Category: Books

The Well of Time Series

Covid has delayed production of Totem for a year, which is fine, because during these months of isolation and home-bound-ness I have returned to a feeble hobby I enjoyed greatly decades ago, drawing sketches. This year, too, has been a chance to get back into the mountains for hiking, but these days I am slower, and tend to spend fewer hours a day under a pack, walking, leaving time to stop, observe, and draw whatever I see along the way. It used to be, for years, the definition of a decent hike was how blown you were at the end, how damaged, how great the pain, but age, while not removing the pain, has at least allowed enough small wisdom to be a little more conservative. Your scribe was never the brightest bulb in the room. So, hence, I have taken to drawing along the way, with pencil, or ink, small 5 inch square heavy paper sheets, easy to store in a back pack. The drawings are feeble, primitive, and reveal an unsettling mind, but they have been fun. My wife suggested, when I came back from one such hike last spring, perhaps I could draw a story with these panels, share it with our small tribe of grandchildren and nieces and nephews, or grand-nieces and nephews. This seemed like a fine idea, and so I did so, with the idea I could have a Zoom meeting with the widely scattered wee ones and tell the story in real time over the screen. Then, to increase their anticipation, my wife suggested that maybe I could send a story panel, once completed and copied, to each of the kids so when they watched the story then could also be holding part of it in their hands, waiting then to see where it fell in the tale.

This I did. It was (and is) a lot of work, hours, but great fun. I took heavy watercolor paper and cut it to fit in business sized envelopes, then drew the panels and mailed them to the kids after photographing them on my phone, cropping them, and then storing them on my computer such that I could prepare a PowerPoint slide show, but a slide show of drawings, pictures, which I then can run through, live, on Zoom, telling the tale picture by picture. The first time we did the Zoom event I hadn’t even finished the first story, but it was a way to tell the kids and their parents, my own kids and cousins, what to expect, and to get them ready for the pictures appearing in their mailbox. It is also possible to record these Zoom events, which means, I can then take the recorded tale and get it up on You Tube and send that, too, to each wee one, such that they have the story to watch again if they wish, at their pace and speed, but also available for those kids who may be unable to make the Zoom meeting.

Years and years ago when my own kids were little, at Christmas I would buy a lot of cheap – I mean, CHEAP – little plastic figurines of animals and dinosaurs and monsters and wrap them, one apiece, to the kids who would be present, usually three or four kids and their cousins, and with each tiny present was a card upon which I wrote a 3×5 chapter of a tale, one by one, such that as the other presents were opened a story was being told to all the kids, involving them. This was something that was a much bigger success than I expected. Then, a bit later, I began telling stories to my son Jack to put him to bed, when he was very little, in a crib, still, and these stories were about a young lad named Roland and him finding a hollow in a tree which was a Well of Time, a way to go into the past. I told him many such stories,all of which he has forgotten, which is probably good because I believe I was inhaling back then.

Now, fast forward 35-45 years, and it is another generation of wee ones, everything on flat screens, everything provided, and due to this pandemic everyone desperate for new material. These new stories, drawn on paper, copied, then shown via Zoom and Powerpoint while narrating the tale, have been much liked by the wee ones, whose minds are perhaps s twisted as my own.

Then, in November, one of the kids, the oldest one, actually, Ollie, sends me a drawing he has made and says, maybe you can put this in your next story, and this seemed like a fine idea, so I solicited drawings from all the other kids, whatever they wished, and then drew a story which included their characters and drawings, too. This was even more work, but great fun, great fun.

So it seems that just as I have finished one series, the Strong Heart Series, three books about the Pacific Northwest, ancient history, an ornery young girl and her companions, I have now embarked on another: The Well of Time series. This blog post here was started years ago simply as a great place to store the stuff I enjoyed and had fun with, and if someone gets into it and enjoys it, fine. Now the Well of Time tales, those done so far, are on this blog too, on the right hand side, available to anyone who wants to watch them.

When I finished Totem I knew I had completed the first series, in three tales. I suspect the Well of Time tales might carry on a bit longer. I would say, as far as the pandemic goes, there could have been many worse ways to pass the time.

Readings

I have been going to retirement villages out on the Olympic Peninsula and within a day’s drive of Tacoma to read from Strong Heart and Adrift, or once to discuss the research I did before writing the tales. Without fail, I get more out of these events than the audience, because after the reading and questions and book sales and signings I get to hear their stories, and some of those stories are astounding. I am surprised, though I should not be, at how many in the audience have Native American ancestors, how many are fourth or fifth generation descendants of the first pioneers, how many are writers themselves, and especially how many have ornery and complex daughters, cousins, nieces, or grandchildren so like Sarah Cooley, the main protagonist in my tales. I don’t know where Sarah came from, she just appeared when I started the book, but she seems real to me. Is real. Apparently so with audience members, too.

Many of my listeners cannot hear very well, so I talk loudly or use a microphone, and many others ask about an audio version, as they cannot see that well for reading. I am in the process of producing an audio version of Strong Heart with a company which will produce both MP3 files for phones and pads and CDs as well.  If this works I hope to to the same with Adrift, using the same great narrator, Laurel Anne White, and when my third book appears, probably next September, tentatively titled Found, that one, too. It’s fun to go to these places, knowing these tales will be in the hands of children and grandchildren (after being read first, of course) in time for the holiday season.

I also have prepared this talk, about 20 minutes long, describing all the research that went into Strong Heart – human origins, human migrations, glacial epochs, DNA evidence, fossil evidence, sea level changes, climate shifts, where the ice was and where not, glacial refuges, how people may have traveled ages ago, when they may have first reached the Americas, and whether the ancient legends among First Peoples that they have always been here might be true. The discussion after such a talk with these groups of elders, some of great age, experience, and knowledge, is fascinating.

 

 

Evidence of ancient people in British Columbia…

In my tales Strong Heart and Adrift I offer that the ancient legends of First Peoples might be true – that they have always been here, always, since humans first became “modern” ages ago, despite the ice.  Check out this article in Digital Journal:

http://www.digitaljournal.com/tech-and-science/science/heiltsuk-village-site-on-bc-s-triquet-island-is-14-000-years-old/article/489190

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…

StrongHeart_CoverConcept2

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 charliesheldon2@gmail.com 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: https://www.amazon.com/Strong-Heart/dp/B06VWZZJDM/ref=tmm_aud_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=&sr=
  2. Add the audiobook to your cart.
  3. Create a new Audible.com 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.
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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.