Tag: Adirondack Bear Tales

Profile of an Adirondack Woman

Sometimes when I share some of my life stories with friends and acquaintances, I get looks and comments like “No way” or “You’re full of it.” I think far too many people spend their lives in tiny bubbles and never get to experience the fantastic world that is out there.

You’ve heard the saying, “We tend to write what we know …”

One of the many things that have amazed me in my short career as an author is the number of women who have given my first book, Serpents Underfoot, great reviews. It was my first book, and because of this, I know it is a little rough around the edges; maybe a bit too much language and a bit “too much information” in the bedroom scenes. But hey, you learn!

I had imagined my audience to be veterans and action/thriller fans. So I was shocked when I began receiving great reviews from female readers. After talking to a few readers, I understood that Serpents Underfoot had several strong female characters, and they really appreciated that.

While I pretty much self-edited Serpents Underfoot, I am working with a real editor for its sequel, Montagnard.

Beth Werner, of Author Connections, has been a professional editor and marketer for over 20 years. She served as the former Director of Marketing and Sales at Kirkus and has worked with Random House, Penguin, MacMillan, Disney Hyperion, Chronicle, Scholastic, FSG, Wiley, and others. Having read Serpents Underfoot, she commented she was also struck by the strength of the female characters in the story and how much she appreciated and enjoyed that. I believe I have carried this through into the sequel, Montagnard.

So, why the strong female characters?

In my life, I have had the privilege of knowing several strong women. Both of my grandmothers were strong women. One was the daughter of a well-known Herkimer, NY lawyer, drove a roadster, wore patent leather boots, and met the world on her terms. She was part Cherokee Indian and related to Robert E. Lee. I think my mother was a lot like her.

My other grandmother was a quiet, caring, and supportive woman. When my grandfather was drafted by the Army and stationed in Japan with General MacArthur after the war, she raised her children, worked in her garden, and was a source of strength for her husband, who was thousands of miles away in a strange land.

I was privileged to date another strong woman for several years, and while things did not work out quite like I hoped they might, I have nothing but respect for her. A medical professional, this lady took on the State Government, unethical “pain pill” clinics, and other issues in a continuous effort to improve the quality of professional medical care for her patients. She is now knee-deep in this battle against the coronavirus.

But, the strongest woman I have ever known was my mother!

Let me introduce you to her …

Ardis Gilbert was born in Ilion, NY, the daughter of Erwin and Eileen Klippel. She began nursing school at the age of 16 and graduated as an RN from Albany Medical Center in 1959. After moving to North Adams, MA, with her husband, Curt, Ardis graduated Magna Cum Laude in Mathematics and Summa Cum Laude in Administration from North Adams State Community College. She went on to teach mathematics for many years.

My mother enjoyed hiking, camping, backpacking, and canoe trips with family and friends, and jokingly founded the Adirondack Women’s Club for female family and friends who met the criteria.

A few family tales …

Albany, NY Granary Fire

When my mom was still a freshmen nursing student at the Albany Medical Center, a disastrous granary fire occurred in Albany. Many were severely burned in the fire, and the medical center was overrun. During the emergency, she stayed in an elevator with a doctor and performed emergency tracheotomies on burn victims as they were being taken up to the burn center for care.

One Crazy Old Lady

Serving a tour as a nurse in a ward that housed the criminally insane, she prepared to check in on an old woman who needed her medication. Nurses were not supposed to enter this woman’s room without an orderly present. However, there were no orderlies available. So, mom looked in the room and saw that the woman was resting peacefully and seemed quite calm. Being rather fearless, she decided not to wait for an orderly. My mother leaned close to the patient, the old woman sprang on her and began strangling her. She was amazingly strong, and my mother couldn’t pry her fingers loose. Fortunately, some orderlies arrived just in time and pried the crazy old woman’s fingers from around her neck. A few more moments and I would not even be here. It was a lesson my mother took to heart.

Hand washer escapee

In the same ward, there was a young man who continually washed his hands to the point that he would scrub the skin off them. I never knew what he did, but it was like he was trying desperately to get the blood off his hands. The doctors had to keep special gloves covering his hands and sometimes had to restrain him. During one of his more lucid moments, he was calmly walking the halls when someone accidentally let the locked door to the ward stay open a few seconds. In a flash, the man was out the door and making a dash for freedom. Seeing him go, my mother took right off after him and chased him through the medical center. She was a small younger woman but tackled him around the legs in a manner that would make any football player proud. He was, at this point, in the main entrance lobby to the medical center.

My strong female characters

While not intentional, I guess the strong female characters in Serpents Underfoot are composites of the courage and strength I saw in the many strong women I have had the privilege to know during my life. And after the reaction from my readers, I felt it essential to continue that.

My mother lost a fight with cancer almost two years ago now. But she met that implacable enemy with her head held high, and she fought the good fight. She was 78 years old. I guess these characters in my books are my way of remembering and celebrating the strong women I have known, including my mother.

The world can certainly use a lot more of them.

Editing Montagnard: The Beta Version

Have you ever used beta readers for a writing project?

For my first novel, Serpents Underfoot, I did not use beta readers. I did the editing myself with a great deal of help from my mother. Neither of us was a professional editor.

Needless to say, it took several content uploads before I had eliminated all of the typos, etc. And, I have to thank several of my early readers for pointing some of them out to me. I think Serpents Underfoot is in pretty good shape now, but you never know, there might be one more typo lurking in the shadows, ready to spring out on some poor unsuspecting reader!

Even as short as Adirondack Bear Tales is (only fifty pages or so), it took two rounds to get it to what I hope is now a typo-free state!

For Montagnard (the sequel), I am doing something new

I have read and re-read the draft of Montagnard several times. I have run through Microsoft Spellcheck and Grammarly several times as well. Unfortunately, I am sure there are still a few typos, punctuation errors, homonyms and homophones, and probably even too many adverbs.

So, sending a copy out to five beta readers is a bit intimidating. While these are readers whose opinions I respect, I certainly don’t want them to think, “Egad! How’d he miss this!”

On the bright side, I am hoping that if there are any plot holes, sections of the story that are confusing, or parts that simply suck, these five individuals will let me know. And the end result will be a much better novel … and a sequel to Serpents Underfoot.

Then the final step …

I figure that once I have gone through all the observations and edits suggested by my beta readers, I will be ready to send the manuscript to my editor for its final edit. When she is through with it, it will surely be ready to publish.

And, while all this work is being done, I should have time for some pre-release marketing, etc., as well as getting started on my next book project, a story of family, love, and sacrifice during World War II.

While you are here, check out a few of my other blog posts by clicking here!

Mind Explosion

Music by Ivo Ballentine

It is amazing who you can meet sometimes. I started talking to a guy in Ingles the other day named Ivo Ballentine. During the course of our conversation, he mentioned he was a musician and had just released a CD of original compositions.

Naturally, I had to mention the fact that I was a published author with two published works, and finishing up a third. The upshot of the conversation was that we made a swap. I traded a copy of my book, Adirondack Bear Tales, for his new CD, titled Mind Explosion.

There are 10 songs on the CD. I really like several, including Cadillac, Let Me Hear Your Song, and Doesn’t She Know, but they are all pretty darn good.

Quite a strong Beatles influence

To me, there seemed to be a strong early Beatles influence, and I thought I could pick up on a touch of Johnny Cash as well. I am not sure what genre Ivo’s music would fit into; maybe something like pop-folk-rock?

A few days later, I ran into Ivo again, this time at the Starbucks in Ingles. When I mentioned the Beatles influence I had picked up on, he laughed. A local radio station had just played his CD in its entirely the previous day, saying it reminded them a lot of Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band.

one lucky bear

Ivo also mentioned how much he enjoyed Adirondack Bear Tales. It seems he grew up in Maine, so he identified with the North Woods; he just didn’t remember hearing about so much bear activity in Maine. I think that maybe because most of the tourist activity in Maine centers around the coast and seafood!

So how do you get a copy?

Well, for now, that is a bit tricky. Ivo doesn’t have a website. He is planning to make the CD available on SoundCloud shortly.

You could also hang out at the Starbucks in the Ingles located on Merrimon Avenue in Asheville, NC. He is a frequent customer there. Look for the gentleman with the plaid Scottish-style hat. He may also be wearing an Ivo Ballentine for Mayor button because he is considering a run for Mayor of Woodfin, a friendly little community just up the street.

Early Morning Cat Fu

Our early morning constitutional …

cat fu

Sophie and I take a walk every morning to start our day. It was a beautifully crisp fall morning and we were enjoying our walk. Urgent matters behind us, we were headed back toward the hacienda, when suddenly a rather large yellow feral cat stepped out of the brush and faced us down. Both Sophie and the cat spotted each other at precisely the same time. The cat froze, it’s tail twitching in an irritated manner, but it did not move. Sophie froze as well, and so began an epic stare-down! Neither Sophie nor the cat would move. Just an occasional twitch of the cat’s tail while Sophie remained coiled like a spring … ready to leap.

It was like the story of the two old masters

I used to tell kids in my children’s karate classes a story about two old Okinawan karate masters where were manipulated into a challenge match. They met on the beach at sunrise, and faced each other as the villagers gathered to see the epic fight. Shifting into their ready stances, each fixed a powerful gaze on the other and waited.

I watched as the cat stood its ground, staring at Sophie with its own ‘powerful gaze.” Sophie stared right back, not blinking and immovable. Neither were willing to give ground or surrender to the other’s “chi.”

In the story of the two old masters, after an hour of watching the masters face each other unflinchingly, the villagers, some what disappointed, deemed the challenge match a tie … and everyone went home.

In the case of Sophie and the cat, after several minutes, I called it a tie and we all went home.

cat fu
I didn’t get a picture of the cat, so this will have to do …

Lessons learned …

Each of the old masters understood that the first one to attack, would die. That is why there is “no first strike in karate.” You cannot move without creating an opening. All the other combatant has to do is be patient and skilled enough to take advantage of that opening.

In the case of Sophie and the cat, I think the cat, obviously being the older and wiser of the two, decided it was too fine a morning for a spat, and nonchalantly sauntered back off into the underbrush.

Sophie, on the other hand, seemed very proud of herself, having just saved her master from the evil ninja cat that leapt out from the dark woods to wreak destruction and vengeance on the entire universe!

It was definitely an interesting start to a new day!

If you have time, please take a minute and check out Serpents Underfoot and Adirondack Bear Tales on Amazon.com.

CELEBRATE AMERICAN INDEPENDENCE

July 4th, 2019: 243 Years of American Exceptionalism

The 4th of July is just around the corner. Take a minute and think about what that means, and think about how many patriots gave their lives so that we have the opportunities we do have as Americans.

America is a land of equal opportunity. Nobody has the right to tell you how to live, what you can be, how you have to think, what you can say, or whether or not you can protect yourself or your loved ones.

In this country, you have the opportunity to be whatever you choose to be. Yes, you may fail a few times. But you get to pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and try again.

That is America. And, it is an America we all need to fight to protect from enemies both foreign and domestic.

Anyway, that’s my political 2 cents for the day.

To help celebrate the 4th of July, check out my great Kindle sale!

On July 4th only …. just .99 for 1/2 day, then 1.99 the second half of the day.

If you are looking for great tales to share around the campfire, then Adirondack Bear Tales is for you. If you are looking for a patriotic action thriller that you won’t be able to put down, then Serpents Underfoot is for you! Get yours at these great holiday prices!

Sophie would certainly appreciate it. It helps keep her in kibble and biscuits!

July 4th

Twitter Marketing for Aspiring Authors

Self-published indie authors are always looking for new ways to market themselves and their books. There are several social media tools available for this purpose. Instagram is one such tool that I covered in an earlier post. Twitter is another.

Can you use Twitter to market your book(s)?

Like with Instagram, the short answer is … yes. You certainly can. However, again like Instagram, you do have to understand a few key things going in to it.

Unlike Instagram, with Twitter, your post can link directly to your book’s page on Amazon.com or any other web page you choose. You will probably still not generate a lot of sales tweeting away on Twitter, but you will generate some. However, like Instagram, Twitter is a valuable tool for establishing yourself as an author and networking with other indie authors, publishers, or editors … sharing ideas, experiences, and writing tips as well as promoting your book in those same circles.

While Instagram is more visual, Twitter is about crafting a clever message in 280 characters. You can include images (and I usually do) but the real trick here is to try to get the reader to click the link in the tweet. Below are a few sample Tweets I created and sent out into the Twit-O-Sphere!

Note the hashtags …

twitter

Again, it is about putting your name and your work in front of a growing audience in a way that builds your brand recognition and establishes you as an author to be remembered. And, like I stated earlier, you may actually even sell a few books.

twitter

Other aspects to consider on Twitter

  • Hashtags – Use hashtags before relevant keywords in your tweet to categorize tweets and help them show up in Twitter searches. Clicking or tapping on a hash-tagged word in any tweet displays other Tweets that include that hashtagHashtags can be included anywhere in a Tweet. Examples: #SerpentsUnderfoot #AdirondackBearTales #writingcommunity #amwriting
  • Tags – You can also tag a specific Twitter handle to ensure that user gets the Tweet in their feed. Examples: @darrencgilbert @AdirondackAlmanac.

    This is very basic. There are some other, trickier aspects to using the @ sign in a Tweet. For more information on using the @ symbol in Tweets, just click this link here!

Twitter also has some strong and welcoming communities for writers and readers. These folks are always willing to share ideas, critiques, etc. There are groups that run little writing contests based on “prompt words” that can help you improve your writing skills … especially since you only have 280 characters!

So, jump in and get started! Join the writing community, try your hand at a few word prompts, and mostly … have fun.

One last thought …

Don’t get caught up in the race for followers. You will have offers to grow your following by the thousands … for a fee of course. Let your following grow naturally. It is far better to have 300 followers that are really interested in you and your work, than to have 3000 followers you paid for and who don’t give a rat’s ass about what you are doing.

For other interesting posts on a variety of topics, click here!

Starve a Cold and Feed a Fever

Or, is it Feed a cold and starve a fever?

I was never quite sure which it was. And, since I have spent the last few days battling a cold, or maybe the flu, I decided to check. It seems starving is never correct! A well-balanced diet can help you stay healthy and defeat either a cold or a fever! How about that? This is really good new for me because I hate to starve!

Other possible remedies

I was certainly relieved to read I did not have to starve to beat whatever it is I am dealing with. But, being a bit bored, I still looked for a few other possible cold remedies. I came across a few others that might be worth trying … or not.

The Naval Cure (I like this one)

starve

An author friend of mine, D (Joe) Guy, who writes fascinating tales of of romance, love and tragedy with an Italian twist is a retired Navy man. He told me they had a sure-fire cure for any cold in the Navy. You just get a bottle of good whiskey, some honey and some lemons. Then you throw away the honey and the lemons and drink the whiskey!

Cold Wet Socks?

This one did not sound very appealing to me, but many people claim it does work. All you do is soak your feet in hot water for about three minutes. Next, you wet a pair of cotton anklet socks with cold water and put them on. Then, you put thick wool socks on over those and go to bed.

Supposedly, while you sleep, the blood vessels in your cold feet will constrict and push good nutrients up to your organs to help fight the infection. Then, as your feet start to adjust and warm up, your blood vessels will dilate and help send all the “junk” from your organs into your bloodstream, allowing your body to remove it naturally.

Not sure I want to try this one, but hey … who knows? MindBodyGreen.com

Get Down to Your Local Chipotle

starve

Chili peppers, it seems, are what you need when you have a cold. I might be willing to try this one since I don’t have to starve and I do like spicy food!

ABCNews claims this works because chilis contain a compound called capsaicin which is an irritant as well as the thing that makes them spicy.

I guess, if you are all stuffed up, it does kind of make sense to eat something that will make your nose run and your eyes water. So, have some hot wings, spicy chili, some Korean BBQ, or hot Mexican dish. Or, maybe some chili powder in your tea or brownies. Chilis are nature’s remedy for congestion.

Okay then!

I tried the Naval Cure and I now feel a little better. Therefore, I am done with the whole cold-battling thing. I may have one more snort and then crawl off to bed.

Check out my other interesting blog posts by clicking here!

And remember, my two really awesome books for sale on amazon.com. Both are available in Kindle and paperback and both are getting great reviews! Serpents Underfoot (A Military Action Thriller) and Adirondack Bear Tales (True Life Adirondack Bear Encounters). I would be honored to have you read one or both of them. Remember to let me know what you think.