Do you use a Google Chromebook?

Recently, my Windows 10 laptop almost died. I’ve been a loyal Microsoft customer since the days of Windows 3.3, and before that with DOS (Disk Operating System) 3.3. It’s been my experience that the more bells and whistles Microsoft adds make it just a little easier to screw things up. If the corporation was as smart as it says it is it would have made features such as Cortana optional. Cortana is the voice that natters at you whenever it feels like it. It’s like a parrot on speed. The damn thing can be silent for months, then announce it’s cold as hell outside. Only, it’s hot as hell.

When I first got Windows 10 it was on an Acer laptop. It self-destructed after less than a year. I took it back to where I bought it. There was some fault with the motherboard which caused it to die. It was replaced with another Acer Aspire E 15. After the first Acer laptop was replaced and I replaced the software that was fouled up in the disaster, all was right with the world. I was in such a good mood I bought myself a copy of Windows 10 For Dummies. I looked through it, added the lock screen feature, and gave my new laptop a password thinking I’d be a little bit more secure. Guess what, I wasn’t. I kept getting notifications (lordy, they’re annoying) that some nefarious computer system was trying to hack into my bank account, documents, photos, and credit card information. There’s just one problem: I don’t bank using my laptop, I don’t have any documents or photos worth stealing, and my credit card info was never put into computer memory. All credit card transactions are done in person. Still, Microsoft seems to think notifications about my parrots health are absolutely necessary. There’s just one humongous flaw with that so-called logic. I don’t have a stupid parrot!.

Google Chromebook User Interface

So, I’m investigating the Google Chromebooks. I know its operating system is cloud-based, and it’s open-source. I just don’t want the same hassle I had with Microsoft. I don’t want to pay for crud I don’t need or want (Hey, Cortana…I’m talking about you). Can anyone provide me with an in-depth first-person review of their experience with a Chromebook? If you can provide any assistance kindly leave it in the comments section or email it to me at Click on the email link or cut and paste it into your email. Thanks.

A Wave of Emotion

On May 9, 2012, JADD Publishers gave us the very first edition of The Emotion Thesaurus. For the very first time, writers could write about emotional baggage, without having to experience the emotion itself. The Thesaurus was the brainchild of Angela Ackerman and Becca Puglisi and gave writers the actual definition of an emotion. In addition, they gave us physical signals and behaviors to watch out for. Not stopping there they told us about the internal sensations a character might experience, the mental responses, acute or long-term feelings a character might have, what to watch out for, indications that an emotion is being suppressed, and what the emotion could happen if left unchecked.

Then in 2019, the second edition came out. The first edition covered only 75 emotions. The second edition was expanded to cover 130 emotions! And it’s even better! I got my copy only a few years ago and it’s my go-to resource for information about emotion.

Becca and Angela have something very special planned to celebrate the tenth anniversary of The Emotion Thesaurus. I don’t know what it is, but it’s bound to be spectacular! Anything from this pair always is. Maybe it’s a complete hardbound library of the entire Thesaurus collection. I know some people like the Kindle version, but I like feeling the pages in my fingers. But that’s just me. Who knows what those two are cooking up. Just make sure to circle May 9th on your calendars and visit Writers Helping

The Concert For Bangladesh – George and Friends


On August 1, 1971 an event took place, not once but twice. Long before Live Aid, Farm Aid, No Nukes, and We Are The World, The Concert For Bangladesh took place. It was the very first and second concert to benefit a worthwhile cause. It was also the first concert where musicians from different bands and groups worked together towards a common cause, and didn’t compete against each other. Sitar master Ravi Shankar proposed that he should do a concert to benefit his homeland to George Harrison. Shankar was of the opinion that if he was lucky he might be able to contribute twenty-five thousand dollars. Harrison knew a great deal more would be needed if they to help a country.


                                                               Ravi Shankar

Phone Calls and Fights

Harrison said he spent all of June and half of July of 1971 on the phone organizing the event. First, he contacted his former bandmates, Ringo Starr, John Lennon, and Paul McCartney. Ringo was eager to come, postponing the completion of the film Blindman. John’s invitation was conditional. He was asked not to bring Yoko Ono. When John first received the invitation he was eager to take part. Then he and Yoko had a fight about her not being invited. The upshot of this domestic brouhaha was that John telephoned George saying that he would not be attending. Paul was still dealing with his own demons, primarily excess drinking and anger, and the business dealings of the Beatles. He was worried that if he went it might be thought of as a “Beatles Reunion”. He was trying to rid himself of the Beatles in court, and the thought going under those conditions was “daft”.

Badfinger Joins Roster and Eric Gets Lost

With one half of the Beatles still sulking and fighting, he asked a Apple band called Badfinger (formerly known as The Ivey’s from 1961 to 1969) to attend. They just had a hit record (Come And Get It) penned and produced by Paul McCartney. This would be fantastic exposure for the band. Plus it would be their first exposure to a North American audience. George asked Eric Clapton to attend because he wanted another “really” good guitarist there. Eric said he would be there, but George became concerned when he didn’t show up by mid-July.  After Eric failed to arrive, George was unsure if he would attend, even though he had given George his word. With the concerts now just days away and Eric still missing in action, George asked Taj Mahal guitarist Jesse Ed Davis to fill in for Eric. For one entire week prior to the concerts a seat was booked for Eric on every flight from London to New York. He finally appeared with four days to spare. In 2005 Eric admitted he “was in rough shape” due to his drug addiction. He also admitted he was in “semi-retirement”. However, he does maintain he would have played much better if he had brought the right kind of guitar with him. On most of the songs he played a large semi-acoustic guitar. On the second disc of this fantastic two disc set he openly admits that he should have been playing a solid body guitar. The guitar he plays during most of both concerts was made for silky sounding jazz music. A solid body guitar is designed for rock music.

By the last week of July, Harrison and friends were in New York practicing with Starr, Clapton, Leon Russell, Billy Preston and a small posse of sidemen and backup singers. Harrison’s portion of the set consisted of four songs from his hit album All Things Must Pass, and three of his Beatles classics, including “Here Comes the Sun” and “Something,” none of which he had ever played for an audience. But Preston says rehearsals “went really well. I played on a lot of the original records, so I knew the songs. But the guys in the horn section wrote out charts, and we all pitched in to pull the music together.”

The Man Behind The Camera


The director, Saul Swimmer, was no stranger to film, rock music, or any of The Beatles. He had worked with Ringo on the film Blindman, and with Beatles when he co-produced Let It Be. He began directing in his mid-twenties, quickly gaining attention for his half-hour short The Boy Who Owned a Melephant in 1959. This short was produced with Peter Gayle and Tony Anthony, who soon became frequent contributors.

With the musical onslaught of the British Invasion in full bloom, came a flurry of  films that copied, or tried to copy, the style of A Hard Day’s Night. Herman’s Hermits had a hit with the song Mrs. Brown You’ve Got A Lovely Daughter, and it soon became a film with Saul Swimmer at the helm. He found a formula that worked for him. The Rockumentary was born.

I couldn’t find any source, not even the American Film Institute (AFI), that could definitively tell me how many 16mm cameras were used to film the concerts. In doing research for this blog, numbers between two and sixteen cameras were used. However, the source for the numbers were never given. According to Saul Swimmer Harrison initially wanted to do the show at New York’s intimate Town Hall: “He didn’t think he could sell out the Garden. He was very insecure.”

Harrison was extremely nervous about his solo concert debut that he had doubts about even filming the Bangladesh shows. “That’s why we shot in 16 mm — so nobody was bothered by the cameras,” Swimmer says. “We didn’t even have a set list. At one point, Leon Russell’s voice suddenly comes out of the dark [for his “Jumpin’ Jack Flash”/”Youngblood” medley], because we didn’t know Leon was going to sing. We were searching for where this voice was coming from. George even went so far as to say that if the concert was a disaster he would purchase the film and tapes.”

After the concert Swimmer described the editing of the film as a “nightmare. None of the cameras were synced. Luckily, we had two concerts from which to choose footage from. George would choose the best performance of a song. When I think about the cameras we were lucky anything was filmed. They only held about fifteen minutes of film. George wanted the film blown up to seventy millimetre so he could put a six track stereo track on the film. We went to Hollywood to get this done. There wasn’t a way to do it except to increase it frame-by-frame. It was a real headache, but I’m still very proud of the film. The  film you see on the DVD is very close to the actual concert”.

It was just one high level of experience from beginning to end    –  Leon Russell

The Clash Between a Titan of Vinyl and the little guy

Most people understood the purpose behind the concerts, the film, and the records. However, for some people the word “Charity” simply didn’t exist in their personal lexicons. Most record labels were glad to have their artists associated with a concert/film/record deal, glad to let them get exposure they couldn’t afford to give, so they didn’t demand payment. Leon Russell and Billy Preston saw their careers blossom because of the exposure. However, not all record labels were content to do something for nothing, nor were they to lend their artists out, or work for free, and they wanted their money – a lot of it.

Bhaskar Menon - Capitol records


Clive Davis, Head of Columbia Records

The original plan was to have the concerts recorded, filmed, and when the records were ready they would be distributed by Capitol Records. For free. Bhaskar Menon, head of Capitol Records in 1971, requested approximately half a million dollars to recover costs. And Davis wanted a significant amount of money for his client, Mr. Bob Dylan. George Harrison was not a business man and should have expected this.  He didn’t. Both labels were simply trying to protect their interests. They had stockholders to answer to, and George didn’t. George simply did not have all the facts. Infuriated with Capitol Records, convinced they were behind the plot to hold off making the records, George went on the Dick Cavett Show and publicly shamed Bhaskar Menon. He made him look very bad, and with the Christmas buying season going full steam there was a very real possibility of a boycott of all Capitol records. After the broadcast George was informed of information he should have known before going on the show. The following day George phoned Menon and apologized for his tirade. In the end a deal was reached that all sides could live with. Neither side, Harrison, Menon of Capitol Records, or Davis of Columbia Records were thrilled by it, but they could live with it.

A villain in the works

MV5BYzY5ZDg1YWUtNmNlMS00YzMzLTg5MTUtNWJiN2M1MDg3YWI3XkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyNjUxMjc1OTM@._V1_Allen Klein, was the manager for John Lennon, Ringo Starr, and George Harrison. And he didn’t mind lying, bluffing, or misrepresenting the truth to any client. He is billed as the co-producer of the concert for Bangladesh. But he also the only individual to have profited from the sale of Concert For Bangladesh record albums.

In November 1971 an article appeared in New York magazine. The article entitled “Some Sour Note From the Bangladesh Concert” by Peter McCabe, alleged that Allen Klein was making a profit from the sale of every three-disc set. Reporter Ben Fong-Torres of Rolling Stone Magazine wrote an article on the fallout from the McCabe article. The Fong-Torres article entitled “Did Allen Klein Take Bangla Desh Money?” was followed by a sub heading that asked the question “A $1.14 is coming up unaccounted for per every Bangla Desh album and New York Magazine is pointing the finger at Allen Klein”. The McCabe article started very simply. It started with a collection of prose and a simple mathematical formula.

album cover

At the press conference which announced the concerts Klein took every possible opportunity to say that every penny raised from the concerts and records would go towards Bangladesh. Yet, when you total up the money paid, and where it went, it’s painfully obvious that some money ended up in somebodies pocket when it shouldn’t. While there is no definitive proof that would stand up in a court of law, you can’t help but be reminded of the sub-heading of Peter McCabe’s article – “…All proceeds, we were told, were to go to Bangladesh. If so, about $1.14 per album sold seems to be unaccounted for…”.


Here’s looking at you–if the provincial government get its act together

Bloodshot eyes

In the last post about eye care in Ontario, called The Eyes Have It, I informed you about a strike between optometrists and the Ford government in Ontario. Unfortunately, not much has changed. The media doesn’t seem terribly interested in the fact a strike is going on, that very young Ontarians aren’t getting eye examinations they may need badly, that students who have obvious problems seeing the blackboard can’t get an exam, and seniors cannot access a service they really need (How old is you driver Doug?). In short any OHIP-covered patients including kids, teens, seniors, people receiving ODSP or OW support, and people with eye diseases or diabetes cannot get an eye exam.

In 2011 the previous arrangement between the provincial government and the Ontario Association of Optometrists (OAO) came to an end. Between then and now, the current provincial government did nothing to avert a strike. This is not an issue Doug Ford cannot blame on another political party. When he became premier of Ontario it became his problem, and he did what he does best – he ignored the problem till there was no alternative but for the OAO to start a job action. In other words because of Fords inaction they were forced to go on on strike.


Here’s a video where the minister of Health Christine Elliott can be seen dancing around a very straight forward question regarding eye care in Ontario. .

It’s an uncomfortably long video, but if you fast forward to the 40:15 point you’ll discover how confusing her response is. If you have insomnia this should cure it. A much shorter video (4:36 seconds) can be found here

Let’s cut through the baloney, misinformation, and screwed up “facts” from Health Minister and Deputy Premier Christine Elliott

Christine Elliott, 66, senior

  • Number of days the Ministry of Health stayed in mediation with OAO before THEY walked away from the table in August: 2

  • Number of counter-offers the Ministry of Health gave the OAO after they’re FIRST and only proposed offer was made during those 2 days of mediated negotiations: 0

  • If the Health Minister and Deputy Premier need new glasses to read SHE WOULD NOT BE ABLE TO GET AN EYE EXAM. She’s a senior. The longer she drags this issue out the more her eyesight will deteriorate.

  • The number of phone calls and/or emails the OAO has received from the Ministry of Health to return to the table since seniors and children have lost access to eyecare two months ago: 0 – Zero.

  • The OAO is still waiting for Minister Elliott’s team to return to the bargaining table, while they remain focused on making publicity stunts and publicizing “alternate facts” in the media.

  • It is not fair nor reasonable to expect optometrists to pay out of pocket to provide OHIP-insured services.

  • Ontario optometrists provide over 4 million OHIP-insured eye care services ANNUALLY. In the last decade, Ontario optometrists provided over 34 million OHIP-insured eye care services. $39 million divided among 34 million services is a paltry $1.15 per service. An indication of what the government thinks of this job action.

  • Doug Ford has said countless times (and if you include audio-visual clips from the media played thousands of times) that he is for “the little guy”. The “little guy” needs they’re eyes examined. Be a leader and settle this job action. Your actions will determine how many people vote, and an election is just a few months away.

  • Optometrists did not ask for a retroactive payment at all but instead asked for any payment be put toward investing in a sustainable eye care system for the future.

  • The government imposed the payment but did not consult with optometrists as to how to distribute the payment. The government sent money to optometrists who have moved, retired and died. (You can tell this is a government operation).

  • The one-time payment does nothing to solve the eye care crisis and is a waste of taxpayers’ dollars.

  • Physician compensation and optometrist compensation is not an “apples-to-apples” comparison for various reasons. One such reason: Ontario physicians are the second-highest paid physicians in all of Canada; meanwhile, Ontario optometrists receive the lowest compensation rates across the country.

  • The Ministry of Health was asked to participate in a cost analysis study of overhead expenses for providing eye exams in December 2020; however, the Ministry of Health declined to participate. (The Ministry wants to be able to say “you paid for the study, so naturally it will say what you want it to say”).

  • As baby boomers enter into their senior years of life, they have an increased risk of developing cataracts, glaucoma, and macular degeneration. A surge in seniors with more complex eye care needs is inundating optometry offices.

images (1)Just remember, if your child thinks your glasses are a toy and you need new ones, forget that idea. You’ll need an exam. Especially if you’ve been in an accident.

89babd06bb64d8fdcfa303fdf70319ad41c87c03-image5Students who can’t read their laptop have only the provincial government to thank for their lousy grades. In-class or virtual, if you can’t see what’s in front of you means you’re screwed. And you can thank the ministry of heath for that.

In summary…

Christine Elliott, our minister of health, will probably continue to muddy the waters, fabricate so called “truths”, manufacture “facts”, and mangle reality beyond all recognition. My eye doctor hoped this job action would have been over in early fall. No such luck. Christine Elliott, and the ministry of health, have been uncommunicative as usual. Doug Ford will probably swoop in just weeks before the election, and straighten out the Elliott-induced catastrophe. Jus remember Doug…voters are watching. And angry voters don’t vote the way you want them to.

lookin' at you

Watching and waiting Doug. And waiting…and waiting…and waiting.      

The Eyes Have It

lookin' at you

Eyes. You have them. I have them. And I want to keep mine in tip-top shape. But the provincial government, the one led by Doug Ford, the one so concerned with vaccines and shots, doesn’t seem to care about your sight.

On September 1 the optometrists in this province went on strike. Doug Ford and the current minister of health the Honorable Christine Elliott don’t want you to know it has a problem they may not be able to handle.

On Sept. 1, 2021 this happened.

Optometrists stopped giving eye exams to:

  • Children, toddlers, and children in school needing glasses
  • Adults with pre-existing conditions (near sighted, far sighted, etc.)
  • All seniors

Why Is This Happening? 

  • For more than 30 years the government has not formally negotiated with Ontario optometrists
  • There continues to be a growing gap between inflation and investment in eye care.
  • In 1989, the Ontario government paid $39.15 for an OHIP-insured eye exam. Today, they pay only $44.65 per exam leaving the optometrist to pay the remainder out of their own pockets.
  • That fee does not come anywhere close to covering office expenses such as staff, rent, utilities, equipment, and supplies required to provide an eye exam.

What’s the solution?

There is only one solution. We need the government to commit to a binding, formal negotiation process – the same way they do with other health care sectors like the Ontario Medical Association – to ensure quality eye care for everyone in Ontario, today and in the future. Optometrists are doctors. Remember when the Ford government wanted us to thank front line workers?They are trying to ignore optometrists, and not pay them a living wage.

I’m not a senior yet (that happens next month), but I can’t get an exam because I have a pre-existing eye condition. My wife is in the same situation. We don’t like being caught in the middle of this strike/job action. The last time I had an eye exam was in December of 2018. I picked up my “new” glasses in January of 2019. I’m already having trouble reading. Sometimes, I’m not sure if I read an “L” or a “B”. In 2022 there will be a provincial election, and Doug Ford as well as Christine Elliott will want to get re-elected. With a aging population, and a great many eye exams being postponed because of a narrow minded tight fisted government, it will be interesting to see, (pun not intended), if anybody will be able to read the ballot.

squinting (1)

Conflict Thesaurus is Here!!

The Conflict Thesaurus Cover LARGE EBOOK-1

It’s always fun when there’s good news to share, and today is one of those days. You may know Angela Ackerman & Becca Puglisi, the authors of The Emotion Thesaurus and its E-book companion  Emotion Amplifiers. Well, I’m a big believer in the helpfulness of their books and so I joined their Street Team for The Conflict Thesaurus: A Writer’s Guide to Obstacles, Adversaries, and Inner Struggles (Vol. 1). It’s just released, and I am so excited to share a bit about it, and a super fun event, with all of you!

The Conflict Thesaurus tackles all the ways conflict can be used to build tension, push the story forward, raise stakes, and pressure characters to do whatever it takes to win. The guide dives into over 100 conflict scenarios and how each can be adapted to challenge a character inside and out. Problems, Moral Dilemmas, Ticking Clocks, Obstacles, Challenges…say goodbye to writer’s block, weak plots, and unmotivated characters. If you need help in any of these areas, check it out. You’ll be glad you did.

Can You Survive Danger as Well as Your Favorite Protagonist?


Let’s face it, as writers we’re always doing bad things to the protagonist. We put their loved ones in danger, force them to make impossible choices, and worse. But wouldn’t you like to know how you’d fare as the protagonist of a story?

Let me put it another way: if you were in the hot seat, could you handle the pressure? Would you make good decisions, or bad ones?

It’s time to find out by taking the Conflict Challenge!

Become the protagonist in a special story Angela & Becca have created using scenarios from The Conflict Thesaurus. And heads up, if you survive, you can win some cool stuff!


While you’re trying not to die in the Conflict Challenge, make sure to enter Angela & Becca’s Conflict Thesaurus release day giveaway, too. But hurry – it ends October 15th.

So, take the challenge…if you dare. And don’t forget to come back and let me know how you did against Camp Deadwood!

If you don’t know what to do, don’t do anything!

Those words really entered the American lexicon when they were spoken by Chris Kraft, the first space flight controller in the manned space program called Project Mercury. An underling didn’t know what to do during the simulation of an early space flight, was intimidated/terrified of Kraft, did something hoping he was right, wasn’t, caused a gigantic error, and incurred the wrath of Kraft.


(Kraft in Mercury Control in 1961 giving hell to someone)

And right now I don’t know what to do with “Blue Cottage”. I have five drafts, but it’s very hard to tell what’s missing.

I know…

Chapter 1 needs a lot of work. Description of most things is pretty pathetic. There is little to no description of the apartment or the hall. There is no physical description of either of the characters in chapter 1 and almost none on the police officer. I read what I had written then started wondering how to fix it.

I suspect that most of the pieces to this literary puzzle already exist in one of the five drafts. But it’s bloody frustrating knowing what has to be done, and not knowing how to do it. I’ve purchased books by Janice Hardy, Marcy Kennedy, Rayne Hall, and Natalie Goldberg to see if they could answer some questions. I’ve downloaded or printed out posts by Lorraine Ambers, Laurence MacNaughton and others and created a binder one inch thick of posts giving literary aid. I want to make it perfectly clear I am not blaming any of the above named authors for any of the short comings in my story “Blue Cottage”. But for all the reading I’ve done I’ve come to one conclusion: if you find ten author/coaches and ask them one simple question you’ll get ten very different answers.

Over thirty years ago I went through a medical event that almost killed me, and supremely messed up (and that’s being obscenely polite) my memory. Try to imagine there’s a brick wall in front of you. And each row of bricks represents a year of memories.  Now imagine there are over twenty rows of bricks in front of you. You’re now dealing with a lot of information. Now imagine a truck comes barrelling down the street, and smashes into that wall of bricks at high speed. Some of the bricks are totally destroyed – turned to dust, some are badly fragmented but can be used again, while others are so badly fractured only a fraction of them can ever be used again. Almost ten years of memories were totally destroyed –  completely erased , others were badly fragmented, and the remainder were just barely accessible. Everything I learned in elementary school with regard to the construction of a sentence was destroyed. I have no idea what a subject is, and for all I know a predicate could be related to a parakeet. A noun is nothing but a word to me, and the only thing I know about adverbs is that they should be avoided at all costs. I think adjectives are descriptive words but the frustrating aspect is I can look this information up in a dictionary, but I won’t remember what the blasted answer is.

A lot of information was destroyed to the point where I can just barely make use of it. If I were to meet Janice Hardy at a dinner party there is a good chance I would forget meeting her five minutes later. However, if I met Janice Hardy of Fiction University.Com there is a chance, a slim one, that I might remember her. Laurence MacNaughton might be remembered if he talked to me of his love for cars. I had to re-learn a great many things, and I have to constantly re-learn things I’ve already re-learned. Re-learning something by associating it with something sometimes helps, but not always.

I would dearly love to find is a comprehensive glossary of writing terms. A book that told me in very basic terms what a plot is, what POV is, what description is, etcetera. Just in case someone reads this and puts together a glossary like the one I just described do not use the word being defined in the answer. Apparently this sort of thing is a no-no.

I started writing Blue Cottage two years ago. Draft one appeared on this very blog. But if you were to compare draft one with draft 5 you would see very little resemblance.

Many writing coaches (legitimate and not so) suggest writing quickly. I can’t do that. My brain simply can’t handle the stress. I tried it once and ended up with a doozy of a headache. When I write my brain functions very quickly while my fingers are dead slow. Plus I have to watch my fingers actually press the key. The brain functions so quickly the fingers might not get the message to press a specific key.

I’ve finally decided who the audience for Blue Cottage is. Me. I’m writing it because I enjoy it. When I wrote draft one I felt somewhat “under the gun”, pressured, to produce 1500 words each week. But I kept going. The word count was the last thing I was paying attention to. Eventually I had 86,655 words by the end of draft one. Rayne Hall advocates that anybody finishing a first draft should scour it for words that simply aren’t needed. Her words of wisdom may be correct, but I found draft 2 getting fatter instead of slimmer. Draft 3 and 4 almost suffered from obesity. I stopped re-writing/re-vising shortly after I began draft 5. After reading all five drafts I decided to take a break from “Blue Cottage” and return to another story I abandoned a few years ago. “Second Chances”  is a story I started in 2006. It’s a Star Trek story. I saw the film “Generations” where the character of Captain Kirk is killed off. And I remember coming away from the film feeling somewhat cheated. I thought and felt the character could still be explored. Only this time James Tiberius Kirk would be retired, and the U.S.S. Enterprise would be gutted and mothballed. I didn’t want to deal with a large cast of characters so I thought about what I wanted to write. It started James T. Kirk, Tonia Barrows and Dr. Leonard McCoy and grew from there.

So I’ll distance myself from “Blue Cottage”, give it a rest, and work on “Second Chances”. Maybe I’ll return to “Blue Cottage” in the spring. Maybe later. But I’m not going to totally abandon it. I’ve too much time invested in it. Besides, I get a kick out of working on it.

Blue Cottage Draft 2 Report 2

THA_Shadow Lake-Blue Cottage

Ok, here’s what I’m going to do. I’ll post the very first chapter and hope for constructive comments. What you can do is really easy. You can say something constructive (meaning useful) comments bit if you’d rather not  see any more you don’t have to say a single solitary word.

WARNING:  This Chapter is 5,295 words long or 14 pages long.

Chapter 1 Blue Cottage


T. H. Austin

Cassandra Carter, also known to her friends as Cassie, was a radio reporter for station CKMT. She’s been working there for five years. Her boss was Robert Stone who had the nickname of Buddha. Once you saw him you’d know why he had that particular nickname. Cassie’s current employment status might be best be described as questionable. She was hired, then suspended then told to get out of town but it might be better if you knew the entire story.

When she got out of bed she knew it was going to be a very special day. It was five years to the day that she had been hired as a reporter by the station.

And for five years she had done everything asked of her and fulfilled every assignment without complaint or comment. She was determined that today would be different from every day that preceded it. After she drove into the parking garage she had to check in with security in the lobby. The building used to be an old hotel and little had been done to change its overall appearance. When she reached the lobby it was a short walk before she reached the security office. Ben, the daytime security guard, asked for her station ID card, just like he had for the last five years. Today was just one day too many.

“Oh come on! You know who exactly who I am” she said feigning mild exasperation. “Do we have to go through this charade every single day?” said Cassie.

Ben liked giving Cassie a hard time every now and then. When she didn’t have her ID ready for inspection he asked her to step aside while she searched through her purse. Ben looked right at her while he attempted to answer her question.

“I’m just obeying the rules, Cassie. I’ve got to check every ID. Besides, you know the deal. This whole process would go by much faster if you’ll go out on a date with me.”

Cassie rolled her eyes. Ben had been asking her out for five years and she had been saying no for just as long.

“Would you let me pass if I said I’ll think about it?”

Ben shook his head then took pity on her.

“Oh alright. Just this once.” He held up one finger.

“Besides, you’re holding up the parade. There are people behind you. Now scat or I’ll phone Buddha and say you’re making a scene.”

That’s when the clock in the lobby sounded nine and Cassie became furious.

“You rat! You made me late on purpose.”

Before she got on the elevator she pushed her station ID against the tip of Ben’s nose. Still angry, she tossed her ID inside her purse and closed it. She quickly stepped inside the elevator. As the doors closed she shook her fist at him. She was still angry when she got to the CKMT studios on the third floor. Cassie was one of the first to arrive that day and empty desks covered with flowers or photos littered the third floor. Hers was beside her boss’s office. The lack of cursing told her that Buddha had yet to arrive. Then she spotted an assignment slip taped the top of her desk. She reached for it and read it.

“Be at the zoo by two-thirty. Big announcement”. It was signed with a “B”.

Cassie thought about the assignment slip.

Not bloody likely. I’m a real reporter. I’m not a cub reporter fresh out of journalism school. It’s not my job to do puff pieces about Tibetan tigers and panda bears. That’s for first-year reporters. I cover hard news.”

She had good reason to be upset at the slip. She had been doing animal stories for five years and was sick of it. So after a few strong curses, Cassie turned around and walked towards the elevator. When she got to the ground floor she approached the security checkpoint and simply said: “Tell Buddha I’ll be at city hall”.


Her first stop was at city hall security. She had to inform them she was there, who she was, what media outlet she represented and would be taking part in the mayor’s daily media scrum. Television reporters were always in the first row of reporters. They were always closest to the mayor. Behind the TV reporters stood radio reporters. And behind them were newspaper reporters. She didn’t know who decided this on particular pecking order but it seemed to work. TV reporters had a friendly dislike for radio reporters and radio reporters had a mutual dislike for their TV counterparts. But reporters were always ready to help each other out when they needed a quote. Reporters also stood together if one of them was slighted in any way. By the time she reached the office of city hall security, she was trembling. She held her press credentials for inspection. Then she stood in a line of other reporters that seemed to move forward with the speed of a lame snail. Normally media outlets sent one reporter to cover city hall, and at CKMT the city hall beat belonged to Toby Squires. It would look very strange if two reporters showed up unless there was a very good reason. She handed her credentials to a very bored looking guard sitting at the desk in front of her.

“Cassandra Carter representing CKMT”. The guard looked at her with an unusual intensity.

“Toby is already here. Why are you here Miss Carter?”.

This was one question was one she should have been prepared for. She gave the guard the first excuse she could think of.

“Toby is nearing retirement. My boss asked me to shadow him for a couple of weeks to see if I liked the assignment”.

The guard stood and glowered at her.

“Now that’s strange. Toby hasn’t said a word about retirement”.

Cassie now had to lie like her life depended on it. And, in a way, it did.

“Mr. Stone and I talked about this assignment yesterday. He said he wanted someone new to give the reporting a more youthful sound. I can’t say for sure but I think this is more of a lateral career move if you know what I mean”.

The guard was quiet for a short time and sat back down. He exhaled out and his cheeks ballooned out while the press credentials were scanned for metallic objects. A female guard waved a handheld scanner over Cassie’s body.

“You mean the guy is getting fired?” the guard asked quietly.

Cassie was now in it up to her neck. She now had a friend’s career in the palm of one hand and her own in the other. She leaned forward and started speaking quietly as well.

“I can’t say for sure but it sure looks that way. Please don’t say I said anything” she pleaded.

The guard looked winded and pale as if an old friend had just died.

“Wow, I had no idea. I’m sure gonna miss him” said the guard.

The guard dragged his fingers through his hair and looked like he had just been dealt a body blow. On the off chance, she did get the city hall beat he wanted to pay her a compliment.

“Don’t take this the wrong way but you’ll sure brighten this place up. Time has not been kind to some of the regulars. Some of them have been covering City Hall since you were a kid. Just sign where I’ve marked and you’re good to go”.

After signing in and getting accredited she hid out in the ladies’ room and waited till it was just a few minutes before the scrum. The ladies’ room was directly opposite the mayor’s office. It also provided a place where she could keep an on things, plus keep a lookout for Toby. She didn’t want to run into him before the scrum began. When other reporters started assembling outside the mayor’s office she discreetly exited the ladies’ room. She hugged the wall and only moved closer when the actual scrum began. The mayor didn’t care for reporters. She couldn’t control the media and reporters were always an unknown quantity. When she finished re-announcing what she had already announced during the re-election campaign the free for all began. Reporters jumped and yelled trying almost anything to get the attention of the mayor. The rules were quite clear. Reporters could do almost anything until the mayor pointed at one of them. Then dead silence had to take the place of the toddler like pandemonium. The mayor pointed to one of Cassie’s cohorts from the zoo beat. It was obvious the mayor didn’t recognize her.

“The woman wearing the red pantsuit in the second row,” she said pointing at the woman. Silence fell and the reporter asked her question.

“Madam Mayor, why are you re-announcing plans you have already announced during your re-election campaign?”

The mayor was caught red-handed performing an old political trick. She avoided the question and pretended she didn’t hear it. Then she pointed at Cassie who was as nervous as a long-tailed cat in a room full of rocking chairs.

“The woman near the wall in the dark green pantsuit” barked the mayor.

“Casandra Carter of CKMT. A male employee of the city has accused you of sexual harassment. Would you care to make any comment?”

When Toby Squires heard the call letters of the station he immediately pulled out his cell phone. As he talked he made eye contact with Cassie who immediately turned green. He looked furious. Suddenly her smartphone began to vibrate which meant it was a text message.

“GET BACK TO THE STATION NOW!” The message was from Buddha.

The mayor was red-faced with rage. She began sputtering and stuttering at the question. Her rage was so fierce she started to shake and to steady herself she had to hold on to the lectern in front of her. She turned her back on the scrum and spoke quietly with a member of her staff. The same staff member soon started moving towards Cassie. A second staff member soon approached her in a classic pincer movement. Cassie tried backing up but soon bumped into the wall. One of the mayors’ minions grabbed her by the arm. Soon her other arm was grabbed as well.

“Come with us, Miss”. Cassie complained and protested this treatment. The two staff members took her to city hall security. As the three of them entered the security office Cassie glanced at the guard who had signed her in. One of the mayors’ staff spoke up.

“She violated the rules of the scrum. Plus the mayor wants her banned for life” one of the mayors’ aides said.

The security guard now stood and ripped off Cassie’s press credentials. The guard looked at her as a disappointed father would.

“Sorry, Cassie. You lied to me, and Toby’s not being retired. You should have known this would happen. From here on in you will no longer be welcome at city hall. Your photo will be kept on file and you will be refused entry should you ever try to come here again. You’re Persona Non-Grata here. You’ll now be escorted out of the building”. He paused then said, “You brought this on yourself”.

Unknown to Cassie other reporters were demanding the mayor answer the question she had asked. The mayor abruptly ended the scrum and retreated into her office. By law, reporters could not go past the glass wall of the mayors’ office. The office had recently been renovated and the walls of the office were now bulletproof and soundproof so all the staff members could do was see the reporters. Some of the staff even referred to the mayors’ office as “the fishbowl”.

As Cassie walked back to the CKMT offices she tried her best to put a positive spin on what just happened. But the more she tried the more she realized there was nothing remotely positive about this. She slowly realized that she had just committed journalistic suicide. When she reached the CKMT building she saw Ben the security guard waiting for her.

“Buddha called and told me what happened. He also asked me to escort you upstairs”. Cassie couldn’t help but notice he didn’t ask me out.

They went up in the elevator together in total silence. They both knew what was going to happen. When the elevator reached the third floor Ben stayed inside. Cassie took a step forward then turned around and put a hand on his chest. “For what it’s worth I almost said yes today”. Then she heard some footsteps behind her. Buddha was waiting.

“Carter! Get your scrawny ass into my office”.

Cassie walked into Buddha’s office. Robert Stone, also known as Buddha, was the boss at CKMT. He used to be an editor at a large metropolitan newspaper until it was sold. The new owners wanted him as editor but he didn’t want anything to do with the new owners. His physical makeup was that of a man in his fifties with rapidly thinning hair who could stand to lose more than a few pounds. His physique was that of a person who used to play football. He didn’t have a neck. After Cassie sat down Buddha entered and sat behind his badly dented gunmetal desk. Whenever he was angry or unhappy he kicked the side of his desk. A small sign in the main office showed the number of kicks the desk got on a given day. As she walked towards her date with destiny she saw a sign that had the number “seventeen” written on it. For a short eternity, Buddha just sat in his chair, leaning back and stared at Cassie. His glare was piercing. Finally, he spoke. The shouting started immediately.

“Are you trying to kill me?” he bellowed. “I’ve never had anyone cause me as much trouble as you have today” was a little lower in tone but at least it didn’t rattle the soundproof windows. Cassie knew she had screwed up badly and started looking at the floor. She found it incredibly hard to face the man who hired her right out of school and gave her her first real job in radio journalism.

Buddha started pointing at the phone on his desk.

“See this phone. There’s nothing remotely special about it. It’s an ordinary desk phone. But it’s seen more action in the last hour than all the Playboy Bunnies combined!. So, if I’m sitting on an angle it’s because the battle-ax that owns this station just chewed my ass off!. She wants you fired immediately. She’s had calls from the mayor’s office and other station owners. So, naturally, she bitches at me”.

Buddha sat up and leaned forward in his chair. “So listen up! Me boss. You employee!” He slammed the desk. “You’ve been escorted out of city hall for the very last time. They’ve rescinded your press credentials and are adamant about never reinstating them. And City Hall security has standing orders to detain you should you ever go back, for any reason. You can’t even go back to use the ladies’ room. The provincial government and those boneheaded Feds have heard about your little stunt with the mayor and are in the process of banning you from all government buildings as well as retracting your media credentials”.

Cassie started sniffling and prayed Buddha would stop. But he continued.

“Does the story stop there you ask? Not a snowball’s chance in hell. Your name is in almost every newspaper, television broadcast, and radio broadcast in the western world. You make fights in Taiwan’s parliament look tame”.

He walked over to the front of his desk and sat on the edge. Praise usually came from behind the desk in a seated position. If you’re about to be handed your head he liked to be up close and personal. He crossed his arms and scowled.

“You’re actions today have got me over a barrel. I could fire you, and God knows I should. But dammit, you’re also one of the best radio reporters I’ve seen in a damn long time”.

Buddha had a thin streak of humanity that was rarely seen and it was starting to show. His philosophy was to rule by instilling fear in those that worked under him, and he wanted to keep his “meanest son of a bitch in the valley” reputation intact so he closed the door. He returned to his chair and put his feet on his desk.

“You’ve got drive, empathy, and passion. That’s a combination that rarely comes along. Most of the people in this business have only got two of those qualities. But have three and that makes you a damn special person and only a fool would fire. In the news business, you’re what’s called a triple threat. But you’re not professional enough. You’ve got detach yourself from the story. That’s why I kept giving you zoo assignments”. Then he stood up and started to pace inside his office. His spartan office only had two pictures. One of the Hindenburg explosion and the space shuttle Challenger exploding.

He returned to his chair. He looked very tired and weary.

“The owner of the station wants me to fire you. But I’m not going to do that. You’re just too damn good to cut loose. You’ve got potential coming out the wazoo but unfortunately that’s all it is right now. So here’s what I’m going to do. I’m going to put you on indefinite suspension until you reign in whatever is that’s pissing you off. You’re still an employee of CKMT. I’ll square that with the owner. I’m not sure how I’ll do it but I’ll do it. But I’m not doing you any favors. “Indefinite suspension” is radio journalism’s little purgatory. It means no pay, no health benefits, no “perks” of any kind that usually go with the profession. Zilch. Worst of all is you can’t write for any other news station or news medium. If you were my daughter my advice to you would be to get outta the city and cast out your demons. Where you go is your business, but when you come back that chip on your shoulder better be gone. If it’s still there your career will be over. Now, I want you to take some time off and ask yourself if this is really what you want to do. Do I make myself clear?”

“Crystal. Get out of town and grow up”.

“Took the words right out of my mouth. Now, get a box from storage and clear out your desk before I have to call building security”.


Cassie slowly walked towards the storage room and picked out a sturdy white bankers box. Walking back just as slowly she slammed it on top of her desk. It took only a few minutes to clean out her desk then she said goodbye to a few select people. Then she took the elevator down to the parking garage. The elevator seemed to move painfully slowly and Cassie started to tear up by the time she finally reached the garage and her car. She put the box on top of the trunk, her hands against her face, and started to cry. She took one look at the contents of the cardboard box and thought it was a pretty puny collection for five years of her life. She didn’t expect to come back so she snapped the plastic lanyard around her neck and tossed her ID badge into the box. After putting the small box on the passenger seat she got in the car, revved the engine and sped out of the parking garage, past Ben, and away from CKMT.

As she drove home her eyes began to get moist. It wasn’t long before she started tearing up again. She realized she needed to talk to someone. Crying and driving don’t usually mix well and the tears were quickly obscuring her vision. She began stabbing the dashboard of the car.

“Where’s that damn button?”.

She tried reaching it with wet, salty tears obscuring her vision. And all she succeeded in doing was in breaking a nail. Normally she’d be ticked off but this time she just didn’t care.


Cassie looked at her nails and shivered. The nail covering the index finger was jagged and ugly when compared to the other nails. She drove the car to the side of the road and parked. Searching through her purse she found the little packet of Kleenex and wiped her eyes with it. When Cassie bought the mascara it was sold to her as waterproof. Well, it wasn’t. When she looked into the mirror a raccoon looked back.

“Oh hell!. I better call Carol. I need someone to talk to”.

Carol Jenkins was one of her few remaining friends she still had from journalism school. Most of the others worked in different areas of the country. Even though Carol worked at a competing station the two became so close they thought of each other as sisters. Carol was somebody she could confide in. The previous Christmas Cassie gave herself a present and had a phone installed in her Honda Civic. It was one of those voice-activated models. All she had to do was say the name of the car and the name of the person to call.

“Toodles, call Carol”. For some reason, I named my car “Toodles”.

After a few seconds, a phone began to ring.

“Hello, this is Carol Jenkins. I’m away from my desk-”.

“Damn!” Cassie hated voice mail and pressed the “end call” button.

She waited for five minutes and tried again.

The phone connected and started ringing.

“C’mon girlfriend be there. I need to talk to you” said Cassie.

She prayed for a flesh and blood person to answer the phone. After what felt like a small eternity Carol answered.

“Carol Jenkins. How ya doin’ girlfriend?”.

Cassie paused. Suddenly the words “I’ve been canned” burst out of her mouth and a torrent of tears streamed down her face.

“Cassie, did you just say that butt-head fired you?” asked Carol.

Cassie chuckled a bit. Carol had been funny without meaning to. The tears were too much to handle so she leaned back and rested her head against the headrest. Carol never had a head for names let alone nicknames so her mangling Buddha’s name came as no surprise.

“Buddha didn’t fire me exactly but it’s just as bad. I’m on indefinite suspension and you know what that means”.

When Carol and Cassie were in school there was a special lecture on the subject. The lecturer had been put on indefinite suspension and he called it “radio hell”.

At first, Carol said nothing at all. Then she understood the magnitude of what Cassie had said.

“I’m coming over tonight with comfort food. I want all the details. I can’t come over right now, but I’ll be over around seven tonight. I’ll be coming over after work. You going to be all right hon?” said Carol.

When Cassie heard Carol say she was coming from work her head dropped onto her chest and she could feel her neck muscles start to relax.

“I need to talk to my auntie Carol. Thanks” She pressed the “End Call” button and another river of tears started.


When she got home she changed from her work clothes into an old ratty sweatsuit from better days. As Cassie sat on the sofa she peered into the box containing what used to be important. She looked at the note pads and the cassettes and started crying again. She bowed her head and bawled her head off. And for a few hours, that’s all she did.

Carol arrived shortly after seven armed with Häagen-Dazs mint-chocolate ice cream, four gigantic bags of Oreo cookies, and two bottles of Lowenbrau beer. First, she tried knocking on the door. No response. Juggling ice cream, Oreo cookies, and beer was no easy feat and she resorted to kicking the bottom of the door.

“Cassie, it’s Carol. Open the door. This stuff is heavy!” she yelled.

Cassie had three locks on the door plus a peephole so Carol had to wait in the hall as she pulled a heavy bolt lock at the bottom of the door which went into a hole in the floor. Then she had to deal with the chain lock being undone which always made a scraping sound, and the smaller bolt lock that always gave out a “thunk” when it was being undone. Before unlocking the door Cassie looked through the peephole to see if Carol was still there.

The sight that greeted Carol when Cassie opened the door could only be described as horrific. Some of her mascara had dripped down her face and coupled with the red raccoon eyes transformed her into something you might see in a horror movie.

“Holy Christmas! I’m gonna clean you up so you look human again. Help me with these bags then follow me into the bathroom” said Carol.

When Carol went into the kitchen and put the bags and beer on the kitchen counter Cassie went back to the sofa. Carol grabbed some Kleenex from the bathroom and proceeded to remove the mascara streaks. When she finished cleaning Cassie up she sat in a comfy chair with crossed arms and looked right at her. Cassie chose to sit on the floor directly in front of the sofa.

“When you called me I didn’t know what to think so I want to know everything. From what you had for breakfast to what you wore to work. I want to know what happened at work, and what didn’t happen. One of my stations’ reporters said you were in city hall?. When did you get the city hall beat? Did butt-head hit you?”. When Carol finished she pointed right at Cassie providing her with an opening to answer Carol’s questions. Cassie sat on the floor in her sweatsuit hugging a red pillow and started sniffling. When she didn’t start talking Carol started talking a little softer.

“I don’t make comfort runs to the grocery store for just anyone. C’mon girlfriend, talk to me. If all you’re going to do is sit there, pout and hug the stuffing out of that pillow I’m going home. I’ve got a mountain of things that need to be done yesterday”.

When Cassie finally began talking Carol noticed that she was surrounded by a sea of romance novels. Some looked like they had been read two or three times and others very recently. When she picked one up she noticed that some lines had been underlined, and when the name of the female protagonist was mentioned that name had been crossed out and Cassie substituted her own. For the better part of an hour, Cassie recounted her day in almost gory detail. But she wasn’t finished. Partway through she stopped, got up from the floor and walked into the kitchen. When she returned she was chowing down on mint-chocolate ice cream. A few minutes later she returned to the kitchen to retrieve the Oreo’s and a bottle of beer. As she got closer to reciting her chat with Buddha she started to rock back and forth. When she got to the part where Buddha said “I’ve never had anyone cause me so much trouble as you have today” she was bawling her head off again. All that did was make her eyes redder.

“Then he told me to get out of town and get my shit together. Normally Buddha is a bloody great lump with all the manners you can find on the head of a pin. But today he was almost human. He talked to me like I was his daughter”.

Carol thought a bit before speaking. Then she leaned forward to ask what was a sensitive question.

“I know this probably a ridiculous question but is it possible, just possible, that he has romantic feelings for you?”.

Cassie opened her mouth and stuck her finger in it.

“God, what a revolting thought. The man’s old enough to be my father. That’s so gross I think I’m going to hurl. Yuck!”.

Carol took her shoes off and leaned back in the chair.

“Sorry. I had to ask so I could eliminate the possibility. But he did say you were a triple threat and lord knows you gave him more than enough reason to fire you. Maybe being suspended isn’t such a bad thing. Technically you still work for the station. Do you have any idea where you’re going to go?”.

Cassie leaned back and her head fell onto on the sofa.

“I’d rather not dig into my savings if I can avoid it. I had an aunt Heather who died last year. For some reason, she left her cottage to me. Maybe I should check it out. I’ve only been there only a few times and that was during the summers and very briefly. She wasn’t exactly a people person. Why she left it to me I’ll never know. It’s near a sleepy little town called Norland. You know the kind. The kind of town where if someone has the flu at one end of town by the time the news reaches the far end of town they’re at death’s door with the plague. I’ll have to contact our family lawyer for the directions. His name is Harold Langtree”.

Carol relaxed for the first time since she arrived.

“You had had me going ya know. You sounded pretty frantic when you called but it sounds like you’ve got things sorted out already. Can I make a suggestion?”.

Carol reached down for one the books at her feet.

“When you go to the cottage take a few of these books with you. You’re going to have a lot of questions. Some of the answers you’re looking for might be in between these covers. Once you get settled give me a call. It sounds like an intriguing place. Can I ask one more question?. And I promise it has nothing to do with your station or mine”. Caroled around and started scratching her head.

“You’ve had this apartment about five years now and it still looks like you just moved in. What gives?”.

Cassie looked tired but she forced herself to answer Carol’s question.

“Apartments aren’t a home. A house is. A house with kids and a husband who never remembers to put the seat down. Between you and me I was hoping I wouldn’t be here this long. Plus I’m not the decorating type of gal. I guess I just don’t have the decorating gene. Now I want to thank you for coming over and bringing the comfort food but shoo. You look as bushed as I feel. And once I get the cottage all straightened up I promise to invite you. Now scat!”.

Cassie held the door open for Carol. As she went through the doorway she handed Cassie one of the romance novels that were on the floor.

“Read it. Only this time really read it. Sometimes books have answers to questions you’ve forgotten to ask”.

Cassie looked at the cover and couldn’t recall reading it. Then she smelled the pages and there was none of the tell-tale dust. As she closed the door she peered through the peephole and watched Carol walk down the hall. Carol was a really good friend who deserved so much more. After Carol was safely in the elevator Cassie started to fasten the bolts on the door and the chain lock.

Blue Cottage Draft 2–Progress Report #1

THA_Shadow Lake-Blue Cottage

I thought doing a second draft of the first draft of “Blue Cottage” would be pretty easy. Fat chance!. First, the first draft is bad in parts. No, let me re-phrase that. It’s pretty bad. No, that’s still not right. The first draft is just god-awful. I can think of other ways of describing it but I’m pretty sure you get the gist. I’m sure somebody out there in there in the cybershere is saying to themselves “The author is always the harshest critic”. And that may be true. But I’m having a heck of good time whipping it into shape.

See that picture at (or near) the top. That’s where I spent the summers of 1964 to the mid-seventies. My parents demolished the existing cottage and built this one. Only it wasn’t called Blue Cottage. It was called many things but never, ever, not even once, that name. That’s one I made up all on my own. Now, the main character in Blue Cottage is Cassandra (Cassie) Carter. Everything else revolves around her or concerns her. She’s a radio reporter who creates a scandal, is suspended indefinitely (not fired), and is told to get out of town until the scandal blows over. She retreats to Blue Cottage which was willed to her by her late Aunt Heather. Watching an old VHS tape her aunt recorded prior to her death she learns the nearby towns are populated with a cast of characters all somewhere between eccentric and nuts. She’s also told the guy next door is a reclusive author who is getting over a very bad, and very  short lived marriage. When Cassie watches the tape she learns her  aunt was a bit of a matchmaker.

I had a big problem with Cassie. In the first draft she was the primary narrator. I tried switching that to an anonymous narrator for draft 2 because Cassie came off sounding like a bit of a chatterbox. I wasn’t totally satisfied with the way the new narrator sounded and reverted back to chatterbox Cassie. I still wasn’t satisfied with the way Cassie sounded so I’m back to the anonymous narrator. I also remembered something. When something lifechanging / traumatic happens to a woman it often helps to talk with another woman. In the first draft Cassie had no female friends to speak of so in the second draft I created Carol Jenkins. Cassie met Carol when they were both at journalism school. Carol landed a job at a radio station different from Cassie’s but in the same city. They are so close they regard the other as a sister, and the other one is always there when times get tough. Cassie is also a rabid reader of romance novels and Carol discovers this when she arrives the evening Cassie is suspended. Carol arrives with comfort food which consists of Haagen-Dazs mint-chocolate ice cream, Lowenbrau Beer and four bags of Oreos. Carol essentially provides an ear for Cassie who is surprised at the mess she created.

In Chapter 3 Cassie discovers she has feelings for a man she has never met. Her next door neighbor is Peter James Christopher. He’s an author of three books of fiction but only the first two were wildly popular. The third just didn’t have the zest and enthusiasm the first two did. Peter has also been married before. After his divorce from the “she-devil” he is all by himself in Casa Christopher. He introduces himself to Cassie’s Aunt Heather. But he’s gun shy. After a most unpleasant marriage any serious relationship with a woman is the last thing on his mind. About a week before Aunt Heather dies from an ulcer Peter drops by and asks if he can do anything for her. Heather is listening to the radio and asks Peter to listen with her.  All Heather says is “Listen. That’s my niece”. No name. Nothing. Heather dies shortly after, and Peter slowly falls in love with a voice on the radio. Two years pass ( I may have changed that by the time you read this) and Cassie creates a scandal and is suspended indefinitely without pay or medical. She isn’t fired but is told not to come back until “you figure out what’s pissing you off”. Because of the scandal Cassie is advised to “get out of town”. She makes tracks to Blue Cottage – a place she hasn’t been in a few years –she could take her aunt in small doses. When it becomes hers she cleans it within an in of its life and stains the deck the brownish color you see in the photo. Hearing a voice that sounds very familiar Peter comes over. Cassie doesn’t notice him. This is Cassie’s first time staining anything. Peters voice is somewhat gravelly and he says “missed a spot”. Cassie is startled and begins to fall off the stairs on the left side of the photo. Peter catches her and for the first time sees the face of the woman who owns the voice he’s fallen in love with.

I have had to do a lot of re-writing. Right now the story is pretty different from drift #1.. First of all is the overall appearance. When I wrote draft 1 the font I chose was Georgia 14 point. In the second draft I switched to the font called Courier. I kept the font size at 14 because 12 point is too blasted small for these 63 year old eyes. Since I started writing this blog entry I’ve written three more chapters. So I’ve got six chapters to play with. I generally write the skeleton of a chapter one day, add the meat to the bones a day later, then edit the crap out of what I’ve written. I wish I could share this draft with you. Who knows, I may actually do it. But if I do I’m going to require some real honest to god comment. Not comments that say “I love it…keep going” but some real criticism. I tried having a person critique it. All they did was disembowel it. They ripped it apart and essentially had nothing polite to say about it. I’m looking for polite, useful criticism. I’m not asking for the moon just tell me what you think about the chapter. The whole time I was writing draft # 1 I think I got a total 3 comments. Some parts of the story might sound familiar while others will be brand new.

So its up to you…. you know the deal.     THA.

PS. Long chapters

The Time Tunnel-1966


I took a stroll down memory lane recently. I love writing because of this show. And I love history because of this show. When I was a boy watching this show I didn’t notice the plot holes you could drive an eighteen wheel truck through. But I did notice the story.

The Time Tunnel was the third television series created by Irwin Allen. First came the film Voyage To The Bottom Of The Sea on July 12, 1961. A television series based on the film and utilizing the same name ran on the ABC network from September 14, 1964 to March 31, 1968. Just after the series began to air Irwin Allen turn his attention from inner space to outer space. Lost In Space aired on the CBS Network during the televisions seasons of 1965 to 1968. But in 1964 Irwin Allen started writing a forty-five page outline for a series that would eventually be called The Time Tunnel.

Irwin Allen commissioned Shimon Wincelberg to write the pilot script for the series. Wincelberg also wrote the script for the pilot for Lost In Space so Irwin Allen knew what to expect. Wincelberg also wrote for other series of the era such as Have Gun – Will Travel and Route 66. Only a handful of Allen’s original ideas would survive the re-writing process. He also added a number of new characters that would survive the re-write process and make it to the series, however still another re-write would take place.

The ABC Television network was interested but requested some changes before they would commit to the purchase of the series. The ABC television network was in a three way race and they were in third place. They wanted 1966 to be the year color came to TV. Up till then almost all the shows on TV were filmed in black and white and broadcast in black and white. But with the special effects the script called for the series would be very expensive to produce. Enter Jack Bloom.


Harold Jack Bloom spent most of his life writing scripts for TV. He wrote for The Man From U.N.C.L.E, 12 O’clock High, and Have Gun – Will Travel. He occasionally dabbled with film scripts. The Last of the Pharaohs, and the James Bond film You Only Live Twice are just two of the films he worked on. If you are a James Bond film fan you may be wondering where his credits are. Harry Saltzman and Cubby Brocolli would initially ask Bloom to write the film, but would find the script lacking. Roald Dahl would be brought in to spruce it up. He decided that many of Blooms ideas were worth keeping. Bloom did get some credit – “For additional material”.


Harold Jack Bloom

Shimon Wincelberg only had one time traveller by the name of Peter Phillips. Bloom added a second traveller whose name was Tony Newman. Bloom also changed Peter Phillips first name to Doug. He made other changes too. General Kirk was originally a doctor. The bigwig from Washington who came to kill the super secret project was originally a woman. But by the time Bloom was through making changes this hatchet wielding person was now a man. He also added Dr. Ann MacGregor and Dr. Ray Swain. With these changes the budget could be met, and the series produced. He added Dr. MacGregor and Dr. Swain because as Wincelberg had it “Dr” Kirk would be doing all the work.


With the script now settled on it came time to cast the show. James Darren(Gidget , The Guns Of Navarone , City Beneath The Sea ) was cast as Tony Newman. Robert Colbert (Colt .45, Maverick, Death Valley Days) was cast as the second time traveller.

James Darren      Robert Colbert     Whit Bissell

      James Darren                        Robert Colbert                            Whit Bissell

                John Zaremba     Lee Meriwether

                           John Zaremba                               Lee Meriwether

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Whit Bissell ( I Was A Teenage Werewolf, I Was A Teenage Frankenstein, The Creature From The Black Lagoon) was cast as General Kirk while the roles of the scientists went to John Zaremba (Earth Vs. The Flying Saucers) and former Miss America (1955)Lee Meriwether. This show was fantastic entertainment for a child of nine or ten years of age, but it was also obvious that the show didn’t place a great deal of emphasis on accuracy. In the pilot episode that was aired (the original pilot episode ran too long but was included in the DVD set that finally came on the market) the name of the captain of The Titanic was Malcolm. History tells us his first name was actually Edward and went by the nickname “E.J.”. The Time Tunnel introduced kids to the RMS Titanic, Halley’s Comet, and the island of Krakatoa. The cancellation of the show is still a matter of debate in some circles. But the fact remains that by early 1967 The Time Tunnel was just scraping by in the ratings. And for one unnamed ABC executive scraping by just wasn’t good enough. He wanted to cancel The Time Tunnel and replace with it with a show called Custer (named after the United States general who did so well at the battle of Little Bighorn). One day in the spring of ‘67 Time Tunnel was renewed. The next it was dead and replaced with Custer. Custer died a quick death, doing far worse than The Time Tunnel and lasting only a handful of shows. But the damage had been done. The Time Tunnel had been cancelled and all actors had moved on. The sets had been struck (demolished), and The Time Tunnel would remain a glimmer in Irwin Allen’s eye. Of all the series he created (there were four) The Time tunnel was his favorite. In the seventies he tried to breath new life into the failed series. Even after his death his wife tried to reboot the series in 2002. Again, the attempt failed. The Time Tunnel will remain a cheesy series with really lousy writing. But it will remain a gem in the heart of its many fans.

Just in case you think the music sounds familiar well…it should. The Time Tunnel was one of his first major jobs. John Williams, the man who wrote the scores for Star Wars, Raiders Of The Lost Ark, and Close Encounters Of The Third Kind wrote the music for The Time Tunnel. Only as Johnny Williams.