Books – Currently Reading

After Di’s dental appointment Thursday, we stopped off at Barnes & Noble, Bella Terra. This is always chancy owing to our tendency to buy “too many” books. Luck was with us as I found an open Handicapped Parking space so she wouldn’t have to walk too far (or drop her off at the B&N and use the parking structure).

We spent a good hour+ in the store, mostly in the science-fiction/fantasy section. We filled one basket, a bit over-filled actually. I got three books: Steadfast (Jack Campbell), Shadow of Freedom (David Weber) and The Wright Brothers (David McCullough).

I know this is a bit ridiculous as I’m already in the midst of reading three other books. But what the heck, I’ve also re-read all but one of the Liaden books–in the last ten weeks–in preparation for getting my copy of Dragon in Exile (in the next week or so, I hope). She also received a package from Amazon UK this week. This brings Di’s current backlog of unread books to about two dozen. She’s saving some of them for our vacation trip this summer.

The Wright Brothers was selling for 40% off, and we combined it with one of our two 20% off cards–a $30.00 book for only the wright brothers$12.00. I just finished Chapter #3 and am finding it to be a good read. Well written with plenty of the details we never learned in school–pitch a tent on the sand, dig your own well, heat and mosquitoes–“in the form of mighty cloud, almost darkening the sun.” (p. 58)

It is not a quick read, and I’ll probably finish one or two of the others before I finish The Wright Brothers.

I’ve got the “boob tube” on in the background with the Indy 500 and the Angel-Red Sox game. I find I really don’t care who wins the race, but, hey, it’s the Indy 500. The Angels are trailing 3 to 1 in the 6th inning–Go Angels! Mist is sleeping in my lap, and I hear the Sunday LA Times crossword puzzle calling my name.

Memorial Day

Remember the real what, who and why for this holiday weekend. To my Uncles Andy, Billy and Charlie (US Army and Air Corps), to my cousin Christian (US Navy), to my brother John (US Air Force), to my mother Gladys (US Navy Waves), to my father-in-law Ferrier (RAF) and to all of the rest of you who have served and are serving, thank you.

Be safe, drive safe.


Since Charlie retired back in March, I haven’t had much chance to go to the beach.

Yesterday . . .

she decided that I needed to get out and that she would go with me. So after she finished skyping her sister Tricia in England, we got into the Enclave and drove to the beach. I stopped and got a cheeseburger and fries for a late lunch (about 2 pm).

Cold at the Beach
Cold at the Beach

We parked along PCH (Pacific Coast Highway) at about 17th Street in HB and found an unoccupied bench on which to sit. It was cool and breezy and there were few people about.

Only four ships were anchored off the coast, two tankers and two container ships–a far cry from four months ago when you could count more than two dozen.

While we were eating, three guys started playing catch on the beach below us and two more went in the water to go surfing. The waves weren’t high, broke too close to shore and were badly torn up by the wind; I don’t think they got much surfing done.

It was too cold for Charlie; after I finished lunch, we returned to the car for the short drive home. Still, it was nice to get out.


Here’s a list of what I’ve read so far this year:

This list does not count re-reads (The Crystal Variation, The Dragon Variation and The Agent Gambit) of Liaden books in preparation for Dragon in Exile coming out shortly.

21. Paradigms Lost by Ryk E. Spoor 3/5 stars

20. The 47 Ronin Story by John Allyn 2/5 stars

18. & 19. A Confederation of Valor by Tanya Huff 4/5 stars–includes: The Better Part of Valor (Confederation #2) & Valor’s Choice (Confederation #1)

17.The Clone Apocalypse by Steven L. Kent (Rogue Clone #10) 2/5 stars

16. The Clone Assassin by Steven L. Kent (Rogue Clone #9) 4/5 stars

15.The Clone Sedition by Steven L. Kent (Rogue Clone #8) 4/5 stars

14. The Clone Redemption by Steven L. Kent (Rogue Clone #7) 4/5 stars

13. Madness in Solidar by L. E. Modesitt, Jr. (The Imager Portfolio #9) 4.5/5 stars

12. Castaway Planet by Eric Flint 3/5 stars

11. Undercity by Catherine Asaro (Major Baahjan #1) 4/5 stars

10. The Clone Empire by Steven L. Kent (Rogue Clone #6) 4/5 stars

9. The Clone Betrayal by Steven L. Kent (Rogue Clone #5) 4/5 stars

8. The Clone Elite by Steven L. Kent (Rogue Clone #4) 4/5 stars

7. Antiagon Fire by L. E. Modesitt, Jr. (The Imager Portfolio #7) 4/5 stars

6. Imager’s Battalion by L. E. Modesitt, Jr. (The Imager Portfolio #6) 4/5 stars

5. Princeps by L. E. Modesitt, Jr. (The Imager Portfolio #5) 4/5 stars

4. Carousel Seas by Sharon Lee (Archer’s Beach #3) 4/5 stars

3. Scholar by L. E. Modesitt, Jr. (The Imager Portfolio #4) 4/5 stars

2. The Life and Times of Horatio Hornblower by C. Northcote Parkinson 4/5 stars

1. The Abyss Beyond Dreams by Peter F. Hamilton (A Commonwealth Novel) 3/5 stars

Rejection–Oh, the humanity.

While editing the first draft of my novel, I thought I’d try to sell a stand-alone portion of an early chapter. I edited the story, about 3,800 words in length, and submitted it to a sci-fi-fantasy magazine I read and thought would be appropriate. It was my first attempt at submitting my work and was done electronically.

After a couple of weeks, I received a reply–my first rejection. Well, the first rejection of something I’d written and tried to sell. How dare the editor reject my perfect prose–of course, I’d already re-written some of it during those two weeks, just in case I’d have to try to sell it to someone else and to make it fit better in the novel.

In full the note from the editor read: Thank you for letting me read “Impossible Answer.” There’s some good writing here but overall the story just didn’t grab me so I’m going to pass on it. I wish you best of luck finding the right market for it, and I hope to see more stories from you in the future.

Writing; no we don't think so--not on our lap. (Siamese cats)
Writing; no we don’t think so–not on our lap.

As disappointed and heartbroken as I was, I sent the story, the revised version, off to another sci-fi-fantasy magazine via electronic submission that afternoon. I’m keeping my fingers crossed, but I’m not holding my breath.

At this particular instant in time, I’m quite happy that I’m retired with a good pension and rejection doesn’t mean I don’t eat this week.

I am currently “working” on editing the novel, plotting a sequel and writing a novella/novel based on an idea of my wife’s.

The cats, Mist and Smoke, are not, however, always supportive of my work habits.

Reading is OK, but we still get the lap. (Siamese cats)
Reading is OK, but we still get the lap.

The last two weeks

The last two weeks were very eventful for Charlie and I (me, us).

After thirty-some years in junior high, she decided to retire. It was a matter of circumstance rather than preferred choice–she’d rather have retired at the end of the school year in June, but that was not to be.

Mist & Smoke Window (Siamese cats)
Mist & Smoke Window

We’re going to have a retirement party for her at the end of the month.

The best thing about this is no more commuting back and forth to her school everyday. (Yeah, but I still wake up early every morning as though she still goes to work.) We still have to go back to her classroom and bring home the things she wants to keep. (What? You really think the school provides all of the supplies teachers need to teach? When did you fall of the turnip truck?)

I finally finished my first novel (first draft). My goal was to tell my story in about 100,000 words. Yeah!

Mist & Smoke Blanket (Siamese cats)
Mist & Smoke Blanket

When I taught history (and other subjects), I often told stories. I would allot myself five or ten minutes for the story in my lesson plans. Hah! I never did figure out that each story told itself–in however many minutes it decided it needed. Give it five, and it took ten. Give it ten, and it took twenty-five.

Stories have a life of their own. They don’t limit themselves the way we try to limit them. The story tells itself in its own good time.

So it was with this story. I aimed for twenty chapters and 100,000 words. The story decided it needed twenty-six chapters and 120,000 words.

Who am I to argue with the story?

There were a couple of stories within the larger story that I thought could stand on their own. I took one of them and re-wrote small sections of it. I submitted it for publication in a sci/fi/fant periodical. Will I get it published? Don’t know, but I’m trying. If I do sell it, it’ll be my first sale–I’m keeping my fingers crossed.

Finished my first edit of the novel yesterday and found a number of stupid errors. Corrected most of my errors dealing with punctuation of dialog–NO, I don’t remember learning it in school, but, assuming I did, I forgot an awful lot of it.

I did find some good sites about how to do it, however.


Now to print out the five hundred pages and do some real editing.

Hmmm . . . wonder why it’s easier to find errors in printouts than on the screen?


Thanksgiving Week

Thanksgiving Week – Nine Days

My wife, Diana or Di, to her English family and Charlie to the rest of us is still teaching. This year she had the whole of Thanksgiving Week off. A good week to relax and veg-out.

Saturday – relax, watch college football, and fix spaghetti for dinner.

Sunday – as above, but pro football and took Charlie to have a mani-pedi.

Monday – relax, we went to MNF dinner at Mike and Sandy’s (nice tradition as Mike and I have been doing this for somewhere around thirty years).

Tuesday – took Charlie to her “pain management” doctor and had one of her “heavy” meds dosage reduced—less med in the same number of pills for the same cost.

Wednesday – one of Charlie’s good, retired friends came over to visit for several hours and I then took Charlie to another doctor’s appointment.

Thursday – the two of us had a quiet Thanksgiving dinner together: turkey, mashed potatoes and peas. Her brother called and was quite chuffed that he had prepared a good batch of roast potatoes. I’ve found that a 16-pound turkey has plenty of meat for the two of us for dinner and several days of leftovers—oh, yes, gave the cats a bit of turkey, too.

Friday – quiet day with leftovers and football and Charlie grading English class essays (7th & 8th grade). When I see her doing this I give quiet thanks that I was able to retire when I did.

Saturday – basically a copy of Friday except I started out watching Premier League “football”—Go Arsenal!

Sunday – should be a copy of Saturday except for the angst of Charlie having to go back to work tomorrow and the Grey Cup is on this afternoon.

The above list is not an exhaustive one. There was grocery shopping to do, including the purchase of cat and bird food. Clothes washing, dishes, general cleaning, etc. that needed to be done. The gardener came by yesterday and the front yard and backyard gardens are beautiful, if lacking in summer flowers.

Charlie finished reading the latest Aloysius Pendergast book, Blue Labyrinth, by Preston and Child. She is now on the patio reading Relic and drinking her second cup of tea. We actually have dark clouds overhead so, maybe, we’ll get some of that promised rain this week. (Maybe, even today.)

I’m a half-dozen chapters into Heritage of Cyador by Modesitt and it promises to be a good read.

I’ve written the first eight chapters of my book, two more full chapters and two partial chapters farther on in the story. My goal is a hundred thousand words but I’ve got more story than that in my head and will have to do a “bit” of trimming.

Downloaded Annie Lennox’s new album, Nostalgia, marvelous. I’ve got 18,000+ songs and tunes on iTunes and have music playing in the house most of the time—on Apple TV and playing through our stereo. (Still waiting for Diana Krall’s Wallflower.)

The OC Register is again a no-show today—haven’t had a copy delivered since Thursday a week ago, but I still get their emails. The LA Times hasn’t missed a day or been late. (This really bugs me as the Times does not cover Orange County high school football. It’s playoff season now.)

School Teacher Alert

—and anyone else who has ever had a “pointy-haired” principal or boss: Today’s Dilbert (with apologies to Scott Adams).

Principal: Would you like some feedback on your (teaching) performance?

Teacher: No.

P: You’re supposed to appreciate feedback because it makes you feel valued.

T: How does listening to you belittle me about things you don’t understand make me feel valued?

P: Well, I don’t know. It must be an indirect thing.

P: Maybe we should just try it and see how it feels.

T: Whatever.

P: I don’t actually watch you (teach) work, so I’m mostly guessing about the things you do wrong.

P: I accuse you of being slow and disorganized!

P: Is it working yet?

T: Yes. If that makes you go away.

I don’t know if this accurate for your current situation, but, if you’ve been a teacher long enough, you’ve had at least one, and maybe several “pointy-haired” principals. (I know I have. I, of course, won’t mention any names, but, if you’ve taught with me, you will probably name the same ones.)


Charlie’s sister, Tricia, has confirmed that she’ll be here for Christmas. (She lives in England.)

Sunday Morning Company
Sunday Morning Company

The cats are keeping me company: one on the back of my chair, from which position he sometimes washes my hair, and the other atop her castle.

And, as I look around at all I possess and think on all I am thankful for one thing stands out: Charlie, without whom nothing else seems to matter.

And, one more note, Charlie reports that it is now raining.