An introduction to my blog
I have been writing since age 4. Okay, those first scribbles may not appear to anyone except me as "writing" but they were. I could read them aloud to anyone -- and according to my mother, I did.
In middle school, I started to write short stories. Those short stories caught the eye of two teachers -- my math teacher, Mrs. Stanley; and my English teacher and later one of my first writing and life mentors, Cora Wood.
Of course, Mrs. Stanley wanted me to stop writing short stories and daydreaming and concentrate on solving mathematical problems. Cora Wood wanted me to continue to write and express myself -- but NOT during school hours. "Do it after school, or when you're alone. Not during school - and NOT in my class!" she would continually tell me. I did not pay either any mind.
When I arrived at Fort Knox High, my writing came in handy. It helped to keep life in perspective after witnessing a suicide of a classmate. It helped me to stay grounded when people were hoisting me high as "god's gift to Boy Scouting". It helped soothed my tears and broken heart several times when girls I was interested in either laughed or came right out and told me that "if you were the last boy on Earth, I would run away than to date you!" Those stories and entries in several personal logbooks (boys don't have "diaries"; we have "logbooks") and later in life formed the basis for several novels and many speeches to Scouting and non-Scouting groups.
My close friend Cyndi gave me a "diary" to write in as a graduation present. I've wrote in it off and on but found myself abandoning it in favor of just writing things -- or using my then-new typewriter (earned during the 1977 National Scout Jamboree) -- instead. I needed it as I started college -- and work with the Boy Scouts of America in eastern Kentucky, northeastern Tennessee, and southwestern Ohio. I still have that "diary". I also have a "diary" which was given to me during my senior year of college by a woman named Rita Stump (at the time an University employee and pre-law student) with some encouragement to "keep writing"! I did.
When I graduated from college and started my life as a married man, I continued to write and expressed my thoughts about my new wife Millie, my new daughter and my first new son through written word while I was stationed (and in the field most of that time) in Germany. Sometimes I go back and re-read those words and re-live how full my heart was in finding "my mate"; in discovering that I can help produce a beautiful child (several, actually!!), and how I discovered things about myself that I just thought that "my and other people's parents went to a secret school to learn".
When the marriage fell apart, I went back to writing and discovered that when I share my stories via the Internet, people actually read and for the most part reacted positively to them. More than 70 percent of my first novel, "Patches and Pins", is posted on the Internet -- bad spellings, English errors and all -- and Scouters wanted to read more. As the book is close to publication (and after seven re-writes and three editors!) it stands as an example of the direction my life turned in.
I am a published writer.
Jess (my second former wife) has helped me in developing "Patches and Pins" and the followup novel, "Eagle Feathers". I cannot express enough how much I appreciate her reading and then telling me "you need to really change the way you said this..." or "where is your heart? It's not in THAT item! You can do MUCH BETTER!"
So for the next seven years, I concentrated on writing and posting to the Internet more and more and more, with hopes that ONE of those writing firms will accept the two novels and publish them. I wasn't interested in the money; I was more interested in the art and style of writing I wanted to express.
The writer's forums I would find on the Internet has really assisted with my writing. Not only were Scouters interested in reading my stories and columns, but SCOUTER magazine and later American Scouting Digest wanted my "take" on Scouting and Exploring, on life as a "black Eagle Scout", on living with a true "Scouting partner". Then, while on active duty at the Pentagon during "Operation Desert Shield/Desert Storm", I got the best piece of advice possible from TWO people: Barbara Spitzer Robertson (Buttercup) and Colonel Jeffery Keane (UBJ, or "Uncle Big Jeff"). Buttercup, whom I met online and later in person, said "you can do anything, Micheal. You should take your writings, go to a print company, and have them to print them. You can then sell your own books on the Internet. You can make a webpage and sell them from there." UBJ was more direct -- "get off your ass, take your stuff to a "vanity publishing house" and get the (explicitive) published!" I took both of their sage advises -- and even wrote a group of short stories about Barbara and myself as a gift to her.
I have resisted "webblogging" (or "blog" for short) because I felt that I was already writing "blog entries" -- sometimes ten to 20 a day, to groups like Scouts-L, Embers, and Race-L.
Then Liz Reid came into my life -- her and her three daughters, two cats and a very dysfunctional extended family and mode of living. She encouraged me to not only to continue to write, but she put up "seed money" several times so that I get those books "into the hands of people who want to read your stories." She also encouraged me to start a blog while I was deployed to Iraq a few years ago (which I did not have the time or the will to continue past a couple of weeks; she also suggested that I should take my emails I've sent to people and convert them to short stories featuring my life and those around me while deployed. "Some people might find them interesting."
So when I was deployed to Germany in 2009 and at the insistance of Liz, my bosses at the U.S. European Command, and another mentor, Commander Ivy Kopec (a member of the EUCOM public affairs team, writer, editor and mother), I started the blog you see linked to the right and below. I try to post entries to the blog at least once a week. In connection with it, I also started to post "notes" on my personal Facebook which is also linked below. Between the two, a lot of information is provided.
In early 2013, the "host" of my blog (called "Posterous"; I really, really LOVED the concept and the way the blog was laid out!) decided to shut down and gave me about a month to find a new home. With a LOT of assistance from Mike Bowman of the U.S. Scouting Service Project, Inc. and a much more superior webdesigner and engineer than I will EVER be...he ported my content over on WordPress™ where now it sets! (Thank you again, Mike!! It looks GREAT!)
PLEASE do not go to Gather.com. Gather went into a different direction and as a result, I LOST ALL of the content stored there since 2008. They won't give it back, although they do have it stored on one of their servers. I cussed, yelled and cried at the lost of some great material -- and no, that "way back machine" thing cannot find my content because it's within their servers and not subjected to the "webcrawlers" that most other places have.
So here is where you CAN find my content:
WordPress™ (where my blog is located): http://settumanque.org (misspelled with one "m")
Facebook™ (where I post notes, about once every other week): http://www.facebook.com/settummanque
LinkedIn™ (where I post a Scouting-related essay every Wednesday): https://www.linkedin.com/in/settummanque
I thank you all for helping me to be a great writer. Also, thank you to my editors Susan Pattashall and "Little Eagle" Carmen Abner for your help too!
Enjoy -- and please provide me feedback!!