This is fantastic research!!!

Check out this article about the exciting work the Hakai Institute has been doing up in British Columbia, furthering the theory that the first people who visited North America came along the coast, and arrived earlier than current dogma holds….This institute and the archeologist Daryl Fedje have been doing groundbreaking work, work that is shifting the entire paradigm of human presence in the Western Hemisphere…


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.

Dowsing for fish

Every fall the bluefin tuna run into Cape Cod Bay and people go out with their boats to harpoon them. The boats are anywhere from 30 to 50 feet long, there’s a stand on the bow you go out on to “stick” the fish, which can be seen on the surface sunning itself. These fish are BIG up to 1,000 pounds and worth big money. One fish can be worth $ 20,000 and is sold fresh in the Tokyo market after being flown there overnight. So this is a short but big money fishery. One year my first skipper Sten was out there trying to get tunafish, with one sternman, but he got nothing. Not a thing, and he was a good fisherman.  Meanwhile my friend Gerry, who like me was first taught by Sten, was with one Elmer Costa on his big black boat the Columbia, and Gerry and Elmer had two fish. Sten was dying of curiosity, what was Gerry and Elmer doing that Sten was not? It bothered Sten. A lot. Meanwhile the season went on and Elmer and Gerry got another fish, and by this time Sten was sort of following them around, hoping to see their trick. Their technique.

This was the same year I had shown Sten with a dowsing stick where his well was, and found his gold coin, and this also perplexed him greatly, but not as much as being outfished by someone he had trained. Gerry and I had a discussion one afternoon because we both wanted to further excite Sten, and then I called Sten and said to him, “Listen, Sten, if you want to see the trick Gerry’s using, you follow Elmer tomorrow, close, get up right by their stern and take a look.”

This Sten did, it being a foggy morning so he was able to nose in real close, and he came around the stern of the Columbia and peered through the mist and saw Gerry on the stern of the Columbia holding in his hands a dowsing stick, facing aft, the stick standing upright and held in his two hands. Sten peered closer and realized that on the end of the stick Gerry was holding was an empty Bumblebee tunafish can.

This incident gave us much amusement, but then a strange thing happened. Sten began to catch fish and Gerry and Elmer were skunked, as we used to say. Sten ended the season with one more fish than Gerry and Elmer. This confused Gerry, and me, too, and one day that winter in the coffee shop we saw Sten and asked him, what changed for him? Sten gave each of us a long heavy-lidded look and cracked a slow smile.

“You were using the wrong can,” he said. “I caught my fish not with Bumblebee but with Chicken of the Sea.”

Sten passed away in 1998, brain tumor, but until he was across the bar he always said, with a perfectly straight face, when we asked, “Of course it’s true.”

The greatest small boat journey ever made?

Shackleton’s trip to South Georgia Island from Elephant Island in the Southern Ocean. But he has competition –  Bligh’s passage after the mutiny across 2,000 miles of Pacific Ocean in an open boat, or Blackburn’s row across the Atlantic after losing his fingers and toes in a blizzard off the Grand banks…..humans have been going to sea in open boats for hundreds of thousands of years, before writing, before history, before legend…what about their journeys? Imagine – navigating an open boat, skin-covered perhaps, along a harsh coast, heavy ice on the upland, great animals, hungry, roaming and looking if they come ashore, forced to find food as they travel, despite danger, facing the cold, the weather, the unknown…..yet still they traveled….and found, and populated, the earth…


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.



Some things never change…..four years ago when I sailed with APL we stood pirate watch all the way from the foot of the Red Sea out northeast toward Oman, going and coming. The situation then was that a ship traveling at 16+ knots was pretty untouchable; it was the slower vessels that were vulnerable. I remember being told, back then, there were dozens of seized ships being held along the Somali coast, for ransom, and that ransom was often paid, with little said about it. Maybe that still happens. By the time I sailed that route they had established lanes, outbound and returning, and some warships were in the area patrolling the lanes in case of attack. But, still, ships are seized, held, and then, as in this story here, released….