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The origin of this book came in the early 1990s in my family history research. I stumbled across a query in an old journal mentioning my ancestors and asking for information about their murders in 1813. Their murders?! The query was then about ten years old. I wrote a letter to the address provided on the hopes that the person had not moved or died. The bad news is that she had moved. The good news is that she had moved next door and got my letter. Martha Heineman was a retir

My First Podcast

I was honored to be interviewed on the Writers Groupie podcast. I moved my desk around so that my bookcase was in the background and I raised my desk to the standing position. #writing #history #podcasts #Publishing #novels #criticism #video #books #fiction

Where is Norman Rockwell when we need him?

I got up at 6 a.m. to discover gifts on the front porch deposited by Santa’s helpers in the brown trucks. Saturday Evening Post of the 1920s. Santa does not drive a team of reindeer from his sleigh to land on rooftops and come down the chimney. His elves are all dressed in uniforms and drive brown trucks to deliver presents to good little boys and girls. Rockwell’s heirs could conjure up images of men and women elves in brown shorts snacking on cookies and drinking from bottl

Selling and Buying

Today I bought and I sold via I tried to buy toys for my grandsons the old fashioned way, but when I got there, the toy store was gone. I walked into the mall and they don’t have a toy store there. So I drove ten miles to another store. But they had only one of the things on the list. After two hours and twenty miles all I had to show for it was some dumb Play Doh. I went online and ordered the things off the Amazon list which I should have done in the first place

What are you reading? Hearing?

I usually have two books going at once, one a work of fiction and the other some kind of history book. With the Kindle I can have three or four going at once. I’ve been nibbling at the Memoirs of Ulysses Grant for more than a year, but that doesn’t count in the two. The basic Kindle has a limitation in history since maps don’t do well and maps are pretty important. The iPad* does maps better, but it’s not as convenient as the Kindle. The iPad is prettier, but heavier. The iPa

The Mill

I really need to get better at blogging. That’s a good New Year’s resolution, but I’ve never done New Year’s resolutions. My newest project is a history of Longview Fibre, a pulp, paper and containerboard mill in Longview, Washington. The mill was built in 1927 in the planned community of Longview by industrialists from Wisconsin who managed to recruit a brilliant engineer and businessman named Harry Wollenberg. In the interest of full disclosure, my paternal grandfather help


Yes, an entire year since the last post. Not that I haven’t had anything to write, I just haven’t written it here. Here’s hoping I do better. One thing I have discovered recently is the world of podcasts. These are web-based audio and some video shows produced by everyone from big-time mainstream Hollywood and New York entities to universities, National Public Radio, and individual academics reading their papers, down to individuals ruminating into a microphone from their kit

Another Voice

I recently published, via’s print-on-demand program Create Space, my historical novel Down The River. The story grew out of my family history research when I came across the murders of two of my ancestors in 1813 in an argument over slaves. I was taking writing classes through the University of California Extension in San Francisco and started playing with scene and setting and all the other techniques one needs to grasp. I landed upon the idea of telling the story


My novel Down The River is now available through A Kindle version will also be available soon. Buy it. Read it. Review it. Tell your friends. Here is a complete list of my other titles from Amazon. #writing #history #Publishing #novels #criticism #books

PC Huckleberry Finn

The news item about a publisher cleaning up Mark Twain’s Huckleberry Finn to eliminate references to “the N-word” is both laughable and lamentable. The work is in the public domain so there are no copyright issues or control to be exerted by the author’s heirs so I suppose that the publisher is well within their rights to change the text in any way they like. They argue that this change will bring new readers to the work, as if Twain has been falling out of fashion. This is a

Power For The People: A History of Seattle City Light

Yesterday Mind Over Matter host Diane Horn interviewed me on KEXP Radio FM 90.3 about my history of Seattle City Light. Click here to go to the station archives and select November 20, 2010 and 7 am. Then you choose your media player. #history #Publishing #CityLight #books #media

Publishing Update

The two books I did with the late Walt Crowley several years ago are now available through University of Washington Press. Power For The People tells the story of Seattle City Light and Hope On The Hill is about Seattle Children’s Hospital, the old Children’s Orthopedic Hospital and Children’s Hospital and Regional Medical Center. The publishing game being what it is I had not seen either work for some time and it was with great joy and some wonderment that I reread what I ha

New Books

I received good news this week. University of Washington Press is listing two books of mine in their online catalogue. The first is Power for the People, the centennial history of Seattle City Light. I worked on this for Walt Crowley and History Ink more than five years ago, but publication was delayed by Walt’s illness and death. It’s a fascinating story, if I say so myself.The utility started in an era of go-go capitalism where corporations and trusts had their way with U.S

New Contract

The folks at Turner Publishing Co. in Nashville have a new project for me, Historic Photos of Seattle in the 50s, 60s, and 70s. It’s the same format at the book I did a year ago, Historic Photos of Puget Sound which “did quite well” according to Turner. As with the first book, Turner started with readily available digitized images of the era and asked for captions, chapter introductions, etc. Having been through the process before it was easy to get my arms around what was ne

Christmas 2009

It’s been a year of premiers, the big events that mark chapters in life. Where to start? We all strolled the red carpet to meet Kellen Richard Wilma on August 29 (don’t ask what we wore). He is our first grandchild and he continues to enrich all our lives. He even has his own Facebook page. One forgets how, with an infant around, the conversation changes to erp rags, oneseys, and the contents of diapers. Lorraine and I have signed up to watch him one day a week when his mom g

A Bold History

The book launch at Queen Anne Books in Seattle went well. The book store staff (thank you Tegen) was very gracious and had a beautiful display of the books at a signing table. They even had to pull me away from a beer next door to come back and sign another book, a story that will undoubtedly feature in my unofficial biography. Update: Rachel Hart of Seattle magazine has chosen the book as her Holiday Gift Pick. As of December 15, most retailers are out of the book.

Historic Photos of Puget Sound

My own copies are in and they are beautiful. The publisher is arranging local media interviews and a launch party. Stay tooned. #books #history #Publishing #Whidbey

The Publishing Industry

I just read an article (online) about the most recent BookExpo America convention in New York which points out some important points about bricks-and-mortar publishing. Attendance at the book sellers convention was down fourteen percent from last year, and the convention space was one-fifth the size of last year. Book sales are down. 2008 e-book sales were up sixty-eight percent over 2007. 2009’s e-book sales for the first quarter were up 100 percent over 2008. People are rea


Yesterday, I drove to Portland to meet with a class of twelve university students who read and critiqued my historical novel Down The River. I received the opportunity from Ooligan Press at Portland State University who read the manuscript and liked it, but not quite enough to publish it. Not yet. By having strangers read the book I could get a good sense of what is working and is not working. How could I pass up on the opportunity? I was too late for the winter term, but got

A New Gig

Surfing the ads on Craigs List does work. They have two categories for writers and I found an ad that caught my eye. I am now under contract with the Turner Publishing Co. of Nashville to compose the captions, chapter introductions, preface, and dust jacket for their Historic Photos of Puget Sound due out in November. Among other things Turner produces coffee-table books with archival images. Walt Crowley completed one for them covering Seattle in 2007 and Nick Peters did one

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