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Archive for the ‘Books’ Category

“There’s always failure. And there’s always disappointment. And there’s always loss. But the secret is learning from the loss, and realizing that none of those holes are vacuums.”  –Michael J. Fox

Me with my granddaughter Shanna and grandson David, who is my oldest grandchild, at Sue Ellen’s for my book signing party.

Sh-ee-it Happens Among the Good Times

After spending a few days with my two sons and their families in West Columbia and Lake Jackson, and having a delightful fish dinner on the beach, I was off again, this time to Dallas, to visit my daughter, Deborah, and other family members.

Three generations of women:: My daughter Deborah with her daughter Shanna and me.

Having lived on the coast for 15 years during the ’50s, ‘60s and “70s, with parents living in Dallas, I didn’t need a map for the 300-mile journey, which would take me straight through the middle of downtown Houston during the morning rush hour. Even after I had moved away, I ended up still having friends and family on the Gulf Coast and family in Dallas, so it’s a drive I’ve made almost yearly since I left home at the age of 16.

In earlier years, the trip was made on Highway 75, which was under constant construction, and which was eventually eaten up by Interstate 45, just as the old Route 66 was eaten up by Interstate 40, which now winds its way between California and North Carolina.

In recent years, getting through Houston has always given me a sense of satisfaction that I could still make the drive while remaining cool and calm in the midst of multiple lanes, which oft times were full of idiotic drivers out to get me – as it was this particular morning.

Once on the north side of the huge metroplex, I breathed a sigh of relief, and stopped at a Flying J and its Denny’s for breakfast. Although I had promised myself when I first started the trip that I would write in my journal daily, this was the first time I had pulled it out since I had left Tucson. I tried to recapture all the events that had happened while I waited for the eggs Benedict I had ordered.

The breakfast was excellent, but soon I was back on the road heading to Dallas.

I was going to stay at my daughter’s, but my son Michael made an unexpected trip to visit his sister, and so I ended up staying at my granddaughter’s so everyone could have a comfortable bed. It all worked out well, and I was delighted to get to spend a bit of time with my youngest son as well as my oldest daughter, her husband Neal, and their two children, my granddaughter, Shanna, and my grandson, David.  We played board games and laughed a lot.

Shanna and her wife, Dawn, and I played numerous games of Frustration in the evenings, and the two held a book signing party for me at Sue Ellen’s, where I sold a few copies of Travels with Maggie to their friends.

The day before I left, I finally found a few minutes again to catch up on my journal. Sadly, when I couldn’t find it, I realized I had left it at the Denny’s in Houston, 250 miles in the opposite direction from where I was next headed.

It was a sad loss, and a logistics problem that I have not yet been able to solve.  Sometimes, even in the best of times, sh-ee-it happens!

Now available on Amazon

Bean Pat: Theodore Roosevelt National Park https://naturehasnoboss.com/2018/08/13/room-to-roam-2/?wref=pil  Enjoy the views.

Pat Bean is a Lonely Planet Community Pathfinder. Her book, Travels with Maggie, is now up on Amazon at http://tinyurl.com/y8z7553y  Currently, she is writing a book, tentatively titled Bird Droppings, which is about her late-bloomer birding adventures. You can contact her at patbean@msn.com

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“There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.” – Ernest Hemingway.

The Good Old Days

So many writing quotes, like the one above by Hemingway, have become outdated. While I do know a few writers who still write their first drafts by hand, I know none who still use a typewriter. The computer has made that once miracle machine obsolete.

I vividly remember my first encounter with a computer. The year was 1978, and I was working as a reporter for the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. One day I was typing my stories on a typewriter, and the next day I was told that I had to use a computer.

My first thought was I can’t write on a computer. So, I continued writing my stories on a typewriter — and then retyping them into that dang computer. This lasted for about two weeks before I finally caught on to the fact I was doubling my work load.

A couple of years later, I accepted a job as features editor at the Standard-Examiner newspaper in Ogden, Utah, where I was introduced to a Mercenthaler computer system, which was always breaking down and eating my words. I blame it for teaching me how to cuss at the late-blooming age of 40.

During these years, I continued using my old Remington typewriter at home for my personal writing. By 1985, however, the difference in the feel of the two keyboards forced me to give in and buy my first home computer, one that didn’t have a hard drive, but ran on floppy disks. Every couple of years after that I upgraded to a newer computer.

I bought my first laptop, paying $2,300 for a top-of-the-line machine in 2004, the week I retired from journalism so I could continue to freelance while I traveled the country in my small RV with my canine companion Maggie. For two years, I used my phone as a modem to connect to the world, but then I got my own hot spot. Comcast is the provider of my current Wi-Fi system, and costs me $70 a month.

My current laptop, a Toshiba I bought in 2011 for $800, and which is the longest lasting computer I have ever had, is just about ready for replacement.

Today, I don’t just use a computer as a writing tool, but also to do research, stream movies and tv, play games, stay in contact with family and friends, read the news, and to export my freelance articles directly to magazines and publishers, which is what I did when I finished my book, Travels with Maggie.

I went from wondering what in the heck I was going to do with a computer, to wondering how I can live without one. Ditto for air conditioning — I lived on the Texas Gulf Coast in the 1950’s without it.

I also grew up knowing how to change a tire on my car because tires were not as reliable as they are today, and we didn’t have mobile phones.

Yup. My world has changed a lot. Perhaps the good old days are here and now — or waiting for us in the future.

Bean Pat: Pileated woodpecker https://belindagroverphotography.com/2018/06/03/young-pileated-woodpecker-three-photographs/

Now available on Amazon

One of my favorite photography blogs. And an amazing bird that catches my breath every time I see one.

Pat Bean is a Lonely Planet Community Pathfinder. Her book, Travels with Maggie, is now up on Amazon at http://tinyurl.com/y8z7553y  Currently, she is writing a book, tentatively titled Bird Droppings, which is about her late-bloomer birding adventures. You can contact her at patbean@msn.com

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“Writing is an exploration. You start with nothing and learn as you go.”  — E.L. Doctorow

 

 

 

Some days when the butt doesn’t want to sit in the chair,, I doodle around with art while standing in front of a tall table. Art by Pat Bean 

The First Rule of Writing

I’ve sat in front of a typewriter, or a computer, almost every day now for over half a century. Sometimes my fingers fly across the keyboard in an effort to keep up with words bursting with eagerness to get out of my brain. Other times, the words come at the rate of a dying clock.

As long as the words keep coming, I feel good. It’s the days when I forget the first rule of writing that leaves me in the dumps.  A writer needs to write, so that first rule of writing is simple Butt in Chair.

But some days I have to trick myself into getting it there. So, I tell myself to simply write one sentence, and then go walk the dog. Then, write a second sentence and water the plants. Usually by the third or fourth sentence my butt actually stays in the chair for a few more sentences, and the essay, blog or book review that is my current work in progress eventually gets done.

Thank gawd!

Bean Pat: Flamingos in Bolivia https://bellaremyphotography.com/2018/05/14/flamingos-in-bolivia/#like-15644 A great arm-chair travel treat.

Pat Bean: is a Lonely Planet Community Pathfinder. Her book, Travels with Maggie, is now up on Amazon at http://tinyurl.com/y8z7553y  Currently, she is writing a book, tentatively titled Bird Droppings, which is about her late-bloomer birding adventures. You can contact her at patbean@msn.com

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            “Writing is easy. All you have to do is cross out the wrong words.” – Mark Twain

A peaceful evening at the pond. — Art by Pat Bean

Good Writing is Rewriting

It took me eight years and five complete rewrites before Travels with Maggie was ready to be published, and at the end, I found it hard to let go because I worried about mistakes. But I finally did, and when that 75,000-word book went up on Amazon, I immediately started my next book, which is about my late-blooming birding adventures. I didn’t start seeing all the amazing birds around us until I was 60. This new passion bit into my soul at the perfect time, as my body was beginning to tell me it should take up a less strenuous hobby than backpacking and white-water rafting.

Tri-colored heron along the Texas Gulf Coast’s Blue Water Highway between Surfside and Galveston. — Photo by Pat Bean

I’m tentatively titled my new book in progress, Bird Droppings, although one writer friend has suggested the connotation might turn readers off. I thought it might intrigue them. It’s a collection of short essays and anecdotes and my idea is that the title fit these scenarios perfectly. “Just something to think about,” my supportive friend said. “Titles can make or break books.”

What do you think? I would really like to know if you share mine or my friend’s viewpoint.

Meanwhile, when I was 10,000 words into the book, I lost my focus, and for the next few weeks I always had an excuse when it was time to add more words to it. If you’re a writer and haven’t yet faced this setback, please tell me how you avoided it.

Anyway, I finally decided to simply start at the beginning and edit what I had written. Mostly, I decided it wasn’t good.  I had forgotten to leave out the boring parts. That is author Leonard Elmore’s advice to writers.

So, I’m rewriting, because that’s what dozens of quite successful authors say writing is all about. It’s working.  Writing has become exciting and fun once again, and the book is going forward – but this time my focus is more on making each word count, then on the number of words written each day.

Travels with Maggie, meanwhile, has earned good rankings on Amazon from 12 reviewers. Yes, I’m bragging.  If you’ve read the book, perhaps you would like to add a review. If you belong to Kindle Unlimited, you can even download the book for free. Someone said you need at least 89 reviews to get noticed.

Sigh!

I guess Bird Droppings and Travels with Maggie both still have a long way to go.

Bean Pat: My beautiful things  https://mybeautfulthings.com/2018/04/04/scarf-maya-angelou-and-martin-luther-king/ Scarf,, Maya Angelou and Martin Luther King.

Pat Bean: is a Lonely Planet Community Pathfinder. Her book, Travels with Maggie, is now up on Amazon at http://tinyurl.com/y8z7553y  Currently, she is writing a book, tentatively titled Bird Droppings, which is about her late-bloomer birding adventures. You can contact her at patbean@msn.com.

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I sketched this scene while visiting Zion National Park in Utah, one of my favorite places.

      “It is necessary to write, if the days are not to slip emptily by. How else, indeed, to clap the net over the butterfly of the moment? For the moment passes, it is forgotten; the mood is gone; life itself is gone. That is where the writer scores over his fellows: he catches the changes of his mind on the hop.” — Vita Sackville-West

Pen or Computer? Or Both?

My normal early morning routine is to get up, brush my teeth, put moisturizer on my face, dress (or simply put a coat over my pajamas) and walk my canine companion Pepper. Back in my apartment, I sit down with a cup of cream-laced coffee, write at least two pages in my journal, and read the NY Times digital version.

An old Remington typewriter, similar to the one I used to write my first mystery novel draft, which languishes somewhere in my writing files.

The journal writing ritual, I finally learned, clears my head and makes my days more productive. I begin by writing about my walk, the weather, anything significant from the day before, and perhaps my dreams, if they’re still rolling around in my head. This usually takes up a page in my journal. If writer’s block sets in, I start perusing the newspaper, letting the day’s headlines bring into focus my own thoughts on the issues,

This morning, as I was writing, I noted that I let each of the next words roll around in my brain before I scrawled my pen’s bold black ink across the page. When using the computer my thoughts often seem to be more connected to my fingers than my brain. I’m not conscious about what I’m going to write, I just do it.

This effortless means of writing means my fingers tap out thoughts that I didn’t know were in my head.  I’m usually pleased with the outcome. It’s as if my fingers subconsciously know what my brain hasn’t yet acknowledged.

Why do the writing tools affect me so differently, I asked myself this morning, posing the question in ink in my journal? The answer that popped into my brain was that I took the time to think before using my pen because I wanted to keep my journal neat and didn’t want to have to black out a word, or two.

On a computer, if my fingers get ahead of my brain, I can simply delete the wrong words with no fuss or bother – unlike in my early years of writing using a typewriter.

Occasionally, I miss that old Remington. There was a calming satisfaction that came with the act of yanking a sheet of paper out of the typewriter, crumbling it up into a ball, and tossing it into a wastebasket.

It was an action that refreshed the brain, usually for the better.

Bean Pat: Six Word Saturday https://lingeringvisions.wordpress.com/2018/02/17/  The shoe was actually a boot. My favorite piece was the top hat, until the Scottie dog was added to the monopoly pieces in the 1950s. And today I have a Scottie dog, well at least half of her. The other half might be a schnauzer.

Pat Bean is a Lonely Planet Community Pathfinder. Her book, Travels with Maggie, is now up on Amazon at http://tinyurl.com/y8z7553y  Currently, she is writing a book she calls Bird Droppings, which is about her late-bloomer birding adventures. You can contact her at patbean@msn.com

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“What is the feeling when you’re driving away from people, and they recede on the plain till you see their flecks dispersing?  It’s the too huge world vaulting us, and its good-bye. But we lean forward to the next crazy venture beneath the skies.” – Jack Kerouac, author of “On the Road.”

Maggie in her favorite spot on the over the cab bed in my RV. She had an attitude, as you can see from this photo. This photo was taken near the end of our journeys when my canine companion was almost 15 years old. — Photo by Pat Bean

 

Five-Star Reading

In July I wrote a blog about putting the finishing touches on my book, Travels with Maggie, and mentioned how hard it was going to be to let “my baby” go out for the world to read. But I knew if I kept thinking that it was not perfect, it would never get published.

So, I finally let it go.

It’s now been up on Amazon for a couple of months, and even has garnered a few five-star reviews. But this morning I remembered that July post when I shared the back of the book blurb and list of contents and asked my blog followers if they would read this book.

I know some of those who responded have, but not all. So, I decided to use my blog to blatantly promote my book a second time.

Maggie didn’t like it when a passenger took her co-pilot seat, but when I stepped out of the RV she always got in the driver’s seat. The above photo was taken near the beginning of our journeys when Maggie was not yet seven years old. — Photo by Pat Bean.

Travels with Maggie is a book about one woman’s fulfillment of a dream that began when she was 10 years old. It chronicles a 7,000-mile RV journey, mostly on backroads, through 23 states and Canada. The odyssey begins in May of 2006 from a daughter’s home in Arkansas, and ends in time for Thanksgiving at another daughter’s home in Texas.

I think my writing voice brings a much-needed feminine voice to the world of such travel writer greats as John Steinbeck, William Least Heat Moon, Paul Theroux, Bill Bryson and Charles Kuralt. It’s a book about chasing birds across American, and a book about my relationship with Maggie, my on-the-road companion for eight years.

Never an early riser, like me, Maggie preferred to sleep in until about 10 a.m. – Photo by Pat Bean

And this is the table of contents: How it all Began … Letting Go of the World’s Worries … What Queen Wilhelmina Missed … Yes, Virginia, There is a Silver Lining … Two More Oklahoma Parks – And a Lifer …  Childhood Memories, A Kindred Soul and Marlin Perkins    Heart of the Ozarks …  Roy Rogers, A Tragic Past and an Ouch … A Scenic Riverway, a German Town, and a Margarita Night … Saint Louis: Chihuly, a Birdcage, an Arch and Beer … In the Footsteps of Mark Twain … Meandering Through Illinois Where Kickapoos Once Roamed… The Prophet – And Howling with Tristan … Hotter than Hell in Indiana …  Highway 12, Cade Lake, The Brick Dick and Henry Ford … Celebrating a Summer Halloween … Traveling Beside Lake Erie … Niagara Falls and New In-Laws …The Adirondacks … Ticonderoga, Norman Rockwell and Rainy Vermont … The Stone Man … Good-Bye White Mountains, Hello Maine …  A Week on Desert Island … Strong Women and Paul Bunyan … It’s a Log … Or a Moose …  Scarborough Marsh, Bad Vibes and Boston … Help! My RV’s Lost at the Airport … An Embarrassing Moment and a Hug from a Granddaughter … Hawk Mountain and the Big Apple … Sitting out a Storm in a Wal-Mart Parking Lot … Lost and Found in Philadelphia …  All Dressed up for Pony Watching … Crossing Chesapeake Bay and a Sick Dog … Dismal Swamp, Roanoke Rapids and Simple Things …  The Carolinas – Books, Tobacco and Art …  Georgia on my Mind …  Alabama: Home of the Bible Belt and a Boll Weevil Monument … Mississippi Bird Encounters and a Historic Trail … Know When to Hold ‘Em and Know When to Fold ‘Em… Memories of a Dear Friend …   Epilogue.

So, would you please buy and read this book? And if you’ve read it, would you please write a review.

Bean Pat: Bo’s Café Life:

https://boscafelife.wordpress.com/2018/01/23/bos-cafe-life-flashback-25/

A daily cartoon about writing.

Pat Bean is a Lonely Planet Community Pathfinder. Her book, Travels with Maggie, is now upon Amazon at http://tinyurl.com/y8z7553y  Currently, she is writing a book, tentatively titled Bird Droppings, which is about her late-bloomer birding adventures. You can contact her at patbean@msn.com

 

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“I won’t lock my doors or bar them either. If any of the old coots in the pictures out in the hall want to come out of their frames for a friendly chat.” — Bess Truman

Not Ducky at All

While that’s an interesting description Bess Truman has about coots, whom I’m assuming include our founding fathers, I’m referring to the one that flies, The American coot.

Coot with its unlikely looking offspring.

I frequently see coots when I’m out birding wetland and lake areas.  They’re so easily recognizable that I don’t spend as much time observing them as I might. They’re clunky looking birds whose feathers range from slate-gray to black. While they look kind of like ducks, coots belong to the rail family.

One of the times, when I did take the time to study them more closely, was when I saw a pair of the coots share some food with three small floating companions. The fluffy chicks, looking nothing like their parents, had bald scarlet heads and wore wiry looking orange necklaces.

According to David Attenborough, in his book The Life of Birds, the American coot tends to feed the chick first that has the most brilliant red head, which may be why a third of the coots that hatch die from starvation.

Since I only saw three chicks, and a coot mom can lay nine or more eggs, I suspected this natural selection had already taken place.

Meanwhile, during my observations of the coots, I came a little too close to the one nearest the shore. It took off like a World War II fighter plane after it had taken a few hits in the engine, giving me a view of its over-sized lobed feet, which were a neon lemon-lime in color.

There really is a lot to enjoy about these birds, I decided. You just have to give a coot.

Bean Pat: A Writer’s Path https://tinyurl.com/yd5hzned  I used to have a sign over my desk at work that read: “Just because I’m not writing doesn’t mean I’m not writing.,” which may be why I dig this blog.

Pat Bean is a Lonely Planet Community Pathfinder. Her book, Travels with Maggie, is now up on Amazon at http://tinyurl.com/y8z7553y  Currently, she is writing a book. tentatively titled Bird Droppings, which is about her late-bloomer birding adventures. You can contact her at patbean@msn.com

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