Monday, August 29, 2011

One of my favorite authors has come to be Robert Fulghum (pronounced Full-jum). His first book, Everything I Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten, was a best seller. He has written other best sellers since. His books are collections of short pieces, usually quite amusing but almost always containing a serious lesson on life. One of them, Maybe (Maybe Not), I am reading now. In it, there is a story that especially impressed me. I do not want to go into the details of the story. That’s not necessary, for the last two lines are what made the story stand out for me. Those lines are in the form of questions:

Is it always to be a winners-losers world, or can we keep everyone in the game?

Do we still have what it takes to find a better way?

Those words were especially meaningful to me because for a long period of time I have been asking myself that question “Can’t I find a better way?” My question to myself was not about any particular thing. In fact, I wasn’t sure exactly why I was asking it. It was more an expression of the frustration I feel at all the inequities I observe in life and the seeming inability of our nation (and humanity in general) to find a solution to our problems. Fulghum reminded me that throughout history, through all the dark times that have beset mankind, there have always been those who have persevered, have clung to ideals and visions and who have, somehow, brought an end to dark times and seen light brighten the world.

In his article Fulghum also brought out the fact that, in the final essence, it was humanity itself that brought the change about. It did not depend on new technologies, new techniques or new knowledge. It did not depend on a particular individual. It was an awareness—the awareness of simple, common people realizing that there was a “better way” and having the courage to embrace it. It was common people depending on the only thing they really had to work with, the only thing they could really depend on, and that was themselves.

Humanity has not changed. We still have difficulties; we still have problems. But our problems are no more insoluble than they ever were. And as an asset we have the one thing that is the most valuable of all—we have ourselves.

I believe all great changes are brought about in this way—by mankind simply deciding that it must be done.. And, as Fulghum points out, this is not new or unique. It has been done that way in the past by people no different than we are. And the answer to Fulghum’s question should be, and is “Yes, we still do have what it takes to find that better way.”

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

The date on this post says August 23. Where did the summer go? It’s really strange. Up until the middle of June or so the year was going fairly slowly. Then, all of a sudden, it picked up speed and began whizzing along. Now I have a hard time keeping up with it. Does anybody else feel that way?

I had a group of writer friends in a few days ago just for a talk. Our conversation got around to the publishing of books, something that all unpublished writer’s dream of, and the difficulty of doing that these days. I have kiddingly said in the past (and I repeated it during the conversation) that established agents and publishers are interested only in sure-fire best sellers which would be epitomized by a book written by an ex-CIA agent with secrets to tell. Lo and behold, I saw on the internet that just that situation has happened. An ex-CIA agent has authored a book that is being published by a mainstream publishing house. And apparently he tells a number of secrets. I’m not going to say any more about it because I know nothing more about it. I’m going to have to read it, though. I’m very curious. If I like it I’ll have something to say about it in the future on this blog.

Otherwise, all is progressing satisfactorily. I have a few things to take care of and odds and ends to clear up—some small bits of writing and reading to do and then I want to get on with writing of a book I started earlier in the year. I have let that go because of publishing A Matter of Time. I think that now the way is clear to get back on the other book—working title, Mountain Man. I’m very anxious to do that. I want to find out how it turns out.

Monday, August 15, 2011

More changes. More firsts. Courtesy of Penny? Last night I had my first ever book signing. I really didn’t know what to expect. It could have gone many ways. As it turned out, it went very well—well attended and a lot of fun. Those facts were due to a number of people (besides Penny, that is). Maggie Robinson of Silverbear Graphics coordinated the entire event. It was held at the Historic Log Cabin Inn in Donegal, PA, a beautiful place, circa 1750, owned by Judy Trabbold. When it isn’t being used for book signings or other events, Judy rents it for overnight (or longer) stays. The book signing was catered by Chef Mark Henry of Latrobe—really good food. I appreciated the whole thing. I especially appreciated the many friends who came. They were the ones who made it successful for me.

What’s next? At the signing Maggie mentioned that we (Silverbear and I) plan on republishing The Finding of the Blue Feather, a book I wrote some time ago. I self published it a few years ago but have since revised it quite a bit. The book should come out in a few months and I’m looking forward to that, but even more I am looking forward to the new circumstances in which it is being published. The publishing business is changing. Electronic media have come upon the scene and altered the landscape. Traditional books are losing ground, publishing houses are struggling, many agents are refusing new clients. For writers it is a bleak time—few prospects, little hope.

A few writers here in Ligonier and elsewhere have been discussing a new approach with Maggie Robinson, a collaborative effort between author and publisher, a new way to publish, promote and market books. The idea is in the formative stage but it sounds interesting and promising. I am hopeful for it because I feel that it provides a way for authors to have more of a hand in the entire process, the entire future of their creations, rather than having their works in the hands of faceless entities in distant cities. I feel it is an innovative and creative idea.

What will become of it? How will it progress? We shall see. The future is uncertain—but exciting.

Again—stay tuned.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Where do I start? What is appropriate to write for the first piece on a new blog—something humorous, something profound? Perhaps something about me—where I come from, why I write? At my age I’ve become less and less conventional so I’m not going to bother too much with what I should do. I’m just going to write and assume that whatever comes out will be the right thing. Whatever it is, it won’t set any precedent or form a pattern for future entries on this blog. I don’t think I have a pattern. I write what comes to me and that turns out different every time. But usually all right.


This is not only the start of a new blog. It seems like the start of a brand new career. I have a new blog, new web site, a new book just published, new business cards, new bookmarks, new logos. New everything.

New cat, too. And, oddly enough, all this newness seems to revolve around that fact.

I have always been a dog person. I seem to resonate to dogs and seldom in my life have I been without at least one of them in my household. Cats that have been in my vicinity have come to be there more by accident than purpose. For some time now I have been living a life that did not allow for animals of any kind. About two years ago I began residency in a house. After the move-in process was complete I began idly thinking about getting a four-legged companion. I did not actively seek one, however. All my life animals have come to me. I never bought a dog. My dogs have always come to me second or third hand, either as strays or given to me by friends or acquaintances who could no longer keep them. So I waited for my new dog companion to appear but that did not happen.

Then a writer friend, Joanne, moved into a new house to find that the previous owner had left unexpected possessions behind—five cats. Joanne sought homes for them by asking friends if they wanted a cat. She asked me. I said no. Joanne fed the cats but they spent most of last winter outdoors. Then one afternoon last March another friend and I were at Joanne’s for a visit. As we were leaving, a pretty little long-haired gray cat ran across the patio and up to the porch for a late afternoon snack. “What a pretty cat!” I said. A week later I took that cat home. I named her Penelope—Penny for short.

The universe works in mysterious ways. I didn’t get the dog I was expecting. I got Penny. But I have always found that whatever the universe provides, it is always wise to make the best attempt possible to get along with that “whatever.” So I have done that with Penny. And I find my life has become very interesting and quite delightful. Penny seems to have brought along with her a lot of other changes for me. I am sure that these changes have not yet ended. What will come next? I have no idea. But I am also sure I will find out. Stay tuned. We’ll find out together.