Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Did I Say This?

I'm not sure that Mark Nesbitt wants to be compared to me or even mentioned in the same sentence, but I found it fascinating to compare another take on the theme of how could the Confederacy have won the Civil War and the ramifications for future developments.

If the South won Gettysburg
is a fascinating tale in three parts.  It begins as a meticulous retelling of the beginning of the battle then turns into a highly plausible description of how events might have developed had Lee listened to Longstreet’s suggestion of a flanking maneuver.  The resulting invented troop movements and skirmishes read like truth.  The outcome as told by Mark Nesbitt appears to be precisely how things would have been if one decision by Lee were taken differently.

The third part of the story is a rapid narration of subsequent worldwide reaction to a Confederate victory.  All speculation feels reasonable and logical.  This is the type of cerebral exercise that history enthusiasts will find intriguing and amusing.  Plus, there is a message that twenty-first century readers would be remiss to ignore.

41,390 Words
Price $3.99

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Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Entering the Brave New World

For those of you who have been hovering your mouse over those “Buy Now” buttons back at www.ScottSkipper.com while grumbling, “This joker isn’t worth investing in an eReader,” vacillate no more.  Soon you will be able to navigate to the Createspace Store, click a button and an agent of the United States government will deliver Face of the Angel  in hard copy to a mailbox near you.  That is, if you reside in the US.  Outside the domain of the US Postal Service it may be the Mossad that brings it to you.  We’ll have to see.

I hope that everyone appreciates the sacrifice that I am making in this endeavor.  Formatting a book for print is a lot tougher than formatting an eBook.  The Createspace software and I have been jousting for many days but I am confident that the end is in sight.  Soon trees will fall to surrender their pulp for these venerable pages.  Well, there is still the ‘Proof a Physical Copy’ stage, so standby, but don’t hold your breath.

Doctor Josef Mengele selected thousands for the gas chambers on the platform of the train station at the Auschwitz death camp.  The survivors called him the Angel of Death.  He was brilliant, urbane and charming, and he performed vivisection on the prisoners he spared from the Zyklon B.  Then he spent forty years being hunted.
Although at one time he was in the hands of the U. S. Army, Mengele was never charged with war crimes.  He moved about with the help of dozens of people, sometime unwittingly, though often knowing full well who he was.  He evaded scores of professional Nazi hunters and spies for forty years even though his wife's name was in the Buenos Aires phone book.  The stories told about him by the Simon Wiesenthal and the other pursuers grew in proportion to the years that they searched for him as did his fear and sense of isolation as well as the price on his head.

Still available as an eBook from your favorite retailers via:www.ScottSkipper.com

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

The Birds and the Bears

The average hummingbird weighs about four grams and will eat his body weight every hour.  During the summer of 2012 we pumped two-hundred pounds of sugar down the little gullets of the hummingbirds that buzz around the rose garden—2013 is on track to break that record.  As of last night the hummers have got competition.

I woke to find all the hummingbird feeders empty, opened or on the ground.  Hummingbirds are diurnal so it seemed unlikely that a militant band of disgruntled little buzzards were responsible for the vandalism—the hummingbird equivalent of a flash mob.  Immediately I suspected something of an ursine nature developed a sweet tooth and sucked them dry, all six.  Well, the dogs had woofed timidly in the middle of the night but we were sleeping too deeply to be bothered with investigating.  That was a mistake that could have had consequences as the sliding door was ajar and the bear was on the deck climbing over my bonsais to slurp the sugared water from the little birds’ bottles.

The magnitude of our carelessness became clear a few minutes later when I discovered the muddy paw prints on the living room window.  Not four feet from where the thieving beast leaned on the glass to lap the hummer juice from bottle number three, a window stood wide open.  Only a plastic screen stood between the bear and us.  All he had to do was swat the screen with one of those muddy paws, climb over the sill and help himself to all the sugar and anything else that struck his fancy—including us and those two intrepid watchdogs.

My fondness for bears is well known in these parts.  I never denounce them to Fish and Game and I always remain good-natured as I rake the trash that they scatter across the yard.  However, I estimate that the greedy monster must have guzzled eight cups of water containing a pound of sugar.  If hummingbirds can consume two-hundred pounds in a season, how much sugar can a three-hundred pound bear lap?  I have no intention of supporting his habit.  Furthermore, the birds are outraged.

Based on two-hundred pounds dry weight of sugar added to twelve-thousand-eight-hundred ounces of water times twenty-eight grams per ounce, and considering a four-gram hummer sucking forty-eight grams per twelve hour shift, that means that there were an average of thirty-nine birds feeding per slurping day last summer.  With the numbers apparently increasing in the current year—one-hundred and twenty-five pounds drained from Valentines Day to the end of July, less a pound for the bear—we cannot support feeding another species.  Contact me via www.ScottSkipper.com if you would like to make a sugary contribution to our misguided wildlife fund. 

Monday, July 15, 2013

At War with Islam?

Face it!  The United States is at war with Islam and has been since 1802.  That was when Thomas Jefferson sent the Marines to Tripoli to put a stop to the depredations of the Barbary Pirates.  I would like to thank Colonel Jonathan Brazee, USMC (Ret.) for illuminating a little known piece of American history.  Most of us are vaguely aware that this distant war was the genesis of the U.S. Navy and the Marine Corps but what actually happened is usually left unsaid.  The depth of Colonel Brazee’s research is evident from the first page.  He describes in convincing detail the campaigns of the war through the eyes of three fictional characters and a narrator.  Each player has a unique voice rich with period dialect, which admittedly is a bit thick at times, but nevertheless adds much early nineteenth century nuance.  (I even learned some new words.)  The pace is excellent and I was frankly glued to the narrative.  I appreciate the history lesson and highly recommend it.

56,010 words
Price $2.99

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Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Only the Mendacious Need Apply

A wise-ass Italian-Jew detective from Chicago on temporary assignment in Shanghai in 1930 witnesses the kidnapping of a blue-eyed Chinese girl on his way to work—then the story really gets exotic.  "When the Fox Dies Even the Rabbit Weeps" is one of those character driven mysteries that you fall in love with in the first five pages.  Detective Jake Puccini has four days left in his unprecedented, and unwanted, detective exchange between the Chicago and Shanghai police—four days to solve a serial murder case, a faked suicide and the aforementioned kidnapping.  His savvy and irreverent voice engages the reader and never lets go.

Edgar Bailitis has concocted a tale on par with "Chinatown" and if we could resurrect John Huston I'd stand in line to see the movie.  This enormously complex plot is kept orderly by a constant banter from the protagonist with the reader.  Jake never lets us lose track of a single red herring or shady character as he races to untangle his conundrum while the clock ticks on the term of his unpleasant exile in the multinational protectorate of Shanghai during the inter-war era.  This book is for fans of mysteries, detectives, spies, miscreants, gangsters, and of course, history.

Good cover too, don't you think?

168,935 words
Price $4.99

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Sunday, July 7, 2013

Alone Where the River Burns

A loner, not good in relationships, has his life complicated by larger than life events completely beyond his control.  He retreats to the derelict confluence of the Cuyahoga River and Lake Erie in the heart of decaying Cleveland.  There he insulates himself for eighteen years until the world begins to creep into his rustbelt fortress.  The Flats is a story of wrestling with demons both internal and external and how one engaging survivalist deals with them.  Written in a bold, multi-viewpoint style, The Flats jumps off the starting line and never looks back.  This may be JT Kalnay's best to date and that is a pretty big statement.

Having lived my first seventeen years in Akron, Ohio, makes me way too familiar with the setting of this story.  That did, of course, add to my enjoyment of this book, as did my escapist nature.  I can strongly relate to the protagonist who turns his blighted center-city property into an island.

94,275 Words
Price $2.99

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