I listened as Eliot Treichel told a group of local writers how he created a young adult novel, wrote more than a half dozen drafts and received more than 60 rejections before the book was accepted by a publisher.

That sounds  like a lot of work in telling how a 15-year-old girl loses
SM_1_finalcoverher father in an accident and feels that she’s to blame. You can
read the story in “A Series of Small Maneuvers.”

What if a hacker had hijacked Treichel’s words during the process, then demanded that he pay a ransom to rescue the novel?

I asked that question  after reading an editorial about “ransomeware” in the local newspaper.

Here’s how it works. Hackers steal your words by installing encryption software on your computer and then invite you to pay a ransom to reverse the procedure.

Treichel says he saves his work in three places: On the hard drive of his computer, on a thumb drive and on an e-mail that he sends to himself.

I’m uncertain what a thumb drive may be, so I rushed to a store, Continue reading HALT HACKING HUCKSTERS WHO HIJACK OUR WORDS


When Monday rolls around, my wife Lou and I will have been married 65 years. I thought it would be easy to remember the date of our anniversary because we were married on Thanksgiving Day. The problem, of course, is that Thanksgiving doesn’t stay put.

In any event, it is an occasion to recall how two Missourians met, eventually wed, reared four children and survived for more than six decades of what is described as “wedded bliss.”

In the book of advice that I wrote recently for my great-grandchildren, I describe how I met Lou: “She was wearing brown-
DEAN:LOU 2015and-white saddle shoes the day she swept down a line of college students, laughing and flirting with all the guys. As I looked up from her shoes to her pretty legs, up her slender body and saw her pretty smile, I was a gonner. I still see that pretty smile every time I look into her face today.”

We wed in 1950 a few hours after I took mid-semester exams at the University of Missouri and she completed another week of teaching Continue reading THANKSGIVING NO LONGER MY WEDDING BENCHMARK


“Putting a book together is a big sight harder than building a log cabin or cutting a trail,” Deep-river Jim wrote in the preface of a book that I discovered recently while “getting rid of stuff.”

The “Wilderness Trail Book,” published in 1937, describes how a farm boy like me could join a club and earn arrowheads rather than TRAIL BOOKmerit badges as a member of the Pioneers’ Club.

It was an adventure that held my early teenage attention for a couple of years and was bound up in this book that I found in the rafters of our garage.

Deep-river Jim wrote 12 chapters — one for each month — about his experience in the woods. He told us how to ski, how to build a fire, how to pack for a hike, how to fish. He also included recipes for us to prepare on camping trips.

He cautioned us to be careful on the trail. Never point a gun at a companion, never leave a loaded gun standing around and don’t carry you gun cocked. And keep track of where your pardner is located while you hunt.

Deep-river Jim also explained the meaning of words. Banjan hole, for example, is a soft place in a marsh where “you can sink out of sight and are lucky if you can climb out Continue reading COLLECTING ARROWHEADS ON PIONEER TRAIL AS A BOY


This week I signed a contract and forwarded a book manuscript to a publisher. In doing so, I felt much like I did when my daughter attended her first day of school: anxious.

Being anxious is the last thing you would expect of a guy who spent a lifetime covering breaking news events, teaching classes and writing a book of advice for his great-grandchildren.

Yet, I was reluctant to release my manuscript into the hands of a publisher, a person I know and trust. Keep in mind that I spent theBASES:BLOG summer crafting the 40 chapters. I drew heavily on my experience of living on a farm as a boy in writing each chapter of 500 words. You can have a lot of fun talking about the “good old days” when we didn’t have electricity, heated water on a wood stove for Saturday night baths helped milk cows every morning and evening.

As writers know, the work only begins with the first draft. You often rewrite, edit and edit again. Are the words in the right place? Are any commas misplaced? Do statements need fact-checking? Does the story attract and hold the attention of readers?

Questions about the advice manuscript often popped into my mind while washing the dishes, driving to the grocery store, even while watching the Ducks play football.

Finally, my creation, my baby, my potential “best seller” was ready for public exposure. I have offered the best advice possible in Continue reading RELEASING A MANUSCRIPT CREATES ANXIOUS MOMENT