California History

California in 1800

I've had a few posts drafted, but was hoping to polish them up a little. I don't seem to be...
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California History

Conquest, Slavery, Death

I started reading up on California history last year because my son, Kazu, was entering fourth grade, and that's what...
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California History

Kids, what’re gonna do with ’em?

"Two boys drowned an Indian to amuse themselves, but in consideration of their tender years, were dismissed with twenty-five lashes...
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California History Non-Fiction

Call me, Ishmael

I've been wandering again in my reading. I took Starr back to the library, and renewed Bancroft, but set him...
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California History

Where is Monterey?

As we discussed last time, in 1769 Spanish explorers were charged with establishing a mission and presidio in both San...
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California History

Offending God, the king, and the country

Continuing on in the early history of Spanish exploration in California . . . After a few excursions by sea...
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California History

“California”

Kevin Starr agrees with HH Bancroft that the name "California" comes from a 16th century Spanish novel. Indeed, after explaining...
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California History

California History

Last year I spent a lot of time researching California's El Camino Real. I was trying to discover the original...
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Non-Fiction Westerns

Depredations

I just finished “A Fate Worse Than Death,” a book on Indian captivities in the 1800s. That is, white settlers (the authors did not cover Mexican captivities), primarily from Texas, taken as hostages by Native American raiders. The subject was interesting, but like a few other popular history books I’ve read, the writing was crappy.
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Non-Fiction Westerns

Every animal has just enough brains to tan its hide

I’ll bet you didn’t know that. I didn’t either. I’ve been reading about Plains Indians, and more specifically, about Indian abductions of white settlers in the early- to mid-1800s.
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Fiction

Process and Novel Writing

The process of writing a novel is daunting. There are probably as many means and systems as there are writers....
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Novel Writing

Tropes and Clichés

As I stated earlier, I decided to make the protagonist of my first novel an amateur sleuth. As all other...
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Novel Writing

Thoughts on Writing a First Novel

My friend Rick, who has been designing and building custom bikes for over 30 years, says that building a bike...
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General

Steinbeck and Travels With Charlie

It turns out that Steinbeck’s purportedly nonfiction account of his tour of America circa 1962 in a camper, Travels With...
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Fiction

Bullet in the Brain

Bullet in the Brain is a short story written by Tobias Wolff and originally published in New Yorker magazine in...
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Fiction

Tolstoy on a Late Spring

"Spring was a long time unfolding. During the last weeks of Lent the weather was clear and frosty. In the...
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General

Fiction is Dead

Well, maybe not dead.  But according to Buce, picking up from Tyler at Marginal Revolution, it's on the skids. That...
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General

You Can’t Make This Stuff Up

My last post was about a flash fiction story I wrote that dealt with the atmosphere of tension in a...
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General

Food, Sex, Danger

Susan Weinschenk is a psychologist with a book (Neuro Web Design: What makes them click?) and a website (What Makes Them Click). On the website, she is running a series of articles entitled “100 Things You Should Know About People.”  As of this writing, she’s up to thing number 47: “People Value A Product More Highly If It Is Physically In Front Of Them.”  
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Criticism

I Don’t Get John Grisham

I don’t get John Grisham. Never have, really. But I also never figured it was worth the effort. He writes crap that sells. (As one critic notes, his second novel, The Firm, “sold a bazillion copies”. Not technically accurate, perhaps, but close enough.) I read a couple of his novels and didn’t see any reason to read more.
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