. It’s a review here, an article there, a story or observation. So much to read, information to glean, rules to learn.
  2. Book matter requires research: location, people, events.
  3. The marketing and promotion process likewise never ends. If you have a book out there, you have to be engaged in promotion. More reading.
  4. Allotment of time for social media, making the contacts, keeping a presence.
  5. Working on a new book? Allotment of time to devote just to writing.
  6. Working on editing? Allotment of time to proof, edit, ……..
  7. Working on graphics, pictures for the novel? Allotment of time for more research.
  8. Working on promotion materials? Bookmarks, postcards, flyers.
  9. Have the book(s) on several venues? Research new avenues–(i.e.) is Smashwords a good fit?
  10. Groomed or in the process of attaining beta readers?

Yes, there is a definite writing schedule though mine is not assigned to a specific hour. For me, writing is more of a general time allotment assigned in the above process, all done on a computer. Not a morning person, my day begins slow and easy so that’s when the reading is done, followed by the research. Diffused into the schedule, household duties. And always with a eye to a goal of the day.

Today’s goal–(1) prepare for a visit with our son–(2) prepare this blog post. Well, one off the list is a start!

Virginia Williams

What Do You Love – Or Hate – To Read?

Day 5 of the Author Blog Challenge: What do you love – or hate – to read?

     Hate is a pretty strong word. While it may be bandied about fairly lightly at times such as the utterances of a strong-willed teenager to a parent, when you get down to it what do you really hate? Human circumstances such as cancer, world war, and terrorism come to mind. But books? Books just don’t fall under that category for me.

A quick viewing of “My Books” on Goodreads would seem to bear that out with a smattering across genres such as Jinx Swartz’s irreverent but fun romps out to sea with her 42′ yacht while she’s solving the latest mystery as the most hip, hardest drinking, sharpest tack in the engineering drawer. Or the Alex Lukeman or Bob Mayer books of black op or military prowess. There are auto-biographies, biographies, memoirs, fiction books about the civil war and non-fiction books about WWII. Historical fiction (obviously a fav) and books about autism. Books about combining plants to achieve color splashes and books about animals (especially love dog books). Caught in the middle of a good page turner, I’ve certainly been known to burn the midnight oil! Blue Moon

There’s YA Fantasy, Sci-Fi, thrillers, and books on social problems and remedies, travelogues, life transitions, American heritage and religious controversy (“30 Pieces of Silver” by Carolyn McCray presented an interesting theory).

So thinking it pretty much comes down to one negative for me and that is the length of the narrative. I have a rather limited time that can be devoted to reading–and one really LONG book will rob time from reading two or three. Not a matter of trading quality for quantity–some have belabored the same premise over and over. That makes for a very long book, not necessarily a good one.

No, maybe hate is too strong a word for that, too. I don’t hate an overly long book–but looking at the length of a 700 page book may have me estimating two others I could read in the meantime. Then maybe avoidance would be the more appropriate description. But looking at that list of books, what have I missed?

Virginia Williams

Can You Expect Success If You’re Mentor-less?

DAY 4 PROMPT: Who are your writing role models? Whose writing has most influenced you? Who are your writing mentors?

Can You Expect Success If You’re Mentor-less?

I don’t know if you can find success without having a mentor, but totally agree with Patrick Hodges of the Phoenix Publishing and Book Promotion Meetup who wrote yesterday regarding the value of beta readers. Having tried that and being on the giving end of an review swap without the reciprocal receiving end, he’s right in that it has to be people you trust to read your work before it hits the Internet.” Fortunately, I did find one on Goodreads willing to perform that task for the next book, although I’m somewhat reluctant to trade a review of my 168 page historical anthology for his 637 page telepathy, telekinesis, and teleportation (sci-fi fantasy) odyssey. The spirit is willing but the eyes are weak!

Caribbean Gold

Okay, I have another Goodreads buddy who has read it and willing to enter a review, but hasn’t yet performed “beta” duties. I absolutely love his work, however, and have read, rated, and reviewed a pre-release for him–Michael Reisig. He would constitute what for me is a role model. The description of his characters leaves you smelling the sweat or feeling the tension, seeing the terror in their eyes–wide with shock. And the way his characters hold and exhibit their respect for each other is a delight, often felt, impossible for most to actually put into words. The scenes are riveting, whether 300 years ago or 40, on the back of an ox on in a Beechcraft skimming the waters of the Caribbean at sunrise. He has written the “Road to Key West” series, “Hawks of Kamalon” among others, but my favorites were “The Treasure of Tortuga” and the Treasure of Time”.

Somewhere between my musings and his mind-blowing, page-turning sagas lies a real artist. Would that I could attain somewhere near that.

The School of Hard Knocks

The School of Hard Knocks

Besides writing, when I was a little girl I wanted to be an opera singer. I could hit the high notes and often walked home from school practicing “my opera”. Married and in Sacramento when our local church organized a choir, I was one of the first to show up–never having had any formal training other than a choir class in my sophomore year of high school (hmm, so would have been Yreka CA) and given our propensity for moving, that didn’t last long. Then it shouldn’t come as a surprise that I had no clue what “S, A, T, B” stood for but I knew I wanted to be part of the music program.

When our church members were invited to sing for the “Jazz Mass”, part of the annual celebration in the Sacramento Jazz Festival, I didn’t hesitate. The program, however, turned out to be a whole nother level of choir music with a priest who REALLY had an ear and knew his music and was known to clue into a voice out of key in a company of 100 and throw a pencil at them. But like any director who creates a masterful program, he was not only tolerated but venerated as he produced programs worthy of standing O’s. We always came back for more–praying we’d never go off key. That experience was part and parcel of my “gospel” years–and I truly reveled in singing those gospel songs–many at the top of my lungs as I participated in the MLK Workshop in Sacramento with goose-bump raising, powerful music.

When we moved to Idaho and I learned that the Gospel Jubilee was not only looking for sKaty and Iopranos but someone to work in the office creating flyers, I was the first to apply–only to learn he used Print Shop. (I’d taken a class in Photoshop.) Still, the singing was wonderful, fun, and creative and I learned a LOT about Print Shop!

So it probably comes as no additional surprise that I haven’t had a lot in the way of formal writing classes. I’ve alluded previously to finding and reading one of my early manuscripts I found so atrocious it was tossed with little fanfare and no regrets. Writing articles became the writing salvation and later the publishing of my grandfather’s manuscripts. I’ve learned a lot! Been through each book a dozen times, eyes crossed and glazed, turning page after page looking for more problems.

English classes may not have been as exciting for me as choir, but I’m from a spelling and cursive generation raised on Erma Bombeck and Abby. And I continue to seek out educational, dynamically progressive groups in which I may learn more of the craft in which so many participants are willing to share. Apparently, I’ve found it.

Please support another Author Blog Challenge participant by checking out Beth Kozan’s blog at http://bethkozan.com/.

When Have I NOT Been Writing?

When Have I NOT Been Writing?

I envy those people who can remember something that happened when they were five with a twinkle in their eyes and a lop-sided grin produced by the nostalgia of the memory. My husband is one of those. For me, it’s not a loss of memory due to age–I don’t consider myself that old. Albert and I

   So I count on stories, pictures, or one of a handful of memories in a childhood spent moving several times a year looking for greener pastures in what would today be considered poverty–we just knew we were poor. The picture is from a newspaper article on reading of myself when I was 8 and my beloved brother (lost during the Viet Nam conflict). It starts with a love and respect of books.

There is another picture (heaven knows where) of myself receiving an award for winning a story writing contest–think it was Red Bluff CA–so would have been a number of years later. Perhaps this was the glimmer my grandfather saw in me. My teacher must have seen something as well as she submitted it to the local paper. Bless her heart.

I’ve had compliments from letter recipients and seldom lacked the ability to pen a story when it was required–but formally? Having majored in the man who would become my husband (now 53 years) in college , I was probably fortunate to attain the diploma I did. mag_pic_sm

As mentioned before, it was during my riding years that I began writing stories for various motorcycling magazines, though mainly the WOW  (Women On Wheels(c)) Magazine. I probably wrote better than I rode, but it was a way to work on my writing chops!

When I discovered my grandfather’s manuscripts and a way to publish them then, it was a natural. It’s good I don’t have to do this for a living–it’s a happy commitment in my retirement–and with any luck one that will continue to grow and provide reward.

And reward doesn’t always have to include dollar signs!

Blog Challenge-Day 1

Blog Challenge-Day 1

Uh oh! It’s here already?! I thought I was preparing, but thank heaven we are being supplied with a daily prompt!

start

Easy blog challenge prompt for Day 1–intuitive–what are the goals for the Author Blog Challenge better known as the “ABC“?

(1) Is it to introduce new readers to the blog? (oh yes!)

(2) Is it to increase traffic to the blog? (oh yes!)

(3) Get in some extra writing practice? (of course!)

All of the above! I joined in an effort to force myself accountable in continuing to hone the craft my grandfather thought he’d passed on when he left me his steamer trunk full of his own manuscripts, poems, short stories, and paintings over 80 years ago. As the old wives tale goes–twins (especially identical) tend to skip a generation. Interesting if so. Does it also follow with artistic talents as neither my mother nor my aunt had any interest in their father’s work or in creating histories, stories, or fiction of their own; neither do my daughter or son–but my granddaughter?? Keeps a journal with her and is constantly writing!! Don’t I love that! So, is there a writing gene?

But inheriting the urge isn’t the same as the gift and though I began writing in childhood, winning a few little contests, it wasn’t until I began publishing magazine articles of my motorcycling adventures and later of Stanley McShane’s scripts that I realized this was going to be a LOT of work! To that end, I’ve joined groups (hence the Publishing and Book Promotion MeetUp group of Phoenix, as well as the Idaho Authors’ Community) and written my little heart out translating McShane’s works,  practicing book descriptions, author pages, media promotions, book signings, and creating this blog that has, at times, floundered.

Therefore, in addition to the SEO class I’m signed up for in the Spring, I’ll stubby my fingers on the keyboard trying to meet this challenge. And in so doing, perhaps I’ll tap into that author gene of my own and in the process succeed in items 1 and 2 above!

ready-set-grow

Preparing to Debut “Ethan’s Secret” – coming August 17th!”

WOW! Really love this concept and while not applicable to my own, I know several who would benefit. Great idea!!

Phoenix Publishing & Book Promotion

Preparing to Debut “Ethan’s Secret” – coming August 17th!”

by Patrick Hodges

SONY DSCIt’s always exciting when you get close to the release date for your book. And this time, there’s been such a flurry of activity that I’ve scarcely had time to catch my breath!

Last month, I contacted a man named Dan Dynneson, who interviews authors whose books “make a difference.” I was honored that he chose to interview me. We communicated via Skype, and just this week, the interview was posted on his website. It’s quite long (73 minutes), but it was very productive. My first interview! Here is the link where you can listen to it.

My second book, Ethan’s Secret, will debut on Amazon on August 17th, a date I ethans secretchose because it also happens to be my 46th birthday. Feedback has been outstanding so far, and I look forward to getting both this book…

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Self-Pub? How Many of These 12 Ideas Do You Use?

Peace

Finishing up the proof for “Sole Survivor-I Win” is both sad and relieving at the same time. At this point, I believe most of Patrick John “Stanley McShane” Rose’s quality manuscripts, paintings, and poems have been integrated into his posthumously published works.

Once released, which is hoped by the middle of June, comes the hard part–the part still being pressed almost daily on all the publications–marketing and promotion.

While it seems that most of the hints and ideas I’ve read have been incorporated, it’s still an uphill battle, as I’ve alluded to before on this blog.

1. Does it really help to have a blog or is it just adding to the write pile? With life constantly getting in the way, it seems difficult to impossible to be as active as recommended.

  1. The twitter thing–millions are using it to their advantage. It is commonly supposed to be a productive back alley into contacts and communications with interested, supportive persons and I have to admit, I’m getting a new follower most every day and sometimes more depending on the recent flurry of activity. It seems more a self-promotion vehicle than a valid list of fans and I suspect most of us just don’t have the time to follow through.

Continue reading “Self-Pub? How Many of These 12 Ideas Do You Use?”

Who Said The “Golden” Years?!

I’m not sure if this is becoming another of those very long chapters in our lives (we’ve had others), or if this is a blurb cluster. (Okay then, consider it the third in a series.) I’ve written before of the RV disaster in the summer of 2014 pitting our Forest River Windsong home on wheels against the finest RV mechanics west of the Rockies. Or maybe not (the finest). (See previous RV related posts.)

After the better part of two weeks parked near Findlay’s RV where we waited for parts and they ran the gamut of fixes, including the new radiator, it was determined that the engine was still running hot. Certainly too hot to make it to Pahrump NV (our original Fall destination); and was cautioned by the mechanic who installed a separate temp gauge at the insistence of dear hubby not to try to pull those hills, especially with the “toad” (our little Geo Tracker–also not the healthiest engine block on asphalt). After being offered under $10k for the RV as she sat, said dear hubby in a fit of unfathomable defiance threw the last of our groceries and water inside the tin can and we headed south for Yuma AZ–our Winter destination–the Yuma Foothills: Golf cart, ATV and sand rail heaven. Continue reading “Who Said The “Golden” Years?!”

Just Out

Caribbean Gold-The Treasure of Time  You can feel it–the hair rising on the back of your neck. Reisig has pricked that sixth sense with “Caribbean Gold – The Treasure of Time”. After you viewed the movie “Ghost”, did you believe? The chills begin early in Caribbean Gold – The Treasure of Time, and they manifest often in this, the second of Reisig’s new offering in the Caribbean Gold series. We love stories of deja  vu–probably because we’ve all had…those…experiences not easily explained away. Haven’t we been here before–know this person? A connection–it’s there–palpable, real.  Continue reading “Just Out”

Your Exclusive Preview!

Irresistibly drawn to tales of treasure hunting, swashbuckling pirates, sailing ships, their courageous crews and the bawdy women who entertained them, I discovered “Brothers of the Sword/Children of Time” written by Michael Reisig in 2001. Envisioning a modern day Stanley McShane, off on another adventure, I witnessed my grandfather’s travels again through Reisig’s historical 17th century masted sailing craft, experiencing much of the same kind of treasure hunting in the Caribbean as did my grandfather in the South Pacific a century earlier. Fortunately for all of us, however, Reisig began fashioning his sea-worthy tales well before he retired from the sea!

Caribbean-GoldIn the first book of Reisig’s riveting new collection, you are drawn back in time, to an era of dark-hearted men, captivating women, and a seafaring adventure so real you’ll taste the salt spray.

The year is 1668. Englishman Trevor Holte and the audacious freebooter Clevin Greymore, sail from the Port of London for Barbados and the West Indies. They set out in search of adventure and wealth, but the challenges they encounter are beyond their wildest dreams – the brutal Spanish, ruthless buccaneers, a pirate king, the lure of Havana, and the women – as fierce in their desires as Caribbean storms.

And then, there was the gold and the emeralds – wealth beyond imagination. But some treasures outlive the men who bury them…

We come to love these raucous men, their love for each other, and their chivalrous devotion to their ladies. Reisig weaves his storytelling in such compellingly descriptive manner that even were it not your normal read, you’ll be glad for the electricity–oil’s expensive! Continue reading “Your Exclusive Preview!”

Charlie Chaplin-Not So Silent!

I recently won an advanced copy of “Charlie Chaplin-A Brief Life” authored by Peter Ackroyd through a Giveaway on Goodreads. Of course the author was referring to the length of his biography rather than the years lived by Charles Chaplin, whom most of the world learned to call Charlie, as we are aware he lived into his eighties.

Knowing the name and having seen a few examples of his work, however, I was not prepared for the story of the impact his life actually had on not only the United States, but the entire world early in the 20th Century. And, apparently, his legacy has lived on and was instrumental in fanning the change in what was considered “acting”.

Charlie Chaplin I was grateful for the concise and interesting biography of the apparent genius in Charlie Chaplin as I know there are numerous biographies as well as his own autobiography which are extremely lengthy. Never really a fan of his, having now read this book want to find some of his earlier highly acclaimed silent films and see if I can glean the true meanings as Ackroyd has afforded them.

It’s well he introduces us to the child of the London slums to describe the volatile personality which emerges as a result of his earliest experiences. His older brother, Sydney, and he manage to survive without really knowing who their biological father is, born to an alcoholic mother who following a psychotic break spends the rest of her life essentially in and out of asylums as well as the boys lives. A natural mimic, he is perfect for the time and quickly gains attention both in his native London music halls and later in America where he pushed the image of the “Little Tramp” to new and popular heights in silent films.

Later as he takes over the direction of his own films, and reading the descriptions of his rages, periods of genius, and lack of social acumen, I often wondered if he was really an undiagnosed Aspergers person long before they were identified as such–he certainly exhibited many of the symptoms. What struck me, however, was the numerous ways in which he actually changed the focus of silent films and acting; the excessively unbelievable attention to detail, the strength he pulled from his actors. Not so commendable was his volatile private life–more ugly than inspired or romantic and Ackroyd includes all the warts; Chaplin the man as opposed to Chaplin the beloved actor. Not the first time the fans have not been privy to the real face behind the makeup. Chaplin descends into “murky scandals”, from which he eventually escaped into exile to Switzerland. He was obviously ahead of his time only to fall victim to the “talkies” as well as his own strong philosophical and political ideals that would spell the end of the movie world as he knew it. As we sometimes do with our former idols who have been banished in scandals, Chaplin was much later accorded an honorary Academy Award. Indeed, with all of it, there is no denying his cinematic contribution to America.

Are Amazon Reviews Bogus?

Interesting and lively discussion back on Goodreads.com regarding all those wonderful stars trailing the best-selling books.

Neil (of “Shut Up and Read”) started it all in December 2013 when he ranted, “Are all Amazon reviews bogus???…Some reviews are so obviously fake, shills, they must think the readers are stupid. …”

Having read the posts and feeling fairly strongly about it myself given the degree to which I’d worked to get any stars at all, noted that I spot read reviews; usually a couple rated 5, but also rely on the lesser rated for some good insight into the book. I felt that the book descriptions don’t always accurately describe the book and the title can be deceiving.

I appreciate honest and detailed reviews for the manuscripts I’ve published for my grandfather and likewise try to be very honest in my reviews of the books I’ve read–and I’ve read quite few; some good–some not so. In view of the time it takes to write a decent review on the books I thoroughly enjoy, I might rate but will not generally spend the time to review one I didn’t care for. I suspect many do the same, although in reading the reviews left by others, usually find a consensus of the same two or three stars I would give confirming my judgment of the book.

My problem here is that if I don’t leave a review for the book I didn’t care for (and that seems to be the norm), the author is deprived of the problems I perceived. The same applies to the books I’ve published. I didn’t understand the motives behind a two-star rating which left me wondering how to fix a problem I’m unaware exists. Of course it’s hard to actually print those harsh words for someone else knowing the blood, sweat, and tears that comprise a manuscript. As Ken from Goodreads wrote“I’ll read the bad reviews first and see if they have anything valid to say. You can usually tell if it’s real. Sometimes a bad review will complain about something that I consider an attribute and that’s makes me want to read the book. I don’t really trust 5-star reviews any more.” Continue reading “Are Amazon Reviews Bogus?”

Full Timing

As I’ve alluded to previously on this blog, we had a Class C Winnebago Minnie Winnie with which we used to touch off a book tour of the Great Northwest in 2013. Unfortunately, the book tour ended all too quickly after a call from my sister that my mother (then 92 years of age) was in critical condition again and back in the hospital.

In the meantime, it taught me that the proper venue made a huge difference in the kind of reception my grandfather’s books regarding his sailing adventures back in the late 1800’s/early 1900’s were received and sold. I felt if I could have continued with the trip on down the Washington/Oregon/California coast, the trip would actually have been quite successful.

Having sold our home in 2013 and living in our recreational vehicle full time, we found ourselves in the Foothills of Yuma, Arizona where it was discovered there was a schedule of craft fairs at the RV parks for all the beloved “winter visitors”. The craft fairs were gleefully attended by appreciative crowds looking for unique crafts that couldn’t be found anywhere else and added a festive occasion to their winter stay. Quickly getting into the whole craft fair circuit, a happy new venue for book sales was found to be somewhat rewarding.

Fast forward to 2014 and once again hitting the road with a slightly larger RV, Class A, again loaded with books, we headed for the east coast of the United States…except that we were under the gun with our schedule to leave Yuma and return to California for my mother (and another health crisis), forcing an unwise buy decision on a Class A, Forest River Windsong. Thinking we had most of the major issues resolved prior to our exit from Yuma, we chugged along in the heat pulling our “toad”, an old Geo Tracker.Windsong Engine

Windsong Dash            It wasn’t long, however, before it was discovered most of the major issues were not resolved after all, the band-aid fixes lasting long enough to get us to California. By the time we made Twin Falls, we were baking inside that sardine can. Marooned in Twin for just over a week while the Windsong languished at Tony’s 2T, we finally gave up their ever getting the blower-a/c fixed when he pronounced we’d be spending another weekend while he waited for yet another part.

Worrying about the toad being set properly to tow without burning up the transmission, I asked another Class A owner towing the same vehicle how it was set. Following his advice, we set the Geo Tracker as instructed only to have it totally blow the motor within 2 miles. Blown Tracker Engine We limped into our son’s house in Indiana in an RV in excess of 90o, hot, tired, and disgusted. The RV lazed another week at Bill Gardiner RV in Lafayette, IN waiting on parts and getting them, failing to notify us. We’ve now been languishing in the summer heat, rain and humidity of Indiana for a month, no greater progress either with the Windsong or the Tracker. The Windsong has loose wires going everywhere and the Tracker now has a new rebuilt engine, working on the tranny and transfer case. The books are aging in the Windsong basement storage compartments and visions of selling down the east coast a distant memory.

We got lucky in that we could stay with our son while the Captain is wrenching both the RV and toad himself, but tools and parts have spent the gas money. We’re looking at September and this is Indiana. I’m getting nervous.

Shipwrecks, Pirates, Treasures in Maine

Shipwrecks, Pirates, Treasure in MaineAvast and Ahoy, Matey! The book written by Theodore Parker Burbank, “Shipwrecks, Pirates, Treasure in Maine” was an eye-opener. I can’t find the research to explain why it seems the propensity of schooners to sink is over-whelmingly more so than your average yawl, ketch or cutter, but reading his book would tend to scare me off even a multi-million dollar yacht. There were, no doubt, many more schooners plying the world’s oceans than barques or brigs.

Originally, schooners were gaff-rigged, and these were described often in my grandfather’s sailing adventures. Schooners would commonly have two masts, although there again, the schooners described by my grandfather usually noted three. Popular because of their windward ability and speed, they were used for everything from traditional fishing to slaving and privateering–(gulp!!)–also described more than once by the same Stanley McShane.

Of course, many were used to carry cargo, as varied as spices to lumber and were also comfortable on the high seas as well as coastal runs and large inland bodies of water.

Ted  BurbankTed Burbank takes us back to the beginning, describing the ships of the “Golden Age of Piracy” and debunks some pirate myths. Interesting chapters on pirates, including the famous Captain Kidd, who it turns out never really was a pirate!

Burbank then takes us through the shipwrecks from the South Coast and Mid-Coast to Penobscot Bay (New Ireland).

While the focus of Burbank’s book is of pirates, I loved the chapters on treasure in and off shore of Maine and the many neat pictures. It’s obvious he spent a lot of time in research and pulled it all together in a fascinating study of pirates and their ships off the Maine coast. Enjoy watching those waves hit the beach? Love watching those ships? Can you smell that sea air? This book will benefit by the help of a good proofreader, but it’s a fun read and sure gives you the taste for lobster! Elginshire

Revisit Cocos Island

It is said that Jacque Cousteau called Cocos Island the most beautiful island in the world, and the island is also on the short list to become one of the “New Seven Wonders of the World”[1]. The island has long been declared to be hiding more than just natural beauty within its rugged landscape:

William Thompson loaded jewels, gold, silver, heavily adorned candlesticks, and two life sized gold statues of the Virgin Mary holding baby Jesus aboard the Mary Dear and left the harbor as expected. Thompson was overcome with temptation, however, and he and his crew killed the Spanish guards and changed their original course from Spain to Cocos Island[2], (Isla del Coco) located 340 miles off the pacific coast of Costa Rica where they buried the treasure said to be worth well over $160,000,000 (now known as “The Loot of Lima”. Whether buried above ground in the sand of one of two bays (Chatham Bay or Wafer Bay) or below the water, no one has yet recovered any riches.

But Thompson wasn’t alone in thinking Cocos Island represented a quick and safe haven for secreting away pirated treasures from the hapless ships sailing on the main shipping channels toward destinations many never completed successfully!

My grandfather, Patrick John Rose (pen name Stanley McShane who wrote “Cocos Island Treasure“), separately ventured to the island in the early 1900’s about the same time as John Keating spent nearly 12 years (from 1897 to 1908) searching for the treasures that so many pirates reportedly buried on Isla del Coco (Cocos Island). In total, it was reported that Keating eventually found 6 gold coins. (No information documented on the location of the find.)

But it was the buccaneer Edward Davis that was the subject of my grandfather’s book and goal of his trip to Cocos Island. Edward Davis was one of the earliest (1680) recorded (by writer William Dampier) buccaneers to have buried treasure on Cocos Island. According to Wikipedia[3], Davis with his flagship, the Bachelor’s Delight anchored in “Chatham Bay and supposedly left behind several chests containing ingots, pieces-of-eight and £300,000 in silver bar and plate taken from settlements in Peru and Chile.” They also go on to say that he may have been the same privateer to accompany Captain William Kidd to America after a meeting at St. Mary’s Island in 1697.

The jungle infested island described in the book by my grandfather also alludes to the waterfalls from almost perpendicular rocks and feral pigs deposited on the island by the many treasure laden visitors over the years. The shear cliffs testify to the uninhabilitability of the island though the island purportedly boasts fresh water, as well as the namesake, coconuts, lending a siren call to either bay whether for depositing ill-gotten gains or to find a safe haven from the frequent tropical storms that assail the area. The tropical trees and plants, choking vines and creepers apparently hide quagmires or deep crevices, which, following a misstep, can swallow a human whole. Millions of insects inhabit vapor laden air while the raucous cries of birds careen overhead. Patrick describes a stream west of the bay shore of Chatham Bay that they followed by laboriously hacking bushes and vines as they went. The party ascended up and over immense boulders where they eventually discovered a pool created from waters from above. It was within the pool that water also disappears into a hidden, underwater cave.

It is definitely the stories handed down from generation to generation and writers such as Dampier and my grandfather that lend themselves to the folklore of the romantized pirate legends. That and the occasional find of a golden doubloon!

Cocos Island

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

[1] http://www.new7wonders.com/ You can view the “new” 7 wonders as listed. There are continuous feeds on Twitter, Google, and You Tube.

[2] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cocos_Island

[3] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Edward_Davis_(bucccaneer)

 

Calvin Many Wolves Potter

Calvin Many Wolves Potter

goodreads_icon_32x32-032d59134a33b2b7a83151dec051b8f3Twelve year old Calvin Potter had had enough of his abusive Pennsylvania father; he couldn’t stand it any longer. Stealing quietly out of the door early one morning with little more than the clothes on his back, Calvin begins a journey into another life punctuated by the walk of his life, incredible endurance, and unbelievable pain. Calvin awakened to the care of the gentle Falling Star and attentive Spirit Wind and began the change from white to the Dakota of Minnesota. Running Fox quickly becomes a boyhood friend and mentor and the young boys of the tribe enfold and foster a bond of friendship and respect. Calvin is adopted into the family of Strong Eagle and White Cloud and their daughter, Red Leaf, and slowly and carefully learns the language, the ways, and the respect of the rest of the tribe as he is indoctrinated into the tribe and leaves Calvin behind to become Many Wolves. Many Wolves participates in tribal activities as seasons and years evolve until it is apparent the very way of life of “the people” is threatened by the encroaching white man and the severe negative impact their civilization has on the native peoples. Strong Eagle has wisely forced Many Wolves back into the white population to help salvage the situation between the peoples, to get Many Wolves out of harms way, and to bring about his assimilation into the growing white population. Failure to follow through with agreements to alleviate hardships and misunderstandings produce hard feelings on both sides, until the situation becomes so dire that flash point occurs. The native peoples are starving and have few options open to them as their centuries old way of life begins to unravel. The situation deteriorates into forced massive movement and exodus of large populations of all tribes of the Dakota Nation while 38 of their young men are brought up on charges in acts of retaliation and face an incredibly sad ending to a remarkable life. Many Wolves as Calvin has been unable to salvage the situation to his overwhelming sorrow and finds himself neither red nor white. Lost between worlds, Calvin begins a journey back to his “borning” family to try and discover where he belongs. But after so many years, a journey of boy to man to another world, can he ever go back?

What Makes a Survivor?

Free My Heart of Grief to Love

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I had a chance to interview Sandra Moore Bernsen in Quartzsite, Arizona, where she was hosting an author signing event at Readers Oasis Books. Sandra wrote Free My Heart of Grief to Love-A Journey from Loss to Joy, a memoir of devastating loss and recovery.

Born in Minnesota, the financially stressed family moved to Montana where she later found the “bad boy” to whom she gave her heart. The antithesis of Sandra, she and Rich married and eventually moved to Idaho where they established a life of their own after welcoming their two sons. Ray was their first born son. Patrick followed, but at 8 days old went from being a happy, healthy boy to one of multiple and massive health issues–forcing the family for an extended period of time to concentrate on acquiring his care where they could and eventually losing him to the devastating illness that ravaged his little body.

Ray had his own issues, but borne of the eventual loss of his younger brother and that of his beloved German Shepherds, Sam and Alf, he turned inward for solace and took it upon himself to garner the protection he felt he needed. The protection accidentally turned deadly one evening in the kitchen as he fixed himself a late-night snack. Roused by the sharp report in the kitchen, both mother and father discovered their son had suffered a fatal head wound. Within 10 short weeks of the loss of Ray, Sandra’s mother succumbed to her own health issues.

Devastated, both parents grieved in their own way until Rich was discovered to have contracted acute leukemia–one so rare his doctors were at a loss to create an appropriate treatment regime. Sandra took her husband home and once again faced the emotional turmoil of laying to rest another loved one. Continue reading “What Makes a Survivor?”

Just the Pits–Isn’t!

The latest in a Hetta Coffey series, Jinx Schwartz has done it again with “Just the Pits“. Hetta is a single female engineer who tends to get in over her head after being hired to investigate what appears to be over-whelming expenditures on an already expensive mining operation. That she quickly begins confronting problems is apparently not wholly unusual, but she has a super network of friends who are ready and willing to come to her aid including a long-distance boyfriend somewhere mysteriously off on his own classified missions. Among the comical sub-plots is her struggle to come to terms with turning the big 4-0 and granting her BFF Jan the lavish male attention her stunning long-legged, blonde good looks garners without rancor. Endearing is her plot to rescue (and keep grounded?) a dog she names Po Thang whose major force in life is to find and devour his next meal. Her general obvious love and appreciation of the local Baja location and population stems from her extensive real life experiences while piloting a 45′ yacht she calls home. The mine that is the subject of the plot is but one of many in the area and her failure to see any masculine dominated industry or activity as being a challenge includes a hilarious description of her maneuvering a monster dirt hauler in the middle of some serious seismic activity. She wraps it all up in snappy, witty and downright laugh-out-loud dialogue and concludes with a satisfying ending. I figured if I enjoyed reading it that much, so would my hubby and got him to read it as well. He loved it! Now, how can we score another of her “Just” Hetta books? They are too much fun!

You gotta check out this book–either in print or digital download! Just the Pits