Land Never Seen Before

Cougar alert here.

Dr. David Livingstone, African Explorer in the mid-l800’s led other white men and lines of African porters into the middle of African swamps, deserts and jungles, looking for the source of the Nile.

During those times, his dispatches reached people around the world with his adventures.  A renowned celebrity even today, he lived through more horrible experiences than believable.

He liked to walk alone, but also to take chances with others.  These were so risky they mocked him and said he was crazy.  The journalist, Henry Stanley, who was sent to find him by a New York newspaper editor, learned how to find his own strength and  courage when he, too, had to face similar challenges when he went to find Livingstone.

Picture Livingstone.  His motto, “never give up.”  Pushing forward, always forward, the image of an explorer in his blue serge pants and jacket, billed cap, and a limp left arm.   Despite his diligence in taking proper medication (he only brought enough for himself, not others), he survived countless attacks of malaria, eczema, and dysentery.

Once a lion charged, picked him up by the arm and threw him around like a rag doll. He was alone then but must have used his skills as a medical doctor to set his arm and suture the many wounds it left.   It gave him his ‘signature’– an unusable arm.
Their exploits are told by Martin Dugard.  Into Africa was published in 2003 by Doubleday.   His fascinating story reeks of blood and savagery and shows us the Arab slavers who he must allow to feed him, be clothed and doctored by them, plus often be carried, although he hated what they did, but had to accept their help to survive.

Each page is horrifying in detail: caravans, porters carrying 70 pound bags of trade cloth, putrid air, horse and, tsetse flies, wasps, black, white, and red ants, centipedes filling their tents at night, all whizzing and biting, hyenas prowling outside that can be smelled.  To compensate for all the gore, the other side–the beauty of Africa–is told, too.

What I’ll never forget are the cannibals who attack Livingstone’s caravan in the middle of the night.  In the chaos, they throw a spear through a man’s cheek and brought down another they want to save by putting a spear in each thigh, leaving him on the ground so they could later brutally cut off his limbs after they finished looting the tents.  Somehow, the pair managed to free themselves, walk three miles through a swampy jungle, and get onto a waiting ship.

The suspense and chills of this engrossing book will keep you up until all hours of the night.






Proofreading My Manuscript

Joy is infectious.
An author explains why her absence.  It’s not what you think.

I have been not been writing for over a year, other than sending out a weekly blog.  I thought I’d written ‘The End’ for Casanova Cowboy and decided to send the manuscript to Susan Uttendorfsky one more time for proofing.

Two years earlier she had copy-edited the document and sent her comments and suggestions.  At that time, when I read through them and came to the last chapters, she made me realize that there was much more to my story than I had written.

Now that Books in Motion is under contract with me to record Rusty Springs,  the first in my Wild West series, and are interested in taking a look at Casanova, the second, it was important to send Susan the manuscript for proofing.

However, I discovered that once I began rewriting the last chapters, two years ago that I had not gone through her Track Changes and comments.  I looked for them on my computer, only to discover that they had been wiped clean when my computer crashed.

In a panic, a month ago, I e-mailed Susan.  She quickly put my mind at ease, saying, “I always save all documents I’ve edited,” and re-sent both Track Change and her edited copy at no charge.

Now I am reviewing my story with “fresh eyes,” learning so much about what works and what doesn’t.

The value of a second eye, especially one as seasoned and wise as Susan,  is one of my most valuable tools.  A great editor gives the feeling she is working with an author to improve, clarify and guide the story to the best possible read.  I notice that when my manuscript is rolling along and tension is building, that she understands what I was attempting to say, but hadn’t, and adds a sentence of her own.

I’ve never had a problem proofreading.  My first job after graduating in journalism from the University of Iowa was as a medical book editor for Mosby Publishing in St. Louis.   This was tedious, precise editing.  In the medical field, words, if not exact, can be dangerous.  One foreigner was one of my first clients.  Every sentence of his had to be re-written.  My managing editor was horrified when she found out and immediately sent the manuscript back to the author.  He approved and appreciated my diligence and complete re-write.

 I had understood what he was trying to say.   Creating is easy.   But, writing skillfully can be painful.   The end goal– to produce a ‘good read,’–  is worthy of the effort.  Thank you, Susan, for helping me be the best I can be.

So it is time now to return to work on Casanova Cowboy.  His story is really getting exciting and I can’t wait to see what happens.   (I’ve found that’s that the only good thing about neglecting a manuscript.)



Hidden Treasure


The story of next winter begins with this picture.  How does one pass a long winter in the Pacific Northwest where the heaviness of sodden, somber days weigh down the spirits?

The answer might be:  Remembering a quaint thrift store that has an ambiance somewhat like this art piece from PhotoPin.   It’s one of several in the Colville area, where the narrow aisles are crammed with clothing racks, and the back of the store fills the multi-tiered shelves with books of all varieties.

But, there’s a book collection that’s not in those main areas.  It’s tucked off by itself in a seldom visited spot.   The books on those shelves are meant just for a reader like me.

The person who donated the books, many with publishing dates years ago, on these selves, has to be someone with great curiosity and a discerning taste for quality prose.

Recent acquisitions:

Queen Noor,  the memoir of the young American woman who loved, married and mourned the loss of the King of Jordan.  A remarkable story that explains the Middle East, her trials and challenges as mother and step-mother, the upgrades and changes she makes possible in Jordan

Cleopatra, historical fiction that won the author a Pulitzer prize, and one that has been passed on to my friend who married an Egyptian when she was traveling with the Ship of Hope in Alexandria at the Building of Property.  Now Cleopatra is a woman not only capable of presiding as a court judge, creating plans for her nation, planning military campaigns, but imaging romantic ways to snare Roman leaders, Caesar, then Anthony.  A realist, she knows she will soon to be killed but plans to do so her own way, leaving life with grit and glory.

Into Africa,  non fiction that reads like a novel.  Unbelievable escapades through the middle of Africa from l840-1880 with key explorers of that time, especially Dr. David Livingstone and the New York Herald journalist Stanley.

It’ll soon be time to push a chair next to the fire to read more stories that have been hidden away on a shelf in this local thrift store.  Reading how others have met great challenges makes passing through a heavy-feeling winter more pleasure than pain.

Where is your treasure?


Wow! I Met Him!

smiling girl
Dave Kerpen is one amazing guy!

He’s chairman of Likeable Media, a social media firm which helps people better leverage social media to become better engaged businesses.  He’s author of The Art of People, 11 Simple People Skills that Will Get You Everything You Want. 

I discovered he is a man who has his professional life beautifully organized.  In “The Art of People,” he explained how he helps people.  He has so many requests for help from readers that  he suggests if you want his advice e-mail him at :, or at


to request a phone appointment.  These are given several months in advance and are well worth the wait.  Mine was Sept. 14th at l p.m.  Because I felt I knew him already from his underlying author’s voice in “Art of People,” I fully expected him to call, but I wasn’t going to be terribly disappointed if he didn’t.

But, he did.  Sure enough, right at l p.m. he called me from Massachusetts.  Dave let me know right away he’d looked up the web links to my books.  He suggested several things:  l) Give 20 books to the first people who will write a review for my new, yet-to-be released novel next year: Casanova Cowboy.  (If you let me know that you’d like to write a review on Amazon and Goodreads, I’ll send you a  review copy when  it is published.)

Dave is a frequent speaker around the world and a contributing writer for LinkedIn, Huffington Post, Forbes, Washington Post, and has been featured on several TV shows.

As a fellow author, he also shared a secret.   So with special thanks, Dave, it’s been a pleasure to meet you.  So, following Guru Dave’s advice, if anyone would like to write a review for Casanova Cowboy, please e-mail me @:  to sign up.  (You can too, Dave.)



Bounty Hunter Needed

woman thinkingOnce upon a time in the Old West, a poster would state the facts:

Wanted – Bounty Hunter

Any Age – Young or Old

Professional or Not

Male or Female


Queries to find a solution to today’s problem end up the same way.  Even a professional service such as Guardian, said, “We tried.  We can’t catch them. Or, if we do, they’re back again.”

There may be bounty hunters in the Seattle area; but that’s miles and miles away from the Lazy Bee.  Even University of Washington’s Extension Service said they had no idea of who to turn for help, other than these are varmints that must be trapped underground where they live.

They are vicious.  Eat vegetables, flowers, shrubs by pulling down the plants into their burrows.  There are many here now.  The first to come were the Columbia Ground Squirrels.  Then, the gophers arrived and decided our lush meadows were just the place to live.   (Do such critters have an underground Internet service to learn the best places to live?)

The local extension service did suggest trying Coyote urine.  It is sold in crystals or spray.  Comments from those who have used this method report the stink isn’t worth the effort.  Reportedly that doesn’t work either.

Perhaps posting a reward for a bounty hunter next spring may help save plants and such souls as we who plant and care for them.  Can’t do this now.  Have to wait until spring.  The varmints are now in hibernation.

There really are professionals who do this work.  When I was researching Rusty Springs, a novel about a blackjack dealer in Winnemucca, NV. to collect authentic conversations at tables, I met a couple of cowboys.  They had been out in farmers’ fields shooting gophers from the top of their trucks.  The job apparently pays well. They were celebrating, winning at the blackjack table, too.  (If all else fails, I could return to Winnemucca to become a bounty-hunter.)

(Thanks for the photo – PhotoPin)










A Drone May See You



It’s not a bird.  It’s a drone.  Chances are that’s it’s just another thing that will be soon be part of your life.

One flew over the Lazy Bee lawn recently filming a wedding ceremony.  Years ago, drones were common nearby as they flew through our valley sent by the government to film who knew what.

Data produced by these vision-system sensors is enormous.  There’s also ultrasonic listening, vibration, rain, light and other radar sensors, too.

In August a news source announced that the U.S. Secret Service was planning to test a special unmanned aerial device to track our President.  Those custom drones use a 360-degree camera to send secure data back to operators through a tether.

Drones provided security for the Boston Marathon this year four years after the terror attack to give law enforcement the perspective over crowds.

Cyphy Works, a Boston company, is putting drones on the battlefield to save lives of soldiers and civilians.

In Australia, a company called LittleRipper will monitor beaches for sharks because their views are superior to humans.

Drones are super-snoopers.  Discreet, inexpensive, upgraded easily, or switched out for maintenance, they can be tethered to a power source and stay aloft for days.

They offer solutions for law enforcement at prisons, asset protection, firefighting, border surveillance and special ops. operators.

I’ll never have one, but, then again, I didn’t think I’d ever have or use a smart phone or computer.  Once you have one, you wonder how did you ever lived without such a device.

How could you put a drone to work?  Hum.  For instance, if you were a detective, wouldn’t it be easier to work from home instead of collecting data from a car or up in a tree.  Maybe there will be a drone for attachment to a car to see where it goes.

(Thanks to PhotoPin for the above picture of a drone coming in for a landing.)


Sam’s a Hero

cow stuck in mud

Sam Fisher runs cattle nearby in the valley.  Once in a while there might come from that area their contented sounds.  But, early the other morning, cries of a cow in trouble pierced the air with its desperate pleas.

Was it a cow, or, it was it a cougar having a love feast?

No, it was one of Sam’s cows and Sam was head to toe covered in mud.  He and his wife and their parents who were visiting had struggled to push, pull and tug to try to get a 750 pound cow out of the mud from sodden, hidden spring.

Sam is a practical country farmer.  He ran to find boards.  Somehow he got them under the cow’s feet so she could get some “purchase” as he called it.  This is a good trick on it’s own if you can figure out how to do this under a terrified heavy animal.pulling out old carThanks to PHOTOPIN for this photo.  It depicts how tough some jobs might be for those of us who choose to live in the country.  Unfortunately, there were no pix taken of Sam or the cow.  We wonder: How did he manage get under the cow to put the boards under her huge feet without either hurting himself, or, getting both of them deeper in the mud?