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As chapters are published weekly be sure to search for any unread chapters in the list before reading the current post. Feel free to add questions or comments regarding what you have read.

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Sunday, May 14, 2017

New (and some unexpected) developments.

If I was thinking that things couldn't get any stranger, I'd be so wrong.

Well, now my "temporarily defunct" publisher has been arrested. Or more precisely Tate's CEO as well as his father have been arrested, and charged with fraud, extortion, racketeering and embezzlement. With eight felony counts and one misdemeanor count against them, the likelihood of their getting out of this one seems remote, and the likelihood of ever seeing any of my money invested in their schemes seems equally unlikely. As I said, it's a really good thing that I still have a day job!

In the meantime, I have reached out to other publishers, and we'll have to see where this might lead. For those of you who have gotten copies of my books, consider yourselves fortunate indeed.

As a completed trilogy, The Book of Drachma (Laminar Flow, Coaptation, Turbulence and Restoration) was a rather satisfying effort. I realize that more could be done with a decent editor, but we'll have to see. And what of the next trilogy? The first volume of Heir of Drachma (The Healer's Defense) is still somewhat available (and, according to those who have read it, they say that it is the best I've written). And I'm still finishing up Center Game as I ponder the future.

Well, now, here's John Wayne for you - not that he plays any role in my books, but he stands out in a crowd, which is what I'll be trying to do in the future of publishing.

And now on a lighter note, my daughter in California has been trying for at least a few years to adopt a child, and now she has gone home with a newborn baby girl. It would seem a bit presumptuous of me to say, but some of the things that happen to us come around by way of our own doings, and others seem to happen as unexpected delights! And here's my daughter 35+ years ago:

Time does fly, doesn't it?

Friday, April 28, 2017

Well, now what...?

As I've been whiling away my time, and still working on book five in the series (Center Game), I just got an email from my temporarily defunct publisher. It seems they have no intention of permanently disappearing into the dust of publishers passed and gone. And it appears they do want those of us who have books published with them to stay put, and not to sign on with other publishers who are offering to republish our books (at a price, of course). Though Tate Publishing has not yet come out with anything as concrete as a true offer, it would seem that they are planning to honor any commitments that have made. Hmm...

Being in a position to wait has got me in a position better than many. I can continue to work on book five (and book six), and  wait for my publisher to actually make an offer. Not having a deadline has both its advantages and disadvantages. The advantages are that I can continue working on my writing "at my own pace," which is a good thing. The other advantage is that I presumably will not be out anything if they do keep their word, and eventually honor their commitment. The disadvantages are that you won't be able to see the end result for this uncertain period of time. And also the "not being on the clock" can have a deleterious effect on productivity - yet I hope one that is not extremely serious.

At least for the present time, I'll just keep working on Center Game, and we'll see how the next couple of months turn out.

And here are a few more photos for you to enjoy (and I have no intention of giving up on my photography either).

Thursday, March 9, 2017

How one's world gets turned on its head

Well, it seems that life just threw me a new wrinkle. After all the years with Tate Publishing, and their  questionable ethics, it seems that they are now "in transition." They offered no explanation, but said that their aim was to set up something whereby we, who have been Tate authors, were to be provided some sort of assurance that we would be cared for. Hmmm...

What I do know is that they are not publishing anything at all, and have left no phone number to contact them. They have given us statements that we may sign, which, in effect absolves them of any responsibility. I have not chosen to sign such a statement, for the simple reason that they do owe me money as well as rights to upcoming novels. I guess that I'll just have to find out where things are going from here. It might just be that they are planning to sell out, which would be fine as long as the new owners would make good on what I'm owed. But having been something of a cynic when it come to dealing with corporate entities, I'm not holding my breath.

Ah, well! On a brighter note, I do actually have a book signing event set up for March 11th, at the Rogers public library, 711 South Dixieland Road in rogers, from 10 AM till about 5 PM. I plan to sell what I can of the books in my possession, and besides, I'll have some of my photographic enlargements as well to sell. If you would like to see some of what I've got to sell in the way of photos, I've got a couple of examples here.

Friday, June 24, 2016

If at first you forget...

While I'm thinking about what tomorrow means, here are a couple more opportunities to get to know my books (or to get your friends acquainted with my oeuvre). I'm going to be at a couple more book signing type events in the next few weeks. The first of these is at the Barnes & Noble Bookstore in Rogers, Arkansas (in the shopping center, across from Lowe's) on Saturday, July 9th from about 12 Noon - 5 PM. This will be a great opportunity to get in out of the heat, to come by, to sit and schmooze, and to share what you like or dislike about books, the world at large and for me to just enjoy your very special company.
And the next opportunity is also in Rogers, AR, at the Rogers Public Library ( 711 S Dixieland) on Saturday, July 16th,  from about 10 AM to 4 PM, at their event, called Create-it Con.  This promises to be a rare and fun event for the entire family. If you need any more information you may obtain it online at: any event, I look forward to seeing you at one or both of the events.
Now just a word about what tomorrow brings. It will be the date in which I officially become a SENIOR CITIZEN.  That's right, I can no longer pretend to just be anybody, but I'll have to pretend to be someone who knows something, even if I can't remember what it is. It seems like a good thing that I know today what I may forget tomorrow...

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Abstract vs Concrete

This has been quite a time for me. There have been some dramatic changes at work, which have gotten me thinking about a lot of what is important to me. I won't bore you with details, but these past two weeks have left me feeling emotionally a bit ragged.

And what have I been thinking about? That is difficult to put into words, so I thought that I would use the nonverbal part of my thinking to illustrate. I'll give you an example.
Here is a photo which I took a while ago, while we were in Utah, at Zion National Park. The photo is all right, but what is it a photograph OF? Well, there are trees, rocks, mountains and sky. But it is not actually a photo of anything in particular. Because it is actually a photo which incorporates all the elements into a design, which is truly nonverbal. If you look at the colors, and the design, without thinking of those particulars, then you get what I got, as I looked into the viewfinder, and snapped the picture.

Now here is another example of what I have been doing of late.
This is a painting which I recently finished, and you would definitely not be asking what it is a painting OF. As such, it is purely and simply a design. There may be recognizable elements in the painting, but it would be missing the point to ask what it represents, apart from its color and design. Now, it is of some interest that both the photograph and the painting are somewhat similar in design. But more to the point, how do each make you feel? What is it about the color schemes that draw your eye?

Which brings me around to my original point about thoughts, and to the nonverbal or more abstract ways of thinking. And it often to those deep places in music and space where I retire when the very verbal and structural world around me begins to make little sense.

Just a thought, eh?

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Here's a little taste of what's coming up.

For those of you who may be wondering just what I've been up to all this time, well here's a brief sample of what Center Game (Heir of Drachma, Book Two) contains. This is from Chapter One:

Heir of Drachma
                            Book Two
                            Center Game

               Chapter One

Even to the alchemist, the underground enclosure reeked – of all the years of foul things, done in the name of captivity.  It was almost too much, with the stench and nausea increasing the stress of his own captivity. He was down here, as was the lass. He couldn’t even imagine why the men brought her down here. The only light that reached them came from a torch which was close to the entrance to the underground cavern. Gently, he spoke to her.

“Lassie,” he said, “What is your name?”

The girl turned her head toward the tall man who was sitting down on the lone piece of furniture, an old wine cask. 

“Me name’s Lisa,” she uttered, her voice hoarse from crying.

“Now Lisa, can ye tell me who your parents be?”

“Me Mum’s named Sylvie, an’ we’re stayin’ at the big house up by the castle.”

“And yer Papa…?”

“Don’ know me Papa.”

“Then who be the man you’re staying with at the mansion?”

“Name’s Patronis… Emile Patronis.”

That name stung him. And he had no way of conveying that information to Craycroft.

“Now I’m not goin’ to be in trouble, am I? Me Mum said I was not to tell…”

“Ah, nay, m’lass. You’re not going to get into trouble – not any more trouble than we’re both in right now. My name’s Melchior. And I’m an alchemist… do you know what an alchemist is?”

Melchior could tell that Lisa was relaxing her guard.

“Nay, I know not. What is an al… alche…?”

“An alchemist. What I do is to mix potions – ye know, if ye’re sick and such. These potions help ye heal.”

“D’ye make magic?”

“Nay, lassie, not magic”

“Too bad…”

“Well, I shall try to keep you safe, even though I have no magic.”

Over the next hour, Melchior found out that Lisa and her mother had been in the village of Armaugh, and had tried to find work. Ever since the inn burned down, and they were left destitute, they had been trying anything and everything, and then along came this Patronis fellow, with a plan. If they would pretend to be his wife and daughter, he could find work for them, and they agreed.

She could tell that he was an educated man, by the way he talked, but he pretended to be a simpleton, from the country, and the work they found was at the mansion. There were two men, a Master Guarneri, and a Master LeGace who set them up in their work, and were their employers. It all seemed to go along just fine, until those men just burst into the house, and took her away from her Mum. And then she discovered that it was Master LeGace who was in charge, and brought her over here. She just couldn’t understand what Master LeGace would want with her.

Anyway, here they were, at least for now. With the possibility of escape highly unlikely, they seemed to be at the mercy of their captors. They were on Dunnigan’s Isle – that much Melchior knew - but more than that he could not tell. This underground place had obviously been used over the years to ply the trades of trappers, hunters, and obviously tanners. There were some things from which the smells never seemed to disappear, and tanning hides was one of them. 

Lisa and Melchior had been brought to the island, just as dawn was breaking, and then they were marched through the forest to this place. The house looked no more than a small, unkempt cottage. And there were but a handful of men guarding the premises. But they were taken into the back of the house, where there was a small entryway, which led down into the earth. They were each given a small, stale roll, and a bowl of porridge, and then the doorway was sealed. It seemed hours ago, but who could tell, as there was no light, beyond the torch.

Melchior could do nothing, except talk to the girl, to keep her safe, but he was not at all certain if he could even do that. This was so like the Antoine LeGace he remembered, a man evil to the core, who thought nothing of treating his subjects with utter disdain. If there were anything at all he could do, but there seemed to be nothing. The time dragged on and on.

Eventually, the door opened, and a couple of burly men came down the walkway, and brought with them a fairly large container of water, with a single metal cup. They set the vessel down in their midst. While one of the men replaced the sputtering torch, the other informed them of the rules the two of them were to obey.

“Now ye’ll be here as our prisoners as long as Master LeGace wants. And, as prisoners, ye’ll have no access to the outside, for any reason. We’ll be feedin’ ye twice a day. And any attempt at escape, shall be met with death. Is that understood?”

“Oh, aye,” answered Melchior. But he was thinking of what he could do. For the boredom alone would be a sentence as stiff as any other he could think about.

“Very well,” said their captor, as he turned to leave. The doorway shut again with a reverberating thud.

For a while afterward, Melchior and Lisa just sat, and eventually Melchior got up, and went over to the water vessel, and got a cup full of water, and took it over to Lisa, who was crying again, and said, “Here, Lisa. Take some of the water. I know that you must ache from thirst.”

She took the cup of water, and between sobs, drank it down.

And Melchior silently prayed. He prayed for the safety of Lisa, and he prayed for his own wife and child. And also for himself, that he be granted some semblance of grace to withstand what appeared to be this mind-numbing imprisonment.

Sunday, March 13, 2016

Fans vs patients - what is the distinction?

As I'm getting ready to go back to my day job (as a physician), and getting ready to leave my avocation (as a writer), some thoughts occurred to me. And the thoughts had to do with a couple of rather distinct groups of people, who share some similarities, and rather profound differences.

Now let me make myself clear - this is my own thinking, and others have some definite differences of opinion. First let me tell you about my patients. It used to be, when I first started in medicine, that I "grew" a group of people whom I considered my patients, and who in turn, considered me their own doctor. These people were extremely highly regarded, and I would do anything at all for them, which included getting up at all hours of the night to see to their needs. These persons were, in turn, extremely loyal, and remarkably forgiving. I did get paid to take care of them, and they were by and large willing to pay for my services. I did get to know them and their families, and together we weathered some remarkable times.

That was then - and now things are quite different. Somewhere along the way, it got to be apparent that things were going to have to change. The reasons for the change were subtle at first, and became much less so as time went by. I found myself an employee of a hospital, and as such, the payment for my services became very indirect and extremely impersonal. Yet I was still putting in very long hours, and getting paid less each year for doing so. And I had to make a decision as to whether I wanted to continue to practice office-based medicine (and as such retain my long -term relationship with my patients), or whether to go to strictly a hospital only practice, and to give up the long-term relationships I had so assiduously developed. Well, I made the leap to hospital-based medicine, and in doing so the fact of being "my patient" became a remarkably evanescent thing. And now, it is even more evanescent, as I'm working shifts, and I "hand off" my patients to another hospitalist coming on. This has some good things going for it - mainly that there is always a physician on site to care for the patient's needs. But it also has some definite drawbacks in terms of relationships.

Now I just came back from the national meeting of The Society of Hospital Medicine, and it turns out that there are now roughly 52,000 + hospital-based medical practitioners (how I despise that term) in the USA. And one of the things that was stressed repeatedly is how we now practice evidence-based medicine, and how this will improve patient outcomes, and lead to more satisfied "consumers." Now, thinking back to when I got started, people were much more satisfied then with their medical care, and if they, for some reason or other, did not get along with their doctor, they could find another. Contrast that with the sick patient who is hospitalized today, and finds that "his or her doctor" does not admit patients to the hospital, and that he or she will be at the mercy of someone who very likely has never seen them before, and they have essentially no say in the matter.

Contrast that with my other vocation as a writer. Here we have a multitude of people who have an alarming number of choices, and a few of them become "my fans." This is purely a matter of choice, and if I continue to produce printed material that they like, they will continue to be my fans. It was refreshing to go to a book signing event this past weekend at which several persons identified themselves as my fans, and eagerly bought my next book. And I was thinking, perhaps it was this which I had been seeking since embarking on this road trip I like to refer to as becoming an author.

Oddly, it felt somewhat the same as it did when I first left residency, and developed my own patient base. Very strange...