It Ain't Over Til It's Over 

Just when I got the gum book to where I want it, I have another thought - a different format and layout. So, guess what I'm doing now? That's right, redoing it. Again...
Maybe it will work better, maybe not. We won't know til we see it.

I need a rest from all this. That's why I'm headed to the Oregon Coast. Some cool weather, some waves, some distance.

Then, on we go...

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Still working on the gum book. An interested publisher requested I do it as a picture book, so that's what I've been doing. As usual, I check out other books to see how other authors have formatted. There certainly is no ONE WAY. Which is good; otherwise all Realia (nonfiction) would look the same. Boring!

This site will be changed this summer sometime. I'm in the process of rethinking my public approach to writing and the consultant work I do, and I want my site to reflect both as well as possible. But first, I need to have a clear focus on what I want. It never ceases to amaze me how often I pursue things before I even decide that I really want them. Although, it can easily be said that working at something helps provide you with the insight of whether you do, indeed, want it.

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I think I’m in trouble. Big trouble. A writer’s lifeline is the U.S. Postal Service. That’s how we send our queries and, if we’re good and if we’re lucky, our completed manuscripts to an editor who has shown interest. If we’re really good and if we’re super lucky and our manuscripts get accepted, it’s the mail service that carries the edited and revised copies back and forth, then the final copies for review before printing. And when the books get sold and royalties are earned, it’s that small silver palace that safely holds the checks until I open it with my key.

Yesterday I wandered out to my mailbox, hoping for some good news. The mail truck idled next to the multi-family box and the pith helmeted mailman dealt mail into the slots like dealer at a blackjack table. Talk radio blared from the truck, and I recognized the voice of reaction and misplaced passion: Sean Hannity.

“What kind of lies is he spreading today?” I asked the mailman.

He finished dealing mail, slammed the box shut, and glared at me. “None,” he said, then drove off.

Yep, I think I’m in trouble.

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June 9, 1951 

On this day at 5 p.m., 59 years ago, I entered the world in a Millville, New Jersey hospital. I am reminded of the thoughts I had when I was in my twenties that I could "never imagine myself being 30 years old." I still can't!

I'll spend this day doing my favorite things: spending time with my special lady, exercising, watching squirrels out the window, and, of course, writing.

Make June 9 a special day for yourselves, too. And June 10 and June 11...

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Picture book? 

Another publisher contacted me and would like to look at this book in picture book format. Would I be interested in submitting such?

YES! This book would is perfect picture book material.

Get to work, Robert!

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Wuz Up? 

So, I'm working on the revised edition of my gum book (The Chewing Gum Book) done in 1989. The book is going to be shorter, clippier (try to find that in your dictionary!), and be more varied in its visual aspect (FWI - I was very disappointed in the number and quality of the illustrations in the original book). The challenge, or course, is including the most appealing information while leaving out the rest. This is easier said than done, unless you don't want to limit pages. Me to publisher: "Yes, the book I want you to publish has no page count." Publisher to me: "Sounds good, Robert." Yeah, right!

I have been working with a major gum company, from which I hope to get high-quality photos. The problem is that my request has to go up the "chain-of-command" for approval. For many companies, such photos would be considered proprietary, meaning that you're not going to get permission to use them. This seems a bit curious to me. What secrets would the photos give away? The formula for making the gum? Top-secret equipment? Special techniques? You know, you can watch real-live footage of bubble gum being made on U-Tube.

Haven't heard back from the gum company after several follow-up inquiries regarding my request but I'm not losing faith that they will come through. In fact, I think I'll give them another ring this morning.

Happy day to all!

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History Series 

Recently learned about a series of books for kids in grades 3-7. Interest level runs that span; reading level is grades 3-4. The series is called You Choose (Capstone) and is composed of titles with history topics, such as The Alamo and The Boston Massacre. My understanding is that readers are engaged because they are given choices throughout. Sound a lot like the old Choose Your Own Adventure books that have been around forever. My source, a teacher in our history grant, tells me that her kids - especially boys - are gobbling up the books. I'll be checking these out and reporting back.

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A day in the life. Ava and I went to Cottage Grove this aft to attend the ribbon-cutting ceremony at the museum a few of our history grant people have spruced up. It was a fun, small-town event, complete with “pulled” pork and local characters.

As we viewed the main museum, a man was speaking loudly in the corner. He was a tall man, gray-haired, and in his late sixties or early seventies. He was talking to a small, bespectacled lady, around the same age. The man’s voice boomed across the room like cannon fire; it soon became clear he was talking about another man in the room, and he wasn’t talkin’ friendly.

At first it sounded like “ole boy” talk, you know the way some old guys talk, giving each other a hard time, spittin’ insults like tabacca, then pounding each other on the back and laughing. This was not that.

The other man – shorter and rounder – moved toward the taller man until they were belly to belly and lobbing scatological references back and forth that covered years of slight. As their voices rose, I couldn’t believe what I was seeing and hearing: two “adult” men behaving like pimply boys or alcohol-soaked barflies. Who was going to throw the first punch? Would one of the little old ladies standing nearby get knocked over in the melee that followed?

Fortunately, no punches got thrown, only a shove from the shorter man that left his opponent standing in the doorway of the museum. Potty words continued until I, wanting to blonk their heads together in a Three Stooges move, instead excused myself and began to leave, which required the man in the doorway to step out onto the porch. Once out there, inertia took hold, and he just kept walking, down the stairs, then down the street to his car.

We stood on the porch, watching his exit and wondering “What the hell just happened?” It would be easy to make a generalization here, about small towns or people today or old men, but I’m afraid it would end up being a cliché. Instead, we’ll leave it as a tagline for a bad movie: Two raging men. One goofy encounter.

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In the Books 

Another online class in now in the books. It was a grand, eclectic group studying six traits and the work they did was quite good. I am still getting used to the online experience, but I'm liking it more and more. Although assignments are due weekly, it seems to provide folks with some flexibility in getting things done on their own.

I am told that the online course is the way of the future, but I'll have to wait and see about that. I am seeing its advantages, but I still like the classroom environment that is lively and engaging.

The challenge for me, of course, is how to make the online class more lively and engaging. Suggestions are always welcomed!

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I worked extra days so I am taking a week off from work. Perfect timing, for sure, since I have much to do. Work on the A.C. Gilbert book is progressing. Illustrations are being created as I write and it should be ready to go to press sometime this summer. Seems to far away to be excited, but I'll allow just a little.

Working as well on the revised gum book. I don;t have any publisher-takers as of now, but I have a slew of queries out there. It's a very tough time in publishing right now, so maybe that project will have to wait. In the meantime, I'll continue with it.

And I'll continue prepping for some writing classes I'll be teaching at the University of Oregon this summer. One, on writing traits, will be online. The other, on tools for writing success, will be a face-to-face class at the Downtown Center.

It looks like I will be returning to Argentina to work with an international school in Buenos Aires. Probably in September sometime. I'm looking forward to my third visit down there. Hope to visit Manchu Picchu on this journey. And, of course, see some futbol!

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