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Serendipity

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

True Detective

This HBO series started last year starring Woody Harrelson and Matthew McConnaughey as a couple of detectives in bayou country investigating serial killings despite their own psychoses. Season 2 is set in southern California in the corrupt industrial enclave mirroring City of Industry. Three cops from different agencies with huge amounts of personal baggage are assigned to a grisly murder linked to a major corruption case and some multi-billion dollar transit scam. The cops a

Selling and Buying

Today I bought and I sold via Amazon.com. 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

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

A funny thing happened to me on my way to the forum

One thing I like to do is participate in online forums (fora?). These are the discussion groups. Back in the early days of the Internet, before the World Wide Web (there is a difference), academics would keep in touch with each other’s scholarship on something called Usenet Newsgroups. These are the old soc.history.war type addresses. Sadly these venues atrophied as they were taken over by trolls and bots. Trolls are posters who purposely try to hijack and redirect a discussi

Another Voice

I recently published, via Amazon.com’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

Published

My novel Down The River is now available through Amazon.com. 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

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

On the air

Hot on the heels of the radio interview I appeared on KCTS Channel 9, our local PBS station. They are having a pledge drive and aired the documentary I did about Snoqualmie Falls. During the pledge breaks, as green-tee-shirted staff from Parks and Rec manned the phones, the host asked me quick questions about the story. Turn me on about history and I just keep on going. I didn’t cause the show to go over too much. #writing #history #television #video #media

Flogging My Wares

Yesterday I had a book signing, probably one of the fantasies of those seeking to be published. The wannabe author imagines being seated at a table in an upscale bookstore surrounded by fresh copies of The Great Work. It is just before 10 a.m. and faces of anxious customers peer through the windows hoping for a glimpse of their hero. At 10 the doors open and they flood in to grab the precious copies. The book seller is prepared with burly salespeople, ID cards around their ne

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

Opening for the centennial history of Seattle Children’s Hospital

Six-year-old Alice lies half reclined on the stretcher struggling against asthma to breathe. Her alveolar sacs are paralyzed and her lungs feel stuffed with cotton. She is slowly suffocating. A plastic mask supplies her with oxygen and medication. When she opens her eyes, she can look straight out the front windows of an Agusta A 109/Mark II helicopter as it speeds east through the night across Puget Sound. Assistant Chief Flight Nurse Sherri Kruzner-Rowe – Sherri K-Rowe to h

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. Amazon.co

Island Vacation

In order to keep up my blogging I am posting from Freeland on Holmes Harbor on Whidbey Island. We have a home here and are spending the week doing as little as possible. The kitchen here looks out onto the beach and the water and we got some rain last night, our first in a couple of months. It’s the first time I’ve ever seen the area under some kind of weather. Usually we have had sunny skies and although the rain keeps us inside, it’s a nice break. I will spend my time worki

Premier

The North Bend Theater dates from 1941 when it opened to newsreels of the Second World War and the latest Hollywood features. A newspaper article at the time touted “Many Marvel at Beautiful Interior-Lavish Appointments-Excellent Sound.” The theater has been lovingly restored and it was fitting that PSE chose this landmark for the first public showing of the documentary. To recap, the Snoqualmie Falls power plant was built by engineer Charles Hinckley Baker beginning in 1898

Readers

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

Marketing the Manuscript

I completed the major revision in my historical novel Down The River that the publisher was looking for. I had one of my writing colleagues, Bob, look at it and he had some very helpful comments plus dozens of typos. Using his advice and comments from the publisher trimmed the manuscript by about ten percent and really tuned up the language. I also tweaked the ending more to my liking (no one minded the way it was). I contacted a literary agent who liked my sample chapters la