US Army Retired

US Army Retired

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Indigo Kobo

I just learned that the publisher of Sonora Symphony won't have my title show up on for sale! It seems that, because they're located in Toronto, Canada, they're considered "a foreign publisher."

That sure puts a kink of getting it publicized!

But, they told me they will be going up on Indigo Kobo. So, I checked out the Kobo website [no reference to Indigo that I could find} and was impressed with their selection of titles. The problem, of course, is that it doesn't have to same name-recognition of Kindle or Amazon.

So, how does one publicize a book with hands behind one's back?

I've looked at Google's AdWord and that just might be a solution.

Ah well. I thought writing and being a published author wouldn't be all that hard. Now I'm learning that it takes a whole lot more to be successful.
It looks like every other reader in the world but is priced at $150.

One good thing I learned is that Sonora Symphony is in digital format and can be downloaded to any e-reader, laptop or desktop.

Friday, August 26, 2011

When Do I Get A Break From The Research?

Between checking my daily discussion and writer's forums, visiting a lot of military forums and checking the Google Reader feed, no time is left for writing - especially with my nose in Bancroft's huge book on the History of California.

I blithely wrote the first two novels creating my own characters as I went along - using what information I could find online and in the book the Franciscan Brothers of Santa Barbára had sent to me. Then, I found the Bancroft book and it's messed everything up!

How on earth can I "make up" characters for times and places when real ones existed?

So, now I find myself with the problem of having to take those real characters and give them fictional lives which will entertain my readers. Of course, some of them don't need a whole lot of imagination to make them interesting.

How about the Padre who entertained guests with a parade of chickens, ducks and geese?
How about the Padre who had four huge cats that followed him everywhere? Even to Mass?
And then there is the Alférez [sublieutenant] who got relieved of his duties because he couldn't read, write or do math?
And what about the 17-year feud between the governor and the Padres? And over such silly stuff as the governor opening the mail of the friars?

So, it's going slow but, thank goodness, my publisher has a big lineup so I have lots of time to get this whole thing right.

Who knows? Somewhere in Southern California will be a young boy or girl who discovers the amazing part their ancestors played in the beginnings of that state!


Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Here comes a major revision!

A couple of weeks ago, while double-checking something on my second novel of Father Serra's Legacy, I chanced upon a reference to a book written by somebody named Hubert H. Bancroft. It turned out that History of the Pacific states of North America (volume 13) was available for download but, when I tried, it came out with all sorts of weird stuff on it. So, I copied and pasted all 84 pages, then spent forever trying to work out the weird stuff and sorting out pages upon pages of footnotes. I'll say one thing, back in 1884, when he wrote it, he spent one heck of a lot of time going through documents all over California, Baja California and Mexico.

He even went so far as to give the names of all Spaniards living in California as of 1800! 1,400 of them – all males!

Unlike what I was taught in school and have read since, the Franciscan friars were acknowledged by everyone he cites as being dedicated men who cared for the California Indians as if they were their children. And, even their biggest foe, Governor Pedro Fages, could never say anything against their piety, devotion and zeal to make the lives of their charges better. I did, however, learn that for most of the time from 1767 to 1800, there were constant instances of difficulties between the friars and the civilian/military authorities.

But, the biggest problem reading this book has created is a need to make changes and revisions to many of the characters in my book. In order to be accurate and authentic, I have to put real characters where they actually were. For the first time, I now have the names of the soldiers and civilian officials who worked at the various town and forts in California. I've even learned things that other sources didn't provide – such as the fact that Don Gaspar Portolá, who was always referred to elsewhere as “governor” was actually the lieutenant governor with his supervisor sitting in Loreto in Baja, the capitol of the Californias.

Bancroft gives an amazing amount of insight into who did what, when, where and how.
But, I have to admit that he was far more interested in the civilian goings on than how the missions operated and how hard the friars worked at them. He often refers to the fathers “punishing neophytes who failed to obey the rules” but, he did not indicate that the “floggings” were actually no more than spanking as done by parents of the 18th Century. In fact, the fathers actually “punished” themselves far worse, using flails with metal spikes on their bare backs during Mass, to atone for what they saw as their own weaknesses and sins.

I could go on forever here but just want to impart that, for the first time since I undertook what I thought to be a minor project, I fully realize the enormity of what the Spaniards tried to do in this time period – with little or no support from those in Mexico or far-away Spain.

So, time to sit back, mull things over, then get to work in turning this work of historical fiction interesting and educational at the same time.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

The Cricket and the Puma

Hello and thanks to all of you dropping in here. I hope you enjoy the ramblings of an old geezer.

The above picture was done by my stepson as a possible illustration of one of the Indian myths included in my novel, SONORA SYMPHONY. He also did the other one about the rabbit trying to shoot Sun with an arrow. As the book has just been published, I just thought I'd share this story here as a teaser.

Cricket busily licked and cleaned his hind leg when something caused his home to creak and groan. The old log wasn't that strong and tiny bits of wood dust fell all around him. He moved forward and looked up through a crack. It was Puma, sitting on his home to sun without a thought for anyone or anything else.

"Hey! Puma. You're breaking my home. Go away."

The big cat looked down at the tiny creature. It's eyes narrowed into slits and it grunted, a most horrid sound. After licking its nose, it growled. "Why? I am the king of this world and may go wherever is wish."

"You may be big and powerful, Puma. But, if you do not leave my home, I know someone who can make you leave. So, go away."

Puma grunted. "Nobody can make me do something I do not wish to do. Be quiet, little creature, or I will tear this log apart and eat you."

"You shall not," Cricket bravely replied. "If you do not believe me, come back tomorrow and my friend will show how you are not so big and powerful as you claim."

Puma thought it over, licked his nose again and grunted. "Okay, Cricket, you have aroused my curiosity. I will leave you for today. But, I will come back tomorrow, tear this  rotten log apart and eat you!" With that, he turned and padded off into the desert.

As promised, Puma returned to Cricket's home the next morning as Father Sun rose over the mountain peaks to the east. "Cricket! Where are you? I am here for my morning snack."

"I warned you not to come, Puma. Now, go away or my friend will make you."

As the big cat began to dig its claws into the wood, a tiny mosquito flew out and into his ear. There, it began to sting. And sting.

"Arrrrgh! Arrrrgh! Stop it. Stop at once."

Cricket hopped out of the log to watch the big cat shake its head and paw at its ear. "Go away, Puma. Leave me in peace."

The big cat didn't hesitate, turning to leap down from the log and run into the desert.

From that time on, Puma no longer went about with his chest puffed out, thinking he was the greatest thing in the world. A little cricket had shown him the truth.

Thanks again for visiting and I hope you enjoy some of the other things I've written. As they say in Tsalagi {Cherokee} - Wado {Thanks}

Monday, August 15, 2011

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Almost There!

Received an email from my publisher telling me they are going to publish SONORA SYMPHONY on their website August 15th - tomorrow! They also indicated it should show up on a few days later.

It's taken so long to get something like this published that I don't know whether to celebrate - or just let out a sigh of relief.

But, the work goes on. Now I have to do a word-by-word review of the sequel for when they decide to work on it. And, this new book I found about California history is giving me major headaches. Written in 1884, it has a mountain of information to include first-hand descriptions and diary excerpts. I'm relieved to see that I got MOST of The Sailor and The Carpenter right. All I had to do was make a few minor changes to put real friars in their particular missions. I also learned more about the civil and military structure of the 18th century Californias.

The book has 254 pages of information with 224 pages of footnotes!!!!! And, it's written in the style of the time where females didn't count in history. It gave a list of 1,400 Spaniards in California from 1769 to 1800 - and not one was female!  At least it listed all the friars and where and when they served. I am impressed to know that the vast majority of those devout men served until they died in the place where they were assigned.

Ah well, back to doing research to fix The Mission Trail, book two of Father Serra's Legacy.

Oh yeah - thanks to all the 3,000 plus who've stopped by here. I don't know whether or not it shows up on your statistics, but if you check out The Blogs I Follow, you will see that I visit your site at least once a day with only a rare few missed.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Phew! It's a heck of a job.

When I tell people that I'm an author, they give me that look as if to say, “It must be nice not to be working.”

Don't I wish.

There came a time a few years ago when I realized that, in order to really become an “author” I had to approach it like a job. One has to set a certain amount of time aside to not only put ideas into words but to do so in a professional manner.

Fortunately, I was forced to “retire” for medical reasons and had the time to spend at least 8 hours of each day researching and writing.

A point to make here – no matter what genre you write – fiction or nonfiction – doing your research is the difference between a professional and an amateur. And between being published and not.

The two novels I was working on that showed the greatest promise of being published by someone beside myself were ones I had spent uncounted hours scanning internet and books to obtain the truth and facts that would make both believable – and entertaining. [And they certainly don't have run on sentences like the above!!!]

But, after all that, I STILL had no idea of what absolutely exhausting work writing could turn out to be. What? Exhausting? Are you kidding me?

A couple of days ago, I received an email from the senior editor at my publisher, XOXO Publishing. She was sending me the “FINAL” version of Sonora Symphony, along with instructions and an Errata Sheet. “Don't make any changes to the manuscript,” she instructed. “Just fill out the attached errata sheet. And, when you're finished, sign it and send it back.”

Well – that shouldn't be so hard. Should it? So, here's the email I sent back to her this morning:

Well, here it is. It was, by far, one of the toughest tasks I've ever encountered in writing! I've probably gone through this a thousand times - but never since writing it, word by word, sentence by sentence. I've got to tell you that, if we had not reached to this point, I might have considered making changes instead of just looking for errors. But, I put my fingers behind my back and did what you told me to.”

Have any of you done this too?

At least I found myself enjoying the various stories almost as much as when I first found them to include in the novel.

Here's an example of what I had to do: Page 59, line 13 - “His – remove bold

I even had to double-check each and every punctuation, as well as ensuring all the pronouns and stuff were correct.

And this was even after one editor had gone over it twice and the senior editor had gone over it twice also!!!!!

So now, I sit here wondering what, if anything, else I missed!!!!!

And, there's more! I have a sequel to that book that is going to need a line-by-line review before they send me the contract. Yeah, and then there's the book I have with a second publisher, The Sailor and The Carpenter. Not only am I going to have to do a line-by-line with that but I just found another source document that is going to require that I make some changes to that – and the other two!

So. Anyone want to say that writing isn't work?