The World Tour, and Worms and Ants, the 2nd and 3rd in the series of picture books for toddlers have been published. Thus ends the saga that began with a tale about a slug and a snail, inspired by carvings made from tree trunks in a forest in Switzerland. Click a book cover to go to the site.
Category Archives: Books
Exactly one year after I started the walk, the book is published. We began September 1st 2018, and on September 2nd we hung around in the lovely village of Les Contamines, since we goofed up and started a day early. I did not plan that, but it was amusing to write about. I had planned to write about the trip before I went, so I took 2 notebooks and filled them with my observations and thoughts along the way, as well as filling an entire sketchbook journal before I left. There are lots of guidebooks about the Tour de Mont Blanc, and blogs of course, but few paperbacks. My research only came up with one book about hiking the TMB that was not a guidebook. Now there are at least two books on the subject (in English that is). The price is $19.95 (USD). Black and white would have been much cheaper, but in looking at a draft I realized that much of the enjoyment would be lost without the colour photos. So, if you don’t want to spend that much, the E-book is only $2.99!
I am pleased to announce that Sluggo the Smug Slug is now available. Click the picture to see the listing. I was originally going to append this story to my upcoming book A Walk Around Mont Blanc, but I decided to keep those books separate entities after all. I am publishing both books in colour, in order to fully appreciate the illustrations and photographs, which black and white printing could not do justice to.
Exactly one year ago today I flew to Germany to hike the Tour de Mont Blanc with my son, Terry. While on the trail in Switzerland, we passed a series of carvings made from tree trunks. This excerpt from A Walk Around Mont Blanc explains where the whole Sluggo thing started:
All day long we walked through woods along easy trails not far above the valley. Sometimes the trail went down to the road or followed a dirt track. We met several guided tours, both British. Usually we stopped and allowed groups to pass us, but this day we actually had to pass them, a rare event. We encountered several interesting physical features where the trail followed a narrow ridge in a straight line, with steep banks on each side that dropped far down into the forest below. They looked like manmade dykes, but otherwise appeared to be natural.
We soon encountered a series of signs indicating we were on a ‘mushroom trail’, and apparently as well, a carved stump trail. Some talented wood carver had sculpted a series of lifelike animals from tree stumps. The first was a deer, followed by a squirrel, marmot, eagle, giant rabbit, wild boar and something we could only think of as a slug, although it was standing up and seemed to have arms. We named this Sluggo the Smug Slug. Following Sluggo we came upon a snail, which we named Aaron the Arrogant Escargot, Sluggo’s best friend. Terry suggested this should be the basis of my next book.
I recorded the day in my journal, and we continued on. I knew that I was going to write about the Tour, but I had no idea that afterwards I would write a book about a slug. After I had written it, I decided to illustrate it too, so I painted many watercolor sketches spawning yet another project – three picture books for toddlers. I therefore take this opportunity to remind you of the first book in the series, which can be found here:
My novel The Magic Typer is now available in print and e-book from Amazon. Click on the image to go to the webpage.
The book is illustrated with my own watercolour drawings, but not in colour, since that would make the price about $20. However, you can colour the illustrations yourself with crayons or coloured pencils!
I’ve been at work on this for years, but after too many reviews to count, I can’t find any typos, although it is certain there are some lurking where I least expected. All this editing makes me wonder if it isn’t best to simply write and publish raw text. How much can you improve an idea? These are philosophical questions that I am tired of debating! Here’s one analogy: raw text is like a live concert, and edited text is like a studio recording. Submit your essays by next Thursday!
(English professors would say I use too many !!! But I don’t give a damn!!!)
The story is short (24 pages) and simple, and aimed at 1-6 year olds. I did the illustrations in watercolour and ink, based on my original short novel for adults. That book, Sluggo the Smug Slug, will be published soon as part of my first non-fiction book entitled A Walk Around Mont Blanc.
At bedtime Olympia went to talk to Oliver about what Ned had told her.
You know what Dad said, she whispered?
What, said Oliver?
He said that there is no magic, because it’s all just advanced technology. Do you think that’s possible?
Anything’s possible, said Oliver, but how would you know the difference?
I wish I could ask the Magic Typer, said Olympia.
What would you ask it, said Oliver?
If it was magic or technology, said Olympia.
How would you know if it gave you the right answer, said Oliver?
from The Magic Typer (author me).
I am always wondering where the line is between art (magic) and science. What makes a photograph art, as opposed to just chemistry? Sometimes I am pretty sure photography is not art at all, and is merely a technical achievement that imitates art. Then again there are times when some photograph I see moves me in an artistic way. Is this magic or just advanced technology pushing my buttons? There is no definitive answer, of course. Most photography is not art, that is certain. And most art is crap too, for that matter. So how do we judge it all? I gave up long ago, back in architecture school when I came to the realization that even the so called experts can never agree on what is good or bad. So I just allow my senses to inform me about what I like and don’t like.
What got me going on this subject was taking photos today with my Fuji Instax camera. I think it was Cartier Bresson who said anyone could make a masterpiece with a Rolleiflex camera. He may have been right. Photos I get from the instant camera often have more art in them than the best I can take with my super pixel DSLR. Maybe because it’s all down to the subject and composition, as opposed to colour rendition, focus and sharpness of details. In any case, I enjoy the results, even if they are less than spectacular technically. That is what I enjoy about watercolour painting too, because it is imprecise and fuzzy – at least in my hands!
Here are three takes on a big old oak tree in the meadow nearby.
A tree at sunset, and two pieces from a local pub done today:
As I have repeated here, perhaps too frequently, due to my last novel I became enamoured of the Royal 10. I did get one after some hunting, but I thought that they were hard to find – until last week. We spent a week as we often do this time of year in Washington, camping and of course scouring the many antique shops. So what did I find? Yes – many Royal 10’s!
Sadly I couldn’t own them all; the one I have is perfect for me, but if I didn’t already own one… well that might be different. One in particular was in beautiful condition, and it was the least costly. Go figure. It was a rebuild, too, as noted on one shift key – by Regal, on Varick Street, NYC.
All were post 1923 with single glass sides, some with the gauge on the right side, which I don’t know the purpose of. I’m sure someone reading this will educate us on that! It was ironic that so many typewriters in the wild have little signs forbidding typing – I’d like to see signs that say “type away”. Do these sellers think that a Royal 10 that has lasted for 80 years can be broken? How absurd!
There were other interesting oldies too:
The Corona folder was exciting to see, but it was not in working order and well over $100! Had it been working… maybe. One other new to me phenomenon in these old junk stores is the proliferation of the Erie iron pans, Griswold being the next big thing. Some shops had huge collections of these, priced into the hundreds! Imagine paying $100 for a frying pan when you could buy a Royal 10 for less. More absurdity!
We got as far as Portland and just happened to park one block from Powell’s Books, the largest bookstore I’ve ever been in – it’s like a department store – think a Walmart dedicated solely to books. One thing struck us; the foul language we heard coming from the mouths of people just talking on the street. I suppose all the books with swear words are simply indicative of the general debasement of language skills these days. But what’s with all the f*cking asterisks? Just spell it if you plan to use it. Only one author among many seemed to feel thus, which is commendable, although not admirable.
Portland reminded me of Seattle, except it’s flat. Aside from the cool bookstore I can’t say it was impressive. Lots of canyon streets that feel oppressively dark, and of course the usual sad cases of homelessness. No one pays attention any more. Not that this is uncommon here either, just that it emphasizes how our society in general has failed so many people.
The thing is, when it comes to all the pseudo-wisdom spouted in the endless river of self-help books, there is no solution to the real problems. It’s all focused on the self. The age of ME. F*ck off, self help authors!