Today’s Rambling — Painting

About fifteen years ago, I was a painter.  I lived in the Northwest at that time and made semiabstract paintings which I sold to, mostly, a limited number of collectors that I knew.  I never sold enough work to live on my painting alone, so I always had one or two part-time jobs with which to pay the rent and feed myself.  Later, I would meet the love of my life and eventually move east, to North Carolina, where we have made our home.  And by then, I had transitioned from painting to writing as my creative work.  But I still love painting.

I think I may try painting again.  When I began writing seriously, trying to develop book-length fiction, I didn’t have room for painting.  Writing took all of my creative energy and time; it still takes a lot.  However, writing now has become a bit more natural for me where I am better able to pick up the story cold and reenter it without as much mental work as it used to take.  And I would approach painting differently now.  Now, I would think of it more as a hobby—an exploration into learning new techniques, though there is plenty of that in professional work as well.  But I would paint small things, now, for my own amusement, not for exhibition.

I want to paint apples, fruit in general, still lifes.  I want to work more on composition, the formal elements of shape, value, and space.  I’ve been looking at Russian paintings—landscapes mostly—and find them wonderful in the way they capture mood.  But I’m intrigued by fruit—apples in particular.  I like the mottling  of their hues, their spots, their indecisive color schemes, and their sheens.  Maybe, this urge to paint again springs from a desire to create a biopic portrait because, perhaps, I am really an apple.

A Sample From Chapter 14 of “Datesville”

Our travelers are at a soup kitchen, run by the Missionaries of Charity in St. Louis, Missouri.  The travelers have been riding in the black interior of an empty trailer of a tractor-trailer rig.  The diver of the rig is an acquaintance of George’s, one of our five travelers, but the group has become uncertain they can trust the driver when he lets them out of the trailer to pick up freight.  The group is supposed to continue its journey in the trailer through Illinois and on to Kentucky.  The driver’s name is Sweeney.  Note: Saints Peter and Paul is a large church in St. Louis.

Datesville: Out of the Land of Bondage!  (excerpt from Chapter 14 — “Saints Peter and Paul”)

. . .

Armed now with his outdated atlas, George begins another geography lesson; this time for everyone.

“So here we are: St. Louis, Missouri,” says George.  He has circled the label of the city on the map.  None of us has noticed that the younger Sister who opened the hall for lunch now stands quietly right behind George until I do at that very moment.  She lightly touches George on the shoulder, and he looks up.

“Oh, I’m sorry, Sister.  Were you needing us to leave so you can lock up?” he asks.

“Oh no; I only noticed your atlas and was wondering if all of you are traveling together.”  She makes eye-contact with each of us around the circle, and we nod to confirm that we are.  “I’m  Sister Michaela, by the way,” she continues, “and a lay missionary with the Missionaries of Charity.  But I was wondering, if perhaps you plan to travel from St. Louis farther east, across the Illinois State line?”

“Well, as a matter of fact,” says George, “that’s exactly what we were trying to figure out: whether we should or not.  Do you have a suggestion, Sister?”

“Yes, I do,” she answers.  “Do you mind if I sit with you for a minute?”

George and Pearl scoot apart to give Sister Michaela a place between them.  She sits then leans forward and, in a low voice, begins telling us her real reason for stopping by our table.

Sister Michaela, I soon learn, doesn’t pull punches.

“Just across the Mississippi,” she begins, “about two miles on the Interstate, is a weigh station that has been converted into a checkpoint.  All truckers are required to stop there for inspection.  What they’re looking for are so called ‘trailer hoppers'”.

She glances around the circle to confirm that we understand what she means by the term.  We nod that we do.

“In essence, the state of Illinois is paying a bounty of three-hundred dollars per person for anyone caught traveling in the trailers.”

“We heard it was two-hundred, fifty,” says George.

“It used to be, but recently they’ve increased it to three-hundred.  And drivers who lack scruples are cashing in on this immoral program.  Basically, what they are doing is selling people like yourselves into bondage for personal gain.  Most of the passengers, when turned over to the Illinois authorities, are charged with Felony Attempted Domestic Terrorism, regardless of what police might find in their duffle bags or backpacks.  Even if it’s only a lighter or a pocketknife or a skillet, they’ll count these articles as weapons and evidence of ‘intent to commit an act of domestic terrorism’.  And the inspectors always find something.  And with such flimsy evidence, they’re shipping dozens of people every day—from this one checkpoint alone—off to the super prison near Paris, Illinois.  Have you heard of it?”

“Yes, Reggie was telling us,” says George.  The rest of us just nod, in stunned silence.  It appears the reality of the situation is even worse than the rumor.  It is obvious now that Sweeney knew about the checkpoint and planned to take us there.

“But—and here’s the good news,” continues Sister Michaela, “if you are headed east to the other side of the state, to Indiana or beyond, I know of a ministry that can help you get through Illinois.  The ministry doesn’t even have a name; they are very underground; but we have a contact for them that we use.  But for them to continue doing what they do, it’s important that no one knows they exist, and for that reason we ask you not to tell others about this unique ministry or how you came to know about it.  Can you promise me you will not share this with anyone else?”

We all echo, “Yes.  Of course.  We won’t tell a soul.”

“Let’s have a look at your atlas,” Sister Michaela says.  “Are you going somewhere specific?” she asks.

George shares with the Sister our story, how we’d hoped to get as far as Lexington, Kentucky with the help of our trucker “friend,” and that from there we’d planned to walk to Datesville, located in northern West Virginia, but then Reggie had warned us about trailer hoppers sometimes getting shanghaied and sent to gulags at random checkpoints, set up at weigh stations on highways and Interstates in the state of Illinois.

“I’m afraid your article was misleading,” says the Sister.  “In Illinois, the checkpoints have always been permanent.  Now, they might not be open twenty-four hours a day, everyday, at every location, but most of the time they are open and all truckers are required to stop at them when they are.”

“Wow!” says George.  “We were doomed.”

“I knew there was something wrong with that man,” says Pearl, referring, of course, to Sweeney.

Sister Michaela shows us a small town in Indiana—Farmersburg, to be specific, just south of Terre Haute—where the underground ministry would take us, that is, if we chose to go and when there was room for us.

“It usually takes a day or two to make the arrangements,” says Sister Michaela, “but, if you want their help, I think we can work something out.  And the Missionary Sisters can arrange for you a place to stay—perhaps not the most comfortable place, but at least a roof over your heads until your passage is secured.”

George looks to us for feedback.  But Sister Michaela’s proposal doesn’t demand deliberation.  We all know we are stuck between a rock and a hard place and her proposal looks as much like divine intervention as anything I’ve ever seen.

“I’m in!” says Reggie, resolutely.  We all emphatically agree, so the question is settled: we will place our fate in Sister Michaela’s hands rather than Bill Sweeney’s.

“Good!” says the Sister.  “Just give me a half-hour to speak with the Reverend Mother, okay?  In the meantime, you can wait here, and I’ll show you where the facilities are should you need them.  Have some more tea or coffee if you’d like.  And please don’t worry:  You are under Christ’s protection now; he will take care of you.  I’ll be back soon.”

Sister Michaela rises, taking Pearl with her to show her where the restroom is.  So the two of them scurry away.  George watches as they exit through a door into the kitchen then quickly turns to Reggie, Bulchenko, and me.

“Do you think we can trust her?” he whispers hoarsely.

We all break into laughter.

“She’s a nun!” says Reggie.

“Yeah, I know,” says George, “but I thought I could trust Sweeney, too.”

For some reason Reggie, Bulchenko, and I find this remark incredibly funny.  Finally, George laughs too.

“What?  What?  What’s so funny?” he laughs.

“You believe a guy like Sweeney but doubt a nun!” says Reggie.  We all belly laugh again, and it feels good.

A Book That Changed My Life

Please allow me to recommend a revolutionary book that changed my attitude and relationship with the Earth.  The book is: The One-Straw Revolution by Masanobu Fukuoka.  It was first published in English (I believe) in 1978.  This small book is about how Mr. Fukuoka received his epiphany about natural gardening and small acreage farming.  What is Mr. Fukuoka’s advice to the farmer?  Do nothing!  Of course, there is more to it than that, but the author suggests a radically different approach to growing food than we currently hear from today’s “experts”.  Below, I have listed an ISBN number for The One-Straw Revolution (for the copy I own) and a ten-minute video, featuring Masanobu Fukuoka and his story.

The One-Straw Revolution by Masanobu Fukuoka ISBN:  978-1-59017-313-8

The History of an Idea — Part 3

a black and white photo of a plant in front of a body of water

So I had this dream one night—a very vivid dream—of a dystopian setting in which people were attending a local music concert (see Part 1).  I remembered it very clearly when I woke, and it bothered me.  Its setting was reminiscent of what I knew about the 1930s’ Great Depression as it was here in the United States.

I remember studying photos of poor people living during that period.  One photo in particular—I believe it was of a family or mother and children—took my breath away.  Like everyone, I had seen the photographs of mothers and children, suffering extreme poverty and starvation which charitable organizations often showed us on television commercials to solicit our membership and donations.  These commercials confronted us with heart-wrenching video and photographs of emaciated children and mothers who looked like skeletons with skin stretched over them.

Well, as I turned the page of the book I was viewing—the one, filled with photos of Americans during the 1930s—I was suddenly faced with the image of an American family who looked like starving war refugees or victims of famine.  And certainly, they were victims of famine but these were not from some far away place which I might not be able to find on a map.  No, these were Americans from places like Tennessee or Alabama or California!  That photograph allowed me to understand just how bad those times were for common folk here in the United States.  I had never experienced anything like that level of need in my lifetime, but, as my History professor had stated, it was possible if not likely to happen again.  The only question was:  When?

After my dream, I decided I wanted to write a novel, set in that sort of future dystopia of great economic destress.  I wanted to explore how it might look, but especially how it might feel—and to reach into the emotional impact of such a disaster on, say, someone like me or you.  And, thus, I began writing.  But that was only the seed of the idea.  There was much to develop, still.

There’s more to say, but I’ll say it later.  Until then—see you around the block.

Links You May Enjoy!

green grass field and trees

So today, I updated my LINKS page in the menu above and added a number of new sites.  Check them out!  Here’s what the page now looks like:

Blogs And Other Links You Might Enjoy and Use!

Lopamudra Bandyopadhyay-Chattopadhyay: Poet & Novelist

Notes From A Poemnaut  (Poet)

Frankfurt Radio Symphony — YouTube

48-Hour Books (Printshop for Self-publishing Authors)

Anthony Chene Production — YouTube (Great NDE Documentaries)

Bastard Shaman — YouTube (Reincarnation & Paranormal)

Insteading — YouTube (Homesteading Videos)

Give them a look or listen!  And if you like to cook—

Inspired Taste! (Lots of Super Recipes and Easy)

Deep South Dish (American Southern Style Cooking)

Souped Up Recipes (Great Chinese Cooking – One of My Favorite Sites!)

If you’re an author (or anyone, really) in the United States and want to save money on shipping

Pirate Ship (Great Discounts on USPS and UPS Shipping Rates and They’re Also A Lot of Fun!)

This page will always be available in the top menu under LINKS.

Blue Moon Offer

full moon over green trees

So tonight is a blue moon.  And in celebration for all of the blessings of this year—especially those related to my writing—I want to give something back to all readers, wherever you may live.

So for the month of September, I am making the brand new ebook version of my novel Wanderer Come Home, available for FREE!  I hope you will take advantage of this offer and pass it along to friends and family.

You can get your free ebook of Wanderer by following this link to its Smashwords listing:  CLICK HERE FOR BLUE MOON OFFER!

You will see that the price has been reduced from $10.00 to FREE.  Just click on the yellow “Buy with coupon” button and enter the code BF58G to select the type of file you wish to download.  EPUB files are used by Apple iBook devices and MOBI is used by Kindle.  You will probably know which type of file works best for your device.  Or, click on the “Give as a Gift (using coupon)” link and send a copy to your favorite reader.  There is no limit, so send as many gift copies as you like!

I hope you enjoy your new copy of Wanderer Come Home and when you’ve finished reading it, if you will, please return to Smashwords and leave a review and/or rating of Wanderer.  Thank you.

– Dale

PLEASE NOTE:  If you preview the book using Smashwords’s online sample, you will not see the most recent version of Wanderer because Smashwords cannot reload a new sample unless I submit to them a Word file.  When I first submitted Wanderer, I did send a Word document but found that it was unsatisfactory for presenting a preview.  So I sent an epub version, thinking Smashwords would eventually update the preview, but they didn’t because (I found out later) they can’t.  So please don’t judge the ebook version you will receive by the preview you find on the Smashwords online preview.

The History of an Idea — Part 2


a black and white photo of a plant in front of a body of water

In an American History course I took in college, the professor stated in a lecture that economic depressions, like the so called “Great Depression” of the 1930s, have happened regularly during the course of the history of the United States.  And to make her point, she rattled off several and the years in which they occurred.  In other words—and this she emphasized—economic depressions in the US are not anomalies and ought to be expected.

My paternal grandfather was a carpenter and farmer and the Great Depression pushed him and his family off his farm in Kansas and into the migrant river that rushed to the Pacific Ocean and California—like that described in John Steinbeck’s novel “The Grapes of Wrath”.

But California was not the Promised Land that so many migrant families expected.  Gainful employment was not easy to find.  But my grandfather, being a master carpenter, found work in the shipyards of Long Beach and things might have gone well for him and his family if he had not gotten hit by a drunken driver while crossing a busy street at a crosswalk.

My grandfather’s death left a wife and four children with no social safety net.  My father was the youngest of those four children.  He and his twin brother took any jobs available to them and worked from grade school through high school to help support their mother and then joined the US Navy as soon as they were old enough.  Luckily, they had older siblings who were married and working and who also helped support their mother and those still at home as much as possible during those intervening years after my grandfather’s death.  But my family has known a little about poverty.

The dream that I had of “the Yard” which I described in Part 1, I think was my own psychological response to some rather distressing financial news, happening at about that time—after the banking crisis and near economic crash of 2008.  So my interpretation of this dystopian dream setting was:  that we in the United States might be headed into another Great Depression very soon.  Well, that has not happened, yet, but it still can.  And my intuition says that the next “Grand Depression” in this country might last a very long time.

And it was this thought which began my exploration into how that Grand Depression might look to the average American in the not too distant future.

I’ll expand on this further in Part 3.  Until then—See you around the block.

My Current Work: “Datesville — Out of the Land of Bondage!”

grayscale photography of man sitting on chair

My current work is a dystopian novel, set in the year 2068 titled: Datesville; Out of the Land of Bondage!  A so called “Grand Depression” has engulfed the United States of America since 2029, almost forty years, and it seems endless to the millions of homeless people, trying to survive throughout the country.  Harvey Orange is our main character (and our first person narrator, telling the story) and a journalist who has recently fallen on hard times and now finds himself entering the world of the unfortunate people he has written so many stories about.  I hope you enjoy this little sample from Datesville, Chapter 4.

If you have a question about this story or have a story of your own to tell, please relate it in the comments below.  Remember you might have to sign up for a free (and easy) account with Vivaldi in order to post your comment, but Vivaldi holds your privacy in the highest regard and offers a number of free services if you want them.  I’m very picky about my personal information on the web, and for that reason Vivaldi is my choice of email, blog, and browser provider.  Enjoy the read!

*  *  *  *

Excerpt from Chapter 4 — The Hideous Depression

So eight months pass, and right before I move from New York to Tulsa, I lose phone service for not paying my bill, and I haven’t, yet, been able to replace it.  I’m sure Mom must wonder why I haven’t called.  Now, fifteen months have passed since then; I’ve tried calling twice using the pay-booth, but both times she did not answer.  Probably she did not recognize the number when the call came in and that was why she didn’t pick up.  Or perhaps she is afraid some other medical examiner from some other part of the country is calling with news about Patsy that she’d rather not hear.  So I’ve lost touch with my mother, and now I have no idea what the weather is doing in Churchill or what TV programs Mom finds entertaining.  Sorry, that was cruel.  And to be fair, when she and I still had contact, I wasn’t sharing all of the nitty gritty details of my life with her, either.  So she didn’t know anything about my deteriorating situation at the time nor how bad it has gotten since.

There is something else, perhaps, I should mention about myself—or about my career, I should say—because, if I neglect it, you might assume that my current predicament has somehow caught me by surprise.  It hasn’t really, or at least not completely.  I’ve known theoretically that something like this can happen to anyone, myself included.

See, my bread and butter story has never been the billionaire profile, like the one I planned to write featuring Marcus Purcell.  The billionaire profile has always and only been a bonus gig.  It pays well but audience interest in such an article is extremely narrow, limited mostly to those who like the SOB featured in the story.  No, my real bread and butter is, and has always been, the plight of the common American during this so called Grand Depression which began, by the way, in October of 2029, a year before my birth.  The Grand Depression has dragged on now for some forty years and appears to have no end.  “Grand!”  What a poor choice of adjective, if you ask me!  It implies that what people in this country incessantly endure is somehow magnificent—in a good way—or at least important.  But I say, why not call it what it is?  How about the Hideous or Perpetual Depression?  Or why not the Really Shitty Depression?  Wouldn’t these descriptors seem a bit more accurate?  Grand my ass!  Anyway—

But I’m one of the lucky ones (at least I was until recently) because I’ve managed to escape the dregs of this epoch and have avoided the great cesspool of terrible misery and despair into which so many of my fellow countrymen, and -women, have fallen.  But as stated, I’ve written upwards of forty to fifty articles which have appeared widely, over the years, in well-read periodicals and on popular news sites, describing the sufferings of ordinary people from every walk of life.  And for these bread and butter stories, there never seemed to be a lack of material because it was available everywhere throughout the good ol’ U S of A.

My stories featured former factory workers, school teachers, IT engineers, among so many others, who spent years outdoors in tent-camps, on desolate windblown mountains, in swamplands or deserts, in wooded ravines and on riverbanks, not to mention in the crumbling buildings of inter-cities, or on the margins of dangerous freeways.  Most of these lived in such conditions without shelter, for thirty years or more.  The old-timers were those who remembered life before the crash.  These were the best stories because they depicted the loss of a way of life which the victims, to some extent, had enjoyed.  Not many old-timers yet survive because so many perished prematurely.

I’ve written, too, about people who lived without homes, apartments, bathrooms, and running water for their entire lives—second-generation homeless, as they are known—who were still youths when their stories appeared in magazines they would never read.  Their mothers told how they gave birth in tents, and counted themselves lucky because so many former nurses also populated the camps in those days and were exceptionally generous and goodhearted women who volunteered as midwives and delivered their babies.

For ten years, I traveled and lived out of motels and wrote these stories, describing, basically, only one story—over and over again:  The story’s protagonist was always a middle- or working-class American who lost her job for one reason or another, who couldn’t regain financial stability thereafter, no matter how hard she tried, who prior to her present dilemma could never fathom losing everything she owned, including her family but, of course, did, and who, up until the very day I interviewed her, refused to relinquish hope that one day—without even the prospect of gainful employment anywhere in sight and suffering failing health because of lack of decent nutrition—that one day she would reclaim the modest dream of a “normal life” and that somehow she would find again what had slipped through her fingers a decade or two earlier.  This same protagonist would never concede that homelessness might be the last chapter of her life.  “No, no, this isn’t going to beat me,” she’d say, but in every case it was homelessness that won in the end.

And for ten years, periodicals, catering to the apparatchik-class of the American audience, whose hearts were “crushed” over the tragedy of the Grand Depression, couldn’t get enough of my stories, especially when uploaded with photos of the poverty and squalor in which these individuals lived.  But that was then.

Now Mark Tank informs me that the market for my bread and butter story has dried up, that people these days want “uplifting, inspirational narratives about those who’ve escaped the abyss of poverty and homelessness and pulled their lives out of the toilet.”  Basically, what the American audience wants to read now is that the Grand Depression has, at last, faded into history, so that they no longer have to pay attention to it.  Yes, that would be nice, I tell Mark, except there are no such narratives!  Nothing out there has changed! I tell him.

Or maybe inspirational narratives do exist, he suggests, and you’ve just overlooked them.

Whatever, I say.

The History of an Idea — Part 1

a black and white photo of a plant in front of a body of water

A few years ago I had a rather vivid dream.  And when I awoke, I remembered its details clearly and I thought about it a lot.  It prompted the setting for the scene which I’ve included below.  So rather than describe my dream, I will let you read a bit of the scene it inspired.  This scene is called “The Yard”.

 *  *  *  *

“Bygones.  Let them be,” she said.

But he had taken her right away from me.  Just like if a thief creeps into your house and takes a pistol.  That’s what he’d done, stole her like a pistol.  Not that I would ever own a pistol or that he would ever steal from someone, but that’s exactly what it felt like—like something you had hidden in your closet that made you feel safe at night, something solid like a pistol you knew you could count on, had been taken.  That’s what I mean.  It felt like that.

So I had come down to the yard to hear them play.  I’d heard him play before, lots of times, in fact, but didn’t remember him being all that special, special enough for her to go all gaga over it.  But I could’ve been drunk those other times and not paid attention.  I just needed to make sure my impression was right, and he wasn’t so special, after all.

I had walked down to the yard from my place which took about half an hour to get there.  Arrived a little after dusk.  By then, the sky had turned blue, like the color of a mud dauber, with Venus hanging low and bright above the back fence and stage.  Someone had paid for electricity, so the long swags of wires and light-bulbs that draped from the tall polls around the perimeter and encircled the yard were burning.  You could see pretty good, except a few of the bulbs, here and there, had gone out, leaving some places shadowy and hollow feeling.  So, I sort of stood at the back of the yard trying to pick up on the mood of the evening.

I didn’t see Adeline, yet.

Emmie Schroder was singing.  She sat on a folding chair at the center of the stage, singing into a microphone and playing her autoharp which she held hard against her chest.  Her voice made me picture a weeping willow on a windy day.  She sang Hush, My Love, a kind of sad lullaby.  Dan Coons accompanied her on the fiddle and chimed in on backup now and then.  Emmie was a prodigy, not hardly a day over sixteen, I’d imagine, but already, her songs had made her a favorite around Datesville.  That is doing something in a town chock full of talented musicians and singers.

The yard was about half full when I got there, and there had been a steady stream of new arrivals since then.  Families and couples and loners like me came carrying knapsacks and baskets full of dinner and blankets to spread on the ground.  No doubt they had brought biscuits and cornbread, molasses and apple-butter, boiled potatoes or eggs with salt, egg sandwiches, or maybe even fried chicken or rabbit, and plum or mulberry wine to go with it all.  A young couple near me spread out a blanket and sat down and opened a basket full of warm biscuits and bacon.  It made my mouth water to smell it.  I had not brought anything to eat, and I was wishing I had.

Those that came early had taken advantage of what you might call the “reserve seating” available at the yard, though the only way to reserve it was to get there before someone else took it.  Against the tall, board fence to my right and the rusted hog-wire fence opposite it, on the other side of the yard, were some dusty, threadbare couches and overstuffed chairs, their legs broken off, along with several  discarded bedsprings and, in between, some large cardboard boxes, open at one end.  The couches, chairs, and bedsprings had all been pulled from places that had had fires, so they still smelled of smoke.  But, some folks preferred spreading their blankets on these and sitting on the couches, or what have you, rather than on the hard, lumpy dirt of the open yard.  Teenaged couples and children seemed to enjoy the semi-privacy of the boxes.  From front to back, the reserve seats had all been taken and were filled with loungers, some lying in each other’s embrace.

I wondered why I hadn’t seen Adeline yet.

“Why didn’t you wave back?  Are you ignoring me?”

It was Adeline.  She had come up behind me.

“Wave?  I didn’t see you.”

“I was right up front; you looked straight at me.”

“I didn’t see you,” I said, “honest.”

“I’ll let it go this time, but I hope you’re not being a poop tonight.”

“I’m not being a poop.”

“Good,” she said.  “Tell you what, if you promise not to turn into ‘Mr. Sunshine’ on me and spoil my mood, I’ll give you a beer, maybe even a couple, if I’m feeling generous.  We brought two of boxes of quart jars from Aunt Molly’s, tonight.”

“Who’s we?” I said.

 *  *  *  *

The dream and the setting it produced were the beginning of an idea which has occupied my writing for many years now.  More about this in Part 2.  Until then:  See you around the block.  Dale

The Redesigned Ebook Is Here!

A newly designed ebook edition of Wanderer Come Home has just been released and is available at your favorite retailer, listed below.  Wanderer is available in epub mobi pdf lrf pdb txt files so it can be enjoyed on whichever device you use most.  These bookstores price Wanderer at $10.00 USD, except for Apple which, for some reason, adds 99¢, putting its price at $10.99.

Buy Your eBook Copy of Wanderer Come Home Here!

Smashwords eBook Store,  Apple iBook Store,  Barnes & Noble,  Gardners,  Rakuten Kobo,  Scribd

*After you’ve read Wanderer Come Home, please, if you will, return to your retail outlet and write a review and provide a book rating for this novel.  Thank you very much! — Dale

CLICK HERE to read an interview with Dale at Smashwords.


Hi and welcome to my blog and thank you for stopping by!  Let me mention a couple of features that will be helpful whenever you visit here.

First, the top menu (just below the blog photo) has content you might find interesting and useful.  Let me just mention three.

The “SAMPLES” tab is useful because it gives you over a dozen chapters to read from my latest novel (which in this case is Wanderer Come Home) and enough material to decide if you like the book and want to read it.

Second, for more information about my work, including descriptions of published novels, announcements about new work in progress, and how you may obtain work that is available, just visit the “BOOKS” tab.

And third, under the “ARCHIVE” tab you will find articles that explore my thoughts and techniques on writing fiction.  Though the content there is not extensive, I think you will find what is there practical, encouraging, and perhaps insightful.

And finally, let me add a word about posting comments on this blog.  I really enjoy receiving comments on posts and responding to them; I love the dialogue and exchange of ideas.  One problem I have encountered, however, is that as soon as third-party spammers find out they can post comments here without having an account, they inundate the blog with spam so that I have to clear out fifty to a hundred unwanted messages every day.  That gets tedious very quickly as you can imagine.

So what I’ve had to do in response is to ask commenters to sign up for a free account with Vivaldi as a gateway for posting comments.  I’m sorry for this inconvenience.  But I can say, that Vivaldi is a great company who believes in internet privacy, and I have downloaded and used their internet browser for many years.  So having a free account with Vivaldi might actually be a blessing, especially if you have an interest in authoring your own free blog or opening a free email account or two.  And, by the way, comments on this blog are open on new posts for six months, after which the comment section closes.

I would love to hear from you; please do grab yourself a Vivaldi account and drop me a line.



Jeap’s Holler — Chapter IX

Here is the final chapter I have written of Jeap’s Holler.  And it ends abruptly because it is not finished.

I should mention also that I have had some trouble with spammers, flooding posts on this blog with lengthy comments, pushing a variety of products.  So if you find that comments on this site have been closed, you will understand why.  But for the time being, I’ll try again to have comments open on newer post.

Hope you enjoy.  — Dale

white, red, and blue floral serving tray on top of table


Jeap’s Holler — Chapter IX

Just as Kathy Swann was about to lay out the plan for J.C.—the plan the squatters had come up with on their own—there came a burst of loud voices and boots from the kitchen porch through the screen door.  The commotion was men, it sounded like, stomping their boots to knock off mud and talking loudly about mechanics; what parts needed to be rebuilt or replaced on the old Ford pickup by the barn.

“Please just take them off,” called Kathy from the table.

The screen door squeaked open, and a head poked through.

“Take off what, ma’am?” asked a fellow with a dirty face.

“Your shoes,” she answered.


“She said to take off our shoes,” reported the man with the dirty face to the others.  Their voices quieted as they sat down on the porch steps and removed their footwear.

Kathy excused herself from the table and hurried to the cupboard to get plastic tumblers.  She sat three out and began filling them with sweet tea.

“They think they can get the old Ford running again, but I don’t see how,” said Kathy to J.C.

Just then the screen door squeaked again and three figures entered the cool dimness of the kitchen.

“Hi guys,” said Kathy.  “Come on in.  Sit.  This here is J.C.”

Only two of the the three were men; the third was a woman who wore a broken fedora and had her hair pulled back in a ponytail.  She took the hat off as she entered the room and hung it on a hook beside the door.  Where the two men wore thick white socks on their feet, the woman wore nothing.  She was barefooted, J.C. noticed.

The two men, upon entering the kitchen and returning hellos to Kathy, made a beeline straight for J.C.  The one in front (the fellow with the grease-smudged face) smiled broadly as he extended his hand toward J.C. seated at the table.  J.C. stood and shook both mens’ hands who introduced themselves.  The woman had joined Kathy at the counter to help her bring the tumblers of tea to the table.  But all three and Kathy arrived at the table at about the same time.

“Hi, I’m Brock Baker,” said the man with the smudged face.

“I’m Cal Espinosa,” said the second fellow, giving J.C.’s hand a quick jerk as a sort of truncated handshake.

“Hi, I’m Kipper,” said the woman who seemed friendly and nervous as she extended her hand to J.C., palm down.

“Kipper?” asked J.C. as he shook her hand.

“Yes,” she said, “it’s a nickname, but I don’t use my real name.”

It seemed the fellow named Brock Baker could not stop smiling at J.C. as he pulled up a chair to sit beside him.  Cal Espinosa was a tall lanky fellow, square-jawed and good looking.  He seemed the quiet type.  Kipper possessed an attractive quality (something in her gestures or the way she walked) though she seemed to want to hide that quality and blend into the background.

“Heather was supposed to join us,” said Kipper, “but we couldn’t find her.”

“Oh, I believe she and some of the gals went for a walk to the creek,” said Kathy.

“We can fill her in later,” said Cal quietly.

“We didn’t know who you were last week when you were here,” began Brock, “or we would have wanted to talk to you then.  But Red and Kathy have told us about you, so this time we had to meet you.  I hope you will forgive our intrusion.”

“No intrusion at all,” said J.C.  “I don’t know what Red and Kathy might have told you about me, but I’m just the delivery guy, these days.  But I’m also very happy to meet you and get to know you.  And I like getting out of town and up here into the fresh air whenever I can.”

“So, like, I was told you’re the chairman of the canton’s governing council, or something like that?” asked Brock.

“No, not anymore,” replied J.C.

“But you do sit on the council, right?”

“No, I haven’t served on the council for several years though I attend most of their meetings.  See, we organized the council such that it wouldn’t get . . . stale, shall we say.  We wanted everyone—who would be willing—to serve a term or two on the council to see how it all works.  That way, more citizens gain an understanding of the decision-making process and are better able to empathize with those sitting on the council.  Doing it this way, people learn that we all make bone-headed decisions sometimes so to not get too worked up about it.  But fortunately, the way the council has been designed, it’s easy to fix mistakes whenever they happen.”

“Don’t let him fool you,” said Kathy.  “J.C. here is not just some delivery guy, as he claims or a retired past-member of the governing council.  Everyone from Jeap’s Holler to Chalk Creek knows J.C. is the bona fide Founder of the canton.  Without him, none of this would exist.  Winstanley Canton was J.C.’s brainchild.”

“Wow!” admired Brock.

“Aw come on, now,” said J.C., “I get harebrained ideas all the time.  Only once in a while are they even useful.”

Everyone chuckled at J.C.’s modesty.

“So,” said J.C., “Kathy tells me you guys have a plan.”

“Yes, that’s right.  That’s what we wanted to talk to you about,” said the lanky and quiet Cal Espinosa.

Cal had leaned forward and placed both forearms on the table, a gesture which said he was ready to get down to business.  Both Brock and Kipper shifted their postures in deference to Cal.

J.C. was somewhat surprised that Cal would be the one to speak for the group.  On first impression, he had seemed the most reticent of the three, more likely a supporter of action rather than its initiator.  But his voice was confident and his manner direct.

“We three plus Heather, who is not here,” began Cal, “have been chosen by our group to represent them—well, to represent all of us, that is—and to articulate the whole group’s desires and decisions.  So the three of us don’t speak for ourselves; we speak for the group in general.”

“So you are, in essence, your group’s governing council, would you say?”

“Yes, well, except that we don’t have authority to make decisions on our own, not without first bringing matters to the General Assembly and letting them hash it out until they come to a consensus—a unified decision.  That’s how we work.”

“Yes,” said J.C.  “That’s how we started out, too, so I’m familiar with the process.”

“Right,” said Cal. 


News About “Wanderer Come Home”

Hi Everyone,

I have received the print proof of Wanderer Come Home, my novel, and want to tell you about it.  First of all, the book is absolutely beautiful—exceeds my most optimistic hopes.  I highly recommend 48-Hour Books to anyone who may be thinking about self-publishing your work.  They are the printshop that printed this book and their staff were wonderful, professional, and easy to work with.

Not only is this book beautiful but it is also made of top-shelf materials and of superb quality construction and will be a pleasure to read for decades to come.  The inside paper is a 60# Bright White Offset paper that is thick enough and has a nice hand (feel) to ensure easy page-turning and a tactilely pleasurable experience (no stubbornly sticking together pages: I hate those!).  And it’s a comfortable read because the typeface is large enough and the lines well spaced to prevent eye strain and the paper is bright but without glare.  The cover stock is a 10pt thickness (0.01 inches, which resists curling) with a Silk Laminate that gives the cover a satin finish.  (I chose this finish because it is my favorite on the perfect bound books in my bookcase).  The cover design and artwork are striking and attractive.  I would pick up this book myself in a book store just for the cover’s sake alone—it features a gorgeous painting by Redon.

What else might I say about this book?  Oh yes!  It’s well written and, at 672 pages, will take you speed-readers at least three nights to finish (I don’t recommend speed-reading this book, btw).  It’s not at all a predictable read and you might find its storyline somewhat unconventional.  But I can also say that you will never find yourself lost in the plot because the language and presentation of the subject matter is non-abstract—unlike many literary works I’ve come across lately.  What I, as the author hope, is that you will fall in love with the characters of Wanderer Come Home and be able to empathize with them as they grapple with the situations they encounter.  Plus there is a bit of metaphysics thrown in because—well—because it’s interesting and part of everyday life, too.

By the way, you can read sample chapters of Wanderer Come Home by using the “CHAPTERS” link in the menu above.


NOTE:  The brand new print version, First Edition (autographed), of Wanderer Come Home retails for $25.00 USD.  It will be sold exclusively here, on this blog, so will not be available at the usual online book retailers.  I will be ordering small batches of the book at first so if you’d like to reserve your copy, please email me at: [email protected].  Also—soon, a professionally designed ebook of Wanderer will be available for $10.00 USD.  I will keep you informed as further details become available.  Thank you. — DT