The Plainsrunner – Chapters 31 & 32

Public Domain

Tallgrass and Seagrass make the long trek to a new city to begin their advanced education. Tallgrass runs into an old nemesis. Sage and the Professor discover something new about the gliders. Sage discovers something mysterious in space.

Visit OliverOnline for download.


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Merlin on the Fence

Credit Zatoichi26 – Creative Commons Attribution

This morning I looked up to see a raptor struggling on the fence. It was a merlin, and it was flapping and thrashing on the second rail up. At first I thought it was killing its prey, but it was soon obvious that it was stuck and trying to escape.

We built the rail fence, but the neighbors lined their side of it with chicken wire in an attempt to contain their undisciplined dog. The hawk had one of its feet caught in the wire.

While my housemate phoned the local raptor rescue society, I went out with a blanket. I hoped to cover the bird with the blanket so it would calm down. I thought its struggles might injure it.

Luckily, in the time it took me to get out of the house, the merlin managed to get itself out of the wire. All that remained was a trace of blood and a few feathers on the fence. I folded the blanket and came back inside.

Happy ending.-)


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The Plainsrunner – Chapters 29 & 30

Public Domain

Tallgrass and Seagrass negotiate the perils of school and life together. Tallgrass plays polo. He learns about the wider world, and leaves home for a higher education.

Get these chapters at OliverOnline.


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Internet Archive Passes One Thousand Downloads

(Note the image of Sita in the above picture, from Sita Sings the Blues. Sita was a great inspiration to me, as I’ve reported before.)

When I checked the status of the Green Comet trilogy on the Internet Archive today, I discovered that the three books have a total of just over one thousand downloads. The Internet Archive is where I keep the recordings of the stories, because I don’t have enough room for them on my own website. If I kept them on, then I would have to pay for a more expensive hosting package, because I would exceed the amount of storage I get with my current one. Call me cheap, but I don’t think I should pay a premium to give my books away. It’s a good thing that the Internet Archive is there so I don’t have to.

Here are the links to the three books:

Green Comet
Parasite Puppeteers
The Francesians

In addition to providing a repository for people like me, and things like the Green Comet trilogy, the Internet Archive also hosts things nominated and uploaded by people other than the creators. They provide a storage place for large quantities of material that otherwise wouldn’t have a home on the internet, and might end up getting lost to obscurity. Then there’s the Wayback Machine, which takes snapshots of websites periodically to provide a semi-continuous record of the evolution of the internet.

Here’s the Wayback Machine’s record of

Green Comet on the Wayback Machine.

The Green Comet website has been saved 58 times during its lifetime. In total, the Internet Archive has saved more than 333 billion web pages. That’s not everything. There are inevitably some changes on the internet that won’t be captured by the Internet Archive. Our record will be incomplete. Whether that’s a good thing or a bad thing will be a matter for personal opinion, but it’s definitely a good thing that at least a partial record is being captured. So, here’s to the Internet Archive, and here’s to the Green Comet trilogy which has been downloaded over a thousand times from it.

We’re still going.


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The Plainsrunner – Chapters 27 & 28

Public Domain

Tallgrass goes to school, where he makes a friend, and meets some bullies.


Go to OliverOnline to download these chapters.

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The Plainsrunner – Halftime Report

Credit: finetooth- CC-BY-SA

We have been running this experiment since the middle of March, posting one or two chapters a week of the novel I am currently writing — The Plainsrunner. It is a bit of a shock to realize that we’ve been at it for four months already. That’s a lot longer than it took Sage to get to the city, and she had to walk.

It occurred to me that I should write this halftime report, to explore the process and how I feel about it. It’s what people do, right? They always do it in hockey and soccer games. People working on an extended project usually take some time partway through to assess their progress and make plans for its completion. So why shouldn’t we do it for this book? …

The first thing I’d like to say is that I’m enjoying writing this book, and I’m enjoying sharing it as we go. I’ve never done this before, at least not just like this. I have shared portions of uncompleted novels before. While Green Comet was released whole and complete, the sequels in the trilogy — Parasite Puppeteers and The Francesians — were released in portions. What I called extensions, because I was just adding extensions to the Green Comet universe. Parasite Puppeteers had eight extensions, but The Francesians had only four, because I discovered that there’s a lot of work involved in proofing and formatting and releasing and announcing several different versions of a story, and four is easier than eight. Now, with The Plainsrunner, it looks as if I’ve taken a step backward. Maybe even two or more steps. Because instead of releasing it in four or eight parts, it looks as if it will end up being around thirty parts by the time we’re done. Fortunately I’m only releasing one version, PDF, so that cuts down the work quite a bit. Enough that I’m still able to enjoy the process of writing and sharing the book.

So, what have I enjoyed about it? Primarily, what I always enjoy about writing novels. The months, or more likely years, of focusing every day on adding to the growing story. Watching the story develop as I write it. Seeing what happens next. Learning more about my characters as I get to know them better. Pointing them where I want them to go, and following along, describing what they do to get there.

I have the advantage of you, my readers, because I know what my characters are going to do and what is going to happen to them. I know how the story is going to end even before I start writing it. I know whether this character is going to die, and whether that one is going to live happily ever after. But at the same time, they can surprise me, just as much as they can surprise you. I will know what has to happen in this day’s writing as I put in the necessary points to move the story along, but sometimes the characters can surprise me by how they do it. Sometimes new characters can even appear out of nowhere. For example, I met Buzzard, a major character in the Green Comet trilogy, at exactly the same time you did: when the door to the shop swung open. So there is a lot to enjoy about writing, and it’s all there in the writing of The Plainsrunner.

How could it be better? More downloads. More readers. More feedback. Especially more feedback. We’re in this together, you and I, and you can help by letting me know how it’s going. Is it worth your effort to read it? I know it’s worth it to keep writing it, but what about all that extra work to share it?

And that is the halftime report on the serialization of my novel, The Plainsrunner, on OliverOnline. Briefly: so far, so good. What do you think?


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The Plainsrunner – Chapter 26

Public Domain

Tallgrass goes on a picnic with his mom and three of their friends. He gets to drive the truck.

Download ch. 26 at OliverOnline.


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The Plainsrunner – Chapters 24 & 25

Public Domain

Greetings to our regular readers, and welcome to our new ones.

These two chapters mark the beginning of Part Three – Tallgrass.

In these chapters we meet Tallgrass, Sage’s son, and begin to see how he does in the city. We also get re-introduced to some of the people Sage met earlier, and she hears some news from home.

Download chapters 24 & 25 at OliverOnline.


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Science Prank

Credit Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal

I’ve run a few posts dealing with bad science and the idiotic attitudes of some politicians toward science, including this one, and this one with a chart. Let’s get back at them.-)

Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal has a good idea for how to prank politicians. All you have to do is tell them about a stupid-sounding classical science experiment, then watch them go on TV to denounce it. The panel shown above refers to the first successful vaccine ever developed, when Edward Jenner used cowpox to see if it could inoculate James Phipps, the eight-year-old son of his gardener, against smallpox. He first infected him with cowpox, and two months later with smallpox. You probably wouldn’t get away with that now.

Here’s a picture illustrating how vaccinations were received in the day.

Public Domain – tap for original

Follow this link to see the rest of the cartoon.


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The Plainsrunner – Chapters 22 & 23

Mike Gonzales – CC-BY-SA

These two chapters mark the end of Part Two – The City. Part Three begins next week.

Sage gets educated and works with the Professor. Then the newspaper reporters come around and her life takes a startling turn.

This brings us to the halfway point in the story, and that’s a good time for me to ask my readers for their input. Are you enjoying reading about Sage? Are you looking forward to future chapters? Is there anything more you’d like to know about Sage or her world? If so, then please post a comment here or on the OliverOnline website letting us know. Then we can get on to Part Three.-)

Thank you

Download chapters 22 & 23 at OliverOnline.


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