Tools for the Writer

Every now and then I take an inventory on the tools that are helpful to me in my writing. Of course, the most important tool is self-discipline, for as John Dufresne says, “The first rule of writing is to sit your butt down and write.” However, I’ve also found these tools most helpful:

1. My Dictionaries.

Photos from My Travels

Not long ago, as you may remember from my blog notes, I was in Dublin, Texas. In the parade, I was reminded of our debt to Mexico. Here is a photo:


Here are the Dublin Beauty Queens! What beauties!

beauty queens

Here I am, waiting on the parade and orders to march.

dublin parade

And here is a photo of a beautiful girl. I call this photo, “California Bonnie.” She is standing underneath a statue of the Greek goddess, Diana, the Huntress.


I do try to take as many photos as I can these days.

Thoughts on Jefferson Davis

Thoughts on Jefferson Davis: After refraining from reading our local paper for months, I was once again reminded why I had made that decision. One of the AP articles the Monroe-News Star ran on Sunday, Feb. 24, and on the front page, was entitled, “Other Civil War leader gets little respect at 200.” The AP article claims that people are not excited about Jefferson Davis’ birthday celebration planned for this year. It points out that President Bush was excited about Lincoln (the article called him the Great Emancipator; is the author of the article kidding?) The article claims that Davis’ 200th has “turned out to be something of a lost cause.” This author is so out of touch and it is biased press like this that makes me distrust many modern journalists in print and media. To contest this article, I want to make these points:

1) The claim is without evidence. Those (thousands of them) who do want to make this year special for Davis know that excitement is high.


Scottish Alphabet Book

Well, I’ve returned from California. Time now to settle down to my writing work. I’m still in traveler recovery–so many images, so many people I met, so much I’ve learned. My next children’s book (published by Pelican) is a Scottish Alphabet (ABC) Book. It should be out in August if all goes well. I hope that anyone who is Scottish will order a copy. Here is a sample of the artwork, done by Connie McLennan,a freelance illustrator. She is a member of the San Francisco Society of Illustrators, the Northwest Air Force Artists, and the Picture Book Artists Association. She has won awards from both the San Francisco Society of Illustrators and the Sacramento Ad Club. She is also a founding member of OASES, a parent advocacy group for children with special needs. McLennan creates and sells

Goodbye, Catalina . . .

According to the Spanish explorer, Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo, first sighted Catalina on October 7, 1542. Then, on “November 24, the eve of St. Catherine’s Day, the ship of the second Spanish explorer, Sebastian Viscaino, sighted the Island. Viscaino renamed it Santa Catalina in honor of Saint Catherine.” Like the Spanish explorers, my visit was short, but significant to me. The ancient Pimungans (first island inhabitants) are gone now, with only their steatite (soapstone) and chert artifacts to remind us of their presence here. In place of their canoes, yachts and sailboats fill the harbor. The thousands that come to the island’s shores each year come to relax, to shop, to view the scenery of this semi-arid rustic island. I met many wonderful people from many places and as usual, learned much more than I expected or intended. It has been quiet here, in comparison to other parts of my trip, and I can see why Zane Grey chose this place as a home and a writing retreat. I like it as a hotel/retreat. The rooms have no TVs or phones. Each room is named after a Zane Grey novel. They are furnished simply, but adequately.

On Monday, I went to the Airport in the Sky where many movies have been filmed. There was a little historical display. To my distress, I found out that the Yankees established a base here in the Civil War in 1864. As usual, they ran everyone else off the island. I wondered why they would put a base here so late in the war, then I remembered that the Alabama and Shenandoah were terrorizing Yankee fleets and decimating the North’s whaling business. As this photo reveals, I found one of the Yankees who had remained on the island.


This morning, I looked out my open window and the sea was as slick as glass (pardon the cliche), sunlight touching its surface—it should have been painted. In a few minutes, I’ll make my way to the ferry, back to LAX Airport, and then to DFW and on to Louisiana. It will be a long day, but I’ll be meditating on what I’ve seen, what I’ve done, and those I’ve met.

Goodbye, Catalina . . . Until next time.

California Book Tour Photoblog

I’ve studied about Avalon for many years, and I finally am able to visit it, at least in the form of Avalon on Catalina Island. I’ve learned today much about the island’s fascinating history, so much that it will require several entries to do my adventures justice. I decided to catch up on entries of my trip by showing some photos and making brief comments on each. First of all, here is a photo of me and Lou, the CRM at the Barnes & Noble in Palm Desert. He is a fine manager, all business and when he saw I was all business too, we got along well. I have a definite invitation to return. He and his staff were sharp and supportive and my signing there last Saturday would have to be one of my favorite author events.


Here are some photos taken at Cabazon, on my way from Palm Desert to Los Angeles. The first is of me, posing with a gold prospector outside the general store and restaurant in the small town. As my relic hunting addiction would suggest, I’ve always wanted to search for gold.


Behind the restaurant was a gift shop, but this shop was unique in that it had HUGE dinosaurs constructed, sculptures created by the famous Claude Bell of Knot’s Berry Farm. For example, here is a Brontosaurus (more correctly, an Apatosaurus).


And here is a photo of a dinosaur devouring a writer. I call this photo, “Writer’s Digest.”

writer's digest

Read more of these dinosaurs here: