Thursday, March 29, 2012

Dropping Out

Well, I was thoroughly trounced in the School Board race on Monday, and while I'd like to say it doesn't bother me, it does have a certain impact.  Losing is never something to relish, and I've experienced more than my fair share of losses over the years.  It's time for a change of course.

There is a lot to be learned from losing, and to be perfectly blunt I'm sick of the lessons.  It is clear at this point that running for office is a waste of my time.  It is a lot of hard work and it's not fun anymore, so I see no reason to continue on this fruitless path.  I doubt I will ever run for elected office again.

There are far better things that I should be doing.  If I weren't wasting time on these failed elections, I could probably write a lot more, or at least sleep easier at night.  So, I'm dropping out of the political pool.  I will leave the field to those more suited to the life, and more popular with the electorate.

It is good that I step aside now, before I am too worn down by political strife, for I could grow bitter and resentful were I to linger amongst the polls for too long, finding no victory in what I do.  For sure, I will find my fortune elsewhere, and I shall henceforth return to my writing exploits, where I truly shine.

In conclusion, I'd like to thank my supporters, as few and far between as they may be.  I am sorry I could not carry the day for you, and truly I hope you continue to support me in my non-political endeavors.  Remember, the winner in writing, as in politics, is not always the person with the best words or the right ideas, but the person with the most friends willing to campaign for them.  I have sadly been lacking in both fields for far too long.  It is time to redirect from the ballot box to the book rack.  Please, speak well of my published works, and grant me victory in the marketplace!

And remember, an review is a great stump speech for any book.  Visit my Amazon Author Page, and pick out one of my books to review!

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Six-Gun Conjurer (Lucky 7 Sneak Peek)

Fellow writer Ellie Garratt bestowed a special gift upon me last Monday, in the form of a tag.  It seems there is a blogtastic exercise rolling around the internet, and I've been given the opportunity to participate.  How fun!

How this works is pretty simple: 

1. Go to page 77 of your current Manuscript/Work In Progress.
2. Go to line 7.
3. Copy down the next 7 sentences or paragraphs, and post them as they are written.
4. Tag 7 other authors.

My current work in progress has yet to reach page 77, so I'll go back to my last finished work, tentatively entitled The Six Gun Conjurer.  I suppose you can still call this a work in progress, since the last round of revisions won't be complete until it goes to the publisher later this summer.

"Do ye be needin' a spot of help, boys?" Flaherty asked, the leprechaun looking as spiffy as ever in his tweed suit.

"Not your kind of help," Ron grumbled, disinclined to trust the magic-using dwarf whose intentions were questionable at the best of times.

 "Well, tough, you've got it," Flaherty argued.  "I"ll not see me adopted home town wrecked like this.  Who'll vote for me then?"

Ron wanted to laugh.  The leprechaun who would be mayor was more interested in securing votes than actually helping anyone.  His valiant effort to quell the disturbance was about personal gain.  If it could win him the election to join the riots, he'd be leading them instead.

Still, understanding Flaherty's motivation, Ron felt he could be helpful.

"All right, leppercon.  Think you've got the power to bust up this pack of brawlers in front of us?"

"Aye, but you maybe want to be standing by to arrest the ringleaders after the fact.  They'll still be stirring for a fight, and they'll get it outside o' jail."

Not the most exciting bit of fiction, but it's the Lucky 7 thingy.

Okay, now to tag 7 more writers, and see how many of them are willing to share:

Tony Benson
Alva J. Roberts
Matt Nord
A.D. Spencer
A.C. Hall
Michael Offutt
D. Nathan Hilliard

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Hibernian Roots

As St. Patrick's Day was just last week, I've been thinking about my Irish ancestry.  There are quite a few of my forebears who came across from the Emerald Isle, and it would be nice to learn more about their own lineage, though the Irish were notorious for not keeping records.  Those of us with Irish ancestors generally find a dead end in our research once we get to Ireland, and I could probably write an entire post about the various social and cultural reasons for the absence of information, though not today.

Moving forward, here are a few of the Irish ancestors I've found:

George Gamble
Circa 1860

George Gamble:  He was born on 16 October 1795 in Ballybay, Monaghan County, Ireland, the youngest of six children born to John Gamble and Elizabeth Kennedy.  He came to the United States in April 1811, aboard the Protection, with his parents and siblings William, Joseph, and James, as well as James' wife Isabella (Nesbit), and John Morrow, Jr., the son of George's sister, Nancy.  The rest of the family, including John Gamble, Jr., migrated over at different times on different ships, and they settled in Bradford County, Pennsylvania, to work as farmers.

On 16 October, 1818, George married Anne Keeney, a woman whose ancestry goes all the way back to William Bradford.  They settled on a farm in the town of Harford, Susquehanna County, Pennsylvania, where they spent the rest of their lives.  They had 4 sons and 6 daughters, including my 3x great grandfather, Theodore Beza Gamble.

James MacCain:  I don't know a whole lot about the MacCain side of my family, largely because it was disowned generations ago.  Since my great-grandfather Raymond Wilmer MacCain, Sr. divorced my great-grandmother Effie Kurtz Robinson, little has been said of them.  Attempts to contact different cousins on this side of the family have gone unanswered, though I'm still hopeful that somebody with information about the MacCains will contact me someday.

Here's what little I know.  James MacCain (grandfather of aforementioned Raymond) was born circa 1810 in Armagh County, Ireland.  He married Nancy Agnes Nixon and they came to America sometime before 1840.  Their daughter, Agnes, was born in Pennsylvania in 1839, and they later had 3 sons, Robert MacCain (1840), James Penn MacCain (1844), and William John MacCain (April 1850).  William was the father of Raymond, and 3 other sons.

Alexander Moore:  Here's the other side of my MacCain heritage.  Alexander Moore was born 15 March 1830 in the town of Ballygawley, Tyrone County, Ireland.  His father was also Alexander Moore, but it may be inaccurate to call them Sr. and Jr., as there seems to be a long line of Alexanders in the Moore family.  If the Irish had kept proper records (damn their defiant non-compliance with English record-keeping), I'd probably be able to tell who's who, but there were certainly a lot of "Alexander Moore, son of Alexander Moore" baptisms in the 18th Century in Northern Ireland.  It is possible that my ancestor Alexander Moore born 15 March 1830 was the third, fourth, or tenth in his line.  There's no way to tell at the moment.

Alexander married Anna Jane Young the daughter of James and Elenor Young, also of Ballygawley, and they settled in Philadelphia, where they raised their 2 sons and 5 daughters, one of whom was my great-great grandmother, Mary Helen Moore, the wife of William John MacCain.

Thomas Nelson:  Moving over to my mother's side of the family, there are two families of Nelson.  One originates in England, and the other came from Ireland.  Thomas Nelson was born circa 1766 in Armagh County, Ireland.  He married Sarah Martin and they immigrated to the United States sometime during the 1790's.  It's uncertain how many children they had, but there are currently only two that I know of.  One was my 4x great-grandfather Joseph Nelson, who was born circa 1790 in Ireland.  The other child is a daughter, Lana Nelson, born September 1802 in New York.  Thomas died in Cambridge, New York, on 6 June 1808, though his wife lived until 1844.

Isaiah Rogers Nelson, son of Thomas, married Alice Jane Doughty, whose grandmother was also a Nelson, only from a branch that came over from England around 1640.  Of course, if you trace the English Nelson line back far enough, you eventually find yourself in Ireland again, when they spelled the name Nelleson.

Ann Carney Littlefield
w/ daughter Anna L. Forthman
New Orleans, 1912

Ann Carney:  Last Mother's Day, I wrote a little about my great-great grandmother, and over the last year I've uncovered a few more details about her.  Ann (or Annie) Carney was born 22 April 1853 in Roscommon County, Ireland.  Her parents were John Carney and Anna Nesbitt.  The particulars of her arrival in America are not certain, though she may have come aboard the Edith in 1868.  She ended up in Chicago, Illinois, where she met and married Henry Littlefield, Jr., an Iron Smelter whose father was an Irish sailor.  They were married on 19 February 1873 by a Catholic Priest, presumably in a traditional wedding ceremony, and they had 5 sons and 2 daughters, including my great-grandmother, Anna Louise Littlefield, the wife of William Edward Forthman, Sr.

Although her husband Henry died before 1900, Ann lived until 29 September 1930.

So, there you have it, a whole bunch of Irish ancestors that made a better life for themselves in the land of opportunity.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Robbinston Votes Monday

This coming Monday, Robbinston will be holding town elections, and our annual town meeting, which addresses our annual town budget and other vital functions of local governance. It is a fairly straightforward procedure, and I don't expect a lot of controversy.

In past years, we've had lengthy debates over such controversial provisions as adding a locked gate to the school parking lot, and eliminating a street light. There was also the grand battle over the "early payer discount" for property taxpayers, which I waged for years on principle. I felt that those who saw fit to pay their taxes ahead of schedule deserved a 2% rebate, and there were a few years where this rate was approved. Before my efforts, the traditional rebate was 1.5%, so it wasn't such a big deal, and may have amounted to an extra thousand dollars for the town. This year, the rebate will likely end up being 1%, which is what it has been the last few years.

The only contested race this year is my own, for the School Board. I'm running against an incumbent who voted to close the school last summer, despite the overwhelming objection of the townspeople. Despite his actions, he still has a good chance of winning reelection, as he's shaped up in recent months and has a devoted block of supporters.

Hoping to drum up some last minute support, I've drafted the following letter, which I'm mailing out to a few people in town. My monetary situation is precarious at the moment, and I'm almost out of stamps, so I unfortunately can't send it out to everyone. I hope people will share this.

My Fellow Robbinston Residents,

I'm writing to let you know that I'll be running for the School Board this year, and I hope that you'll vote for me. I believe we have a good school here in town, and I'd like to see that it remains open, so our children can still be educated here in our own community. Growing up, I attended Robbinston Grade School, and I currently have 2 children there, so maintaining the school as a quality learning environment is vitally important to me.

My opponent for the board is Thomas Critchley, and while I'm sure he's a good man, we have had philosophical differences regarding the school. Last year, when our school was threatened with a funding problem, Mr. Critchley voted to close it, feeling our children could get a better education in Perry, Eastport, or Calais. It wasn't even a cost-savings measure, as the tuition we'd have to pay to send our kids to another school would exceed what we're paying to keep our hometown school open. Fortunately, the other two board members, with encouragement from the townspeople, voted to keep it open.

I know Mr. Critchley only wants the best education for Robbinston students, just as I do, but we clearly disagreed last year on where they'd get that best education.

I believe we need someone on the School Board who will not work to shut our school, but will work to keep it open and make sure it is the best place to teach our kids. That is why I'm running, to assure that we have another voice on the board that will advocate for the continued existence of our school, and fight to make it better. That may be tough at times, with limited resources and restrictive government mandates that often undermine rural communities, but I'm prepared to tackle whatever gets thrown our way.

I hope you will stop by Robbinston Grade School on March 26th to give me your vote, and encourage others to do the same.


Martin T. Ingham

Monday, March 19, 2012

Welcome The Sun

I was glorious yesterday, a sweet spring-like day, even as the lingering essence of winter remained.  It was almost 70F in the shade during the afternoon, and for the first time in months I felt very much alive.  You don't realize how depressing and physically debilitating the winter can be until it's over.  Here's a little poem I threw together in honor of the blessed warmth.

The sun hits my brow
and I know I'm alive.
Oh, sunny days
I want you to stay.

There are times
I feel like the rain,
don't want to get up
lurking in dismay.
Yet when I'm growing
near your light
you come up next to me
and everything is all right.

Oh sunny days,
please come back to me
so I can see
the meaning of every way.
The way I live it
is yearning for the sunlight
even 'round midnight.

The darkest day
is long forgotten
as the winter wind
is blown away to spring
and the summer's heart
burning deep within me
melts the icecaps dry.

I love the sun
of the autumn
and the midwinter's thaw,
perchance it happens,
but as the return of warmth
brings us renewed pleasure
I once again find myself
thankful for us all.

Will tomorrow be as bright
to give us each a remembrance,
a sweet embrace of our spring life
awaking from frozen slumbers
of our shadowed past.
Forget the snows
and the gloomy showers
and embrace the purity
of tomorrow's radiance.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Number Four

Here's a post for those who are interested in hearing about the personal affairs of my life.  I'll keep it brief, so you can get to the big reveal without falling asleep.

I had my fourth and final wisdom tooth pulled on Friday afternoon, and it went very smoothly.  Dr. Daniel Wood is one of the best extractors out there, and I would highly recommend his dental services.  Though, having a tooth pulled does have side effects.  I spent a couple of hours trimming grape vines on Saturday, and even though it wasn't a strenuous task it still left me feeling drained.  It'll be a few days before I'm back in working condition.

There's another fourth coming in my life, and that involves my wife.  What?  No, I haven't converted to Islam and taken three additional wives.  Who the hell said anything about a fourth wife?  Shut up and let me finish!

As I was saying, my wife (the one and only) is pregnant.  She's only about two months along, but it is an exciting prospect.  We're fortunate to already have three very healthy children, and it is a wonderful blessing to round up to four.  We have names picked out, whether it's a boy or a girl, and I'll keep you informed about things as they progress.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Birthday Book Bomb Event

On April 7, 2012, I'll be turning 32.  Yea, another birthday!  It's really a day like any other in life, and as I've previously mentioned, there isn't really a big fuss made over this occurrence.  It's just an arbitrary mark on the calendar that identifies when I've existed in this human form through one more passage of the Earth around the Sun.  How very special!

As much as I haven't been doing a whole lot to celebrate in recent years (largely because I don't have the sorts of friends who get really excited about such things), I do appreciate my life, and like to do something to commemorate it.  This year, I'm trying to get people involved, and encourage them to discover my published works.  I'm doing this with a "Birthday Book Bomb" event on facebook, which asks people to pick one of my books and purchase it on my birthday.

Coordinating a buying event like this is certainly a tricky thing, but if enough people sign up and participate, it could make a huge difference in the fate of my writing career.  If a good number of people actually buy just one of my books or e-books on a single day, it would send a message that my books are profitable.  It would certainly help the small presses that have released my books, and it could encourage others to pick up my unpublished titles.  Most importantly, it would help new readers to discover my quality writings, and spread the word about my many works already available in the marketplace.

I can't do this without your help!  If you can budget a few dollars for this book-buying event, it would be very helpful, but more than that, I need you to spread the word.  Tell your friends about this event.  Copy the link to the facebook event page, and pass it along to anyone you know who reads.  Also, invite as many facebook friends as you can!  Every single person matters, and en-masse, you are a force to be reckoned with.  Be my reading army, and make this Book Bomb event a MOAB*!

There is no greater promotional tool than word of mouth.  Speaking up or remaining quiet, both have an impact.  Grant me a small birthday wish, and be the voice that speaks of me.

*MOAB (moe'ab) n. Abbreviation for Mother of All Bombs

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

West of the Warlock in the UK

In my continuing quest to make my work available to readers beyond my native shores, I am pleased to announce that "West of the Warlock" is currently for sale on!  I know I have a few readers over across the pond, so I'm hoping they'll do me the honour of acquiring this first volume in my Fantasy Western series, and perhaps consider posting a review.  It is quite affordable for the Kindle, and the Print edition isn't so bad, either.  Both contain extra content you haven't seen before, so you'll get your money's worth.

Get West of the Warlock From!

The sequel, "The Curse of Selwood," will be coming out this summer, and the 3rd book in the series will be released in Fall/Winter 2012!  And, of course, I'm currently writing book #4.  If you want a series you can sink you teeth into, and continue reading with subsequent volumes, this is your kind of fiction.  It has tons of growth potential yet to come!

Monday, March 12, 2012

Who Likes My Poems?

The last few weeks, my blogging schedule has not been met, and a lot of that has to do with personal priorities.  I've been writing more fiction, and editing the Six-Gun Conjurer, so I've let my blog posts slide, failing to produce poetry and family history in particular.

While I certainly don't want to end up being one of those bloggers who only throws something out once or twice a month, thereby disappointing my readers, I must focus my efforts, and only spend time on posts that people are really interested in reading.  So, before I continue, I'd like to hear from a few of you, to hear what you like about my posts; specifically, do any of you really enjoy my poems and song lyrics?  Is it something that keeps you coming back week after week?  Or should I turn my efforts to more prose-like efforts?

I do have a stockpile of poetry, some of it I like, some of it I don't care for (imagine that, I wrote it and I don't even like it), so if I know people enjoy it I'll keep putting it out there.  Feel emboldened, blog readers.  The power of choice lies with you!

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Revise The Dickens

During the last week, I've been reading Nicholas Nickleby by Charles Dickens.  Truly a classic of literature, and something I haven't had the pleasure of picking up before, even though it has been sitting on my shelf for over a decade.  In previous years, I haven't taken the time to read a lot of Dickens, and what little I have was read in the distant past, so it's quite a new experience.

Title Page of The 109-Year Old Edition I'm reading

There are many things one might appreciate about such classics, though one thing that is more a curiosity than an admirable quality is the grammar.  It's amazing to see how the language has changed over the years, and how utterly stilted Dickens' writing seems today, even though in his time it was the pinnacle of "common man's literature."  Dickens was one of the first writers to draft stories for everyday people and wrote the way people actually spoke.  Though, Victorian English is almost a foreign language compared to the modern vernacular used in any English-speaking country today.

Nicholas Nickleby is a great story, but it takes a sharp mind to wade through the archaic grammar and terminology used in the text.  It's amazing to think that this has been at different times considered to be a useful primer for high school students.  As a full-grown man with a love for books, I can appreciate the tale, but I know that such a long and plodding narrative would have never drawn my interest during my teens.  I wonder how many students have turned away from reading after being subjected to such difficult and "boring" literature in modern times.  At this stage of societal evolution, this original work should not be recommended for schoolboys who need to be encouraged to read; rather, it should be reserved for those who have already gleaned an appreciation for books and reading, and have an interest in the historical aspects of the subject matter.

I know, to many it might be sacrilege to suggest this, but I believe that Nicholas Nickleby, and some other Dickens classics, would be much complimented by a modern translation.  There are quite a few "ancient texts" that could use such a revision, not to alter the story, but to polish the narration and dialog, so your average reader of today could understand it without reaching for a thesaurus or dictionary every few paragraphs.  The original story was written for the common man, so why not keep it that way?

Of course, there will always be appreciation for the original, and drafting a modern version would not diminish that original if done as I would consider proper.  It would simply allow new generations of readers to properly picture the story in their heads, and perhaps prepare them to tackle the original draft afterwards.  It's just a thought, at least.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Unforsaken: A New Beginning

It's done!  At long last, after tinkering with the last chapters since December, I can finally say that I have completed "The Six-Gun Conjurer."  It wasn't really an arduous process, but the last ten thousand words just took their sweet time getting onto the page.  I had a lot of distractions along the way, and other projects in the works that delayed me, but now this is one project that is complete—or almost.  Of course, I'll be giving it another once-over before sending it off to the publisher, and they'll of course have some suggestions as well.  But for the most part, it is complete.

Finishing off this third volume in my "Fantasy Western" series, I was thinking of taking a break, and moving on to something new or perhaps revisiting a different franchise in my growing repertoire of invented worlds.  However, yet again I feel compelled to continue this series, and answer some very big questions that linger at the end of the three book set.

The ending of "The Six-Gun Conjurer" leaves us with some very large unresolved threads.  While the book doesn't end on a cliffhanger, it does leave certain characters in a place where readers will be asking, "What happens next?"  One character in particular will be left in such a predicament that people will be demanding the fourth book, and won't be satisfied until they learn the fate of said character.  Therefore, I can't just leave things in limbo, and have begun work on the next volume in the series, tentatively entitled "Unforsaken."

I can't share a whole lot about this fourth volume in the series, largely because it would take too much explanation, since the second book is still pending publication this spring/summer.  I don't want to send out too many spoilers, but I will say that the fourth book will take us beyond familiar settings, and into a whole new realm of possibilities.  We'll still have several of the same cast of characters, but also a lot of new ones, and a whole host of concepts that will bring the series to a whole new height of excellence.

I'm really excited about this fourth book, since it does allow me to write something a little different than what I've been writing, while sticking with familiar characters and their universe.  Let's hope for big things to happen, and remember: Never trust an elf with a Tommy-Gun!

Friday, March 2, 2012

The Wish List 2012

We all have things we wish to buy, in excess of the bare necessities of life.  Each year, I put together a "wish list" of sorts, of things I would like to acquire if the price is right and my wallet can afford them.  Often times, the things I put on the list get marginalized, as my buying priorities shift to more important things (like clothing for the kids, or firewood), but it's nice to dream, isn't it?

Here are a few things I have on my list this year.

Star Trek: The Original Series (DVD sets):
This is something that's been on the list for years.  I just haven't gotten around to picking up original Trek on DVD.  For years, the sets were pretty expensive, but now that they're settling into the $40 range, I'll see what I can budget and may get them at last.

8-Day Clock:
Just like our grandparents used to have.  I've been meaning to get an old 8-Day wind-up clock for years, something that'll keep time even when the power goes out and batteries are unavailable.  It doesn't need to be anything really fancy, just reliable.

Computer Battery Back-Up:
Another thing for when the power goes out.  I was advised by a friend to buy a "Tripp-Lite" backup some time ago.  There's nothing worse than being in the middle of writing something and having the power flicker, shutting your system down and erasing precious words.  I've been lucky so far, and haven't lost more than a few paragraphs here and there, but having one of these backups would prevent even that!

This is one of the more comprehensive and intriguing biographies of Mayflower passenger Stephen Hopkins.  As a Hopkins descendant, I've been meaning to get this book and read more about this most interesting and colorful of the Pilgrims.

Star Wars Trilogy DVD:
Here's another set of DVDs I've been meaning to get, but just haven't found them to be of the utmost priority.  I've had the original Star Wars trilogy on VHS for ages, and I watched these movies so much when I was a kid that I can still virtually recite them line for line.  I know there are some extra scenes and enhanced special effects on the DVD releases, and one of these days I'll get around to seeing them.

Bing Crosby CDs:
I have a certain affinity for old music.  It's not every day, but there are times when I want to sit down and listen to the really old classics, and Bing Crosby was one of the greatest singers of his day.  I have some of his stuff on LP and a few of his 78RPM records, but not a single CD.  I've really got to pick some up this year.

There you have it, a few of the little things off the top of my head that I'd really like to get in 2012.  I could "wish" for an April 7th birthday surprise on some of these, but I doubt any of my friends will spring for them.  Birthdays are for kids, and most of us have to buy our own presents when we grow up.  Still, I wouldn't say no if somebody felt like being charitable.

(I can't wait until I'm "wealthy" enough to be the charitable one for a change!)