Thursday, June 20, 2013

"Happy Birthday, Madiba !" [July, 18th, 2013]

"Madiba" ! (Father of Our People)

The world rejoices in your upcoming birthday, celebrating  95 years.

From Prisoner to President - and still smiling

I wish you many, many more years Madiba.

Jack Bybee.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

e-books / e-articles by Jack Bybee [6/17/13]

Thank you for your interest in my writing. I have numerous works that have been written over the years. 
I am now publishing as e-books or e-articles.

e-Book: Kimdog's Tale... er Tail. (Complete) 
e-Book: Stepping Off the Edge of the Ledge

Journey West  - Written.
This first of four 'journeys' deals with the shanghaiing of the character, Frank Rudd Bybee, from the Barbary Coast of San Francisco, in 1897.

Journey South - Written.
Life aboard a clipper, as forced labour, heading south around Cape Horn.

Journey East. - Written.
After encountering, in the South Atlantic, an 'enormous swell' (tsunami?); 'persuading' the captain to change course (mutiny), and head for the closest land, Frank jumped ship in Cape Town, South Africa.

Journey North - Work in Progress
Meeting Mini-Clara Harriman, Cecil John Rhodes, Rudyard Kipling and others, FRB as a sharpshooter joins the British in relieving the Siege Of Mafeking during the Boer War, then it is back into the arms of the anxiously awaiting Min-Clara Harriman. Does this tale temporarily end? ...for is there truly an end to anything? The Ultimate Journey Continues.

Slice of (African) Life
Out of Africa - Eventually. AVAILABLE - $2.50


Along a Dusty African Road AVAILABLE - $2.50




Non-Fiction / Metaphysical:

 Steve Jobs' Last Words - AVAILABLE - $2.50 



Justification for Steve Lobs' Last Words - AVAILABLE - $2.50


Anthology of Death and Dieing 


Death - or A Funny Thing happened on the Way to the Morgue


Death - and the Life Review___________

Death -  What it is and is Not


Death - Preparing for it


Death - Three Important Questions



On Walking Home. AVAILABLE - $2.50


On (Almost) Being a Cripple  AVAILABLE - $2.50



Publishing e-Books for Dummies - my review of Ali Luke's title on

June 17, 2013.

Publishing E-Books for DummiesPublishing E-Books for Dummies by Ali Luke
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

As a technical writer, I have been busy writing technical stuff, creating art,and some shorts on Africa, apartheid and all that - just sitting on my hard-drive. I allowed the e-book scene to (partially) bi-pass me. I needed a book on... e-publishing. Now, I have an historical fiction title in the works The Journal of Rudd

Then... one gorgeous Arizona day, I was browsing the local library - to stay cool - and happened on Ali Luke's Publishing e-Books for Dummies.

THANK YOU Ali Luke! A whole new vista has opened for me. Let's be clear on one thing. I have never been a fan of For Dummies titles. Ever. Why? I'm NOT A DUMMY!
Then again, neither is Ali. The title is very well written, bit of humour here and there, and lots and lots of stuff I did not know about.

Issues I never suspected I would find, and am delighted the author mentioned was formatting your Word.doc with styles before creating and saving in various e-book formats; never heard of numerous e-book portals, one of them ( right here in Tucson, AZ (!); in fact had never heard of EPUB or Mobi, whatever.

I enjoy Guerrilla Marketing, and Luke has come up with a good many tips, while not too many are pure G/M issues, some cost, I still learnt from the entire book. What I really like, and I know this from years of frustrated paging through computer titles - Luke keeps the sections SHORT! There are lots of them - that's OK - but they are short and can be read and absorbed in minutes.

I'd better go back and delete NOT from I am NOT a Dummy (!) Sigh. Before I do that... I'll have to return the title to the library. Thanks again Ali Luke. Because of you, I am in the process of being formatted as an e-booker - A truly GOOD READ!

View all my reviews

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Of Love, Loss and Longing... and other post-partum issues after clicking SEND

June 16th, 2013. Launch Date + 1
While numerous assignments in writing technical documentation have been accomplished, mostly successfully, with the proverbial pay-check received, the feeling of accomplishment that swept over me yesterday, seconds after pressing '<SEND>' was absolutely enormous and with absolutely no financial reward in sight - yet.

So... the fact that I logged in to see if anyone had posted a feedback comment at 03:00 in the morning, was, to me, an indication that, yes, I truly was proud of the manuscript.

Ooh, certainly, as usual, and as my ex- used to berate me, " issue scrolls off the top of the screen, another pops up from below." Why do I remember that so well. With a pinch of salt here and there, it was probably true - still is.

No sooner had I dutifully thanked the powers that guided the years of stewing on The Journal of Rudd, when I started berating myself for not producing a cleaner, more succinct manuscript - but, "... no, it needs a bit description here... but less there, and, will they think that it's like this...? ...and the voice, ooh the issue of the voice. Too many dashes?"

Now... what will happen if...? If the crimp, the fellow responsible for Frank's abduction (shanghaiing) had to experience the feelings FRB had for the rest of his life, landing up in a totally strange country, after being terrified by weather at sea. Would Bunko Kelly, after his Life Review, and ready to pass on to the next life, not have second thoughts in hurting others? Could this character type, the Trickster archetype, I suppose Jung would call it, not make for interesting exposition? But then, I find myself asking - why? Why would anyone, any sentient spirit, try to trick another? In the case of Bunko Kelly, it was money. He could care less whom he hurt, as long as he could supply human bodies to man the ships - steal their pay, and pocket any financial income due the shanghaied sailors. But I am certain Kelly learnt his lesson. Money merely has the value a society places on it - and in the end is totally worthless.

But that isn't the major issue. The major issue, what I believe in feminine psychology is called post-partum, is the issue with regards to JoR/The Journey West, and that is, just like a child, taking it's first hesitant steps into first day at school... coming out a few hours later with wonderful words: "Hi, Dad... I think I'm going to like school!" Is the manuscript about to succeed in the glare of public scrutiny? ripped apart, torn to shreds, as a waste of the reader's time? Like the child, toddling off to school, time will tell, how that spirit, how that manuscript survives, succeeds - or not. 

All I can do now is try to steer the manuscript here a bit, there a bit. And go on, to complete the next three sections.

If the sense of accomplishment I still feel is like this now, after just one segment - what will it be like after all four are completed? I'll have to find out, won't I?

Things are as they are - they will end as they must.

-- JSB.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Journey West - DONE (!) [6/15/13]

June 15th, 2013. 19:44 -To-day Saturday:
The first 'Journey' of the Journal of Rudd - is done! 
Completed ! 
It has been years and years in the stewing. At 19:45 I clicked <SEND> and into the ether, on it's way to a 'First Reader' editor, went all 50 pages of what has been a very long slog - held up by my inability to get the voice right. We'll see!

Now? Now, the 'Journey South'. But first sleep.

Grandpa was crimped in SF back in the 1890's. That is shanghaied. When, as I sat on the old man's knee, I used to believe it was all fiction, as any civilized American, as far as my understanding of it went, did not go lacing other people's drinks at a birthday party on-board a ship, and then... force them into, what can only amount to slave labour..., or did they?

I approach John, a librarian at my library around the corner: "John I have a (self-imposed deadline) for to-night. I need from one of your books, a description of a 'crimp'." Well, (after a rather curious look) says John, " could type wiki-pedia. See they even say that Portland, OR was the crimping capital of the 1890's and there is a section on 'notable crimps'."

Thank you John, you are hereby promoted to Head Librarian of whatever ship Grandpa got shanghaied to. Let's hear it for librarians who know how to find information !

Deadline approaches - writing this is pure procrastination.  

Jack OUT (for now.)

June 14th, 2013
Yes, The Journey West is a work in progress... but not for long. It is nearly written. Nearly complete. Nearly.

It seems like ages have passed, but for some reason, the voice issue has clicked, the Pima Writer's Workshop I attended gave me the proverbial kick in you-know-whatsit, and I am hours away from completing the Journey West - Grandpa's arrival in San Franscisco back in 1897.

I caution myself repeatedly, that the research for this 'Journey' was the easiest, and I am bracing myself for the next two 'Journeys.' The immediate, Journey South, is, at the moment formidable. Having no criminal record (touch wood), having never been in a jail cell, nor, for that matter a brig aboard any ship, let alone a clipper out of the late 1800's, I must now figure a way to describe Frank Bybee's incarceration for two-to-three weeks, as they cleared the coast, and eventually allowed him on deck aboard the clipper he was shanghaied onto.
Then comes The Journey East. That Journey, I will tackle, when I tackle it.
After which, comes the easy part again. The Journey North, into Africa.

The decent bit of writing, achieved this morning (Friday) after meeting with a friend for coffee, merely emphasized one thing. Carrying a  notebook with me all the time, allows for writing after coffee, writing while waiting for the bus, etc. etc. But, a peer, Nancy Mair's is correct. Nancy spoke at the Writer's Workshop (above). Says Ms. Mairs: "I re-write every sentence 3-5 times, often five times. I analyze every word carefully." Well, I can honestly say, I enjoyed re-writing the ending of The Journey West 5 times, until now, I do believe it works. To-morrow, if I return for an edit - rewrite number 6. Who knows? Problem? Now to go back, and re-write all 48 pages of this missive. And do that 3-5 times. And analyze every word? Well, the re-writes I agree with. It worked for the ending, it is working for the beginning (in media res) now all that is need, is to re-write the entire middle 3-5 times. Phew!

The lot of the historical fiction writer. But so far, I am loving the research and the writing. How can I not? What else is left?

So, stay tuned. The next few hours should produce a finality that I have been striving for since 2005. At least it is the end of the first Journey. Now, comes the true life changing events for Frank Rudd Bybee.

June 8th, 2013.

                The Journal of Rudd is a fictitious journal based largely on fact, of my grandfather, Frank Rudd Bybee, and his rather unwilling journey away from the farm in Paradise, Iowa to eventually land in Cape Town, South Africa.

I have modeled this Journal on These is My Words by award winning author, Nancy Turner. Thank you for the encouragement, Nancy.

The Journal of Rudd, is divided into four separate "journeys" per se. The Journey West (from Iowa); The Journey South (after being shanghaiied); The Journey East (Across the South Atlantic and encountering  'the big swell'); The Journey North (into Africa).

Where is the current work in progress?

The Journey West has been stalled for many years as I have searched for a voice in which to pen the Journal. Regrettably (sic?) I speak English, and have a reasonable vocabulary - Grandpa did not. He could barely write, although he enjoyed sketching. But a voice had to be found. A voice from a farm on the terribly flat plains of Iowa, in the 1890's. Steinbeck? Maybe - too cultured. Willa Cather? Closer, she lived and wrote from Red Cloud, Nebraska - still not Grandpa's voice, she was educated - well educated. So... Grandpa will 'write' his Journal as simply as possible, with a dose of regional grammatical 'mistakes' thrown in for flavor.

Anyone help with the issue of voice?

Excerpt from Journey West as an example of voice issues:
April, 21st, 1898. Arion Depot (Early morning.) 

It’s not that I know Ol’ Jebb that well, but seeing the gleam in Ol’ Jebb’s  eye, I reckon he has one of those ‘good for you, son’ half-smiles that Ma sometimes has too.  I know he likes me. I show him the sketches I’ve done so far, as I sit there sketching his coffee mug – he gets up, he says, “I’ll trade you a mug, that you can keep, with hot coffee now, until you leave – and I’ll give you warm supper to-night.”

“You will?”
“Sure,” Ol’ Jebb says, “…in fact Frank, you can keep that old cream mug, it is chipped and dented – you want it, it’s yours.”
“But, Jebb, you say you’ll trade me. Trade me what?”
“Frank…,  boy, you’ve got talent. I don’t think you realize how good you are. I want that sketch of my coffee mug. And I want you to sign it too. Will you do that for me boy? I’m going to make a wooden frame for it – hang it on my wall. You come see it when you get back, all right?”

I don’t know whether to laugh or cry.
“Really! You’ll do that?” I nearly shout. “I’ve never signed any of my sketches. Sure I’ll sign it. And you gonna frame it? Gee – wait till Ma hears this! Y’know…, it’s not that good, I’ve done some in ink, that are better, far better, this here, is in charcoal. You know that, right, Jebb?”
“I still want it. I love the look and feel. I can feel the warmth of the coffee coming through.”

“Gee whiz. Gee whiz!” That’s all I can say. GEE WHIZZIKERS!”


Brief Backgrounder:

Frank Rudd Bybee - a sad, confused, sullen man, only wanting to "... go back to the farm" and find Hunter (his dog).. and Ma... and, of course, his first love, Clarissa.

The Hex River Valley in the Western Cape of South Africa where Frank eventually settled. His cottage (much like the little white thatch roofed dot in the middle of the image) lay up the valley to the right hand side of the image. This is where Frank Rudd Bybee's three sons (Jack, Leland,  and Ellis [my father and uncles]) earned their mountaineering stripes. BTW - Frank worked for many years for the Cape Orchard Company, a concern storing deciduous fruit for export. The yellows, reds and browns are autumn leaves on the vines. Right at this moment (May - July) that scene is probably playing out in the Hex River Valley. All this is in The Journey North and is quite a long (writing) schlep away - as it physically was, as well.

Searching for images of the North Platte River from ground level.

Is there anyone out there reading this who has traveled the North Platte River out of Omaha, Nebraska. and who is willing, for research purposes, to share those images with me? I'll credit you in the title.

I have been to Google Earth, and have a few "Street Level" views from the banks of the river. Looking for more, from "higher up" in the passes.

The Brig

"Please... please officer, I'm a writer, and I need to experience what it is like in a ships brig (jail)... please officer, lock me up. " (Yup! Got another looney here. Send the cruiser.") It's a bit drastic, but how else, can I get a sense of what being confined to a brig in a clipper going around Cape Horn is like? I'm talking about smells, sights, sounds, lights, fixtures etc. etc. Help!