Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Oops and Yeah

While revising Waltzing in preparation for publishing it on Kindle, Nook and lulu.com, I tried to find a picture from the cult that I remembered. It was a stylized angel with a ring of seven stars above its head.

Well, in my search, I came across a website that the search engine indicated had pictures of the cult I sought. My anti-virus software indicated the site was safe. So, I clicked on the link and found the site blazing with a fiery icon claimed it had been hacked!!! I instantly backed out and went on to try another. Why worry? I had Windows Defender on, the Windows firewall was enabled and my ISP had provided me with an anti-virus program that was updated on an almost daily basis. What could possibly happen?

"Warning! Your computer has been infected with a virus!"

It gave me a link to software that would instantly disinfect my computer - for only $60-some. But, because the virus infected my browser, I couldn't get out or even get to my Control Panel to do anything about it.

My computer crashed!

Where was my backup disk?
How could I get it cleaned up?

Well, the backup disk was several months old but I hoped it had kept me from losing a lot. I knew a couple who ran a business selling and repairing PCs. Luckily, they were able to save most of my data files and even sold me a flash drive with a complete backup loaded.

I lost some stuff but managed - thank goodness - to keep all my novels, stories and works-in-progress,

So, back to work.

Wait! What about the status of the novel I had a contract for? Where was that?

I sent an email to my editor and - lo and behold! - he responded and it appeared almost promising. The cover had been assigned to someone and he was awaiting another board review. And, yes, he wanted to see the sequel - after I did a bit of work on it. [Taking a look at it now, it appears to need more than a "bit of work".] And yes, he'd love to see what I've done on my Father Serra trilogy.

So, after an oops - PLEASE KEEP YOUR FILES BACKED UP AND UP-TO-DATE - I managed to get a yeah. Sometimes things happen that get your spirits up. So, keep at it.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Waltzing in the Shadows



Johann Straus. Amadeus Wolfgang Mozart. Straußwirtschaften wine gardens. Beer cellars. The Prater with its huge ferris wheel and hectares of parks and gardens. Imperial palaces. Vienna, a gem on the banks of the Danube. An island of neutrality between foes engaged in The Wold War. A mysterious cult with awesome connections.

Bill Daniels happily leaves Washington, DC for his new assignment at the American Embassy. He meets and befriends Ursula Weber, unbeknownst to him a member of the Austrian Security Police, Stapo. Through her, he receives highly sensitive information from an unknown source. That information, when received by the intelligence community, is most upsetting in its accuracy. How does a minor noncom in a small office have access to such stuff? That information deals with events that will change the face of Europe and the Middle East for decades to come.

WALTZING IN THE SHADOWS is an inside look at life in Vienna during the waning years of the Cold War and reminds us of such things as the Gossamer Albatross, ABBA, the DeLorean and The Peanut Farmer versus the rabid rabbit.

Available on lulu.com @
http://www.lulu.com/product/ebook/waltzing-in-the-shadows/15222904

I need to explain this. I wrote this several years ago as a combination of my actual experiences while stationed at the Embassy in Vienna and a fictional version of what life was like during this interesting (to say the least) time. All of the places in and around Vienna were ones I actually visited and/or took part in. I did change the names of all the characters - except for the office helper named Heni. As far as I can tell, he's since passed away. And, I'm certain he never received the credit he deserved as a vital part of the operation of such a small office. I, of course, scrupulously avoided the mention of anything that might even peripherally be considered at classified information - I don't want Uncle Sam or his minions coming after me.

For those alive during these times - I hope the memories please you.
For those who didn't - I hope you find these events interesting and informative.

Prosit!

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Sonora Symphony





       This depicts one of the many myths told in the book. It's about a brave rabbit who's wants the sun to stop burning everyone and everything up. It also explains why he has a black streak down his back!

Well, I was just reminded this morning by my publisher that I've omitted talking about a book I have a contract for.

Virtual Tales, an online publishing house, signed me up to publish my novel Sonora Symphony. I had high hopes that it would be out sometime early this year. But, the disability of one of their key people has delayed their publication schedule. Hopefully, I will hear in the not-too-distant future what the status is. I do know they've assigned an artist to do the cover and it's pending a second editorial review.

They sent out a press release last year when we signed and it can be found here:

http://www.virtualtales.com/Press-Releases/sonora-acquire.html

Also, this is their website: http://www.virtualtales.com/


This may be a little long but I thought someone might want to read the synopsis. So, here it is:

Staff Sergeant RAY DANIELS is a Cherokee, a veteran of two tours in Iraq and two in Afghanistan.

He rides a bus west through the desert night, leaving behind medics who’d picked and prodded him to remember his past. He has no idea where he’s going and doesn’t really care.

The bus stops in South Tucson, Arizona and, while the Hispanic passengers go inside the restaurant, Ray stalks across the huge parking lot, searching the tarmac for signs of possible landmines. When he finds himself in front of a small diner, he goes inside, having no idea why as he has no money.

JOE REDMOND, a Papago Indian elder, watches Ray enter. As an ex-Green Beret, Shaman and healer, he recognizes the blankness in Ray’s eyes as shellshock, what modern doctors call Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. He also senses that Ray is of The People. He joins Ray and buys him breakfast. Ray wears a Battle Dress Uniform jacket that tells Joe his military rank and history. Joe tries to distract him by telling him American Indian myths about how Bat came to be.

Sensing Ray’s bewilderment and fear, Joe invites him into his eco-friendly home nestled in the Sonora Desert. He takes Ray for walks through the Tohono O’odham Reservation, showing him abundant life and beautiful plants. He alleviates Ray’s stress by telling many American Indian legends.

Joe introduces Ray to many healing foods such as frijoles and Nopal, diced prickly pear leaves, along with many other therapeutic plants and herbs. Ray gains physical strength and starts daily exercises - although he’s upset he cannot see those invisible comrades exercising with him. Some bits and pieces of memory return, but Ray’s subconscious fights them back. Seeing Ray cannot get a good night’s sleep, Joe makes a Dream Catcher to help and Ray’s nightmares stop at last, allowing him full nights of sleep.

Joe takes Ray to David-Monthan Air Base, where Ray is examined by a local psychiatrist. Ray’s status is changed from absent without leave to sick leave, as the doctor sees the effectiveness of Joe‘s treatment. Ray knows and fears that if his amnesia cannot be healed, he will be discharged from the Army. The doctor has the official report of the ambush in which the Taliban killed all but two members of Ray’s scouting party and his heroic actions to save one of his men. But, as he can’t remember it, there’s no meaning in it for Ray. Joe senses the doctor’s holding something back having to do with Ray’s family.

A woman named Janis Catsclaw from the Eastern Band of the Cherokee searches for Ray. She’s told army officials she seeks Ray on behalf of his mother.

Joe’s grandson and his girlfriend help Ray regain a lust for life. They travel into Mexico to visit Papago living in Sonora. A Curandero mentions a rite in which Sacred Datura, an autogenic plant, is used to help people regain their memory or find things they’ve lost. Joe’s against it because, when used improperly, the herb can be fatal.

Eventually, Janis Catsclaw meets Ray as he leaves David-Monthan hospital after a second visit with the doctor. Thinking she's a reporter, Ray sends her away but Joe learns she’s an apprentice medicine woman of the Paint Clan and that Ray is a member of the Wolf Clan. That confirms Joe’s belief that Ray’s of The People.

Joe eases Ray’s misgivings about Janis and she visits several times, telling Ray that she’s there to help him over the trauma of losing his family. At last, Ray learns that his mother, father and adopted sister were murdered when their house was burned down as they slept. The police believe Ray’s adopted brother is the prime suspect for the act of arson. Ray cannot react to this news as the people and place are unreal to him.

No matter how hard he tries, the fog of amnesia clouds Ray’s mind, only increasing his anger and frustration. Determined to regain his memory - and his life - Ray begs to take part in the dangerous Datura rite. The ritual will be conducted along with the Vision Quest for Joe‘s grandson. During the night before the ceremony, Ray has a vision in which he learns his totem is Jackrabbit and his name is to be Brave Rabbit.

Upon Mount Baboquivari, the heart of the Papago world, Ray enters the specially prepared sweat lodge. The herb-laden smoke opens Rays mind. Elder Brother appears and leads Ray to visit his family and relive his past. Ray sees his parents and home in the verdant forests of Tennessee. A huge raven carries Ray across an ocean to the rugged mountains of Afghanistan. Helpless, he watches the Taliban ambush. Agony sears his soul as he dreamed about it ahead of time and fumes at being unable to stop it. He watches his men - his brothers in arms - slaughtered. He is able, for the first time, to see the faces of those soldiers who were family.

When the Datura wears off, Ray awakens, covered in sweat and severely dehydrated. Janis, along with the others, is there to help ease his pain. Ray now remembers everything and with the help of Janis, he rises to face life anew.

Although he has lost one family, Ray has found a new one - and a woman who will help him through the rough times ahead.





[And yes, the sequel has already been written and I'm waiting for my publisher to say something about it!]

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Lost Wages in Las Vegas

 
What should you look for when a cab picks you up at the airport?
Which games are best to play?
How do you get the best out of your money in Vegas?
Want to know some of the insider's tales of Sin City?
Tired of The Strip and Downtown?
Where else to go and things to see.?

When one drives a taxi, one has a whole lot of waiting time to think about things. And, many of the above questions came my way from fares. They were also quite surprised when I told them that, at one time, I had been a professional gambler, paid by a private individual to play slot machines he selected. It was for that reason that I wrote the book.

The answers to those questions come from someone who has lived in Las Vegas for more than 30 years.

There are three versions of this book available on lulu.com.
The Black/White hard copy version [@ $11] w/ebook download [@ $4,00] @
http://www.lulu.com/content/paperback-book/lost-wages-in-las-vegas-i/818400

The full color ebook for $1.99 is available @
http://www.lulu.com/content/e-book/lost-wages-in-las-vegas/806537 \


 
As this was written a number of years ago, there are lots of changes that have happened here in Sin City. So, if you have questions, please feel free to ask!!!!!


Thursday, March 10, 2011

Formatting for Kindle

FORMATTING FOR KINDLE

Well, I don’t know how it works for Nook but I’ve discovered what it takes to get a book properly formatted for Kindle. I had to learn the hard way!

First of all, I had to figure out how to use Mobipocket a FREE download that comes with a creator and reader. It seems easy - unless you’re a computer dumbie like me.

It took me a bit to discover that, when you click on “blank document” to get started, it’s NOT asking for the document at first but a folder where it’s supposed to go. I had to go through my computer to discover it created THREE files:

    My eBooks
    My Kindle Content
    My Publications

Once I figured that out, it began to make more sense. The next thing I learned was that once I had downloaded the Kindle application for PC (another FREE download) it GAVE me a Kindle version of the English Oxford Dictionary!

Anyhow, once I found where the Mobipocket creator put the ebook I wanted to published, I was able to read the entire thing!

And, howdy, did I find errors!!!!!

The fun was trying to find where and what they were.

I quickly learned a number of things:

    If you had colors other than automatic or black in your mss that you deleted - but didn’t delete everything, you’ll get a whole lot of material in that color.

    If you did not end italics or underlining properly, it will cause entire following pages to show those scripts.

A major problem is that MW Works Word Processor will only show where colors were not completely removed. That means going to your “View” icon on the Tool Bar and clicking on the ¶ All Characters icon. Once you’ve done that, you can review your document to find all the little things you left on your document that shouldn’t be there.

And some aren’t that easy to find!!!

    You might’ve left a space before the ¶ or return and that might cause problems with the next paragraph indentation.

    Or the might show up that means everything following will be red!

But, where do you find things like where your italics or underlining left off that caused entire pages to show up in italics? For that, I had to save the MSWord document as a rich text or Wordpad file. Once you’ve done that, it will show you where the cursor changes from / to  |. You have to make sure you’ve completely ended your italics and that takes a bit of figuring out. And remember, Wordpad doesn’t have the View option. So, after you’ve reviewed your WordPad document, you copy it to a new MWWord template and you should have a clean copy.

The only way to know will be to go back to Mobipocket, upload your book, and re-read it.

I may be wrong but, I wonder how many bad reviews of ebooks comes from the fact that those of us who publish them do not go to the extra effort to ensure our product is professional?

Now, I just wish to heck I could figure out how to download a complete copy of my ebook on Nook?

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Synopses or Blurbs.



I read something in a writing forum that caught my interest - the difficulty of condensing one's novel into a short descriptive paragraph. The author complained at how difficult it was.

Oh yeah!  Been there. Done that.

Whether or get an idea and just start putting down the words or lay out a plot and create characters - that seems to be the easiest part of the author’s task.

I’m not belittling the process of editing, reviewing and revising. I don’t think anyone, not even the John Clanceys or Grishams or JK Rowling, can’t get it right the first time. We all spend hours going over and over our works, trying to polish them as best as possible. Like them, I don’t want my readers to lose the thread because of grammatical or spelling errors. So, I will endlessly go over each piece I write dozens of times to polish them to a mirror finish.

Then, the truly blood-sweating time comes; the paring it down into a few descriptive words or phrases to help readers decide whether or not it catches their attention. Whether it’s nonfiction, general fiction or works aimed at a special niche, the task is more than daunting - it’s downright scary!

Off to the drawing board. How am I gonna get this done?

Well, let’s start with the easy part - what genre is it in?

Fiction?

What kind of fiction? Historical.

What makes it special? How is it unique?

Hmmm. Let me think. First, it’s about founding the missions that became the background of California. Who was behind them and how was it done? I’ve spent hours upon hours researching this so I can write chapters on end on this subject. But, how to boil it down to a few words? Father Serra walks hundreds of miles to build the missions.

Swell! But, it is going to get someone interested in reading my book. And, what does it have to make it unique?

Young Englishman gets washed ashore on Baja California strand, is found by Indian boy and given sanctuary by Franciscan priests. He then meets and follows Father Serra through the barren countryside to found the first mission.

http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Primitive_plow.jpg

A note about this picture. Before the arrival of the friars, the Indians of California did not plant crops or even have domesticated animals to do this kind of work. They had dogs that, in time of famine, became additions to their cooking fires. While other Indians to the east did cultivate crops, they were done by hand and usually in river bottoms where the soil was easier to till. The friars provided them with a more dependable source of food with more bountiful yields.
As Mission San Diego de Alcalá is in the lower corner of this picture, they had to be mission Indians, although they lack the headband of white beads they wore to show their being protected by the church.


Recap. Key words. Father Serra. California Missions. Spanish. 18th Century. Wild Indians. Ships. Mountains. Deserts. Danger. 


Fine. But, is it gonna catch anyone’s attention?

I come up with a whole number of versions but kinda like this the best:

From farm to Fo’csle to a far away land; the changes in Timothy Beadle’s fortunes have just begun. The young Englishman joins Spaniards led by Father Serra exploring hostile deserts and mountains, confronting naked savages to spread the Catholic faith and bring the Californias under their control.

Then, I begin to wonder if that’s enough and come up with this one:

Timothy Beadle’s father indentures him to a ship’s captain and he soon is in Mid-Atlantic on his way to the far northwestern shores of The New World. Padding the deck and climbing the rigging is exhilarating to the young English farm boy. The captain is a fair, God-fearing man who ensures Timothy also learns reading, writing and arithmetic. Strange islands and naked savages fill Timothy with curiosity and wonder.

Fate has more changes in store for Timothy. The ship sails for home with holds full of rich furs. But, a vicious cyclone hits, washes him overboard and Timothy ends up on the shores of Spanish California with a young Indian bending over him. After the village medicine woman treats him, Timothy’s taken before grey robed priests who welcome him. They even step in and offer sanctuary when a local official tries to imprison him as a pirate.

Jaime, the Indian boy, dreamed of Timothy’s arrival months before. Both sense the bond tying them together and they unite in an effort by Father Junipero Serra to expand the Catholic faith and Spain’s control of the Californias.

I’m still omitting things but - does this bring enough curiosity and excitement to sell?
I know I’ve got a target audience for it - and a pretty big one at that. Roman Catholics. Californians. Anyone living near one of the missions. And anyone else in the earliest days of California history, even explaining how their ancestors got there.

And, it’s only the first of three!

The Carpenter and the Sailor
El Marinero y el Carpintero
(A Tale of 18th Century California)

And to come:

Mission Trails
(A story of Father Serra)

And;

Father Serra’s Legacy
(The Missions that made California)

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/7/7d/Garden_at_Mission_San_Juan_Capistrano.jpg/399px-Garden_at_Mission_San_Juan_Capistrano.jpg  

The friars often maintained a small garden like this set aside where they could pray.

Well, best sleep on it.