Tag Archives: Webster’s Bookstore Cafe

A little taste of Four’s a Crowd

Greetings, readers. For today’s blog entry, I decided to give my regular readers, and the folks who read me when I link the blog entry to the Bear Spring Camps Facebook page, a one chapter taste of the novel Four’s a Crowd. Darren Taylor did a remarkable job on this novel, adapting it from my play Kimberly. We collaborated on this work, touching base on his progress and plot points as he wrote it. I think you will be pleased by this sample of the first chapter. There is a small chance that it is not quite the final version that was published, but if it isn’t, it is extremely close to the final. If you would like to read the entire book, it is available for sale at Amazon.com for $14.99, a decent price for a 300 page novel. We do not yet have it as an ebook, so for now it is in print form only. It is also available locally at Webster’s Bookstore Café in downtown State College, PA.

 

Four’s a Crowd

CHAPTER ONE

            “Well, that was a waste of my time,” Alice thought to herself as she got dressed.

After going through the embarrassment of disrobing and donning the paper-thin gown that allowed nothing in the way of modesty, she waited for a solid twenty minutes for the doctor to grace her with his presence.  And when Doctor Keeting finally did breeze in, he spent a total of fifteen minutes with her, if even that.  He did a rudimentary physical examination, asked her a few asinine questions, and was gone again before she could say, “uncaring, incompetent moron.”

She never would have agreed to come here in the first place if it hadn’t been for the fire.  It wasn’t a big fire, but it was her fault.  She’d simply gotten distracted and left a pan of bacon unattended on top of the stove when she went to answer the phone.  It had been Mrs. Donohue, from next door, calling with wonderful news regarding the total profits from last week’s church pie sale.

If it hadn’t been for Henry, and his quick thinking with the flour jar, the whole place might have gone up.

Taking one last look in the mirror to see that her blouse was straight, she pulled her jacket on and buttoned it up, making sure the collar lay properly.  Next, she produced a small comb from out of her bag and smoothed over any visible imperfections in her steel-grey curls.  Satisfied with the results of her efforts, she shouldered her purse, opened the door, and stepped into the chilly hallway.

The stench of industrial strength carpet shampoo and antibacterial cleansers made her want to sneeze and the clamor of voices and ringing telephones, emanating from the nurse’s station, assaulted her ears.  A toddler being pulled down the hall by one tiny hand as she screamed at the top of her lungs, only added to the din.

Turning to the right, she walked to the first junction, took a left, walked to the next, and paused.  Suddenly, all the hallways and doors looked the same, becoming a never-ending labyrinth of hideous grey carpeting, taupe walls, and severe fluorescent lighting.  The posted signs, meant to act as a guide, only succeeded in confusing her further.  To her horror, it was then that she realized, she had no idea where she was.

“Mrs. Detmore?” a soft, feminine voice asked from behind her.  Alice turned toward it.

A petite red-head, an obvious bottle-job to Alice’s experienced eye, smiled at her with way too many teeth.  The bright pink scrubs the girl wore, adorned with dancing teddy bears, offended Alice’s every sense of good taste.

The girl’s mouth moved but her words were lost in the ambient noise that filled the hallway.

“Excuse me?” Alice replied indignantly.

“I asked if you were alright,” the girl said.  “You look a little lost.”

“One is never lost if one maintains her sense of self,” Alice pronounced with false confidence.  She turned back around and took several steps, not wanting to make her fear and confusion readily apparent.

“Mrs. Detmore?” the nurse said.

“Yes?  What is it, child?” Alice asked, her back still to the girl.

“Your husband is in waiting room three and…”

“I know where he is.  I don’t need some little miss know-it-all to tell me where I left my own husband.”

The young woman closed the distance between them and put a gentle hand on Alice’s shoulder, “But Mrs. Detmore,” she said with soft patience, “waiting room three is back this way.”

*          *          *

With her escort leading the way, Alice found her husband of almost fifty years asleep in one of the poorly padded wooden chairs.  His legs were stretched out in front of him with his feet crossed at the ankles and his nose was buried in the lapels of his heavy brown jacket.  His chest rose and fell with each deep breath and a low, growly snore rumbled through his hairy nostrils.  A copy of last year’s Sports Illustrated Swimsuit issue lay open, face-down, on his considerable belly.

The girl bid her a good day and departed.  Alice just shook her head and rolled her eyes in exasperation before she approached the sleeping man and loudly cleared her throat.

He snorted, blinked awake, and looked up at her with a sleepy smile.

“Good old Henry Detmore, always on point,” Alice grumbled.  “I’m ready to go.”

“I was just resting my eyes,” Henry proclaimed.

“And dreaming of swimsuit models I see.”

Henry sat the rest of the way up.  The magazine took a dive for the floor, but he caught it and tossed it onto the jumbled pile of other periodicals; the newest of which was an issue of Time from May of that year.

“No, I was reading an article in there about Ben Roethlisburger’s car collection,” Henry retorted but Alice had already turned away and made for the elevators.  She was practically half-way there by the time he was on his feet and out the door.  Leaning heavily on his cane, he picked up the pace and caught up to her.  Ignoring the mild case of pins and needles in his left foot, he took her by the arm.

“You move pretty fast for an old gal,” he said, nestling against her.  “What say I buy you breakfast?  But only if you’re willing to fool around on the first date.”

“Who are you calling old?” Alice asked.  “And don’t be vulgar, Henry.”  She frowned at her watch.  “It’s half past ten.  Breakfast is over.”

“Lunch then,” Henry countered and pushed the button for the elevator.

“It’s too early for…look, can we just go home?” Alice barked, her blue eyes flashing angrily.

“Sure thing, babe,” Henry admonished, looking a little down-trodden.

The elevator arrived, the doors opened, they stepped in, and Alice pushed the button for the ground floor.

*          *          *

On an oddly warm Friday in mid-September, Alice and Henry Detmore pulled out of the labyrinthine parking structure that serviced St. Claire Memorial Hospital, a large medical facility that served the residents of Mount Lebanon, a medium-sized suburb about thirty minutes south of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and the Detmore’s home town.

They turned off Bower Hill Road and onto Route 19, heading south.  Henry, growing weary of the mind-numbing silence, reached over, and clicked on the car radio.  He ran through the pre-sets until he came across W.Z.O.O. and the morning sports talk show; The Morning Zoo with Hal and Al.  The two throaty hosts, Hal Nelson and Al Kelly, were ranting about the up and coming Sunday afternoon match-up between the Steelers and the Bengals.  This decision earned him a look of disapproval from his wife, so he turned it back off.  Alice simply turned back toward the window and they continued the trip in silence.

About ten minutes of angry quiet later, Shari’s Dairy, a small ice cream stand, came into view as they topped a small hill.  A red, white, and blue OPEN flag rippled in the warmish autumn breeze.

Henry’s face lit up.

“Hey!  Shari’s is still open.  She usually closes after Labor Day.  It’s been forever since we’ve been in there.”  He snickered and smiled to himself.  “You remember the time we accidentally left Lyle there?  We were so busy arguing, that we got about halfway home before we realized that he wasn’t in the car.”

Alice didn’t respond.

“And when we finally made it back, we found him where we’d left him, sitting at our usual table just as calm as could be.  We expected to find a hysterical, crying child, but he was so engrossed in his electronic football gadget, he never even realized we were gone.  You want to stop for a cone?” Henry asked, letting up on the gas in anticipation of pulling into the small, gravel parking lot.  “They might still have your favorite; butter crunch.  I think I’ll get black raspberry.”  Secretly, Henry wasn’t in that much of a mood for ice cream.  He would just be glad to see his wife smile again and ice cream always used to cheer her up.  He activated the turn signal.

“No,” Alice finally said.  “We really don’t have time to stop for memories.  There’s just too much to do.”

“Perhaps you’re right,” Henry agreed, and his heart sank.  “We still have a lot of packing to get done before the movers get here.”  He disengaged the turn signal, put his foot back on the gas, and they hummed past the small ice cream parlor, headed for home.  He looked over at his wife, who had gone back to staring quietly out the window.

Maybe it was the fire.  Maybe it was something the doctor had told her.  She would talk about that in her own good time.  Maybe it was the move.  And maybe it was the realization of everything that awaited them over the next few days and weeks.  Either way, something had caused her to go quiet in a way he’d never seen before.  And he couldn’t say that he blamed her one bit.  Neither one of them responded well to change and neither one of them was looking forward to leaving the home they had both grown to know and love.

*     *     *

At about half past eleven Henry turned the Buick into the narrow gravel driveway and pulled in under the car port; nothing more than a simple tin roof nailed onto a wooden frame, just something to keep the worst of the rain and snow at bay.   A large, dark stain and deep tire grooves in the gravel marked the place where they’d parked many vehicles, in the same spot, over many years.

He put the car in park and shut it off.

We’re home, Mother,” he said.  When she didn’t respond to being called mother, something he hadn’t done in the years since their son, Lyle, still lived at home, he reached over and touched his wife’s arm.

She jumped a little, as if being jolted out of sleep.

“What?” she asked grumpily

“We’re home,” Henry repeated.  “You know, that place where we keep our stuff while we go out and get more stuff.”

“I can see that,” she huffed.  Collecting her purse from its place on the floor between her feet, she opened the car door and started to get out before she realized that she was still belted in.  With a grunt of frustration, she hit the release button for the seatbelt, and climbed out, slamming the door shut hard enough to rattle it in its frame.  Henry couldn’t hear what she was saying.  He could only see her lips move as she muttered to herself and walked around the front of the car, digging into her purse for the house key.

Henry didn’t get out right away.  After his wife disappeared inside, he sat for a moment, staring up at the 19th Century Colonial that he, Alice, and Lyle had called home for the better part of four decades.  The two coats of sunlight yellow paint he’d paid Greg Farmer a small fortune to put on the old place, not one year ago, were already beginning to show signs of sun-fade and cracking along the foundation and around the windows.  And that really toasted Henry’s ass.  People say it over and over because it’s an undeniable truth, “You just can’t find good help these days,” and, “If you want something done right, do it yourself.”

And before his health had begun to fail him, he had lived by that very policy.  He had done the painting and all the other maintenance himself.  Sure, most of the time, he would get Lyle to assist on things like cutting and maintaining a yard that spanned almost an entire acre around all sides of the house.  And maybe he would even hire one of the neighbor-kids to pitch in on the bigger jobs; like painting the house or changing out the storm windows in preparation for another hard Pennsylvania winter.  But, for the most part, he had done it all himself.  And, like any other man, he took a lot of pride in that fact.

However, as he got on into his later years, and Lyle grew into his late teens, he found that his legs would no longer take him up a steep ladder or that he couldn’t chop fire wood without becoming winded.  More and more Lyle had to take over.

After Lyle graduated high school and went off to college at The University of Pittsburgh, he took to hiring local kids to do things like raking the leaves.  Eventually, even that pool of employees dried up as some of those kids followed his son’s path and went off in search of higher education.

Like Lyle, they left Mount Lebanon for the excitement of dorm life; parties, girls, booze, and all the other things that the college experience had to offer.  Others joined the military and went off to serve their country.  And others simply threw caution to the wind, packed up, hit the road, and lit out for parts unknown.  A few made some very bad decisions and went nowhere.  Like little Eddie Gilbert, who ended up in Pittsburgh’s Correctional Institute for armed robbery.

With no cheaper labor to bring in, Henry was forced to hire professionals and contractors to do the difficult work.  People like Greg Farmer who possessed the unreasonable expectation that, just because they owned a business and a truck with their name decaled on the door, they had the God-given right to charge the moon and stars to perform simple tasks; such as putting a coat of paint on a house, changing out storm windows, or drying out a flooded basement.

Again, this brought him back to the paint job on the house.  The five-hundred dollars he’d given Mr. Farmer should have bought him a much longer lasting result.  A good quality outdoor paint should not fade or crack in the span of ten months.

Then again, ultimately, it didn’t matter anymore.  Because, as of a week ago, the place had gone on the market.  A reflective aluminum sign from Franklin Reality Inc. stood planted in the grass on the edge of the front lawn with a FOR SALE plate hanging from the bottom.  He and Alice finally had to face a hard truth and admit to themselves that they were no longer able to take care of the house or the property.  It was just too much work.  And too much worry.

Especially after the fire.  While it had only charred part of the wall behind the stove, melted two of the control knobs, and ruined the curtains above the sink, the damage had not been that extensive.  The insurance had paid for all repairs, a replacement stove, and new curtains, but the one thing insurance could not bring back was their piece of mind.  Alice would never admit it, but Henry knew that the fire had put the fear of God into her.  For at least two weeks afterwards, she didn’t want to go into the kitchen to make so much as toast.  What other mistakes was she going to make?  Maybe next time no one would be there and something worse would happen.

Finally, despite all her initial objections, the call to Dr. Keating’s office was made and an appointment was set up.

Their realtor, Janet Franklin, called the day after the papers were signed and the house was posted on the company’s website thing.  She informed him that she already had not one, but three, potential buyers on the hook.  That was the good news.  The bad news was that he and Alice were going to have to take a bit of a beating on the price to facilitate a quick sale.  Also, the kitchen fire would have to be disclosed even though it had caused no structural damage.  She’d list it as a fixer-upper with a ton of potential and a starting price of eighty-thousand.  After some debate, he and Alice decided to vacate the property and leave the sale and other final doings in Mrs. Franklin’s capable hands.

Regardless, he sure was going to miss the old place.

*          *          *

No sooner had Alice stepped back into the house, surrounded by their lives packed into dozens of cardboard boxes, six suitcases, and four trunks, when she decided that now was not the time to dawdle.  After a brief restroom stop and a glass of water to wash down her medication, she set to work in the small parlor where dozens of small, ceramic figurines stood, row upon row, within the confines of a locked, glass and wood curio cabinet.

She had been very clear about the fact that she was to be the only one to take them down, wrap them, or box them up.  No one else, including her husband, was to touch them.  She unlocked the cabinet, gathered her supplies, and set to work, taking them out one by one, brushing each with a yellow feather duster, rolling it into a layer of plastic bubble-wrap, and placing it, ever so carefully, into its own compartment within the moving box; a box that would come with her in the car and would not be loaded into the moving truck or the tow trailer.

Each figurine contained its own memories:

The grinning clown, holding a colorful swarm of balloons in one white-gloved fist, purchased on the boardwalk in Atlantic City, where she and Henry had taken their honeymoon.

The whistling boy with a fishing rod on one shoulder and a bundle of school books over the other, a 25th birthday present from Henry’s mother, Grace.

The slobbering, diaper-clad baby, holding a rattle and grinning a one-toothed grin, a gift from The Connors to commemorate Lyle’s birth.

The winged angel with a golden halo, a house-warming present from her Cousin Martha to celebrate the acquisition of this very house.

As she dusted the angel, wrapped it, and placed it in the box with the others, she found herself struggling to hold back tears.  The thought of leaving this place and leaving everything and everyone she knew behind suddenly became too much.  She looked around to make sure Henry wasn’t lurking anywhere about and then she let the tears come, allowing herself to weep for a good minute before she drew out a clean, white handkerchief and expertly removed her tears without so much as smearing her make-up. No sooner had she started back on task, when she heard the front door open and close.  Followed by Henry’s familiar footsteps on the hard-wood floor.

“Alice?” he called, his voice echoing eerily through the mostly empty house.

“In here, Henry,” she called back.

*     *     *

The next day, Saturday, Teddy Sheldon and his Merry Movers pulled into the Detmore’s driveway at 8 A.M. on the dot.  One solid business policy that Teddy stood by was, “If we’re late, we’ll move you for free.”  And Teddy made sure his Merry Movers were never, ever late.

Henry and Alice were already up, packed, and ready well before the truck ever pulled in.  As a matter of fact, neither one had slept much at all that night as the laundry list of things that needed done, and details that needed to be remembered, seemed to grow longer and more daunting with each passing hour.

The throaty whisper of the box truck’s diesel engine and the steady pulse of the backup alarm cut through the chilly, early morning, autumn air.  Henry watched from inside as the large vehicle drifted to a stop with a hiss of air brakes, not ten feet from the bottom of the porch steps.  The cab doors swung open and six burly men bubbled out, their breath forming clouds of white mist in the air around their heads.

Teddy Sheldon, at an impressive six feet, four inches, climbed down from behind the steering wheel and came to the front door with a clipboard in his hand.  Henry opened the door just as he was reaching for the doorbell.

“Hey, Ted,” Henry greeted.  “Come on in.”

“Morning, Henry,” The big man replied.  Wiping his boots on the doormat, he stepped in, and Henry offered his right hand.  Ted removed one work glove and accepted it, shaking with a firm grip.  “Are you and Mrs. Detmore all set?”

“You bet,” Henry said, closing the door.  Ted flipped the clipboard around and handed it to Henry.  It held several sheets of paper with the Merry Movers’ letterhead printed at the top.  Each sheet contained a numbered list of Henry and Alice’s belongings,

“This is an invoice of everything we’re packing into the truck and bringing with us,” Teddy said, running one wide, calloused finger down the edge of the first page.  “If you could look it over, make sure everything’s on there, and sign at the bottom of the last page, I’ll put the guys to work.”

Henry quickly skimmed each page.

“I saw a tow trailer parked out front,” Ted added.  “You need help loading anything into that?”

“If you could,” Henry replied.  “We have four trunks and some luggage.  Alice travels like the Queen of Sheba.”

“I heard you there,” Teddy agreed, and the two men shared a laugh.

“What’s so funny?” Alice asked briskly from the top of the stairs.  She was dressed in her gray pantsuit, cut so that it hugged her figure quite nicely and the blouse buttoned all the way to the collar.  A stylish lavender hat, pinned in place no doubt, sat askew atop her head.

“Nothing, dear,” Henry replied sheepishly.

“Mrs. Detmore,” Teddy greeted with a slight nod.

“Mr. Sheldon, see that nothing gets a scratch.  There’s still a curio cabinet that needs prepared for the move in the small parlor.” Alice ordered.

Satisfied with what he read, Henry took the attached pen, noted the items to be loaded onto the tow trailer, and signed the bottom of the last page with a flourish.

“Not a scratch.  Yes, ma’am.  I guarantee it.  We’ll crate and wrap the curio before it goes on the truck.” Teddy assured before he reclaimed the clipboard, signed his own name under the customer’s, tore off the pink copy and handed it to Henry.  Then, stepping back outside, Ted signaled his guys with a piercing whistle.  And the men of the Merry Movers went to work like a well-oiled machine, making the trunks and luggage a priority.

No sooner had Henry backed the Buick onto the trailer hitch, then the men had the items in and set to go.  They even double-checked the trailer’s connection to make sure it was secure. By the time the box containing Alice’s ceramic figurines was secured onto the Buick’s back seat under her specific supervision and she was in the car with her seatbelt fastened, Henry was already behind the wheel with the engine warmed up, the heater on full, the interior nice and toasty, and the windows clear of autumn frost.

Ted knocked gently on the driver’s side window and Henry hit the button to lower it.

“Okay, Henry,” the man said, leaning down to the open window.  “Just to confirm, we are taking these items to 2141 Revere Lane in Danbury, Connecticut.”

“Right,” Henry agreed.  “The best way to get there is to take…”

“I already have it programmed into the GPS.  We’ll find you easily enough.”

“GPS,” Alice scoffed quietly from the passenger seat.

“Alright,” Henry said.  “We’ll see you this afternoon then.”

“Count on it,” Teddy replied confidently.

Henry closed the window and took one last, long look at the old homestead.  He looked over at Alice, who was busy pretending to adjust the knot on her scarf.  He reached over and touched her shoulder.

Let’s go, Henry,” She growled without looking at him.  “Let’s go before I change my mind.”

Henry drove to the end of the driveway, pulled out into the street, and pointed the car toward Connecticut.

end of chapter one

 

Well, there it is. We all hope you enjoy it thoroughly and it entices you to want to read more.

I bid everyone a wonderful weekend, prayers to all who need it, and happy reading.

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CreateSpace.com is going bye-bye

Greetings, readers. Rebecca and I were met with an interesting problem this morning when we saw that Amazon, the parent company of CreateSpace, is basically taking them over. All my books will be transferred over to Kindle Direct Publishing at some point, or I could move them over myself. This news threw us for a loop, for we really didn’t know what was going to happen. To our relief, we found out that the transfer could be done quickly and painlessly, and KDP will still publish the printed versions.

Amazon and Kindle also gives you an opportunity to advertise your books somewhere on Amazon itself. I shouted, “Yes,” gleefully. My glee was short-lived. Rebecca tried to find the price of said service, but to no avail. It was extremely difficult to find, making me think they want beaucoup bucks, which I just don’t have at the moment. Yes, it’s true, you need to spend money to make money, but funds are tight right now.

Luckily, the remainder of my business cards say Amazon on them, so I can still pass them out and use them. Thank God for small favors. Could we have done more to promote our books? Probably so, but I still have nightmares about our first and only book signing at the local Webster’s Bookstore and Café. We started with a good crowd, but by the time we were done, all the students who were studying for their tests had been driven away by our stories. By the end the only people who were left were the people who we had invited. Not good.

Enough belly aching. Finally, some cooler weather is coming tomorrow night. With my air conditioner on the fritz, you can imagine just how much I am looking forward to cooler temperatures. For those of you who know me well, no, I am not looking forward to winter, but day-time highs in the 60s F and lows in the 40s are just fine for me right now. It is supposed to be in the mid-50s and partly sunny for the Nittany Lions homecoming game against Michigan State this Saturday. I’ve been invited by my friend Nicci to go see the homecoming parade Friday evening with Traci. I hope it won’t be too cool.

We will keep you up to date, dear readers, about the progress on getting all books to Amazon/Kindle. For those of you who have Kindles, I am sure you will enjoy the reads. We will keep you abreast.

Until tomorrow, have a great day, take care, and as always, happy reading.

Three copies of our new book are headed to the local bookstore today

Greetings, readers. Yesterday afternoon a box arrived at my door containing three copies of Four’s a Crowd. As soon as we are done editing and posting this blog entry, Rebecca and I are going to mosey across the street to Webster’s Bookstore and Café. The owner has let me sell my books on consignment there before and one of her employees said that they would take three copies of Darren and my new book. I am hoping we will get a sale or two from that bookstore. That would be awesome. [Update, later this same day: We left two copies of the novel at Webster’s Bookstore and Café. If those sell out, more copies can be ordered. They were very nice to us.]

Next week, Rebecca and I are going to ponder ways to locally push the book. I know a couple of people in my building who belong to book clubs. If I can talk someone into choosing our book for the club, perhaps every member would purchase a copy. That would be awesome! There is also the local library, where we will ask them to put a copy in circulation. At this point I am trying anything I can to get the word out there. In my opinion, Four’s a Crowd is a winner and would be a good read for anyone. There is a little bit of mild violence, cuss words, and sexual innuendo, but nothing too outrageous. I wouldn’t recommend it for little kids, but I would for any adult.

Now briefly on to other news. I am mentally making plans for the rest of the summer and beyond. I am getting advice from all fronts of what I should do and it is only confusing me more. My feet and legs have responded to the summer off to rest but not as much as I hoped.

Next week one of things that Rebecca and I must do is make contact with the family overseas and other family friends. I tend to be lax in that area. Sometimes I think my cousin Wino (pronounced Wee-no) has given up on me.

Lastly, a welcome and thank you to any new readers who are checking out the blog for the first time. We love our readers and treasure you. I hope each and every one of you finds something that you like. Please chime in with comments if you have a topic you would like us to cover. Bear in mind, I don’t blog on politics much; for me that is a sticky wicket.

Well there you have it folks, today’s entry. Rebecca and I will be taking off work next Wednesday, the Fourth of July. Rebecca will put a blog entry up that day, and we will be back together working on Thursday. So until then, take care, have a great weekend, and happy reading.

Rebecca and I have been working together for 7 years tomorrow

Greetings, readers. I can’t believe it has been seven years already since Rebecca agreed to be my typist and editor. That job quickly morphed into personal assistant, but that is okay. The main job is writing. After almost seven years together, we have put out over 600 blog entries, three books, and part of a book (written by Rebecca’s husband Darren) based on a play I wrote before we started working together. Oh, and by the way, that book is coming soon.

Yes, we’re very excited about Four’s a Crowd. Although we still have one or two edits to go, I’ve read the project and it is awesome. You’ll love it. Very soon Rebecca is going to begin putting it into the CreateSpace formatted templet, cutting and pasting each chapter in place, and we need to write a book description, before uploading the file to the publisher. Then it will be time to order proofs and we are going to do our final edit right on the pages. Proofs are never for sale, so what the heck, let’s mark them up.

When the book comes out, I’m going to go to Webster’s bookstore across the street and ask the owner, a personal friend of mine, if she would take several copies on consignment and push them. The worst thing she could say is no. I already have a few people from Facebook who I will go out on a limb and say will be guaranteed buyers. I have one phrase for you folks: Spread the word … please.

I’m extremely excited about this project, and Darren, who had lost all hope when things were moving slowly, has renewed enthusiasm as well. I’m not going to set an exact release date, but let’s just put it in the ballpark of January or February of 2018. I think we can do it. Updates as they happen.

Finally, prayers and good wishes go out to those families affected by the California wild fires, and by Hurricane Nate. I don’t know how long those fires will burn, but from what I saw on TV, they have already ruined several wine vineyards. Expect the price of wine from California to skyrocket. Also, an R.I.P and condolences to Tom Petty, a great singer, and his grieving family and friends.

Until tomorrow, have a wonderful day, take care, and happy reading.

Whoo-hoot we got a book sale

Greetings, readers. I stopped over at Webster’s Bookstore and Cafe and talked to the owner about any recent sales of my books. I was happily surprised to learn that we did indeed have one sale of Greetings, Readers: A Year in the Life of a New Blogger, my first blog book. I say first blog book, because a second one is in the planning stages. This news has my weekend off to a great start.

After ten straight days of cloudy weather, we are finally seeing slits of blue sky and the reflection of sunshine off some buildings. I was beginning to forget what that big, orange, glowing ball looked like. And yes, my depression was taking a hit. On the way up to work from Webster’s, I chatted with a lady in the building, and at the end of the conversation she told me what a wonderful attitude I had. So, I suppose, even if I’m a bit depressed on the outside, I must be projecting being happy on the outside.

As far as today and the weekend plans go, after our blog entry is posted, I’m going to try to dictate to Rebecca a short story for the final camp book. Either from scratch, or we will work from one that is already in a folder. Tomorrow is our usual Dungeons and Dragons day, and on Sunday I have been invited to a pre-holiday dinner. How wonderful it will be to get a complete and delicious meal. Being a depressed bachelor, my diet is not what it should be.

The holidays are coming up, as we all know, and my place is as decorated as it is going to be. I will be taking my Christmas Eve light ride, watching parades, ball games, and the Christmas Mass from Rome, and doing other traditional holiday things that I have done since childhood. For the past year or so, I’ve felt an overwhelming urge to get back to my roots and be who I was, not who I am now. I almost feel like I want to start over again – now there’s something to talk to my psychologist about.

Here’s wishing everybody a good last week of holiday preparations and shopping. I don’t bake cookies but I’m sure that there will be some delicious dessert at the holiday meal. I am getting my fill of eggnog; I love it but sometimes the spices in it don’t like me too much. Thank goodness for Prilosec.

Until Wednesday, have a great weekend, stay warm, and happy reading.

About the book signing

Greetings, readers. Last Friday evening I had my very first ever official book signing. Elaine Meder-Wilgus of Webster’s Bookstore and Café, helped set it up along with her crew and the display looked marvelous. The event was on her website for at least a couple of weeks, if not three, and I was expecting a modest turn-out. Well, we had a few internet-ers, a couple of people I invited, the staff, and a whole lot of crickets. Rebecca and I, along with her husband, sat there sipping our refreshments for ninety minutes. I did have a couple of sales and some sporadic mingling went on. Over all, I consider the event successful. It was a good learning experience.

We read from the books, Rebecca and I, and I’m not so sure that was a good thing. That is what is generally known as standard procedure at Websters for a book signing. To me, it gave people the opportunity to pack up and leave. But I seriously doubt that the college kids that were studying there were there because of my book signing.

Pictures from this event are in my gallery section. Here is one of them. Checking our media section, we only have two uploaded from one of our phones. If and when more pictures are loaded, we will add them to the gallery.

Shaking my friend’s hand after signing his books. (His right hand was in a cast.)

To close, since I see we are running out of time today, I’m going to ask Rebecca to do Wednesday’s blog post for us and I am certain she will have a good topic in mind. Until then, have a good weekend, take care, and happy reading.

Tonight’s the big night

Greetings, readers. Tonight I will have yet another small taste of what it feels like to be a writer. I have my first ever book signing and I must admit I am quite nervous. Last night I dreamt that we had ordered three hundred books and two people showed up. I woke up in a blind panic. This morning I day-dreamed that I ordered five copies of each book, figuring that no one would know me, only to see a long line of people standing outside the door waiting to get in. Again … blind panic. I suppose that having not enough books would be the bigger problem.

The book signing will be in State College, at Websters Bookstore and Cafe, from 7pm to 9pm, with copies of both my books, Picking Up Where We Left Off: My Bear Spring Camps Stories, and Tales from North Bay & Beyond: More Bear Spring Camps Stories. I will also be reading selections from each book. If you are downtown tonight, please stop by and say hello to me.

After 100 entries, I decided to switch the look of this blog to another theme, called Adventure Journal. I think it looks sharp. My previous theme with the books at the top of the page was called Pilcrow. I liked it, but after 100 entries it was time for a change. We will all be viewing the pyramids of Egypt for the next several months.

This morning I started my day at Panera Bread, a local bakery, taking part in a flight simulation on my laptop. For no apparent reason, the program decided to freeze the computer and shut down. I was hoping this would not be an indicator of how my day was going to go. With this being homecoming weekend for the Penn State Nittany Lion football team, Panera got quite full, quickly. I could hear background chatter even underneath my earphones.

Before the flight sim quit on me, I was able to take some mental notes on my new Edwardian era writing project. One resource I am going to explore with this project is a website called FanFiction.net. I am going to be reading stories that other writers have written from the TV show Upstairs, Downstairs and any other such series I can find.

Rebecca began taking notes for this project at the library last week. We reviewed them on Wednesday and I found them to be quite helpful. As we were waiting for someone to join us, my mind was slightly preoccupied. Next week, I shall ask Rebecca for a refresher course. With any luck, the first draft of this new project will be underway by Halloween. I have been most upset with myself with my lack of production since my vacation. Time will tell if I can pop it in gear.

Tonight I will think of my parents. I imagine they are proud of me for my two books.

Now to close, I wish Penn State good luck in their homecoming game vs. Northwestern tomorrow. Also I wish all my readers a happy weekend, be safe, and enjoy this new blog entry and the new blog look.

: ) #100!!! : )

Greetings, readers. As today’s rather straightforward title implies, this is the 100th blog entry since I began in late December last year. I might not have the tremendous following like writers such as Wil Wheaton, Carrie Vaughn or John Scalzi, but I am only ten months into the blog.

I am most pleased and proud that people have continued to find my writing through search engines on almost every topic I have written about, including the Air Florida crash, the United States Football League, and my father, Professor Joseph John Kockelmans. WordPress has a stats page that I use which shows how many people view each blog post for each day. I especially like the feature that shows how many hits from each country in the world I receive. I have received hits from Russia, Romania, Mexico, Canada, and many other countries, but most of my hits are from the USA.

As most of you know by now, I have tried to stay away from politics or anything controversial. On rare occasions when something has made me good and angry, I will chime out in full force. I was going to write an entry about Romney v. Obama but I think I will wait until after the first couple of debates. Did I mention I loathe talking about politics? I always seem to be wrong.

One of the saddest moments to come along in the Penn State University world in many years was the news about the goings-on of Jerry Sandusky. The trial is over, the football season has begun under Coach Bill O’Brien and the football and academic year is moving forward. Good riddance Mr. Sandusky. I had written a piece titled Tribute to Joseph Vincent Paterno which had to be amended slightly, but I felt to delete it would be inappropriate. The man and his family did so much for this community for so many years.

On the lighter side of my blogging experience were several top ten lists, entries about my cat Keekee, news about my books, as well as a few entries from Rebecca while I was away on holidays or long weekends. {From Rebecca: I have enjoyed doing entries in the blog. Thank you, Joe, for the opportunity to do that.}

Now for ideas yet to come. I’m going to keep all my readers up-to-date on precious kitty-cat, with more pictures of her. Also, I will open up myself more and explore more deeply what makes me tick, and share it with you. This year I felt as though I wanted to be liked. Now it’s time to cut and bleed onto the page and push the envelope, as they say.

With my book signing at Webster’s Bookstore and Cafe this Friday, the work schedule for the week has been altered slightly. Look for another blog entry on Friday, or if not, definitely next Wednesday. Here’s to #101 and beyond.

Have a great day, take care, and happy reading.

A number of things to report today

Greetings, readers. Thanks to Rebecca’s intelligent nephew, who suggested Firefox to help us with our computer woes, my computer seems to be working much better. So thumbs up to him. The first problem we were trying to alleviate was a quite annoying word-underlining pop-up ad dilemma. This has been plaguing us for a number of weeks now and seemed to be getting worse. Firefox has cleared that problem up, but caused  a typing lag while Rebecca was typing in today’s blog entry. So we finished it in Internet Explorer.

This week we also had a problem with a search tab that was suddenly attached to the window we had open, and would not go away. We finally found the correct program to uninstall in the add/delete programs section of the control panel. A very minor thing, but a pain in the butt none the less.

One of the solutions for us to try to fix these problems was to clear the cache and cookies. The password for one of my programs got lost in the shuffle and I had that one on auto-save. I was afraid that I would have to start from scratch with that website. But it turned out that the password stayed intact. Whoo-hoot!

Now onto other things. A number of weeks ago we added two tabs/pages to my blog site. One is titled Books and includes the book cover photos and short blurbs for my two books. The second tab is called Gallery and has various photos from my past; paintings from my parents house, two pictures of my old boat, and one of Keekee my kitty cat.

Kindle conversion for my second book, Tales from North Bay & Beyond: More Bear Spring Camps Stories, due to a mistake of my own, will take longer than I had anticipated. What I did was, I thought that I could get it ready myself and have it up on Kindle on the release date that I had chosen. Well, it looked like shit! So I had to unpublish it and we had to have CreateSpace do it. It will take two to three extra weeks. Boo hoo. The book is still available on my e-store and at Amazon, as well as at local stores Appalachian Outdoors and Websters Bookstore and Cafe.

At the end of the work day today, Rebecca will be doing all of the usual end of the week paperwork, including backing up everything we’ve done for the week on thumb drives. This is our Friday 2:45 ritual. Until next week, have a great weekend, take care, and happy reading.

Short blog entry for Wednesday 8/29/12

Greetings, readers. First off, my kitty cat Keekee says hello to all of you. LOL. As I am still getting back into the swing of writing after my vacation and being sick, I am finding it devilishly hard to get into my working groove. Ideas are not coming as quickly and the ones that are, quite frankly, suck rocks.

On to other news. In October, I am hoping to have a book signing at Webster’s Bookstore Cafe, which is conveniently located across the street from where I live. Tomorrow morning, writing assistant, Rebecca, and I are going over there to enjoy coffee, mingle, and get the process started with the owner. That will be in our first hour of work and will be considered to be on the clock. I have been told that I go out for coffee too much. Well, this time, I’ll be working and enjoying my java.

Lastly, in a day or two I will be going to the local drugstore and turning in my one-time throw-away camera to have the pictures developed. These pics are from my vacation in Maine. The ones that turn out the best will be added to my gallery page. Give me a week or two to get this done. Rebecca will put up an entry, with a topic of her choosing, on Friday.

Until then, take care and happy reading.