Newsletter #1

Posted Nov 5, 2008

Two months ago last Monday, I enjoyed my 82nd birthday.  I seem to be revisiting childhood, but with a new viewpoint: I've become enthusiastic over birthdays again, each a milestone.  Since then, Gail's big sister and my elder sister-in-law, Shirley, has celebrated her 90th.  I covet the honor, but I'll just have to wait. 

    This is not my first newsletter.  In 1986 I originated, and for some 13 years wrote and otherwise produced a newsletter for the Vasa (Swedish) lodge in Spokane Washington, beginning on an old KayPro 2X, a cpm machine.  I also originated, and for a single year (1987?) wrote, a newsletter for the Spokane Youth Hockey Association.  That was not from love, but from a sense of duty; both my grandsons greatly enjoyed and benefitted from the SYHA.  I was young then — newly into my 60s. 
    But this is my first personal newsletter, and my first using Word insteadof WordStar.  And my first using this blogsite program, which I haven't yet mastered.  (But I'm getting there.)  The difficulty is, my neural network (in the biological sense) neither learns nor creates new pathways easily.  But with persistence it does the job. 
Meanwhile, here are no bells or whistles, no clever animation, not even visual aesthetics.  Just "news."

SF Conventions—
    I've attended four science fiction conventions so far this year — in February, RadCon at Pasco WA; on the Memorial Day weekend, MarCon, in Columbus OH; in the first weekend of August, SpoCon at Gonzaga University in Spokane WA; and in  September, Context, also in  Columbus.  I'll be at a fifth — WindyCon — in suburban Chicago, later this month.

As for writing projects—
    Since finishing a pre-final (he said hopefully) draft of my historical novel Armfelt (set  in Scandinavia during the Great Northern War), I haven't given much time to writing my next novel.  (I think of it as "Mitford North.")  At first I referred to it as Of Time and Place: Tales from Tea River.  Recently though, I've been encouraged to call it simply Tea River, or Tea River Tales.  It's the last in a flurry of non-science fiction stories that for decades I kept putting off.
    Plus, with the presidential campaigns so big in the news, my attention has been caught up in politics, and I've been writing politically-rooted essays.  Not on the campaigns so much as on political  philosophy: Evolution, Cosmology, Free Market economics... But has come and gone without posting. 
    My essays on political philosophy and politics haven't, I believe, so much as mentioned a candidate's name.  Instead I've written on basic political philosophy,  political "science," and governing — and on issues, which remain relevant and invite perspective.  For example, the piece currently in progress is on health care. 

    But my heart, just now, is in Tea River, Minnesota, in 1932.  Don't look up Tea River in the atlas; it ain't there.  The novel, a loosely knit set of yarns of a time and place, was inspired by a small, differently-named community near the Canadian border, in a time dominated by the original homesteaders.  Still farming and logging, and still (despite Prohibition) drinking, in the days of logging camps and the Hard Times. 
    I've fictionalized it to give me creative freedom — and to include characters and events from other little backwoods communities I knew, or knew of, each with story-tellers and stories to tell, from "Ja Bruno olle paskale," to "oh lady, 'dat's blood money your takin' from dat boy," to "hell no!  I had a helluva time just to harness dem!" (in response to my question, "could you really drive those moose?"). 
    From bars to barber shops, from logging camps to ships' stokeholds to death beds.  I'm enjoying the project.  But it's not easy, for it has numerous story threads, which makes plotting and cohesion tricky. 

    My agent, Linn Prentis, emailed me to promise a critique of The Signature of God by mid-month.  When I receive it, other projects are likely to be put on hold while I do the "final" draft.  Oh boy!  That stimulates my bodily juices.

Other People's Books—
    Meanwhile I keep reading interesting books by other people..  Eckhart Tolle's Awakening to Your Life's Purpose, a very worthwhile book if you're interested in New Age thought; Joel Davis's Mother Tongue, and just now his Alternate Universes, both books featuring new looks at the human mind.   Also I occasionally dip into Nigel Calder's Magic Universe: a Grand Tour of Modern Science — a smörgåsbord of recent scientific advances.

And that's the end of Newsletter #1.
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