Category: Books

Reader Reactions to Strong Heart…

…a beautiful and heart-warming story…

…fabulously plotted…

 …this book gripped me and would not let go…

 …this is a must read for everybody…

…the perfect blend of the deep-rooted legends and harsh realities of life…”

 …I would recommend this book to anyone…

 …it’s as if you are immersed in the story….

 …one of the most incredible fiction novel I have ever read…

 …if you are an adventure lover, this will make a wonderful read…

 …this is a must read book…

 …makes me wish I had listened to stories my great-grandfather and grandparents told a little more closely…

…if you are into folklore, dreams and magic, this book is a definite must read…

 …a fictional story of learning about one’s past heritage and how that knowledge can assist us in our lives today…

 …themes…so universal that I believe they will speak to any reader of any age…

 …if you are looking for a story with suspense then this is the book for you…

 …this unique story is a book of fiction, or is it? It is similar to science fiction or fantasy, the difference being that this story just might have actually happened. Is it the author’s  vivid imagination, or is it based on actual data?… Mr. Sheldon’s ability to describe scenes makes one think he vividly sees them in his mind and then is able to translate those pictures into words. I was able to visualize what was happening to Sarah, where she went, what happened to her on the way, in a way I have not experienced before. The beauty of Alaska and the Pacific Northwest comes to life on the pages…

 …absorbing…alternates constantly between the past and the present and before long you lose yourself in a beautiful world with beautiful people whose experiences you joyfully share. You go through pain, anger and even helplessness with the characters…..

 …the simplicity of the writing makes it for an easy read, and the charts and landmarks noted in the first few pages gives the story an authentic feel and helps you as the reader to understand the layout and journey that was taken. It is not only a voyage and adventure, but also a building of character and the display of our most basic and ferocious instincts; survival and procreation. We all want to live the best lives we can and leave something behind for the generations to follow by which they can commemorate us and remember us by. Be it in drawings, skills or just legends and stories told around a warm campfire…”

 …more than a wilderness adventure, the book is good in bringing out the value of traditional knowledge in a world where scientific facts sometimes overshadow reality itself…


If you’re looking for something to listen to….

Anyone out there who likes listening to stories/books? Commuters, walkers, listeners? The first 10 people out there who reach me at will receive a code for a free Audible version of Strong Heart. The only catch is, promise me you’ll post a review on Amazon and Goodreads once you listen to it….There’s some information about the tale to the right on the sidebar.

And, here’s a couple more recent reviews:

Recently finished Strong Heart. Absolutely loved it.  What a well researched and crafted tale – excellent writing. It has all the elements — wilderness, seafaring, battling nature (both human and non), pre-history, science, anthropology, big animals, ecology, natural beauty and deep thinking about what it really means to be a human in this unforgiving world. Some of my favorite scenes were out at sea, in the big canoe, lost in the vastness and freezing cold – the icy blue sky, big glaciers, relentless wind, dark waves and whitecaps – amazing what these people undertook and the huge risks to life and limb they faced every day.  Your writing really brings it alive and it sticks. You managed a complex story within the story structure which not only worked, but succeeded in enhancing the message and made it totally real to me. Major food for thought — I continue to ruminate over it and will for a long time. Bravo! Dick L.
You’ve spun a great yarn! My hobby is reading history, but I don’t usually read historical fiction, so I had also forgotten how vividly a writer can convey what it might have been like to live history. Among other things, your tale drove home the experience of living among large carnivores at a time before metallurgy and numbers gave us humans such a decisive advantage that the only large animals we had to be constantly on guard against were other humans. I also enjoyed your sympathetic meditation on the conflict between belief and evidence, which, as you note, has become a much more important subject than it was when we were at in high school way back…Thanks for the enjoyable read! John P.
So, if you’re interested, send me a message, and I’ll send you the Audible code. Then follow the directions below:
  1. Go to my book’s page on Audible – google Strong Heart Sheldon and find the Amazon link or click on this: .com:
  2. Add the audiobook to your cart.
  3. Create a new account or log in.
  4. Enter the promo code and click “Redeem” on the cart page.
  5. To change the price from full price to $0.00, click the box next to “1 Credit” and click the “update” button to apply the credit to your purchase.
  6. Complete checkout, and start listening to the free copy of the book.

Flogging a book

100_4690Now starting the process of flogging a book. This is quite new to me, despite having published another book years ago with a national house, Pocketbooks (Fat Chance 1991). Back then I did nothing, zero, nada, because I had a demanding day job and hated the self promotion thing. Now, more than a quarter century later, approaching ancient-hood, doing it again, but this time trying to do all I can. The jury is absolutely out, for sure, but have started with readings and the social media thing. Have done a couple of bookstore readings, which were a lot of fun, actually. Have been to several retirement communities and have read there, which has absolutely been a treat. The audience is friendly, they always get books for themselves or their children and grandchildren, and most of all in the end their stories are far more interesting than the one I am reading myself. This has been an unexpected pleasure. Plus, I’m making a small start with teenagers, have read at a boys and girls club once and am looking at perhaps reading at juvenile detention facilities which sponsor book club readings and which are filled with ornery kids like my heroine Sarah.

I have, as recommended, emailed and contacted everyone I know, which has been an agony, but so far everyone has been polite and in some cases very positive. Plus, again an unexpected outcome, it’s been nice to get back in contact with people from the very distant past.

One book at a time. That’s the rule, I guess. I am, if nothing else, persistent, and I expect to keep plodding away, in the faint hope something goes viral. “Going viral” is an interesting phrase. In social media-speak, this means taking off, but literally it means spreading a disease. I don’t want to think that this story is a disease, a virus, a sickness, though maybe the force to create stories, is. It feels that way, sometimes. There are two other tales behind this one, already written, one completed (Adrift) and the other nearly so (The Unnamed Lake), and a fourth tale standing beyond, waiting. Of course one of the problems with this flogging thing is it takes time and energy from writing, and now, within short weeks, it will be the start of the hiking season, and dammit, after four years at sea I am going to do some hiking this summer, no matter what.

So, anyway, thanks to all of you who have taken the tale and are now reading it, and thanks to those others who are sending the tale to relatives and ornery youngsters.


A journey to ancient truth…


“How does a heart grow strong? Read this wonderful book and find out. The characters charmed and surprised me, and I found myself a willing companion on their journey, caring deeply for them.” Kim Heacox, author of JIMMY BLUEFEATHER (winner of the National Outdoor Book Award) and RHYTHM OF THE WILD

For anyone who is looking for a tale to read while waiting in an airport or riding a bus or train, or to those who are curious about the Olympic mountains in Washington State and the North Pacific Coast, here’s a story about wilderness, a quest, an ornery young girl, and a heck of a sea journey. Available in paperback, ebook, and audio book. Read the first five chapters by clicking Free Preview below….

Listeners have stories, too….

I was at a retirement village near Seattle to talk a bit about the overall agony of writing tales and to read a bit from my story about the Olympics and the North Pacific Coast. It was a gray rainy day, everything was dark, and the crowd was as small as could be – one person.  In the end I got much more out of the session than she did, I am sure, for as we talked she told me a bit of her story. She had grown up near Seattle, the daughter of a halibut and crab fisherman. Her father had come to the United States in 1947 after spending time in the Norwegian resistance during the war. He had been in the 1936 Olympics as a boxer, for Norway. Once in the PNW he went to sea, fished, and raised his family. His daughter, currently struggling with melanoma but carrying on, had spent time working in schools as a teacher’s aide and knew better than most how difficult 13 year old girls can be (like the hero of my tale Strong Heart).  She told me that when younger she had done her share of hiking and once gone into the Olympics herself, for four days, as a young woman with a group, hiking “over Little Hump and Big Hump to camp.” That’s along the Duckabush River, and exactly where I was last hiking last summer. In the end I gave her the book I had been reading from, because she seemed interested in the tale, and because after hearing her story I determined I had gained more than she had from the exchange.

Duckabush River summer 2016 just above Five Mile Camp:



The agony of writing (3)…life on the Mississippi

So by the late summer 2015 I have three full tales on my desk, so to speak, two of them in pretty finished form, formally edited, revised, and a third finished but needing an editor and more work yet containing the bones of a good tale. That fall a group of us from Lyn’s Literary Fiction class at UW start meeting at her house every month to read, discuss our work, continue the struggle. It’s a small group, four to six every time, and not always the same four or six, but it’s a way to stay in touch and continue to get that invaluable feedback without which I at least am doomed . A few are from the class I took in 2013-2014 and a few others from her class the year before 2012-2013.

Lyn had mentioned to me earlier when I first came back from Baltimore and the ship there that she knew of someone who had started a publishing house, might be willing to look at my stuff. When we started the sessions at her house I recognized one of the attendees as someone I had met the very first night I started her class in 2013, just before we went to class and I started my first tale, a student from the year before Lyn had introduced me to, Ethan. He was at Lyn’s when our group began to meet, a group we now sort of call the Edge of Discovery Writers, and I realized after a couple of meetings that fall that he was the publisher Lyn had mentioned, or I guessed he was, and after a class in early December  I asked him if he was a publisher and he said yes and I asked him if he’d be willing to look at something I had done, and he said yes again. I spent a day or two cleaning up all three tales and then printed and bound them all in one huge tome, left it with Ethan about mid-December to read. I go to the union hall and get a ship, Louisiana, as bosun, plan to drive down to in in early January, and just before leaving meet Ethan again and he says he is interested in the tales, and will work with me on the first one.

This by the way as the record of refusals and rejections continues, right up to December. I should have kept a record of all the queries and refusals, they would fill a book.More than a book.

So. It seems now I have a publisher, IronTwine Press, a nearly brand new outfit but an outfit, local, and we agree that after I get back from the ship in the spring of 2016 we will crank out the first book, which had been titled The Spear Thrower and then The Short Face Bear and finally Strong Heart.

January 10 2016 I drive to Louisiana via LA, stop and see a couple old friends and one of my sons on the way. Texas is a big damn state. Then I’m on the Shughart, working, and about a month after I get there I get this big package, my big tome I had left with Ethan he has mailed back to me with comments and edits, and when I have time I spend every minute working through the tales, line by line, a kind of last edit, at least for the first two. I was on the Shughart and for the first two months before we sailed to the shipyard we were tied up with another reserve ship, the Yano, both of us tied alongside each other to a long pier in Violet Louisiana a ways south of New Orleans, delta flatland, not far from the site of the Battle of New Orleans. Living on the ship. Living on the Mississippi River. Life on the Mississippi. It was just fine, watching the ships and long barge tows pass, the brown river rise and fall. Then, though, we cast off, which was a long tale in itself, and went down the river to the mouth and across the Gulf to New York. Eventually. All that time on that river I worked on the tales when not working on the ship.

Then we leave for the 14 day run to New York. I enter my 70th year at sea. We made it…..


Once done with my duty at the shipyard I drive back to Seattle in May and arrange with Pete Wise to edit my third tale and start working hard with Ethan on the first book – its production, cover, final edits, marketing plan.

The gig on the ship was fun, enjoyable, and of course a pain in the ass a lot of the time, with the added benefit of a voyage to the shipyard in New Jersey, which was interesting. After I got back from the ship – I had to fly back down to New Orleans to get my car – I decided to make a real effort here, making this whole book thing successful, which meant, not sailing again but instead spending the time and energy helping IronTwine get this tale out and read. My worst nightmare, frankly, doing this blow your own horn stuff, but if IronTwine is willing to try this the least I can do is do my best.

I decided to think of it as a project, a task to be done, and that’s what’s been going on since. Besides, it’s a little uncanny that the person publishing this book is the person I met in that coffee shop years ago literally five minutes before I started writing the actual tale in Lyn’s class. Or is it?