Monday, September 28, 2009

Another photo of Virginia ...

Slave girls ...

Fannie Virginia Casseopia Lawrence at 5 Years.


These photos are of slave girls. Both appear White, but because they had a bit of black ancestry they were held in slavery. The one was purchased in Virginia by an abolitionist and raised as her own. The other was freed with the capture of New Orleans.

In Louisiana the slave girls were bartered and sold as concubines. The paler the skin, the higher was the price. It was the worst form of sexual slavery. How deep must hatred run that is based only on biological heritage!

Stuff and I'm Baaaaccckkk!

My Treasure of the Day. I found two of these Spode plates. Very pretty.
(photo from the internet, but same plate)

I’ve neglected my pitiful blog while I’ve addressed issues with the book just released and with the history book that’s in the works. The work in progress is very challenging. Much of the documentation we need to see is very hard to pry out of the greedy hands of those who posses it. Libraries are supposed to be repositories of knowledge, existing to satiate the curiosity of both the scholar and the merely curious. Some libraries treat their collections as if they were the personal property of the library staff.

Complaining doesn’t help, of course. We’ve become adept at finding alternative sources, or, lacking an alternative source, finding other ways to see the material. High on my list of “oh such nice people” is the American Antiquarian Society and the Library of Congress. They represent the very best. At the top of my, “Ewww you’re hard to deal with list” is the Pittsburgh Public Library. That last comment would ruin any working relationship I had with them, but I’m not worried. It’s impossible to form one.

Well, now that I’ve gotten that off my cute little Pixie chest, let me tell you about today. I’m just getting over a bit of ickiness. (I’m pretty sure that’s not a word. Icky-ness? Nope, that isn’t either. But you know what I mean – I hope.) I’m a bit woozy from medication, but that didn’t keep me from running off to the Goodwill Store with Shirley. I’m glad I did too.

I’m not happy with the local store and their online sales practices, but I did find one book to read. The good stuff wasn’t paper, but porcelain and silver. I found a “baby spoon,” actually a sugar cellar spoon in a pattern I have. Cost me the huge sum of one dollar. And I found two flawless Spoke plates, also a dollar each. Fun day.

We had a school crisis thingie today. My oldest checked her grades online and found she had 0 points for an assignment and half points for another. You understand that this one of my children obsesses over grades? We contacted the teachers. The 0 points thing is a teacher data entry error. It should be fixed by tomorrow. They half point assignment was the result of not understanding the assignment. The teacher felt partly responsible and will allow her to re-submit the assignment with the missing detail. Peace at last! Thank God Almighty, peace at last!

I’ve been reading about crime in Allegheny City, Pennsylvania, in the last third of the 19th Century. Allegheny and Pittsburgh were separate cities then, and both were considered among the better American cities. Crime was still extreme, particularly violent crime and prostitution.

Several of the key figures in the work in progress lived within blocks of each other in the 1870’s. Some of them were well off, but within doors of their houses were whore houses, tenements, and gin dives. A particularly brutal murder was committed a block from the home of one of my research targets. A man came home to find his married sister in bed with someone other than her husband. He ran the man to ground, forces his front door and stabbed him through the heart with a short-bladed knife. After he was detained he complained that his knife had been too short, and it would have been easier work if the blade had been longer.

So … that was my day. How was yours?

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Flying the mail ...

First Flight on the Pasco - Elko -Boisie Airmail Rout. 1926

Pasco, Washington - updated

This is the bridge that replaced the 1920's structure below. So ... which do you think more elegant?

One of the first U.S. Airmail airports. Varney Airlines flew the mail into and out of Pasco starting in 1926. I grew up across the river from here. This photo is from about 1930.

Pasco started life in 1884 as a Railroad Town. This photo is from about 1900.

About 1910. The building no longer exists.

Hotel Pasco. Long gone. About 1910.

Bridge over the Columbia River built in the 1920's, since demolished and replaced by a suspension bridge.

Westwood, Lassen County, California

An Eastman Studios Photo
The sawdust mountain at the Red River Lumber Company mill in Westwood is shown here. The photo was probably taken about 1930 or so.
Westwood is the setting for my fantasy novel Pixie Warrior.
Free pages and full download at

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Eric Stone - Guest Post

Tough Lessons, The Future & Drowning My Sorrows At The County Fair

By Eric Stone

Let me kick this off by saying how enormously privileged I feel to be writing books, to be having them published and having strangers buy them, read them and even like them sometimes. My daily commute is about 42 feet down the hall from my bedroom to my office. The first time I ever saw one of my books in a store, I got teary eyed. The same thing happened the first time I ever saw one in a library. Those are some of the carrots that are dangled in front of my face, and I even manage to catch up to and eat one of them from time to time.

That said, it’s been a crummy couple of weeks. I won’t go into the specifics of why, what or with who. Publishing is an extremely sensitive, paranoid even, industry, and if a writer wants to work in it they need to learn to keep their mouths shut, to go along to get along.

But, I’ve recently come across a few links to blogs / articles, that have a lot of interesting, I think useful, hard lessons for all of us writers and would be writers. Some of you will have already seen these. If you haven’t, I think they’re well worth reading: From the Village Voice, “I Will Not Read Your Fucking Script.” Yep, it’s rude, it’s unpleasant, it’s brutal even and it’s something that every writer out there ought to know and keep in mind. Ditto to the above, only it’s a bit nicer. An acquiring editor’s well-informed, and rather depressing, perspective.

So much for the bad news. I find the following website oddly comforting: Imagine walking into a bookstore that has just one copy of each of tens of thousands, maybe hundreds of thousands of books; a much bigger selection than any store you currently know. You find the book you want, you take it up to the counter, pay for it, the clerk pushes a few buttons and four minutes later there it is, freshly printed, looking good, all yours. Meanwhile, the sales information is immediately chalked up and sent to the publisher, the agent, maybe – well, yeah, that will be the day – to the writer for accounting purposes. The book will be cheaper for the reader since there will be no warehousing or shipping costs associated with it. The publisher will possibly make more money because of the same. And maybe – well, yeah, once again, that will be the day – even the writer will benefit. In any event, like it or not this sort of thing is in our future. And I think on the whole it will be a good thing.

I do not spend all my days writing and then worrying about what’s going to happen to my writing after I finish it. Sometimes I go to the Los Angeles County Fair. What most people don’t realize is that until 1963 – which I can remember quite clearly – Los Angeles was the largest agricultural producing county in the United States. It is still the largest, or one of, producer of nursery plants in the U.S. – mostly grown under miles and miles of powerlines. And there are even still some farm animals around town.
Photos by Eric Stone

It is possible that these people had never encountered a goat before?
[Editorial Comment by Bill E. Goat: We're just really fascinating creatures.]

A child was attacked by sheep.
[Editorial Comment By Bill E. Goat: They just thought he had something to eat. Sheep are such beggers! I dated one once. Way too much lanolin for my taste.]

And, of course, there are good views from the ferris wheel.

Eric's Latest Book!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

So long ago ... and told in so many ways ...

Fairy tales have ancient origin

Popular fairy tales and folk stories are more ancient than was previously thought, according research by biologists.

By Richard Gray, Science Correspondent Published: 9:00PM BST 05 Sep 2009

Dr Jamie Tehrani, a cultural anthropologist at Durham University, studied 35 versions of Little Red Riding Hood from around the world

They have been told as bedtime stories by generations of parents, but fairy tales such as Little Red Riding Hood may be even older than was previously thought.

A study by anthropologists has explored the origins of folk tales and traced the relationship between varients of the stories recounted by cultures around the world.

The researchers adopted techniques used by biologists to create the taxonomic tree of life, which shows how every species comes from a common ancestor.

Dr Jamie Tehrani, a cultural anthropologist at Durham University, studied 35 versions of Little Red Riding Hood from around the world.

Whilst the European version tells the story of a little girl who is tricked by a wolf masquerading as her grandmother, in the Chinese version a tiger replaces the wolf.

In Iran, where it would be considered odd for a young girl to roam alone, the story features a little boy.

Contrary to the view that the tale originated in France shortly before Charles Perrault produced the first written version in the 17th century, Dr Tehrani found that the varients shared a common ancestor dating back more than 2,600 years.

He said: “Over time these folk tales have been subtly changed and have evolved just like an biological organism. Because many of them were not written down until much later, they have been misremembered or reinvented through hundreds of generations.

“By looking at how these folk tales have spread and changed it tells us something about human psychology and what sort of things we find memorable.

“The oldest tale we found was an Aesopic fable that dated from about the sixth century BC, so the last common ancestor of all these tales certainly predated this. We are looking at a very ancient tale that evolved over time.”

Dr Tehrani, who will present his work on Tuesday at the British Science Festival in Guildford, Surrey, identified 70 variables in plot and characters between different versions of Little Red Riding Hood.

He found that the stories could be grouped into distinct families according to how they evolved over time.

The original ancestor is thought to be similar to another tale, The Wolf and the Kids, in which a wolf pretends to be a nanny goat to gain entry to a house full of young goats.

Stories in Africa are closely related to this original tale, whilst stories from Japan, Korea, China and Burma form a sister group. Tales told in Iran and Nigeria were the closest relations of the modern European version.

Perrault’s French version was retold by the Brothers Grimm in the 19th century. Dr Tehrani said: “We don’t know very much about the processes of transmission of these stories from culture to culture, but it is possible that they may being passed along trade routes or with the movement of people.”

Professor Jack Zipes, a retired professor of German at the University of Minnesota who is an expert on fairy tales and their origins, described the work as “exciting”. He believes folk tales may have helped people to pass on tips for survival to new generations.

He said: “Little Red Riding Hood is about violation or rape, and I suspect that humans were just as violent in 600BC as they are today, so they will have exchanged tales about all types of violent acts.

“I have tried to show that tales relevant to our adaptation to the environment and survival are stored in our brains and we consistently use them for all kinds of reference points.”

Friday, September 11, 2009

Three Pixies - India - About 1880

They remind me of my adopted daughters.

Girls School - India, About 1890

Madras Harbour - 1870's

Detail from photo below.

Benny Goodman --- Sing, Sing, Sing

Enjoy the photos. I did.

Oh, heck ... such a reaction ...

I’ve been busy posting on web sites relevant to our new book. I am always amazed by the response of some. One person asked “what group” I associate with. I don’t associate with any of those he had in mind. I respect them, sometimes agreeing with them and sometimes not. But I don’t associate with them. One can hold another to be a Christian without believing exactly what they do.

I’m also amazed at the tender feelings left by religious events now over a century old. Our interest is in fully documenting what happened. We do not have an agenda. Some of the people who factor in our history are respectable and some are not. We try not to allow that to color our approach. It was a faith-testing series of events. Some handled it well; others did not. The story we tell is neutral on that. We only tell what they did and said as it can be documented.

There is an entire secondary story that could be made up from things we suspect but could not prove. None of that enters into our account. Those things can’t be proven and there is little place in history for speculation.

One person objected to the title on the basis that “Russell wouldn’t have associated” with Barbour if Barbour felt himself to be a prophet. This is not exactly accurate, though I did not dispute that on his blog. Russell felt Barbour was especially used by God right up until Barbour started rejecting beliefs held by the others. Barbour believed that he was God’s special servant who brought understanding to the others. None of that is a factor in our decision to use the word Prophet in the title. We included the word prophet in the title because Barbour predicted Christ’s return repeatedly.

It seems to me that some have a vested interest in leaving Barbourite history undisclosed. Their faith is tied up in a story which they find comforting; so, they object to our book without reading it. In fact we leave that story untouched. It is accurate, even if incomplete. They have nothing to fear from our book in that regard. The story they got “at their mother’s knee” is in its basics exactly what happened. It’s just that there is more to it, much more. It deserves to be set in context and told completely.

In the follow up book, our work in progress, we discuss the Russell-Barbour association much more thoroughly. So far I don’t see much that should disturb those who have their faith vested in what Russell wrote. Fair warning, there is much more to tell about his association and later parting with Paton. That story is, as usually recounted is far from complete. I can see a few being upset with the bits and dabs of that story. (Both Paton and Russell still have their partisans. I suppose we’ll manage to upset both sides. The thing is, all we intend is to tell an accurate story mostly taken from what each wrote.)

I’m probably borrowing trouble. Most people are reasonable. Even reasonable people have views and beliefs in which they have vested parts of their life, but reasonable people can work through things that challenge their belief systems. And it isn’t our intention to challenge anyone’s theology, just to tell the story accurately.

One person without reading the book suggests that we’re promoting Barbour’s beliefs. Neither my writing partner nor I believe what Barbour believed. It is absurd to blame us for something we have not done and worse to claim things about our book without having read it!

I believe our book will change the approach taken to Present Truth Movement and Second Adventist history for the last 100 years or so. It should. Most of what is out there could not pass muster as well written history – or as history at all. It’s polemic in the guise of history.

Come on, folks. Let’s explore the real events, put in context and told in the words of the participants. Look it in the face. It’s much more interesting to see the fully accurate story than it is to see just what the person you might admire has said.

An example of that is in the work in progress. Russell wrote in 1890 his account of events between 1869 and the 1880’s. It’s a bit parenthetical and confusing because of that, but it’s surprisingly accurate. One might expect his view of what happened to colour his account, and it does a bit, but not to the extent that anyone can find major fault with it. (There are a few out there who’ve made up things just to discredit it, but that’s no a successful approach. It just marks them as liars and morons.) Even if you hate “his guts” you cannot find much to reject. In this account he tells something of his relationship with Albert Delmont Jones. He tells that they separated in 1881 and a bit about why. He makes an elliptical comment about Jones’s ambition ruining him. It’s a very muted and puzzling comment.

The actual history is told in legal documents. Russell never tells it. Jones never tells it. But court documents tell a very sordid story. The story as it can be known explains much more clearly what happened between them. Wouldn’t you rather know that detailed story than be content with on elliptical, confusing comment?

I would.

From a Soldier's Photo Album - Uncertain Location

The Lace Dress

About 1920?

Spanish American War

American Guns

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Tis out at last ...

Yes, it's a limited interest academic book, hence this form of publication. If it sells well enough to warrant it, it will go on Amazon. Nearly four years of research, numerous cups of coffee and many, many conference calls -- and it's finally done.

Illustration by Millicent Sowerby

Biographical information on M. Sowerby can be found here:

Pixies at Play

Germany, About 1951

A Pensive Pixie. California, About 1932.

Ready for Winter

France, About 1912.

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Guest Post: Michael Malone

Visti Michael here:


Do you have a dog? When there’s a knock at the door, who’s the first to reach it? The dog, right? If the door goes 100 times of an evening, the dog will run to it every time. And the thing is ... it’s never for him.

That, my friends is a facile, but effective description of persistence. A quality that writers and artists, indeed anyone, working in a creative field or anyone with a goal has to master.

The creative world is full of stories of people who persisted until...One of my favourite writers is a fella called R.J. Ellory. Roger wrote 22 novels in 6 years. He amassed over 600 rejection letters and yet he kept going until...

Where would you have given up? When would you have decided that enough was enough? 20? 120? Would you have reached anywhere near 600? Or would you have like Roger, kept on going until...

When I asked him about being, in my view The Poster Boy for Persistence, he had this to say

“I am reminded of something that Paul Auster said. He said that becoming a writer was not a ‘career decision’ like becoming a doctor or a policeman. You don’t choose it so much as get chosen, and once you accepted the fact that you were not fit for anything else, you had to be prepared to walk a long, hard road for the rest of your days. I concur with his attitude. From an early age I knew that this was what I wanted to do, and I applied the old adage from Disraeli: ‘Success is entirely dependent upon constancy of purpose’. The twenty-third book I wrote was the first one I had published. I did amass all those rejection letters, and have kept a couple of hundred of my favourite ones. Now it doesn’t matter. Now it feels like that was my learning curve. And I wrote those first twenty-two novels in six years, the majority of them in longhand, so one thing it did teach me was to work and work and work, even when I didn’t feel like it. It gave me a strong work ethic, and made me feel like Picasso. When asked why he was always working and never rested, he said ‘When inspiration finds me, I want it to find me hard at work!’ That’s a good philosophy and one I still apply every day.

A constancy of purpose. I like that. How does one achieve such a thing? Constant reminders? Keeping in touch with your goal? Giving yourself permission not to be distracted by television, housework, gardening, clipping your toe-nails?

Surely in addition to claiming ownership of persistence, one has to learn how to deal with rejection? Roger counted over 600 rejection letters. An amazing number. Can you imagine them sitting on a pile on your desk? How high do you think they would reach? How hard would it be to pick yourself up again and again and again and again and again and again and again and again and again and again...don’t worry, I’m not going to type out 600 of them.

Thinking of my own journey thus far, their have been a fair few disappointments and a goodly number of rejections to deal with. Yet, taking my cue from Roger I persist...

My work ethic is not quite as focused as Roger’s. I wrote two novels in three years. I attracted an agent who was distracted by other clients and other ambitions and they got nowhere. This was a big learn for me. Attracting an agent may be A Big Step but it is no guarantee. Still I dealt with the disappointment and moved novel 3 and while I was submitting this novel I began work on novel 4.

I came close with novel 3. Very close. A major publisher was so serious they were talking to me about what pen name I might use.

It fell through. I was crushed. I was like Man Under a Giant Boulder Crushed. Pushing the boulder off with a few choice curses, I carried on working on book 4 never losing sight of the overall goal. I will be a published writer. I will earn my living from writing. This became my mantra.

I attracted another agent. This one was prepared to work hard for me. And she did. Most of the big publishing houses in London have read my crime novels. Again, I have come very close. Some of the rejections were a basic “thanks, but no thanks” and in some ways this is easy to deal with. They didn’t “get” the books. Fine. It was the rejections that turned the books down in rave terms. “Had to stay up all night to finish...” “I loved the main character”, “Michael Malone is an accomplished writer who tells a satisfying tale”.

They say that and then they say NO? What is going on here? I’ve also been turned down because I have written a book set in Scotland. It appears some publishing houses have a quota of Scots. Who knew? And is this a form of marketing racism? Whatever, it is damn disappointing.

Each subsequent rejection has strangely become easier to take. The first few were difficult. I say difficult, in essence I wanted to crawl into a hole and never come out. A few walls were punched. More than a few curses were thrown into the air. On each occasion it took a couple of days for the cloud of defeat to disperse and for me to regain my equilibrium.

Now? I’ve gained enough experience to see that I am moving one “no” closer to a “yes” with each knockback.

Currently, I am on the desk of two of the largest crime publishers in the UK and two independents. And I’m pressing on with book number 5.

Perseverance. What is it? The ability to go through the fear of failure, the fear of success (yes, I know its crazy, but it’s real) the rejections, the frustrations, the defeats and come out the other side with your goal still alive and intact in your mind.

F.Scott Fitzgerald said you should never mistake any single defeat for a final defeat.

Winston Churchill said, ‘never, never, never, never give up.’

When I started out writing this post, I didn’t intend for it to turn out like a lecture, but I’m sorry I’m not going to apologise (see what I did there). It is what it is.

To be fair, it’s probably an epistle to me, but I hope you get some benefit from it.

I’d like to leave the final few words to Calvin Coolidge.

Press on. Nothing can take the place of persistence.
Talent will not; the world is full of unsuccessful people with talent.
Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb.
Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts.
Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent.

Here’s to pressing on.

One Drop Slave - 1864


a slave in Louisiana because of distant African ancestry. One drop of African blood marked you as a slave, no matter how distant the ancestry was.

Derelicts - Port Clyde, Maine

Westwood, Lassen County, California

Red River Lumber Company Mill at Westwood. Probably about 1930.

Easman Photo. Inside the Veneer Plant. 1930's.

Westwood from the Air. About 1935.

Westwood is Setting for the First Part of Pixie Warrior
Read free pages at

Little Dancers

Monday, September 07, 2009

Unknown Artist - A Big-Eyed Fae

I'd really like to hear from this artist. If you're out there and find this on my blog, email me please.

Sunday, September 06, 2009

Somethings deserve a post of their own

I read you constantly. And I wish I would take the time to comment more often. Ever since Robert HeinLein died, you have become my favorite living author. Keep writing. -Harry

Oooh Harry! You made my day! Thanks ...

Ummm if you're here for Gary's Guest Post

you must scroll down. It's an earlier post.

Saturday, September 05, 2009

The Nancy Aground at Nantasket Beach

About 1927

Mystery Photo - World War I Era Maybe

Judging by the name of the phone company on the building, this photo was probably taken in or near Chicago. I'm uncertain what it shows. This does not seem to be a parade. I think they are hand pulling a caisson, but it does not seem to be a funeral. Any guesses?